I had an interesting conversation with a client this week. We discussed the Farewell Scotch Toast he had for a family recently, and he was reflecting on the event.

The death notice said that the visitation was scheduled for 4 pm to 8 pm, and a Farewell Scotch Toast would be held at 8 pm.

The crowd was light from 4 to 7 pm and then took a noticeable uptick. Cars began to file into the parking lot, and by 7:30, the visitation room was packed.

At 8 pm, the Scotch had been poured, and someone gave the toast.

Rather than being the culmination of the visitation, it became the start of storytime as family and friends shared stories about the deceased.

By 9 pm, the crowd was finally starting to die down as people made their exists.

Overall, the visitation lasted much longer than planned. The Funeral Director did a little extra work, but the family and attendees loved the experience.

One of the biggest differences he noticed was how long people stayed. Rather than stopping in for a few minutes to pay their respects, people stayed for hours.

That surprised my client, but it was exactly what I expected because he had crossed the line between a service and an experience.

I’ve written about the Experience Economy in past newsletters, and I won’t go over the entire concept again. But it’s worth taking a quick look at this diagram which I found on Prosumerindex.com.

Funeral Home experience

99% of funeral homes operate in the Service Economy. They deliver traditional funeral services, have low margins, and deal with too many price shoppers.

In the Service Economy, one of the primary things a consumer is looking for is to save time.

Today, it is common for a family to request a one-hour visitation immediately before the funeral. That’s because they see you as a service provider want the event over with as quickly as possible.

But 1% of funeral homes operate in the Experience Economy. This is the promised land that I help my clients reach. We work together to create new funeral experiences that people value more than a typical funeral service.

A funeral provider who has made the transition to the Experience Economy benefits from having higher profit margins. In addition, the family and attendees benefit from having an event that they value and consider to be “time well spent.”

The distinction between “Time Saved” and “Time Spent” is the easiest way to tell whether or not you have created a funeral service or a funeral experience. Do people rush through your funeral home, or do they linger? (hint: you want them to linger)

You might be thinking that creating a funeral experience sounds hard. It’s not.

In this case, my client came up with the idea and provided two bottles of Scotch. He couldn’t serve the alcohol by state law, so they poured the shots, and the family invited people to help themselves.

Stage funeral experiences, not services. Your families will love it, and your finances will improve.

Remember, you know it’s an experience when people stay longer and consider it time well spent.

Growing a funeral home comes down to transitioning to the Experience Economy and then using some creative marketing to put a big spotlight on your business. If you need help making the transition, contact me because that’s what I do all day long.

Until next time


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