I almost jumped off the table when he applied pressure to a particular spot on my back. 

“Does it hurt here?” Dr. Sladic, my Chiropractor, asked.

“Yes!” I replied. 

I was experiencing numbness in seemingly unrelated parts of my body and decided a trip to my Dr. Sladic was in order. We’ve worked together for years, and I was sure he’d be able to find the root cause of the problem.

He began by asking some basic questions, “What brings you in today?”, “Where does it hurt?”, “When does it hurt?” etc.

After the initial questions, he instructed me to stretch out on his chiropractic table while he did an examination. He started by checking the areas where I had reported some numbness and then moved on to the rest of my body.

That’s when he pressed a particular part of my spine and asked, “Does it hurt here?”. I almost jumped off the table. What surprised me the most was that I hadn’t identified that area as a problem. In fact, I hadn’t noticed it as being painful because I was fixated on other pains at the time.

Dr. Sladic told me I had a pinched nerve and started me on a physical therapy program to help address the problem and alleviate my symptoms. Within a few days, I was beginning to feel better, and in a couple of weeks, I was back to normal.

Reflecting on that experience, I considered how Dr. Sladic didn’t just listen to my stated symptoms and draw conclusions. Instead, he probed deeper to uncover the underlying problem. Then, he started outlining a treatment plan only after he fully understood the situation.

Anybody can treat the symptoms, but it takes an expert to uncover and address the real problem.

It’s normal to start by trying to treat the symptoms, especially if the problem is relatively minor. But when faced with a big problem, it’s normal to seek out the help of an expert.

The problem is that most people don’t think they need an expert…until they realize that they do.

Your Funeral Directors deal with this problem every day.

Someone passes away, and their next of kin and maybe a few other family members come to your funeral home to make arrangements. The family announces what they’ve already decided, and the Funeral Director writes it down, collects the information for the obituary, schedules the services, arranges payment, and closes the meeting.

Was your Funeral Director treating symptoms? Or were they functioning as an expert?

They were treating symptoms, also known as being an order taker. If you are dealing with a Gen X person, they would have preferred to have placed this order on your website rather than meeting with you in person.

There are two scenarios in which families just need a Funeral Director to be an order taker. 

The first scenario is when they want a traditional funeral with little or no personalization. This was very common for the GI Generation and somewhat common for the Silent Generation. They’re mainly interested in following tradition and not standing out.

The second scenario is when the family only wants a direct cremation and nothing else. They need you to cremate the body, process the death certificate, and that’s all. They’re mainly interested in making everything as easy as possible. 

The problem is that the 76 million Baby Boomers don’t fit into either of those scenarios. They don’t want to follow tradition because they never have. And they don’t want “nothing else” because that means their life didn’t matter. They don’t want what they think of as a traditional funeral, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to do anything.

Suppose a Funeral Director, who can only take orders, meets with a Baby Boomer family. In most cases,  they will leave the meeting with a direct cremation, a private family viewing, and a nice urn.

Will there be a funeral? Only if the person had a church affiliation.

Will there be a visitation? Maybe an hour before the church service at most.

For your funeral home to succeed with Baby Boomers, it’s critically important that your Funeral Directors learn how to conduct themselves as experts rather than order-takers. But how?

A Funeral Director who is positioned as an expert has three things that order-takers do not; knowledge, questions, and plans.

Knowledge – Funeral Directors used to be valued for their embalming expertise. Now they have to be an expert in conflict resolution, family dynamics, designing experiences, event planning, grief, social media, and much more.

Questions – Funeral Directors used to only have to ask about the information for a death certificate, obituary, and desired service times. Now they must be ready to ask questions that uncover a life story and identify the key themes to be shared and celebrated.

Plans – In the past, Funeral Directors had to know how to coordinate a traditional visitation and church funeral. But today, an expert Funeral Director has to be an event planner with a suite of creative options that can be personalized for every family.

A few months ago, I announced that I was working on a new course called the Consultative Arrangement Process. This course aims to help Funeral Directors achieve expert positioning so they can succeed with Baby Boomers.

I’ve received the course materials back from the video editor, and I’m not satisfied with how one section turned out, so I will do it again. I’m not usually a perfectionist, but I have a vision for this course, and I don’t think we’re there yet.

I’ll have more information on this course in the coming weeks. But, for now, know that my goal is to help you succeed with Baby Boomers because that is the generation you will serve for many years.

Remember, anybody can treat the symptoms, but it takes an expert to uncover and address the real problem.

The symptom is that someone has died, and now the family needs to do something with the remains. But the real problem is that the family can only begin the healing process if they take the time to share the stories, celebrate the life, and cherish the memories. 

As they go through the experience of loss, they need a guide to show them the way because they don’t know how to do this. That’s you!

Until next time




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