Do Funeral Directors Provide a Service or Professional Service?

Are your Funeral Directors providing a “service” or a “professional service”? There is an important distinction between the two options, and it has a big impact on your bottom line.

When I started my marketing consulting practice almost 20 years ago, one of my first clients was a janitorial services company. They were the largest privately held janitorial services company in Michigan, with over 400 employees.

One of the marketing tools we created was a Cleaning Company Comparison Checklist. This approach was very successful because, as a service provider, the best marketing strategy is to set the standard by which others will be measured.

We packaged up the Comparison Checklist, got it into the hands of every office manager in our area, and the business grew.

I have continued to help this client over the years as he’s grown his company. Every year we get together to evaluate his marketing strategy to make sure that it is still on target.

A couple of years ago, I noticed a significant change in his janitorial business. He had stopped chasing small deals and only bid on projects for companies with large facilities. For example, rather than bidding on a dental office, he was bidding on a school system with multiple buildings.

He found that the managers of large facilities were not looking for just a service provider. Instead, they wanted a managed outsourced service. They didn’t want a janitor; they wanted a professional vendor to handle all of their cleaning needs.

The standard marketing strategy for professional services providers is to educate consumers on issues related to your service. Since our new target audience wanted a more professional approach, this was the strategy we adopted.

Over the next year, my client successfully completed the certification process required to elevate his company from being a service provider to being a professional service provider. He also brought in a new management team that could deliver consistent results for his clients.

Our marketing shifted from comparison checklists to whitepapers that educated his target audience on issues like “who is responsible if a 1099 janitor has an accident”, “how to tell if you cleaning contractor is using illegal immigrants”, and “how to protect your employees from viruses”.

As a result of this change in marketing strategy, he now wins 90% of the contracts he bids on. Plus, his bottom line profits are 300% higher than what is expected in the janitorial services industry.

You can make good money as a service provider.

But you can make a lot more money as a professional service provider because you solve bigger problems.

Back to my opening question. Are your Funeral Directors providing a “service” or a “professional service”?

The dictionary defines a professional service as “a service requiring specialized knowledge and skill usually of a mental or intellectual nature and usually requiring a license, certification, or registration.”

I think most Funeral Directors aspire to offer a “professional service”. The primary skills that qualified them as professionals are the ability to restore a body and conduct a funeral.

Today, with rising cremation rates, the ability to restore a body for viewing has less importance.

Also, in most parts of the country, the need for someone to conduct a traditional funeral is in decline.

For funeral homes to survive and even thrive in the future, I believe Funeral Directors will need a new skillset. A skill that families will value whether or not the body is being embalmed.

The skill I am referring to is the ability to help a family create and present a meaningful life story. In other words, all Funeral Directors should become certified Funeral Celebrants as well.

Moving forward, not everyone will need a Funeral Director, but with proper marketing, most people will want a Funeral Celebrant.

The beautiful thing is that marketing for a Funeral Celebrant is easy….just teach people how to craft a meaningful life story.

Remember, the standard marketing strategy for a professional services firm is to offer education. But not too many people want to know how to restore a body for viewing.

However, many people want to know how to celebrate life, and more people want to know how to live a life worth celebrating.

Stop directing, start celebrating, and teach people how to live a life worth celebrating. I believe this is what future families will want and need from Funeral professionals.

Until next time


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