4 Tips for Preparing for Arrangements with Baby Boomers

The future of the funeral industry can be summed up in two words, Baby Boomers.

Eighty-five million boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. This generation is three times larger than the previous generation.

Approximately 30% of them are already dead. The remaining 70% are now passing away at a rate of 5,447 per day, or roughly 2 million deaths annually.

In last week’s newsletter, I discussed how Baby Boomer women are the primary decision-makers when it comes to funeral services. Today, they are making funeral arrangements for their parents and their spouses. However, this means they are also considering planning their own end-of-life services.

Last week I also introduced you to Sandy, a 72-year-old Baby Boom woman whose husband has just passed away. I said that your role as the funeral professional is to position yourself as a guide who can offer her a plan to follow.

However, building rapport is an important first step before you can offer her a plan. Doing this creates a safe space for her to express her needs, explore options, and make decisions.

Below are four tips for building rapport and starting a relationship with Sandy. 

Tip #1 – Prepare the environment

My wife and I are considering selling our family home next spring. Recently we had a realtor walk through our home and give us some recommendations on things we should do to prepare to sell.

As the realtor walked through the house, she explained a simple three-point mental checklist that potential buyers have in their minds when they enter a home.

  1. Is it clean?
  2. Is it uncluttered?
  3. Can they see themselves living there?

Your funeral home should be able to pass the same three-point checklist.

Is it clean? Most funeral home owners do a decent job of keeping their facility clean. But if it’s not, Sandy will take her business elsewhere.

Is it uncluttered? Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many arrangement rooms crammed with merchandise displays and caskets. A room like that makes Sandy feel like you are trying to sell her something she may not want or need.

Can they see themselves living there? Or, in this case, can they see themselves spending time with their family and friends at your funeral home? The answer is no if your funeral home feels more like a museum than a home. 

Tip #2 – Never imply that you are in control

Previous generations and Baby Boomers respond to authority differently. Previous generations are comfortable with someone else being in control, but Baby Boomers typically rebel against authority. 

A funeral director who greets Sandy while wearing a suit sends the subconscious signal that they are in control. That’s a huge mistake!

Lose the suit coat and tie, wear a sweater, and greet her as a guest. She can relax more if she feels like she’s meeting a helpful peer rather than an authority figure.

Tip #3 – Answer her questions first

Funeral directors often begin an arrangement meeting by collecting the information for the death certificate and obituary. They’ll pull out a form and ask for the date of birth, social security number, etc.

That’s another huge mistake! You’ve just told Sandy that the most important thing we need to do is file the death certificate and meet the deadline for the newspaper obituaries.

Instead, start by asking Sandy if she has any questions and focus on answering those first. She will appreciate that you are making her concerns the top priority, not her spouse’s mother’s maiden name.

Tip #4 – Focus on making everything as easy as possible

Sandy’s life is complicated. First, she’s spent years juggling a career while raising her family. Then, just as her kids started to become independent, she found herself caring for aging parents.

She might have spent years dealing with boomerang children, a midlife crisis, failed marriages, blended families, health problems, and dozens of other issues common in our modern society.

Suddenly, her husband passes away. If Sandy seems like she’s completely overwhelmed, it’s because she is!

Never underestimate the complexity of Sandy’s situation. If you want to be of value, make sure she understands that your goal is to make everything as easy as possible for her. Your job is to lessen her burden; never add to it.

Use these four tips to open a rapport with Sandy and begin to build a relationship. By doing that, she’ll be ready to consider your plan for celebrating her husband’s life.

Until next time


PS: Preparation is a key part of creating a superior funeral experience which is step #1 in my new report “How to Grow a Great Funeral Home Business – the 10-step checklist”. 


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