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Fountains of Experience

Source: The Texas Director by Matthew D. Morian

What do you say when someone calls your funeral home to ask that most probing of questions, “How much?” 

Do you quickly blurt out the answer to their inquiry or do you steel yourself with a deep breath and prepare for a long informative conversation about what they will potentially experience over the next several days?

If you answered the latter, then your will undoubtedly increase your firm’s chances of serving that family regardless of “how much”.

As funeral directors, we often are challenged as to what our value might be to modern society.  Are we simply disposers of the dead or are we caring and skilled professionals, here to educate those we serve?  When a family calls on your funeral home and you allow the conversation to be solely about price, you are circumventing and possibly reducing your value as a funeral professional.

Should you answer their question?  Absolutely!  However, as the calm voice of expertise, you should realize most callers truly don’t know what else to ask.  Acknowledge their concern while explaining you are here to help them with information they may need to know.

You will want to discern whether someone has passed away or if they are planning for the future.  If someone has passed, in addition to gathering prices, the caller may also need to know who else to contact before a funeral home can receive their loved one.  They may also be unaware of what items a family normally gathers for an arrangement conference.

Offering to e-mail them a universal list that can be used at any funeral home shows your firm’s level of care.  Describe how your funeral home assists in the filing and ordering of death certificates and for what purposes they are commonly used.  Explaining our undertaking to an inquisitive family is an important instrument in building their trust.

Decades of hiding death behind closed doors has left a shadowy veil over our industry, which means a large portion of people we speak to every day have little understanding of what we do or why we do it.  We should consider ourselves fountains of experience and allow our knowledge to cascade to those we serve.

A helpful tool I learned from Lacy Robinson, the director of member development for the National Funeral Directors Association, is “If a caller asks you the price of cremation, take a minute to build rapport and transition by asking if anyone has taken the time to explain what their cremation options are?”

You might be surprised to learn how many people don’t realize that cremation is more than just a disposition.  If you assume that every cremation price shopper is speaking of a direct cremation without asking them qualifying questions, you may be selling them short of their service expectations.  If they are a direct cremation family but you still spend quality time on the phone with them, you’ll have earned their favor no matter what your price is compared to your colleagues down the street.

The more time you spend answering questions and offering your professional opinion, the more comfortable the caller will be with you and your firm.  If you are lucky, the family will call your competitors first and have their one and only question answered!  


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