3 things heard loud & clear @ nfda2015 [part 2]

As we are now two weeks post the football themed NFDA 2015 #nfda2015 convention, it's time for [part 2] of The Funeral Gal's "3 Things Heard Loud & Clear..." In keeping with our football theme, [part 2's] theme is...


Outside of obligation of the set up, tear down, and exhibit hours, we had our team of 13 attend 3 seminars held at NFDA. Each of the seminars were unique in the delivery of the message, yet all had the same underlying message - have a plan that appeals to the changing consumer preferences, but also maintains the profitability of your funeral home.

The expectations of today's funeral are vastly different than expectations even 10 years ago. This was a topic of conversation during the three seminars I attended, and I am sure many more... many referred ot the adage that "your father's 'traditional call' doesn't exist today". Why is this? Well, there are many reasons, but as an example, per the NFDA Consumer Preferences study of 2015, to a consumer, the importance of religion in a funeral ceremony has been on the decline. Only three years ago in 2012, 49.5% of consumers considered religion in the funeral a "very important" part of the service. Today in 2015 (a mere 3 years later), only 42.3% of consumers consider this important!

So what is important to funeral consumer's now? Where are their expectations? From the example above, expectations have migrated from a traditional religious ceremonies where families grieve in a religious manner, to a setting of gathering, sharing, remembering and most importantly celebrating the life lived. Just look around at weddings - the same migration has happened. Young couples look to highly personalized ceremonies and receptions outside the traditional "brick and mortar" church establishment.

To continue with the aforementioned example, we need to focus on not only family preferences of today, but also preferences of tomorrow. For example, take the chapel in your funeral home. If 75% of families utilized this space 10 years ago, and only 40% of your families use it today, what do you think the percentage will be 10 years from now? How do you maximize the profitability that this space has the ability to produce? If 65% of your families gather for a post-service meal, is your chapel better utilized as a banquet/catering area? Can you not only recoop the revenues/profits lost of a 35% decrease in space usage (as of today, potentially more in the future), but regain usage back to 65% and potentially more in the future?

It's not out of the question now to hear about a funeral service complete with Jimmy Buffett music with libations in the form of a margarita machine. Nowadays, we also don't question the young daughter to whom the personalized cremation jewelry locket means more than the entire funeral service. So what are the plays in your playbook that lead to the overall strategy of your gameplan?

Step 1: Develop a Game Plan!

Do you have a game plan? If no, that's okay... just start thinking about it NOW! Who do you want to be when you "grow up"? High-service & high-value, affordable & low cost, or somewhere in the middle? Are you trying to drive more volume? Who do you want your audience to be (ie. who is your target market)? Also, think about the overall experience you want your families (and their guests!) to walk away with every time they walk out your doors.

Step 2: Create a Playbook!

Create "plays" that will support the overall game plan! So the funeral home that has traditionally served the catholic market has closed its doors since there was a lack of succession planning.

Okay, so you have defined that you want your audience in this game plan to be the Catholics in your geographic region, so now what is your play? Your play is how you will become close to this community (ie. attending church dinners and events, reaching out to the priests at the churches, etc.).

Step 3: Measure Your Success/Failure

Hold yourself accountable! Too often, small business owners develop a game plan, implement the plays, but then one of two things happen.. 1) they don't hold themselves accountable 2) if its not working, they keep with the same plays. If the offense on a football team keeps getting shut down and racking up "3 and outs", then it is the responsibility of the offensive coordinator to choose different plays, slightly shift the game plan, and still go for the win. If you are not achieiving success in your game plan with your current play book, try and diagnose why it didn't work, capitalize on the knowledge you gained from that experience and try again with new plays (just with a different set of plays!) If you did have success note why you had success so you can use this strategy again!

This applies to so many different topics in funeral service - branding, market strategy, cremation, burials, services offered, packaging, catering, "selling trinkets", etc. Any small business owner must have a game plan, a playbook, and a measurement tool!

Cheers and stay tuned for part 3 of the NFDA review!

#nfda2015 #gameplan #playbook #goal #changingexpectations #consumerpreferences #targetmarket #accountable #success #failure

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