Monday, March 14, 2016

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. 

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