Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Eighth Deadly Waste

Stuart McDaniels,
Materials Manager
Anyone in the manufacturing industry should have at least some knowledge of the Seven Deadly Wastes of manufacturing. Commonly known by its acronym, T.O.M.D.W.I.P., it is a term that refers to the seven widely recognized wastes within manufacturing processes, which include transportation, overproduction, motion, defects, waiting, inventory and processing.

And the Eighth Deadly Waste, which is often overlooked and in my opinion is the most wasteful, is human potential. It results in a lot of lost opportunity. One reason it is often overlooked or ignored is that the responsibility for it results from management policies and styles that lessen employee contributions. Employees may not feel their involvement matters, so they decide to stop contributing, which results in getting less value from that employee.

As leaders of our organization, it is up to us to reengage those feeling left out. A few things to consider before approaching your co-workers:

  • Are you being less of a boss and more of a coach? It is proven that managers with strong coaching skills are more effective than those with a dictatorial leadership style.
  • Do you lack the ability to work in a team environment?
  • Are you communicating effectively? Do your employees understand the company vision well enough to implement it effectively?
I encourage you to be helpful in limiting the amount of waste present in your business and let others know you feel their involvement matters. I know it can be a challenge, but to not try is the biggest waste of all. 

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at http://www.trigard.com/tuesdays.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How do you deal with conflict?

Jeff Miller,
Vice President of
Business Development
As business professionals, we work diligently to avoid conflicts. Dealing with conflict isn't something that we enjoy, and we may even look the other way, hoping the issue will resolve itself.

Even the most attentive manager will encounter problems that will not resolve themselves. Face it, dealing with conflict, addressing employee performance issues and collecting on an overdue account from a challenging customer are not things we look forward to.

No matter the reason behind the conflict, if it goes unaddressed it will more than likely result in a much more serious problem down the road. Once you have successfully resolved an issue, you will find it much easier to address other issues in the future.

How do you successfully deal with conflict? It is quite simple. It is a matter of gathering the facts, formulating a resolution and calmly delivering the message to those involved. When handled properly, a conflict can be resolved successfully, making everyone feel good with the end result. There doesn't have to be a "winner" or a "loser," just a good resolution.

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at http://www.trigard.com/tuesdays.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

3 tips for better Customer Service

Kelli Nesbitt,
Customer Service Manager
At Trigard, Customer Service is our number one priority. We care about you and the families you serve. When working with us, we want you to go away satisfied with your experience.

Having such a successful Customer Service team isn't easy. We have a few tricks up our sleeves that help us do our job on a daily basis.
  • Think of your customers as individuals. Your business is your customers, not your products or services. Putting all your focus on your merchandise leaves out the most important component - each individual customer.
  • Go the extra mile. Make them feel special by including a thank-you note in a customer's order or by sending them a birthday card. There are all sorts of ways for you to keep in touch with your customers and bring them closer to you.
  • Keep your customers informed. Whether it is about new products or a change in procedure, your customers need to be constantly informed about what is going on within your organization. Send a brochure with an order or drop a letter in the mail. Whatever method you choose, be consistent.
Remember, the greatest success isn't as much as gaining new customers as it is keeping loyal customers. Thank you for being a part of the Trigard family. 

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at http://www.trigard.com/tuesdays.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A digital way to "unstick" your to-do list

Brodie Krause,
IT Manager
As an IT professional, I've sat at a lot of computer stations occupied by my co-workers. Often their monitors will have a halo of sticky notes placed all around the border, including notes, reminders and to-do lists.

Is this how you track your projects and things to-do? Did you know there are a number of more efficient ways to track your tasks using software, rather than the old sticky note method?

I'd like to introduce you to Trello by Fog Creek Software. Trello takes the idea of sticky notes on a whiteboard, and translates it beautifully into the digital world. Here you can create and customize lists for your home or office environment and store them in a central location. Each list can include due dates, checklists, comments and attachments.

Do you need to collaborate? Trello allows you to send invites via email for other individuals to have access to your organization board. And, when you are done with a list or project, Trello will archive it for you in case you need to refer back to it in the future - as opposed to the sticky note method. When you toss it, it's gone. But, best of all, it is absolutely free.

So clean up your monitor, save some trees and try a new way to keep track of your work!

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at http://www.trigard.com/tuesdays.

Monday, July 7, 2014

How to add value and personalization to cremation services

This article originally appeared in the May issue of Catholic Cemetery.

By Jeff Miller, CFSP, Trigard Vice President of Business Development

While many Catholic families still prefer to honor their loved ones with a traditional burial, cremation continues to rise in popularity. As younger generations become more involved in funeral planning, they’re often searching for ways to express the unique passions of their loved ones while still upholding Catholic traditions. Interring cremated remains during a graveside ceremony presents a key opportunity to satisfy both of these requests.

Families who have chosen cremation care about their loved ones just as much as families who choose traditional burial. The healing process is the same. Do you already provide personalization options to families who have chosen a traditional burial? Then you’re already on your way to adding value for the families who choose cremation.

Military honors
Few funeral traditions are as touching and emotional as the honors presented for our service men and women. The demonstration of military honors during a graveside service is a way to show gratitude to those who have faithfully defended our country and to their families who also made sacrifices.

You likely already have experience marrying military honors with Catholic customs during traditional burial services. But do you incorporate these honors into cremation services? Whether the family chooses a 21 gun salute, has a trumpeter play “Taps” or simply flies an American flag, you can create a meaningful and memorable service by honoring both their loved one’s service and their faith..

Lasting memento
Are you already handing out prayer cards during graveside services? Have you ever customized them for a family? That is a great first step, but what if we take a step beyond customized prayer cards and offer something specifically tailored for families who choose cremation?

As you know, many families leave flowers at the graveside as a token for their lost loved one; however, this leaves them with nothing to take with them to help keep their loved one’s memory alive. Companies around the globe offer many unique ways to incorporate keepsakes and mementos into the graveside services. The options are limited only by the imagination and wishes of the heart.

As funeral professionals, it is our job to know the options. If you attend any funeral service convention, you’ll find many suppliers offering keepsake products, memory tokens that are incorporated into graveside ceremonies and other pocket-sized mementos. It’s a lot of information to take in. But if you’re overwhelmed by the options, imagine how the families you serve feel. That’s why it’s so important that we suggest options to the families we serve.

Dove release
In addition to flowers, a white dove release is one of the most loving and inspirational gifts to give a loved one. When a family releases a white dove, it helps to begin the healing process and creates a lasting memory for years to come. It is said that when the flock of doves ascend into the sky, they are awaiting the spirit of a loved one to join them. Often times, a family releases a single white dove separately to represent a loved one’s spirit. This dove joins the flock and together they fly home.

If not doves, what about releasing balloons or butterflies? While we usually think of these with traditional burial ceremonies, adding this to a cremation graveside ceremony can serve as a visual expression of love. It can become a source of comfort and inspiration, especially when paired with traditional graveside readings.

Communicate to families
Maybe you’re ahead of the curve and you already see cremation services as important as burial services. Maybe you’re already an expert in incorporating personal touches into Catholic traditions. But, are you letting families know all of their options? Or do you wait for them to ask?

As a resource for families, we have to be bold enough to step outside the box and commit to providing suggestions and education as a family makes arrangements. 

Jeff Miller, CFSP, is the Vice President of Business Development at Trigard. He is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in Ohio, Michigan and Illinois and has practiced since 1980. You can email him at jeffm@trigard.com.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The helpful view of the grounds crew

Patrick Lewis,
Grounds Manager,
Sunset Memorial Park
As a grounds manager, I am often the person who is with a family the first time they see their loved one's grave. My team and I do everything we can to make it a healing experience for the families we serve. But when a family chooses a concrete box, our job becomes even more difficult.

As you likely know, concrete boxes have holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. But when we place one in a grave, water can also rise up from the ground.

I understand that some families have financial limits when purchasing an outer burial container for their loved one. But for families who have the luxury of choice, they deserve to really understand the difference between a concrete box and a lined, sealed burial vault instead.

If you need help with the conversation, we have some helpful materials, such as a poster and a sales sheet, that do all the talking for you.

This article originally appeared in Trigard Tuesdays, our weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at http://www.trigard.com/tuesdays.