Mistakes people make when developing a Funeral Home growth strategy

The starting point for most of my projects is to create a customized Strategic Growth Plan. This is a five to ten-page document that defines the strategy we will use to grow the business, plus specific actions to implement the strategy over the next twelve months.

Business owners struggle to create a growth plan on their own because they are too close to the day-to-day problems. The adage “you can’t see the forest for the trees” definitely applies to the strategic planning process.

Instead, funeral home owners retain me to provide an outsider’s perspective and help craft a plan that, if implemented correctly, will take their business to the next level. It’s not a long process, but it is an essential first step, and you can waste a lot of time/money if you skip it.

Below are some common mistakes I see funeral home owners make when creating a growth plan.

Mistake #1 – Failing to define the starting point accurately

No two businesses are in the same situation, and a plan that works for one funeral home may not work for another. That’s why you need to define your starting point accurately.

One tool I like to use is a SWOT Analysis; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Strengths: What are you good at? Why do you win calls today? What do you have that your competitors don’t offer?

Weaknesses: What problems exist in the business that will limit growth?

Opportunities: What part of the market is growing? What competitor is declining?

Threats: What could happen in the local market to shoot a hole in your growth plan?

The goal is to create a strategy that leverages your strengths, minimizes your weaknesses, takes advantage of a new opportunity, and insulates you from external threats.

Sounds easy, right?!?!

Mistake #2 – Failing to clarify the goal

You may have heard the adage, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” It’s true!

A SWOT Analysis helps to define your starting point. But where do you want to go?

Do you want more revenue? More calls? Both?

It’s pretty easy to add 200 direct cremation calls, but will that help you meet your revenue goals?

The goals you set for the project will influence the overall strategy and the specific actions to meet your objectives.

Mistake #3 – Getting the staff involved too soon

Many owners want to approach the strategic planning process as a group activity for their staff. In my experience, that’s a huge mistake.

Much of the planning process involves exploring options. We might do A, or B, or both. Owners who are good at strategic planning are comfortable with exploring the unknown.

Your employees want certainty in their lives; that’s why they work for someone else. If you ask them to explore the unknown, they will become very anxious, and their work will suffer.

A better approach is to explore your options, settle on the direction, outline the action plan, and then involve the staff. It’s ok to ask for their input, but only after you’ve created a draft of the plan.

Mistake #4 – Overcomplicating things

You’ve probably heard of KISS, a design principle created by the US Navy in 1960. KISS stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid, and states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. KISS applies to growth plans as well.

I like to create a 12-month action plan. Typically it will involve eight to ten specific actions we will need to take to achieve the goals. Some of the actions will need to be completed by the owner and staff; my team or other vendors can handle others.

The goal is to create a list so we can check off completed items and build momentum for the project.

Mistake #5 – Failing to update the message

Few funeral home owners fully appreciate the importance of having a good marketing message that clearly articulates your value to families. Instead, they’ll use some generic message that could apply to any funeral home.

That’s a huge mistake!

When developing a new growth plan, it’s important to remember that whatever marketing message got you to this point probably won’t get you to the next level.

That’s why the first step in my action plan is almost always creating a new marketing message. We need a message that highlights our specific strengths, identifies our uniqueness and explains how we can help a family.

Skip this step, and you can waste a lot of money on ineffective advertising.

Those are five common mistakes I see funeral home owners make when developing a growth plan. Avoid these mistakes, and you will increase the chances of meeting your goals.

Until next time


PS: My consulting schedule is booked solid through the end of the year. If you want my help in Q1 of next year, you might want to reserve your spot now.

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