To continuously meet the needs of families, you’ll have to make sure your team is properly trained. It’s important to remember that training is an iterative process, one that never fully ends. Even the most successful funeral homes can stand to improve, but without ongoing training, you’ll be unable to accomplish these initiatives.
Luckily, there are some strategies you can quickly implement. At their core, they’ll help your entire team function as a mission-driven unit.
1. Breakdown Current Performance as a Team
It’s nearly impossible to train when you don’t have specifics. This is why you should set aside time to sit down with your team and discuss big-picture ideas. Ask them what they feel is going well and identify any pain points. Additionally, you can break down the strengths and weaknesses of your team as a whole.
The key here is to ensure your team knows this is a discussion rather than a witch trial. Root yourselves in the goals of your business and elicit honest feedback. Only when your team feels comfortable and safe will they be able to adequately identify areas in need of improvement.
Another way to break down your current performance is to look at client feedback. For example, the performance tracker from J3 Tech allows you to carefully monitor customer feedback, making it easier to identify strengths and weaknesses.
2. Define What the Family Experience Should Look Like… Together.
In your team-wide discussions, you’ll also want to define the ideal family experience when interfacing with your funeral. You likely already have your values and mission; however, this is your chance to make these abstract concepts more concrete by articulating them in terms of each of your employee’s interactions with guests.
For example, one of the most significant touchpoints between your funeral home and a family is during the arrangements, which has the potential for the most revenue. Together, you can discuss the ideal outcome for the person in charge of sourcing and planning the arrangements. How should this person come off to a family? Sympathetic? Encouraging? Knowledgeable? Likely, you’ll want some combination of these traits.
Create a Culture
While larger businesses usually hand down cultures from the higher-ups, small businesses like funeral homes have the chance to create culture collaboratively. This can be a great source of strength. If each member of your team has input as to your culture and ideals, then they’ll all be on board with executing it.
3. Upsell With Tact
During the sales process, you want to make sure that your team comes off empathetic and helpful rather than pushy or demanding. This is the key to successfully selling families on more highly-priced services and arrangements.
With your team, discuss the ways you’d find it acceptable to approach families. You could even stage role-playing interactions, in which one team member plays a client and the other attempts to sell to them. This will allow everyone to understand how their approach impacts a family.
Some do’s and don’ts of upselling:
- Do present a family with all of the options at their disposal with the help of your funeral home, allowing them to make their own decisions.
- Don’t require them to book multiple services they’re not comfortable with or interested in.
- Do suggest upgrades to existing services such as customized keepsakes
- Don’t imply that lack of desire for these upgrades reflects on their affection for their loved one.
- Do provide examples (written or photographed) of cremation services that had accompanying services, burials, or memorials.
- Don’t shoehorn every preneed cremation sale into an elaborate ceremony.
As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. The key to upselling is to present a person with all of their options and be able to explain their value. The decision always rests with the family, and pushing too hard towards larger purchases will only turn them off.
4. Death Care Verbiage
On the same lines of not being aggressive with sales, you’ll want to ensure your team knows which words or phrases can upset a family and how this verbiage can be substituted with gentler alternatives.
For example, instead of saying funeral services, you might opt for celebrations of life. Instead of saying, the deceased, try loved one. Instead of death, say passing. While seemingly negligible in their simplicity, using gentle language like this can go a long way towards making families comfortable.
Naturally, some people might find sanitized language like this annoying or politically correct; however, it’s always better to be overly sensitive––at least initially––as you can always adjust accordingly. If you come off as insensitive from the start, you’ll have little room to recover.
5. Focus on Preneed Sales
While meeting with your team, you should also take time to touch upon the importance of preneed sales. Death care professionals and civilians alike often forget about these valuable services, so reminding your team of their revenue potential is a great way to boost your bottom line. To remain aligned with your policies on upselling, you’ll want to remember that emphasizing preneed sales is more than forcefully suggesting them to families.
Start by ensuring your team knows about the preneed options available in your business, allowing them a thorough knowledge to pull from. Then you’ll want to implement strategies that are used by team members at each stage of the process. Your outreach team will want to mention preneed services in any email or marketing materials. Additionally, when following up with families after a service, you can mention the availability of preneed services.
As with upselling, the key is to plant the seed. You’ll want your families to know about these options and their benefits, allowing them to decide for themselves if they want to book ahead.
Always Know Where You Stand
Beyond orientation and onboarding, you’ll want to engage your team in ongoing training to drive consistent success. The key is to know where everyone stands, allowing you to congratulate and encourage success and identify where and how to grow. If, however, this process seems daunting, there are experts you can look to.
In lieu of training your own team, you can consult with the team at J3 Tech. With their years of experience in the funeral industry, they can work with your staff to identify pain points, implement new strategies, and allow you to better align with your mission.