Salvaging a Horrible Day

My wife woke first. “It sounds like it’s raining,” she said sleepily.

I looked out the bedroom window and saw nothing but a blue sky. “You’re dreaming,” I replied.

She got out of bed, walked into the hallway, and let out a blood-curdling scream.


I lept out of bed only to find that water was pouring out of the master bathroom and flooding the hallway. I didn’t know the source of the water but quickly decided to shut off the water to the entire house. The main water valve is in the basement, so that’s where I headed.

Racing down the basement stairs, I was surprised to step into about 3 inches of cold water. The basement was flooded as well. It was going to be one of those days.

I’m not sharing this story to entertain you, although it was pretty funny in a Three Stooges way. Instead, I’m sharing it to illustrate how my experience working with a company helped salvage a horrible day. 

I’ll share a little more of the story and then connect it to how you might want to respond to a death call.

It didn’t take long to figure out that the flood was caused by a new fitting a plumber had installed in the master bathroom the previous day. Unfortunately, the fitting had ruptured overnight, and water had poured through a wall gap into the basement.

The plumbing company responded right away to replace the fitting. They then dispatched a fire and flood emergency response company to help us deal with the damage and mess.

The plumbing company’s response was good, but the fire & flood company’s response was outstanding. They did a fantastic job of salvaging a horrible day.

It’s been two weeks since the flood. Recently, my wife and I took some time to reflect on why our experience with the fire & flood company was so amazing. Here are the highlights…

They arrived quickly. 

The plumber told us they usually respond within 24 hours, but it was a Saturday, so he wasn’t sure if they had a crew working. Nevertheless, they had someone in our basement in 45 minutes.

They listened.

The manager who arrived first took the time to listen to the story of the flood. First, he wanted to hear it from my wife, and then he wanted to hear it from me.

Did he need to hear the story in order to fix the problem? No. But he knew that we needed to tell the story.

They had a plan.

The clean-up process took five days to complete. The manager explained the entire process and made sure we understood exactly what they were doing and how it might impact us.

They communicated constantly.

There was never a point in the five-day project where we were left wondering what was coming next. The manager was either at our home or called every day. If something was not going as he had described to us, he was proactive in calling or texting to let us know the change of plans.

They owned the entire problem.

They told us that multiple companies would be involved in the clean-up right upfront. Yet to us, it was seamless. We didn’t have to contact any of the other companies; the fire and flood guys handled managed everything.

They went above and beyond.

This would be a long list, but here is one example. They noticed a large pile of junk in my garage during the project. It was the type of stuff you can’t put out for the weekly trash pickup, and I had planned on hauling it to a dump someday. Instead, their team loaded it all into their dumpster and carted it away for me.

Now, let’s apply this to your funeral home business. The phone rings, and it’s a new death call.

They arrived quickly

Most of my clients aim to have someone onsite to do the removal within an hour. In many cases, it’s within 30 minutes. 

They listened

Too many Funeral Directors start collecting the vital statistics right away. That’s a habit carried over from when you had to get the obituary into the newspaper by a specific deadline. Instead, take the time to listen to the stories because the family doesn’t just want to share; they need to share.

They had a plan.

Can you communicate a simple plan that the family quickly understands? If not, you’re serving but not guiding the family. At the time of a loss, they need a guide to show them the way.

They communicated constantly.

One of my clients has a mantra of “every family every day.” By that, he means that every family they are serving hears from their Funeral Director every day throughout their time together. It only takes a few minutes, but it’s incredibly important.

They owned the entire problem.

One of my favorite clients tells families, “we will do anything to help, and I mean anything.” That doesn’t mean his staff has to fix every problem, but it does mean he will own the problem and make sure someone gets it resolved

They went above and beyond.

Meeting a family’s expectations doesn’t earn you long-term loyalty anymore. To do that, you have to go above and beyond. It could be something as simple as a memorial blanket you present them as a gift after the service or a phone call six months later to see how they’re doing. Go above and beyond, and you will earn long-term loyalty.

The loss of a loved one is a tragic event for a family. But you can help make a horrible day a little better by taking the actions I’ve outlined above.

Until next time,


PS: The Fire & Flood Emergency Response company earned a five-star review. The plumber who caused the flood won’t be stepping foot in my house ever again!!

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