Tuesday, December 15, 2015

3 reasons you're not updating your selection rooms

This article originally appeared in the September issue of Funeral Business Advisor.

By Linda-Darby Dowers, Chief Executive Officer

Education and staying involved with our industry have always been important to me. Not only do I regularly attend industry conferences across the country, but we also invite our vault dealers and their funeral home customers to visit us at Trigard University. This program is a way for us to share the ideas, tools and processes that we’ve seen work in funeral homes across the country.

When we talk with our dealers about updating their customers’ selection rooms, we constantly talk about using more modern tools. I know this won’t come as a surprise, but there are still so many funeral homes using miniature vault samples as their main tool for selling burial vaults. It may have worked in the past, but is it really still the best tool we have? I have heard families ask if the miniatures are infant vaults or even urn vaults. So why are we sitting back and letting the families we serve have an unclear view of the burial vault? Why aren’t we changing and making the decision process easier for them?

We won’t embrace change
No matter what the situation, change can be hard. We are creatures of habit. We take comfort in doing things the same way over and over again. We have seen our comfortable way work in the past, which makes it harder to believe that there’s any reason to change it. But there could be a better way. Even if our way works, something else could be even better.

The way we sell burial vaults is no different. I have talked to many experienced funeral professionals who insist that miniatures work for them; it’s what they’ve always used to help families make arrangements. It works. But the problem is that there is a better way of doing things. For several years, we have seen funeral homes significantly increase their average vault sale by using graphic wall displays and new scripting during arrangements.

The families that make funeral arrangements today are not the same as the people who made arrangements twenty, ten or even five years ago. They are living in a digital world where they are surrounded by strong graphics and images daily. They have become accustomed to simplified choices with more options, and it’s time our vault presentations reflect that.

We think all families are the same
When two children learn a new task, one will learn one way and the other will learn in a completely different way. So, offering a variety of tools to help them learn is important. The same goes for families who visit a funeral homes selection room.

It’s easy to generalize and assume that every family we serve will learn the same way, but that isn’t the case. Not every family is the same and they all have different learning patterns. To be an effective educator, it is important to give your funeral homes a variety of tools to use to teach the families they serve about your products and services.

We’re focused on how much it will cost
Sometimes, as funeral professionals, our unwillingness to change our selection room stems from the investment we have made in our miniature display. I understand that a lot of money goes into creating a display of miniature burial vaults, and to just replace them and put something new up is often times hard to swallow.

But remember the upgrade doesn’t end once you have new materials in place (and the miniatures are out). Continual training is required to make any change stick. Whether the new selection room tools are videos, wall displays, interactive software, touch screens or digital catalogs, you must provide continual training for your funeral directors and sales staff, or they’re going to start getting frustrated and begin longing for their old miniatures.

What if you aren’t ready to provide that kind of training to your staff? What if you feel like the information is too overwhelming? Ask your burial vault dealer for help. Just like the families you serve depend on you, you must be able to depend on your dealer for support and solutions. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

3 Things that will start your day off right

Rich Darby,
Chief Operating Officer
During the past three decades of working in the funeral industry, I have learned a few tricks to make my work days more successful.

Living in such a fast-paced environment can create a lot of pressure and stress. To help begin my day on a positive note, I do three simple things every morning. And, let me tell you, it has made a world of difference in how my day turns out. These simple steps get me in the right frame of mind, put me in a positive mood and prepare me to tackle any issue or problem that may come my way.

Here is my secret recipe:
  1. Wake up early. Every morning, I wake up about 30 to 40 minutes earlier than I really need. This gives me time to wake up calmly and prepare for the day. This allows you to wake up on your own terms, instead of in a rush to get out the door. If you wake up frantic and in a rush, you set a pattern for the rest of your day.
  2. Eat breakfast. Take the time to fix yourself a healthy breakfast every morning. I suggest including a something high in protein. This will provide you the energy you need to kick start your day off. It's alright to have a cup of coffee to give you that extra boost, but everything in moderation. I have been told that eating breakfast is like starting a fire each morning. And, you keep that fire burning by adding to it with smaller meals throughout the day. 
  3. Read or meditate. I wouldn't consider myself a highly religious person, but I do enjoy reading text from the Old Testament, the New Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb. Why do I do this? Because it keeps me focused and grounded. If bible reading isn’t for you, I suggest reading a self-help or meditation book to start your day off focused. 
As we get ready for this holiday season I challenge you to make this your New Year’s resolution. It isn’t painful and the reward is unbelievable. I would love to hear how it has changed your life. You can email me at RichD@trigard.com.

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, December 7, 2015

Making the graveside personal

Angel Jett,
Graphic Designer
This year as I plan and shop for holiday gifts for my family and friends, I find myself getting stumped. Is this candle too generic or is it my friend's favorite scent? Will my dad remember this drill bit set or will it be added to the pile of other tools? Gifting items with personal meaning can seem stressful, but we want to bring joy into our loved ones' lives and show them we care.

When we celebrate the life of a family’s loved one, it’s an opportunity to do the same. Maybe the casket and flowers are pink because it was Grandma's favorite color. Or, maybe the burial vault is decorated with a military emblem to honor an uncle's dedication to serving our country. But there is one more way to create an additional level of personalization.

As a graphic designer at Trigard, I have the honor of creating personal, custom Appliqués for families across the country. When a family shares their vision for an Applique, it is so much more than just photos and words; it's a heartfelt tribute to their loved one’s life and we hope family and friends are delighted when they see the final work of art at the graveside.

You can add even more personalization to an Appliqué by:

  1. Choosing the right photo. We encourage families to take the time to go through cherished photos to choose the perfect image for the Appliqué. Or they can even choose a few special images to create a collage for the background. Though it may be an emotional time, revisiting those photographs will bring back so many memories to help them as they begin to heal.
  2. Personalizing it with their name. Once the a background image is chosen from their personal photo collection or from our always growing library, adding the loved one’s name and dates can be a powerful way to make it even more unique.
  3. Picking a special quote or phrase. Families can also choose to include an inspirational quote or phrase on the Appliqué. Whether it was something their loved one always said or their favorite scripture, including it in the design can be a way to leave a meaningful thought with family and friends at the service.
  4. Writing a farewell note. Sometimes, families choose to write a message on the vault or Appliqué at the graveside service. This is a unique way for them to begin their healing journey.

The marketing team and I would love to help you bring to life the vision of the families you serve. Even if you’ve got a time crunch, as long as we have all of the materials by noon CST, you can rest assured you will receive the Appliqué in 24 hours, just email all the details to marketing@trigard.com.

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.