This article originally appeared in the February issue of American Funeral Director.
by Rich Darby, Chief Operating Officer
For generations, your family has worked hard to build a business within your community that is set apart from the rest. Your funeral home understands what our profession has been striving to accomplish for years. You take care of all the little details, and you deeply care about the families you serve.
Then a no-name funeral home opens their doors down the road and starts advertising that they are the cheapest around. They sell low-end products and don’t provide reputable service. But, they are drawing in business because of their prices. What do you do? Do you lower your prices to compete with the low-ballers? Or do you stay true to who you are and to the brand that you have built for all these years? I think this question can answer itself.
In today’s marketplace, we are so busy trying to compete with “the other guys” that we forget what kind of business we set out to be. If you want to be successful, stick to what you know. After many years in the funeral profession, my advice to anyone struggling with cut-rate competition is to trust in what you and your family have built over the years and don’t dilute your brand.
Like any profession, the funeral market is constantly changing and growing. But, even with an ever-changing marketplace, your time and attention become even more valuable commodities. Cut-rate competitors don’t deserve to eat up the time that you could be spending caring for families.
There is no advertising campaign, pricing scheme, product display or magic potion that can outperform good old fashioned sweat equity. Today’s consumer appreciates great service. They place a high value on a great experience, and they will seek you out and pay more if they find value in what you offer.
How do you know if you are providing real value? First, you have to take a hard look at your overall company. Are you competitively priced for what you offer in your market? Are the families you serve happy with the services that you offer?
Next, take a look at your expenses. Are you overpaying for a high-tech phone system or spending too much on office supplies? Are you outsourcing things that could be handled in-house, such as books and cards? Remember that you don’t have to have all of the answers. Ask your staff how you could save money without sacrificing quality, and reward them for great ideas.
If your numbers aren’t matching up and families aren’t happy, maybe it is time to formulate a new plan that involves going the extra mile. Our job is to go above and beyond for the families we serve. We are here to make one of the hardest days of their lives easier. And, to be successful, you have to work harder than your competition. You have to do more than anyone else.
Once you’re confident that you are making the best decisions about your expenses, stick to your guns. When you have a sound financial plan, your company will run smoother. And, when you have a smoothly functioning business model, the families you serve will be fully satisfied with the services they receive.