New Products for Your Funeral Home

We just passed a Chrysler minivan and I had couldn’t help but laugh. The driver was the stereotypical soccer parent driving a bunch of kids to an after-school game.

I wrote last week’s newsletter from an airport coffee shop. This week I’m in the passenger seat of a car as we drive from North Carolina to Michigan. We’ve passed a lot of minivans on this 600-mile trip. Some were used for local deliveries, but the vast majority were family haulers.

I’m working my way through the 10 steps in my “How to Grow a Great Funeral Home Business” report. Last week was about creating a better funeral experience. This week I’ll focus on point #2 – Create New Products to Offer.

Chrysler introduced the minivan to the North American market in 1984. At the time, Chrysler was on the verge of bankruptcy. Their car lineup was dated, and their manufacturing plants were in rough shape.

Focus groups conducted at that time said that what families wanted was a smaller station wagon. But Chrysler’s design engineers were betting that North American families would love a small van similar to what was popular in Europe at the time.

The minivan was a huge hit and Chrysler had record sales. The profit generated by the minivan saved literally the company from bankruptcy.

What people say they want is always based on their understanding of what is possible. A business tells their customers what is possible by offering products or packages for them to choose from.

The key to business success is to offer new products that go beyond what people say they want and instead focus on what they really need.

The families in Chrysler’s focus groups said they wanted a smaller station wagon. But they needed was a vehicle that was fuel-efficient, easy to drive, and had three rows of seats so the kids could spread out.

A business can go from struggling to soaring just by creating a new product that their customers love.

Most funeral home businesses are desperately in need of a new product to offer families.

For the last 100+ years, most funeral homes have had one product to offer families, a
funeral. It consisted of a visitation, church service, and graveside service.

Around 25 years ago, Funeral Directors started experiencing families saying things like,
“Dad didn’t want a funeral.” Around the same time, the direct cremation market began to
flourish, and funeral homes added a direct cremation line item to their GPL.

Today, the traditional funeral market continues to shrink, and the direct cremation market continues to grow. But a third market also exists, people who do not want a traditional funeral but still want to do something.

What people say is “Dad didn’t want a funeral” and “we just going to do a cremation”. But what they need is an event that has at least three components; a casual gathering time, a ceremony that honors the deceased, and final resting place ceremony.

You’re probably thinking…”John that sounds like a funeral” and you’re right, it does. That’s because the elements of a funeral satisfy basic human needs, not just wants.

People need a time to gather together and see each other, they need a ceremony (religious or not), and they need the closure that comes with a final resting place ceremony. If possible, add a meal as a fourth component because most family gatherings include some form of meal.

The formula is simple: gathering + ceremony + final resting place + meal = new product

An often-overlooked part of creating a new product is to give it a great name.

A great name is one that is unique to your funeral home and is easy for families to use. You want families to be able to say “Dad didn’t want a funeral so we’re having a at .”

A lot of funeral homes use the term “Celebration of Life” for the name of their new product. That was okay when it was unique but now it is too common. Instead you should either come up with your own unique name or license one from someone who has already gone through the trademarking process.

Always remember, “Dad didn’t want a funeral” does not mean they don’t want anything.
It just means they don’t want a traditional funeral.

Now they would like to know what else you have to offer them. If you have nothing to offer them then that is exactly what they will buy from you…nothing.

Until next time


PS: If you would like to learn all 10 steps in my “How to Grow a Great Funeral Home Business” report, you can download it here.

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