The Coming Storm after Covid

I was fresh out of college (many decades ago) and working on a technology project at a General Motors plant. Jim, one of the maintenance workers at the plant, worked the same shift as me, and we often took coffee breaks together. 

Jim was about 45 years old and worked six or seven days a week. The plant was busy, and the maintenance crews were working overtime. He would routinely work 80+ hours every week.

He was also a part-time police officer, and every weekend he would fit in a couple of shifts with the local police department. 

During tax season, Jim would stay up all night preparing tax returns for hundreds of his coworkers at the GM plant.

I remember telling Jim that he was going to work himself to death. He chuckled and explained that he worked as hard as possible so that when the next storm hit, he would be ready. 

What kind of storms?

Every four years, GM and the UAW (union) negotiated a new contract, and all too often, there was a strike, sometimes lasting months. That was a storm.

Sometimes the plant was scheduled to make a car that wasn’t selling very well, and they’d cut production and workers. That was a storm.

A recent medical procedure that wasn’t covered because of a pre-existing condition left him with a $250,000 hospital bill. That was a storm.

Jim prepared so that his family didn’t suffer when a storm hit. He believed that storms are part of life and being prepared for the next one is always a good idea.

If you own a funeral home, there is a storm on your horizon. It’s time to prepare.

The storm I am referring to is the post-Covid lull in deaths. 

So far, Covid has been associated with 900,000 deaths in the USA. It’s cleared out nursing homes and caused the death of thousands of people who might have lived another 10, 20, or 30 years.

When Covid finally goes away, the death rate will drop, and funeral homes are going to suffer a significant downturn. The rise in baby boomer deaths will help somewhat, but most boomers don’t want a traditional funeral.

That, my friends, is a storm, and many of the almost 20,000 funeral home businesses in the US won’t survive.

Here are three steps that owners should take in 2022 to prepare for the post-Covid storm.

#1 Develop your reason for families to choose you.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a newsletter discussing which competitors matter the most when developing a client’s Strategic Growth Plan. I said that I always look for competitors who give families a clear reason to choose them.

To get ready for the coming storm, you need to give families a reason to choose you. It needs to be something your families care about and also differentiates you from other funeral options in your local market.

The key is to develop your reason before spending money on any form of marketing, including digital options like Facebook and Google Advertising.

#2 Create your Boomer event

The pandemic has hit the elderly hard. Right now, you may be experiencing a spike in traditional funerals. It won’t last.

The Baby Boom generation is sitting right behind this current spike, and they overwhelmingly don’t want a traditional funeral. Some will, but not enough to keep most funeral homes in business.

The solution is to create your own Boomer event. By the way, saying that you offer a “Celebration of Life” or personalized services is not enough.

The funeral homes that survive the coming storm will have at least one option for the family that walks in your door and says, “Dad didn’t want a funeral.” 

#3 Focus your marketing efforts

The third thing every owner will need to do is to focus their marketing efforts.

Owners these days are plagued by an endless series of offers for the “latest and greatest” marketing opportunity. New and existing vendors are constantly waving their new shiny object in your face, trying to get your attention and a slice of your marketing budget.

Becoming distracted by the latest shiny object can be a costly mistake. The best defense is to have your own plan. 

A plan should outline your reason for families to choose you (point #1), your Boomer event (point #2), and the actions you will take over the next year to promote your funeral home business. The plan I create for clients is called a Strategic Growth Plan because it addresses all three of those points.

A Strategic Growth Plan is like having a compass. It helps you set your direction so you can focus your marketing efforts and ride out the storm while your competitors struggle to stay afloat.

Until next time



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