What if the funeral home’s leader is the problem?

What happens if the leader of your funeral home is the problem?

More lessons from the basement saga. If you missed the first part of this story, here’s the link

To recap the events so far,

  • A plumber didn’t attach a fitting correctly and caused a major flood and over $10k of damage to my home, mainly in our finished basement.
  • The plumbing company hired a fire & flood restoration company that did an outstanding job of containing the mess and deconstructing the damaged areas.

Next, they hired a contractor to put everything back together. We needed some framing, lots of drywall, trim work, and painting.

Shawn, the owner of R&D Drywall, arrived precisely on time, inspected the damage, and provided us with a detailed quote that the plumbing company was going to pay. He emphasized that they were the highest-ranked drywall contractor in our area, and we could count on his team to do the work. 

We approved the quote, and he scheduled his team.

The contractor approached the project in a way I had never seen before. Rather than sending in one team to do the entire job, he had several small teams that did individual tasks.

Overseeing the work was a foreman who checked in periodically. Suffice it to say; our home was pretty chaotic for a whole week.

We noticed a complete lack of communication between the teams, and they typically arrived with no idea of the project’s scope. Someone in the office had just given them an address, and off they went.

Overall, we were pretty impressed with the quality of the workers. Every person they sent was a skilled tradesman and did a great job.

A big problem arose when the painter learned that the drywall team had covered up the plumbing shut-off valves even though the owner had assured us there would be an access panel. This resulted in them redoing a bunch of work and sending crews back a second time.

My wife called Shawn, the owner, to report the problem. He promptly tried to blame us for the problem even though the access panel was in his quote. By the end of their call, my wife was furious. 

When the project finished, I did the final walkthrough with the foreman. He asked for feedback, and I told him that his teams were great, but his boss was a jerk. 

The look on his face told me that this wasn’t the first time he had heard this kind of feedback.

When we went to leave them a review on Google, we noticed that they had lots of five-star reviews and too many one-star reviews. 

The common problem described in all one-star reviews was Shawn, the owner. Apparently, being rude to the customer was how he handled most issues.

So what can my funeral home subscribers glean from this tale?

Takeaway #1 – Communication between teams is the leader’s job.

You typically have one Funeral Director work with a family from start to finish, so there’s no handoff. Plus, the Funeral Director should constantly communicate with the rest of the staff to make sure everything is organized.

But if the communication breaks down, the leader needs to jump in and get everything back on track. That’s where technology like Passare, Crakn, and Firehawk can help a lot.

If Shawn had done a better job of making sure that each team knew what had to be done, he would have saved himself a lot of money and frustration.

Takeaway #2 – Resolving issues is the leader’s job.

Being a funeral home leader means you end up dealing with all of the problems that your team can’t fix on their own. For example, one day, it might be an upset family member who didn’t like something about a funeral, and the next day it might be a former employee who’s spreading false rumors.

As a leader, you have to become good at defusing and resolving problems, and blaming the customer is probably not a good idea. 

Shawn needed to understand that principle.

Takeaway #3 – Your team knows if you’re a jerk

Your team may know you better than you know yourself. They see how you react to problems, and they assume that whatever you are doing must be acceptable. If that sounds a lot like parenting, it is.

When I told the foreman that his boss was a jerk, he hung his head in shame. 

How long would you work for a boss that embarrassed you? How about a leader who took your hard work and threw it out the window by being rude or inconsiderate?

The leader sets the standard for the team. If your team isn’t treating families the way you want, you might want to take a hard look at how you are treating others.

Some people are natural leaders, while others need to learn how to lead. But at the end of the day, you must be a good leader or your business will never grow to its full potential.

Until next time


PS: Shawn may have the highest rated drywall company in our area, but it only has a 4.1 out of 5 on Google. If he were a better leader, he’d have a 4.9 or maybe even a 5.0, which would be something to brag about.


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