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A Track Record Of Trust. The story behind the nation’s largest privately owned and FASTEST. EASIEST.® funding company

A Track Record Of Trust. The story behind the nation’s largest privately owned and FASTEST. EASIEST.® funding company

Publications

Cover Feature in the Funeral Business Advisor : January – February 

“Our focus from the beginning was to be the best in the industry, not necessarily the biggest,” said Steve Calloway, president and co-founder of Express Funeral Funding.

Two phones, one fax machine and a blanket to cover the computers from dust at night, was just the beginning for Express Funeral Funding, which today has become the largest privately owned insurance assignment funding company in the nation.

In 2002, two years before an early retirement from a successful 22 year career as a financial and business executive for a large multinational company, Calloway became a co-owner and operator of a funeral home in New Albany, IN. This was the beginning of Calloway’s long time desire to own and operate his own business. Two years into ownership, an insurance assignment funding company proposed their services to Calloway and his funeral home.

“I did not know insurance assignment funding companies existed prior to this encounter, but I saw a tremendous value in the service. Having a background in finance and insurance, along with experience in funeral home ownership, I believed, this was something I could do,” noted Calloway.

In 2002, Calloway started a regional funding company, serving funeral homes in southern Indiana. Five years later, a casual lunch at The House of Bread in New Albany, IN between two friends and business colleagues sparked a partnership. Looking to expand on a national level, Calloway approached executive vice president, Mike Wilson with the idea. Also retired from a successful career but wanting to stay active, long-time entrepreneur Mike Wilson seized the opportunity.

“The day before I had lunch with Steve, I accepted a position in the Recreational Vehicle industry and was planning to sell RV’s,” said Wilson. “Right after that lunch, I called and let the company know, I would pursue a different path,” he laughed.

Both Calloway and Wilson envisioned building a funding company based on the foundation of total customer satisfaction. They were confident their combined passion and skill sets would develop the ultimate funeral home and cemetery resource, while providing superior customer service. With the support of their wives, the two moved forward and Express Funeral Funding was open for business.

In search of office space, Wilson’s wife, Liz, offered space on the overcrowded second floor storage area at her interior design shop. Calloway and Wilson accepted! The two settled into their space after a labor-intensive day of relocating dressers, couches, side tables, drapes, lamps and fabric samples to carve out enough space for their two used desks, a copier and a fax machine. With a modest beginning, their passion for excellence and mission to treat each funeral professional like family, the business excelled.

“Mike and I truly believed in providing more than just excellent customer service, but total customer satisfaction. It’s about meeting the unique needs of each customer,” said Calloway.

The two quickly realized they would need additional help to support the growth and continue providing the level of service their funeral homes and cemeteries expected and deserved. Looking no further than family, sons, Aaron Calloway and Michael Wilson left their careers to join on their father’s venture. Both sons with dreams of owning a business did not hesitate for the chance to work side by side with their fathers.

“I was advancing my finance career in California when my dad asked if I was interested in coming home to join the business, I immediately accepted,” said vice president Aaron Calloway.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with both of my parents in their businesses and could not wait for the opportunity to do so again as a partner in the company,” noted Michael Wilson, vice president.

The foursome developed a partnership seamlessly, each providing a unique skill set to contribute to the business’s success. With a competitive rate, technological advancements and desire for total customer satisfaction, Express Funeral Funding expanded quickly and continued to h¬ire.

Outgrowing their first office space, the team purchased a commercial office building in Clarksville, IN just across the Ohio River, minutes from Louisville, KY. With new space to support continued growth, they enlarged the sales and marketing team and began attending numerous state and national conventions. Expanding their resources, Express Funeral Funding realized organic growth year over year until their first acquisition of Jefferson Financial in 2016. With the opportunity to provide additional benefits such as online claim submission, reduced claim paperwork administration and complete claim advancements, Express quickly gained the trust of those previously using Jefferson Financial.

Experiencing continued success in 2017, Express Funeral Funding proudly became the exclusive preferred provider for the Michigan Funeral Director Association. In addition, they officially became the largest privately owned funding company, trusted by funeral homes and cemeteries nationwide.

With the support and confidence of their amazing funeral home and cemetery family, Express Funeral Funding has been able to provide their FASTEST. EASIEST.® services to more funeral homes and cemeteries each year.

 

   

What our customers are actually saying:

“Express Funeral Funding is superior in the industry in their knowledge and experience with insurance processing.  They provide prompt responses to ensure we have the information we need to best serve our families while being thorough and upfront about each unique situation that we all face in a changing environment. EFF makes the process simple so we can focus our time on the families we serve rather than jumping through the many administrative hoops insurance companies require.” 

Jan Smith, CFSP, Flanner Buchanan, Indiana

“Working with Express Funeral Funding has improved our cash flow significantly.  Their professionalism and quick turnaround time on processing our policies has really allowed us to concentrate on other important aspects of our business. They have worked miracles on some of the policies we didn’t think were fundable. It is an honor for our funeral home to have them on our team.”

Tamara Welch, Labby Memorial Funeral Homes, Louisiana

Express Funeral Funding has been a great partner to our funeral home, for a number of  years. EFF has allowed us to focus on the needs of our client families, with the confidence they will handle our insurance claims in a efficient  manner. Most insurance companies have specific forms and procedures that must be adhered to in order to secure payment and EFF’s service has allowed us to not only do away with our accounts receivables, but also has saved many staff hours which were previously being used to process claims! Thanks you for your excellent service over the years, it is truly appreciated.

David J. DeRubeis Sr., Cody-White Funeral Home, Connecticut 

In an industry where meeting the needs of families and providing stellar service is paramount; it is important to have partners that support your brand. I have worked with many funding companies throughout my career but EFF is by far the best in the business. EFF has been our insurance processing partner for five years. They understand our firm, our families and the financial aspect of the business. The entire team are like family and we appreciate that! The industry leader has to be Express Funeral Funding and we are thankful to have them in our corner!

Major Clora, Jr., Clora Funeral Home, Michigan

 

Maintaining Positive Cash Flow On Your Merger & Acquisition

Maintaining Positive Cash Flow On Your Merger & Acquisition

Publications

Featured in Southern Funeral Director Magazine : May 2018

By: Deanna Dydynski, marketing & public relations manager

Acquisitions, mergers, partnerships, regional consolidation and other joint ventures are changing business and have become essential to gaining competitive advantages. These joint business collaborations have multiple benefits from obtaining quality staff and valuable assets to reducing competition and overhead costs. With various financial resources available today, the ability to increase market share and expand your business is more attainable than ever.

Once you merge with or acquire another business, there are multiple considerations which must be taken into account such as: company cultural dynamics, management and employee placement, company-wide communication, strategic business and marketing strategies and of course financial management. Successful financial modeling and management is essential for any business but proves critical especially for mergers and acquisitions. Modeling your financial plan during an acquisition or merger is key in projecting cash flow and profitability.

Positive cash flow is what keeps your business going, it gives you the capacity to meet your financial obligations along with flexibility to explore growth opportunities. Maintaining positive cash flow can be challenging especially in this profession, as multiple variables including seasonality and death rates make it difficult to predict business. An additional challenge this profession faces in regards to managing positive cash flow is customer payment. Traditional methods include cash, check or credit card however, with an average funeral cost of $7,000 and over 63% of Americans without $500 in their savings to cover an emergency (Forbes, 2016), families are looking for alternative options for funeral payment. While it is true that funeral professionals do not have to accept life insurance as a form of payment, most do, because three in five Americans have some form of life insurance. So, if your funeral homes or cemeteries are not accepting life insurance as a form of payment you are eliminating a large portion of potential business. Additionally, for funeral homes accepting life insurance as payment, but processing the life insurance assignments in-house, they often face several challenges from countless administrative tasks to delayed payments.

If you have acquired or merged and now manage multiple businesses, maintaining positive cash flow can prove to be even more challenging as you are now fiscally responsible for more than one entity. You need money to pay your employees, investors, suppliers, overhead expenses and beyond. Owning multiple businesses, adds additional challenges when striving to maximize the efficiency of your resources and employees. You risk maintaining positive cash flow and reducing employee productivity if you are processing life insurance assignments in-house versus using a professional funding company.

How can your businesses maintain positive cash flow, let alone operate when you are waiting 30, 60 and sometimes 90 days and beyond after a funeral service to be paid? There are over 800 insurance companies in the United States and whether you own one location or several locations, they will not discriminate and you will be waiting on payment. Your investors and your bank are not going to accept payment 30, 60 or 90 days later, so as a funeral home owner, why are you? You are not a bank, but every time you process life insurance assignments in-house you are essentially giving away free loans. As an owner of multiple funeral homes, you do not have time to wait on your money. Insurance assignment funding companies will not only obtain the receivables you are waiting on but they can help you maintain positive cash flow. Instead of waiting an extended period of time to get paid on your services, imagine having payment sent straight to your funeral home bank account within the same day. Imagine having money on hand to pay your employees and overhead costs. Imagine freeing your accounts receivables. Imagine getting paid on pending death certificate and coroner cases. Imagine having additional money to take advantage of supplier discounts and promotions. Imagine having additional money for your cash reserves. Imagine being able to invest and acquire another funeral home. Partnering with an insurance assignment funding company can make all of those “imaginations” come to fruition! I often hear funeral directors say, “This sounds great, but what does it cost?” It does not have to cost anything. A small processing fee is taken from the family’s life insurance benefit, so there are no out-of-pocket expenses for the funeral home or cemetery. A typical rebuttal to this I hear is, “I do not want the family to have to pay for this.” While it is the standard to pass the fee along to the family, funding companies do make it possible for the funeral home to absorb the processing fee if they desire to. Funding companies can provide the positive cash flow essential for your businesses and enable you to redirect employee resources to other value-added services.

In this profession, connecting with families and providing services second to none is essential for continued business and is what differentiates you from your competitors. For funeral homes processing insurance in-house, how can you expect your funeral staff to give families the attention they deserve if they have to sit on hold with insurance companies for hours, complete endless amounts of paperwork or have to call families back into the funeral home after a service to complete additional forms? There are costs to these administrative tasks and if you could eliminate those and position your staff to other areas of increased revenue streams, wouldn’t you want to? While all funding companies can improve cash flow, there are different levels of service each provide. While you are seeking a partnership with a funding company it is essential you partner with one that provides the fastest and easiest services and can eliminate the administrative claim paperwork portion of the process.

As a regional consolidator each of your funeral homes are likely paying a salary for someone, we will call her “Sally,” to sit on hold and complete paperwork. However, the landscape of this profession is changing and as funeral directors you are being pushed to your creative limits to expand your services for changing demands. Instead of hiring another employee to manage new revenue opportunities, what if you could utilize Sally and have her manage and explore new service options? Imagine eliminating nonproductive claim administrative time for a “Sally” at each of your locations, now you have an even greater opportunity to increase productivity and revenue.

Every funeral home and cemetery can benefit from using a funding company but for investors and owners of multi-location firms, the benefits are multiplied. In fact, a majority of funeral home groups and corporations require each location to use a funding company, for improved positive cash flow and productivity of staff.

You are an entrepreneur, investor and owner, you are not a life insurance expert and you should not expect your staff to be. Maintaining positive cash flow and effective utilization of resources is crucial for the success of your merger or acquisition. If you partner with a funding company that can provide 360 degrees of support, you will see first hand how essential their services can be for the success of your businesses.

Marketing 2 Millennials

Marketing 2 Millennials

Publications

Featured in the Funeral Business Advisor: May – June 2018

By: Deanna Dydynski, marketing & public relations manager

Move over baby boomers, millennials have officially become the largest living generation and are also the primary demographic every brand is trying to charm. Effective marketing to millennials poses challenges for many companies, but if you can master some of these expert strategies you will be well on your way to attracting and retaining the millennial consumer.

*Spoiler Alert* I am a millennial.

Tip 1. Be Authentic: Half of the battle when marketing to a millennial is getting their attention, the other half is getting them to respond. Millennials spend an average of 25 hours per week online tweeting, liking, sharing, pinning, double-tapping and commenting on content-driven websites. We do our research and get our information from blogs, websites and social media platforms, because we trust the source. Millennials have an unusually strong nonsense detector, and majority of the time we can instantly tell when something is phony, fake or unauthentic. We “don’t have time for that,” and will x-out, skip, scroll and slide right pass content or messages that do not have authentic value. Millennials feel empowered to make their own choices and appreciate expertise but they are only influenced by genuine content from trusted sources. We want our interests to be considered and not our wallets.

Courtyard by Marriott hit the nail on the head with their most recent ad campaign, geared to target millennials. Rather than highlighting all of the services they offer; they focused on the passions and lifestyles of their millennial guests. The campaign’s commercial highlights a young woman traveling to multiple destinations for her profession. It shows her purchasing fabric in other countries, interacting with weavers in a rural setting, sketching on a coaster in a bar, while also staying at multiple Courtyard hotels. The commercial is narrated by her father who is explaining how proud he is of her for following her passions and proving him wrong when he said “work is clocking-in and clocking-out.” Ending the commercial is a message stating, “Passion moves us forward. It is how you think. It is how we think.” The commercial tells a story without selling, it makes one feel inspired and gives the Courtyard by Marriott an amazing brand perception.

How can you apply this marketing strategy to your funeral home or cemetery? The next service you have, really watch how the family reacts to every element of the funeral. What moved them? What seemed off? Listen to what people are saying and sponge all of this in. Funerals are naturally difficult to portray in a positive light because they are tragic times, but if you can capture an emotion of passion, love, sincerity or hope and portray it in a video, your service will sell itself, and you will appeal to the millennial generation.

Informative content marketing has been effective for hundreds of years. In 1895 John Deere introduced a free publication with dozens of farming tips called, The Furrow. The intent was to provide farmers with tips and farming techniques to improve their farming and become more profitable. The Furrow, is available in more than 40 countries and is offered in 12 different languages. Jell-O circulated free copies of a cookbook displaying creative ways to use the product in 1904 and saw an annual sales increase of one million dollars. In 1966 Nike released a 19-page booklet titled Jogging, filled with advice on enjoying running as a recreational activity and included specific running and posture tips. The booklet brought running as a sport to America and never once mentioned a Nike shoe.

Millennials are supportive of businesses dedicated to improving their customers lives with informative content but we want it in the form of e-books, blog posts and videos. As you apply this strategy to your funeral home, do not focus on how you can sell millennials on your services, instead create a blog or monthly video sequence with informative information about the funeral planning process, grief management, or a how-to-continually honor your loved one. Really consider every element of losing a loved one and incorporate this in your content.

Tip 2. Engage & Speak The Language: Traditional outbound marketing such as radio spot ads, direct mail campaigns, newspaper advertisements or pop-up web ads, are not effective to the millennial demographic. We view these as disruptive, annoying and unsolicited. So, what do millennials like? Millennials like engaging brands, that are creating educational, informative content without being pushy or broadcasting their services. Sixty-two percent of millennials say if a brand engages with them on social media platforms, they are more likely to become a loyal customer (Forbes,2017). Millennials trust brands that are connected on multiple communication platforms, so if your funeral home is no where to be seen on the internet, you have zero chance of reaching them.

It is not just enough to be engaging, you also need to speak the language of millennials. Creating content your audience would proudly share helps build the brand-customer relationship. Before you begin to push content, it is important you and your funeral staff brush-up on your millennial lingo. Taco Bell, found an ingenious way to communicate millennial slang to their executive staff with their “Word Of The Week,” which features popular modern-day words. Taco Bell assembled a team of employees in their 20’s to curate popular words, define and use in a sentence to distribute in company emails.

Example: Lit. adjective. Used to describe a certain situation, person, place or thing as awesome/crazy or just ‘happening’ in general.

Used in a sentence: “Taco Bell was so lit last night. I had to wait in line for 15 minutes before I could order.”

Taco Bell has done a phenomenal job engaging with its millennial consumers through their social media platforms and the key to their success is having the entire team familiar and learning the millennial language. One resource I would recommend you and your staff use to keep-up with millennial slang would be Urban Dictionary, which is an online crowdsourced dictionary that defines modern day slang words and phrases. As a millennial, Urbandictionary.com is my go-to for any unfamiliar term I cannot use context clues to figure out.

Tip 3. Create An Experience: Millennials just want to have fun! We crave an experience and find researching and browsing for a purchase more compelling than the actual transaction itself. Online exploration has become a form of entertainment, it is the new window shopping. Pinterest is the perfect example of how the journey of shopping can become a personalized experience. If you are not familiar, Pinterest is a social networking site that allows users to discover interests from weddings and camping to do-it-yourself projects and beyond, then you “pin” it to your digital “board” to share with followers. Pinterest works because it is personalized and engaging. Millennials are not loyal by default, they stay with a brand when the experience is rewarding each time. As funeral directors you know if a family has a positive experience they will come back. For the millennial consumer, creating a positive experience is essential because they are judging every time and will have no problem trying another brand or your competitor down the street if they did not enjoy their last experience with you.

A millennial is a sucker for brands that are improving lives, supporting the planet, giving back to communities or adding value. As funeral directors you are already connected and involved with your communities, so share your involvement on social media, recycle at your funeral home or start a donation bank for stray animals in your community. Trust me, millennials will love you for this.

Lastly, give away free stuff. T-shirts, pens, chip-clips, water bottles, koozies, pizza-cutters, put your funeral home name on it and give it away! Don’t you love receiving free things? Well so do millennials. As a marketing and public relations professional, I find promotional items and giveaways essential to connecting with an audience, because of the positive perception your brand receives along with the ability to be in front of your audience when you cannot be. It is rewarding and a great ice breaker when someone recognizes your brand because they just tightly closed their bag of Cheetos with your company chip-clip last night.

Millennials can be difficult to market to, but the more your brand interacts with them the better you will become at hook, line and sinking this young demographic. FBA

I Hope I Outlive Her, Just So I Can Go To Her Funeral…

I Hope I Outlive Her, Just So I Can Go To Her Funeral…

Publications

Featured in the Funeral Business Advisor: March – April 2018

By: Deanna Dydynski, marketing & public relations manager

This season on Vanderpump Rules, a Bravo network reality television show, socialite Stassi Schroeder was featured describing her future funeral plans while ironically, planning her 29th birthday.

“At my wake I am going to have a glass of wine in my hand and people can come in a photo booth and take photos of me,” said Schroeder candidly.

In a later interview clip her friend Katie Maloney responded saying, “I hope I outlive her, just so I can go to her funeral.”

Naturally, working in the funeral industry this sparked my attention and got me thinking, what would I want at my funeral and would it be something my friends would want to outlive me for?

Personalization is for funerals as wheels are for cars, they are essential. The future generations coming into your funeral home will be expecting personalization on another level. Not the kind of personalization where a favorite bible verse is stitched into the casket panel or catering Chick- fil-A after the services because Aunt Sue loved chicken nuggets. We are talking a unique, one-of-a kind, truly personal, experience. From a compelling life-story obituary all the way down to funeral guest “swag bags.”

This January Terry Ward’s obituary went viral. Why? Because his daughter Jean wrote an obituary that made readers miss a man they never even knew. The obituary was full of humor and whit but was also authentic and genuine and it captivated readers everywhere.

“He enjoyed many, many things.  Among those things were hunting, fishing, golfing, snorkeling, ABBA, hiking Turkey Run, chopping wood, shooting guns, Bed Bath & Beyond, starlight mints, cold beer, free beer, The History Channel, CCR, war movies, discussing who makes the best pizza, The Chicago White Sox, old Buicks, and above all, his family.” 

These were just a few of the personal touches Ward’s daughter wrote in his obituary. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune Jean mentioned she was happy the humor resonated with readers, and working in the funeral industry herself, has seen “when families can come together, celebrate a life and truly laugh, it helps them heal.”  After all, is this not what a funeral is for, a way to heal?

Dictionary.com defines “funeral” as; the ceremonies honoring a dead person. There is no right or wrong way to honor a loved one but if you can create a service that helps families heal even more, wouldn’t you want to?

(Image Source, bbc.com)
(Image Source, bbc.com)

Earlier I mentioned TV personality, Stassi Schroeder describing her funeral, and how she wants to have a photo booth at her wake, for her guests to take pictures with her in. While this may not be a typical request, Schroeder was not so far off the grid, as post-mortem photography was extremely common in Great Britain’s, Victorian Era. Having several epidemics, the Victorian era was plagued with death. During this time, post-mortem photography became a way of commemorating loved ones and healing grief.  After researching I found several images from this era, including pictures of young children posing with their dead mother, siblings posing with their dead sister even an entire family with their pet cat surrounding their dead child.

Photography studios would take pictures and print them on cards to be delivered to friends and relatizves as mementos. Additionally, lockets and rings were often distributed with locks of hair cut from the dead. While some of the images are unsettling and the concept is taboo, this was just another way for families to morn their loved ones.

Memorialization and personalization has come in all forms from different cultures for decades. In Ghana, people want to be buried in coffins that represent something they loved or which represents their life’s work and passions. BUZZFEED highlighted this in a “29 Insanely Elaborate Custom Coffins From Ghana,” feature which showcased a Mercedes Benz coffin, several animal inspired coffins, an airplane, cinema projector, an ear of corn coffin and many more. This definitely moves personalization up another level.

(Image Source, BUZZFEED.com)
(Image Source, BUZZFEED.com)
(Image Source, BUZZFEED.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever heard of a Balinese cremation? In Balinese tradition, cremation is a sacred tradition and is believed to release the soul to inhabit a new body. The island’s cremation ceremonies are nothing short of extravagant.

(Image Source, Justin Mott for New York Times)

In 2008 the island performed its most lavish cremation for a royal family member and 68 commoners. Thousands carried a giant bamboo platform, wooden bull and dragon in an all-day procession and then placed the royal family member in the bull and burned it as the wooden dragon “stood witness.”

Of course, with each religion and culture come different personalization methods and ways to memorialize. Here in America as religious preferences change, ways to honor loved ones must evolve. Families are requesting unique funerals and pushing the boundaries on the “typical service,” and some funeral homes are adapting. Some have invested in catering and event spaces so funerals or “life celebrations” can include live music or dance performances. One funeral home even transformed their service and space into a complete custom Star Wars theme, including Storm Trooper pallbearers and Jedi word-shaped flower arrangements. With a new shift in demand for one-of-a kind personalization, a new event planning window has opened. Harper’s BAZAAR recently featured a funeral event planning company, Going Out In Style, which is comprised of women with backgrounds in wedding planning, editorial stylists, event designs, florists and art directors from top publications and designers. These women plan every detail from parting gift bags, gold wrapped fast food and monogrammed napkins down to a hair and make-up tutorial with a mortuary cosmetologist.

The new generations coming to your funeral home want an EXPERIENCE, one that helps them heal. However, this new trend offers some challenges to funeral professionals.

Challenge 1: Creativity. Some funeral professionals simply do not have a creative bone in their body.

Solution: Have trouble thinking outside of the box? The internet can help with that. GOOGLE, “unique funerals,” you will be surprised what comes up. Additionally, consider hiring a new team member that has event-planning experience or send one of your best to an outside-industry event planning seminar!

Challenge 2: Space and money. Most funeral homes are stretched for space, so where are you supposed to host large events? ­­­

Solution: Community or recreation centers, local schools, churches, or possibly a friend with a large event space? Network, you are already a pillar of your community so reach out to other leaders and friends and see what spaces you can use for free or rent! You could negotiate a win-win option to rent the space for free, if their event planning or catering services are used by your family. The funeral industry is full of comradery. Is there a funeral home in a nearby town that would partner on an event center with you? Want to add on to your existing building but do not have the money? There are several respected funeral industry leaders specializing in financing and loans for funeral homes to contact.

Challenge 3: Payment. You are probably thinking  these ideas sound great, but the reality is, families are struggling to pay for basic services or cutting service options to save money.

Solution: Outsource to an insurance assignment funding company. For starters three in five people walking into your funeral home will have some form of life insurance. Additionally, did you know families will pay 31% more for a service if they have a life insurance policy? It is money they already have and if you work with a funding company that can get you accurate information and fund the money within 24 hours, why not? Most funding companies can advance policy funds beyond funeral costs within a day as well. So, you are covered for the deposit you need to put down immediately for the Cirque du Soleil performer the family wants. The best part, funding companies are no cost to funeral professionals and there is no out-of-pocket expense to the family.

Memorialization does not have to stop after the funeral service is over. As we saw after this year’s Super Bowl, parade attendees brought their loved one’s ashes with them to events and some even scattered remains. When families leave your funeral home, they do not stop thinking about their loved one. What if you could play a part in this remembrance, to continually aid in the healing process? Chances are you have celebrated a five, ten or 20-year high school reunion. What are you celebrating? The memories of high school and how you have grown as individuals. Well, what if you did the same thing for your families and offered an option for them to come back and continually celebrate, such as an annual remembrance service?

Families come back to your funeral home when you have created a positive experience during their difficult time. Research new ideas, talk with your staff about what they have seen, read and heard, have brainstorming sessions and strategize plans to continually evolve the services you offer so you can meet the demands of the families of the future.

After researching ways to personalize funerals, while I do not have a complete plan for my funeral, I do have some ideas I think would make my friends want to outlive me for.

7 Common Financial Missteps

7 Common Financial Missteps

Publications, Uncategorized

Featured in American Funeral Director, Financial Touch Point: February 2018

By: Steve Calloway, president

Everybody makes mistakes from time to time. However, with every mistake there is a chance to learn, grow and improve. Finances are undoubtedly a crucial aspect of business and one misstep could be costly.  The funeral industry, while it is unique in practice is much like any other business, sharing the same principles and practices. If you can avoid these seven common financial missteps your funeral home/cemetery will be on a path to financial success.

1. Not Developing a Strategic Business Plan and Annual Operating Budget

As a business owner you want to be proactive not reactive.  A strategic business plan is a multi-year view providing focus and direction.  It identifies actions necessary to move your organization from where you are to where you want be. Each year set specific goals, objectives, and priorities and make sure to communicate them with your staff. I recommend using an annual operating budget with a monthly comparison of actual performance to make sure you are on track.  Review actual results against budgeted performance with your staff.  My staff often hears me say, “What gets measured, gets done.”

2. Not Properly Managing Your Cash Flow

You need money to run a business and managing your cash flow is essential. You should continually look for opportunities to increase revenues, reduce costs and for ways to speed up collection of payment for services.  In situations where life insurance is used for payment, funeral professionals should consider partnering with an insurance assignment funding company to receive immediate payment, which increases cash flow and reduces administrative cost.  Adequate cash flow enables you take advantage of trade discounts and protect your credit by avoiding late payments.

3. Not Having an Emergency Cash Reserve

Monthly revenues can fluctuate considerably in the funeral industry; therefore, having an emergency cash reserve is necessary. Maintain at least a two to three months cash reserve for normal operations as well as the inevitable unexpected expenses.

4. Not Separating Business & Personal Finances

Too often in the funeral industry there occurs a co-mingling of business and personal expenses. This makes it difficult for an owner to separate business performance and profitability from possible poor management of personal finances. You should pay yourself a salary which was determined when you developed the operating budget, and maintain separate business and personal checking accounts. Your accountant will thank you!  Additionally, protect your personal assets with a proper business classification, such as an LLC.

5. Being a Jack Of All Trades

As funeral professionals you are directors, grief counselors, event planners, and more to the families you serve. Time is money, and you should spend your time doing what you do best with the families you serve. Outsourcing certain tasks can save you valuable time and actually improve your bottom line.  One example of outsourcing that can save you time and money is an insurance assignment funding company.  Do not spend hours on the phone with insurance companies and hours completing insurance claim forms, outsource to a fast and easy insurance assignment company!

6. Not Hiring the Best Talent

With over 80 percent of funeral homes being family owned, it is common for family members and relatives to be employed in your business, but are they really the best for your business? Your employees are your greatest asset and have the biggest impact on the success of your business.  Take time to find and hire the right staff.  You may have to pay a higher salary but as the age old saying goes; you get what you pay for.

7. Not Developing a Succession Plan

Do not neglect retirement planning. At some point you will want to retire and fully enjoy the fruits of your labor. Start developing a succession plan and exit strategy now so you can comfortably enjoy retirement in the future.

Old Ways Will Not Open New Doors. How Funding Companies Can Boost Your Bottom Line.

Old Ways Will Not Open New Doors. How Funding Companies Can Boost Your Bottom Line.

Publications

Featured in American Funeral Director, Financial Fitness: December 2017

By: Deanna Dydynski, marketing & public relations manager

Forbes reports that 65 percent of families do not have $500 dollars in their bank account to cover an emergency cost. So, why would a family choose a greater service package, more expensive casket or larger flower arrangement when they cannot even cover the cost if their car breaks down on the way to your funeral home?

Industry consultants continually provide additional service personalization recommendations, suggest marketing ideas or propose new merchandising plans, all in an effort to help boost your bottom line and find additional revenue streams in the rise of cremation. But rarely do I hear industry experts say, “outsource to an insurance assignment funding company.”

Back in the “good old days,” as it is commonly referred to in the funeral industry, funding or “factoring” companies were typically marketed only as “get money quick” or “cash now” companies. While these campaigns were effective to some of the market, it left many turned-off to the idea of utilizing funding companies. Why? Because it did not reach the funeral homes and cemeteries who did not necessarily have a “cash flow problem.” This marketing angle closed the door for funding companies to portray all of the additional benefits and services they provide. So, while you may still hold these preconceived perceptions and opinions, I’m going to ask you to try something new, to open the door to all the benefits funding companies can offer. Utilizing the right insurance assignment funding company can ultimately lower your overhead, increase your average service cost and help boost your bottom line.

Sixty percent of Americans have some form of life insurance, which means that three in five people that come through your door will have a life insurance policy and they may be using that to pay for your services. Yes, funeral homes are not required to accept life insurance as a form of payment, but if you are not, then you are missing out on business opportunities. Accepting life insurance as a form of payment is an additional service you can provide the families you serve. However, those of you who have actually handled the processing and payment of a life insurance policy in-house, know all too well the challenges.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 811 insurance companies in the United States (2016). Think back to when you were in mortuary school. In your finance or business management class, were life insurance policies, death benefits or document terms part of the course structure? Chances are slim. At the end of the day funeral directors are chemists, event planners, grief counselors, journalists and beyond. You are not expected to be life insurance experts and with over 800 insurance companies and infinite policy types, it is nearly impossible to become one, unless it is your sole focus. You would not go to an auto dealership expecting to get a haircut and when families come to you, they are not expecting you to know everything about their loved one’s life insurance policy.

Unlike a simple swipe of a credit card, writing a check or handling of cash, the process alone to verify a policy, exudes a lot of time, effort and resources. Insurance companies are becoming increasingly more difficult to work with. Aside from untimely payout, funeral directors are spending hours on the phone, hours filling out paperwork and are assuming a lot of risk in the verification process. It does not matter if you do 50 calls a year or 5,000 calls a year, insurance companies are making the life insurance policy payment process extremely challenging for everyone.

The U.S. Department of Labor discloses that the insurance industry employs 2.6 million people, and of those, 1.5 million are employed with life and health insurers (2016). The USA Census Bureau reports, that 34,427 people are funeral directors, morticians and undertakers (2016). These statistics show there are nearly 44 insurance employees to every one funeral professional. You would think with a 44:1 insurance agent to funeral director ratio, that gathering information would be a little easier. However, when calling an insurance company you sit on hold for extended periods of time, are passed from one person to the next, and may not receive valid information or any information at all.

On top of timely phone calls, lengthily claim forms and administrative tasks are also part of the process. Do you really want to be paying your employees to sit on hold and to fill out claim forms that can reach up to 20 pages? There are a lot of soft costs involved in administrative tasks, which ultimately increases your overhead. If you are a one man/woman operation, how do you even have the time? Outsourcing to a funding company that not only verifies claims but completes the claim paperwork for you and the family can eliminate these soft costs, lowering your total overhead. Additionally it can save you something incredibly valuable, time. Time that you could be spending with families, or developing new business, service or marketing plans.

You may be thinking, “Well, I hired Mary to handle insurance payments, that would mean I would have to let her go.” Remember, we have opened a new door, this does not have to be the case. Many owners will either expand on their services to include Mary in those processes, pass additional tasks on to Mary that are becoming too time-consuming or even have Mary begin an apprenticeship!

Aside from taking on administrative tasks to save time, funding companies relieve the risks involved in administrative or clerical errors. Some insurance companies will make families go through a probate, court-ordered hearing if the beneficiary was not listed on the initial claim forms, or if the claim forms were filled out incorrectly, a family may have to come back into the funeral home after the funeral services to correct the documents. Not only is this embarrassing for the funeral home but it also gives an unprofessional impression, which may ultimately cause a family to seek an alternative funeral home in the future.

Speaking of risks, let’s discuss verification. Speaking to funeral professionals, I often hear, “We can verify claims in 10 minutes, we do not need your services.” When I ask, have you ever been shorted payment or not paid at all?, I get a hesitant head nod, yes. That is because, insurance companies give incorrect information all of the time, you may be dealing with third parties, who may not actually know the terms of the policy, leaving you extremely vulnerable to falsified information. Most likely there has been a time when an insurance company told you one thing on the phone and then when it came time for payout, they have a completely different answer. Funeral homes are not banks! Every time you handle the processing of a life insurance policy you are basically giving away a free loan. Insurance assignment funding companies have recorded phone lines, long-standing relationships with insurance companies, and have an extensive foundation of knowledge and experience. Let your funding companies assume the risks involved in processing life insurance assignments, if they are the best they will have a high verification accuracy rate.

Cash is king and having cash flow is essential to your business. If you are waiting 30, 60, 90 days or even months to get paid on services, then how can you expect to pay yourself, your staff, suppliers and so on? Aside from managing overhead costs, you cannot take advantage of supplier discounts, promotions or volume saving offers. As a previous casket supplier, I saw first-hand how many funeral homes could not pay within their 30 day terms to receive an additional ten percent discount off of their bill, or take advantage of new-casket promotions and volume saving discounts. My perspective was that funeral homes do not hold services without getting paid, so I was always curious as to why funeral homes were not taking advantage of these money saving opportunities. After transitioning into the financial sector of the industry, at an insurance assignment funding company, my perspective has changed. Funeral homes that are processing life insurance assignments in-house are waiting extensive periods of time to get paid for services, which ultimately effects the ability to take advantage of terms discounts and supplier promotions. Instead of increasing service costs or lowering operating costs to improve your bottom line, utilize a funding company to help free your receivables. Having consistent cash flow to “buy now and save later,” and to take advantage of discounts and promotions will ultimately help improve your bottom line.

Funeral professionals are in the business of giving. Whether you are assisting a family with financial troubles or are extending your services to provide a memorable service, with every family you serve, you are looking help in any way you can. Wouldn’t it be great to offer a family financial assistance for travel expenses, medical bills or the ability to get a larger flower arrangement? Well, if you are outsourcing to a funding company, you can. Insurance assignment funding companies offer the ability to fund up to the total amount of a life insurance policy, giving you the ability to offer families additional assistance. When a family knows they can access money they already have, they will use it. New door open, families may opt for a nicer casket, flower arrangement or want to add a dove releasing ceremony as part of the service. Increasing your average service cost. Improving your bottom line. Additionally, offering the ability to provide families with immediate funding for medical bills, travel expenses or unexpected bills, improves your brand perception. Helping to rOld Ways Will Not Open New Doors
How Funding Companies Can Help Boost Your Bottom Line

Forbes reports that 65 percent of families do not have $500 dollars in their bank account to cover an emergency cost. So, why would a family choose a greater service package, more expensive casket or larger flower arrangement when they cannot even cover the cost if their car breaks down on the way to your funeral home?

Industry consultants continually provide additional service personalization recommendations, suggest marketing ideas or propose new merchandising plans, all in an effort to help boost your bottom line and find additional revenue streams in the rise of cremation. But rarely do I hear industry experts say, “outsource to an insurance assignment funding company.”

Back in the “good old days,” as it is commonly referred to in the funeral industry, funding or “factoring” companies were typically marketed only as “get money quick” or “cash now” companies. While these campaigns were effective to some of the market, it left many turned-off to the idea of utilizing funding companies. Why? Because it did not reach the funeral homes and cemeteries who did not necessarily have a “cash flow problem.” This marketing angle closed the door for funding companies to portray all of the additional benefits and services they provide. So, while you may still hold these preconceived perceptions and opinions, I’m going to ask you to try something new, to open the door to all the benefits funding companies can offer. Utilizing the right insurance assignment funding company can ultimately lower your overhead, increase your average service cost and help boost your bottom line.

Sixty percent of Americans have some form of life insurance, which means that three in five people that come through your door will have a life insurance policy and they may be using that to pay for your services. Yes, funeral homes are not required to accept life insurance as a form of payment, but if you are not, then you are missing out on business opportunities. Accepting life insurance as a form of payment is an additional service you can provide the families you serve. However, those of you who have actually handled the processing and payment of a life insurance policy in-house, know all too well the challenges.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 811 insurance companies in the United States (2016). Think back to when you were in mortuary school. In your finance or business management class, were life insurance policies, death benefits or document terms part of the course structure? Chances are slim. At the end of the day funeral directors are chemists, event planners, grief counselors, journalists and beyond. You are not expected to be life insurance experts and with over 800 insurance companies and infinite policy types, it is nearly impossible to become one, unless it is your sole focus. You would not go to an auto dealership expecting to get a haircut and when families come to you, they are not expecting you to know everything about their loved one’s life insurance policy.

Unlike a simple swipe of a credit card, writing a check or handling of cash, the process alone to verify a policy, exudes a lot of time, effort and resources. Insurance companies are becoming increasingly more difficult to work with. Aside from untimely payout, funeral directors are spending hours on the phone, hours filling out paperwork and are assuming a lot of risk in the verification process. It does not matter if you do 50 calls a year or 5,000 calls a year, insurance companies are making the life insurance policy payment process extremely challenging for everyone.

The U.S. Department of Labor discloses that the insurance industry employs 2.6 million people, and of those, 1.5 million are employed with life and health insurers (2016). The USA Census Bureau reports, that 34,427 people are funeral directors, morticians and undertakers (2016). These statistics show there are nearly 44 insurance employees to every one funeral professional. You would think with a 44:1 insurance agent to funeral director ratio, that gathering information would be a little easier. However, when calling an insurance company you sit on hold for extended periods of time, are passed from one person to the next, and may not receive valid information or any information at all.

On top of timely phone calls, lengthily claim forms and administrative tasks are also part of the process. Do you really want to be paying your employees to sit on hold and to fill out claim forms that can reach up to 20 pages? There are a lot of soft costs involved in administrative tasks, which ultimately increases your overhead. If you are a one man/woman operation, how do you even have the time? Outsourcing to a funding company that not only verifies claims but completes the claim paperwork for you and the family can eliminate these soft costs, lowering your total overhead. Additionally it can save you something incredibly valuable, time. Time that you could be spending with families, or developing new business, service or marketing plans.

You may be thinking, “Well, I hired Mary to handle insurance payments, that would mean I would have to let her go.” Remember, we have opened a new door, this does not have to be the case. Many owners will either expand on their services to include Mary in those processes, pass additional tasks on to Mary that are becoming too time-consuming or even have Mary begin an apprenticeship!

Aside from taking on administrative tasks to save time, funding companies relieve the risks involved in administrative or clerical errors. Some insurance companies will make families go through a probate, court-ordered hearing if the beneficiary was not listed on the initial claim forms, or if the claim forms were filled out incorrectly, a family may have to come back into the funeral home after the funeral services to correct the documents. Not only is this embarrassing for the funeral home but it also gives an unprofessional impression, which may ultimately cause a family to seek an alternative funeral home in the future.

Speaking of risks, let’s discuss verification. Speaking to funeral professionals, I often hear, “We can verify claims in 10 minutes, we do not need your services.” When I ask, have you ever been shorted payment or not paid at all?, I get a hesitant head nod, yes. That is because, insurance companies give incorrect information all of the time, you may be dealing with third parties, who may not actually know the terms of the policy, leaving you extremely vulnerable to falsified information. Most likely there has been a time when an insurance company told you one thing on the phone and then when it came time for payout, they have a completely different answer. Funeral homes are not banks! Every time you handle the processing of a life insurance policy you are basically giving away a free loan. Insurance assignment funding companies have recorded phone lines, long-standing relationships with insurance companies, and have an extensive foundation of knowledge and experience. Let your funding companies assume the risks involved in processing life insurance assignments, if they are the best they will have a high verification accuracy rate.

Cash is king and having cash flow is essential to your business. If you are waiting 30, 60, 90 days or even months to get paid on services, then how can you expect to pay yourself, your staff, suppliers and so on? Aside from managing overhead costs, you cannot take advantage of supplier discounts, promotions or volume saving offers. As a previous casket supplier, I saw first-hand how many funeral homes could not pay within their 30 day terms to receive an additional ten percent discount off of their bill, or take advantage of new-casket promotions and volume saving discounts. My perspective was that funeral homes do not hold services without getting paid, so I was always curious as to why funeral homes were not taking advantage of these money saving opportunities. After transitioning into the financial sector of the industry, at an insurance assignment funding company, my perspective has changed. Funeral homes that are processing life insurance assignments in-house are waiting extensive periods of time to get paid for services, which ultimately effects the ability to take advantage of terms discounts and supplier promotions. Instead of increasing service costs or lowering operating costs to improve your bottom line, utilize a funding company to help free your receivables. Having consistent cash flow to “buy now and save later,” and to take advantage of discounts and promotions will ultimately help improve your bottom line.

Funeral professionals are in the business of giving. Whether you are assisting a family with financial troubles or are extending your services to provide a memorable service, with every family you serve, you are looking help in any way you can. Wouldn’t it be great to offer a family financial assistance for travel expenses, medical bills or the ability to get a larger flower arrangement? Well, if you are outsourcing to a funding company, you can. Insurance assignment funding companies offer the ability to fund up to the total amount of a life insurance policy, giving you the ability to offer families additional assistance. When a family knows they can access money they already have, they will use it. New door open, families may opt for a nicer casket, flower arrangement or want to add a dove releasing ceremony as part of the service. Increasing your average service cost. Improving your bottom line. Additionally, offering the ability to provide families with immediate funding for medical bills, travel expenses or unexpected bills, improves your brand perception. Helping to relieve financial stresses for families is an added service you provide, which can ultimately increase customer loyalty and referrals.

The best part about outsourcing to an insurance assignment funding company, is that it does not have to cost funeral professionals a thing! The industry trend is to pass the processing fee to the families total assignment amount and with some funding company’s fees lower than a credit card fee, families do not hesitate. When families know you are working with experts that can ensure timely and accurate payment, it relieves financial stressors.

So, no cost to you and your bottom line increases. You see, funding companies do more than just get you “cash now,” they improve your finances and help you to provide additional services for the families you serve. Opening new doors can lead to great things, but it will not happen without changing your old ways.

elieve financial stresses for families is an added service you provide, which can ultimately increase customer loyalty and referrals.

The best part about outsourcing to an insurance assignment funding company, is that it does not have to cost funeral professionals a thing! The industry trend is to pass the processing fee to the families total assignment amount and with some funding company’s fees lower than a credit card fee, families do not hesitate. When families know you are working with experts that can ensure timely and accurate payment, it relieves financial stressors.

So, no cost to you and your bottom line increases. You see, funding companies do more than just get you “cash now,” they improve your finances and help you to provide additional services for the families you serve. Opening new doors can lead to great things, but it will not happen without changing your old ways.

Living In The Cloud | How Each Generation Views Technology

Living In The Cloud | How Each Generation Views Technology

Publications

Featured in the Funeral Business Advisor: December 2017

By: Deanna Dydynski, marketing & public relations manager

Ten years ago you would have thought that “living in the cloud,” meant one is out of touch with reality or living in a fantasy world. Today however, to be “living in the cloud” refers to the Internet and a network providing remote access to decentralized information technology resources. Technology is changing how we drive our cars, walk or hover board around the mall, communicate, and it is definitely changing business and reshaping the funeral industry.

As funeral professionals, your suppliers are continually developing cutting-edge products and services to improve your business and help provide the families you serve with the latest innovations. Innovation and technology go hand in hand in developing the vision and strategy for businesses. The National Funeral Director Association encourages advancements in funeral industry technology by recognizing deserving companies with their annual innovation award. Technology raises the bar and pushes organizations to improve their services and enhance their business operations. No matter the size of your business, technology provides a variety of benefits that can help increase revenue and produce the results your customers are expecting.

Aside from improving business functions, technological enhancements can shape company cultures, practices and relationships. Technology is essential for the growth of your business, but because of generational gaps we are all on different levels of the technological spectrum. While some generations grew up learning their colors on an iPad, others are still learning whether the paper faces up or down on the fax machine. Admittedly, it can be confusing. Even with each generation’s different tech-savvy level, technology is constantly evolving and changing.

Every year Apple comes out with new versions of each product in their long line of innovations, creating must-have features such as facial recognition, filing applications, customizable control centers and more. The automobile industry is creating self-driving cars, engineering crash avoid systems, and adding Wi-Fi hotspots to vehicles. Even grocery stores are developing online shopping tools and creating tablet-ready shopping carts! News flash, technology is advancing rapidly and there are no signs of it slowing down.

Every industry evolves at its own pace. The funeral industry notoriously moves slower than others, but with consumer preference and demands changing, funeral homes and cemeteries are being pushed to advance their technologies at a faster rate. As funeral professionals you get the unique experience of interacting with every age range. Currently there are six different generations living in America. Six generations, all with different likes, dislikes, experiences and perspectives. While some generations may exhibit similar characteristics in communication or motivation, each carries their own unique set of ideals.

Whether you are handling pre-needs with 50 year-olds, arranging funerals with senior citizens or attending community events to connect with 20-somethings, your target market is really broad. Which means you have to be able to communicate with every age group and understand how each generation utilizes technology. In order to do so you must familiarize yourself with each generation’s experiences and characteristics:

GI Generation: (Born 1901-1926)

The GI’s were children of WWI, they lived through the Great Depression and fought in WWII. This generation is: assertive, community-minded, team players, loyal to jobs, groups and schools and are strongly interested in personal morality with standards of right and wrong. Most of this generation grew up without modern conveniences and remembers life without airplanes, radio and television (Generational Generalities, 2005).

While the majority of this generation is no longer in existence there several GI’s still living and most are not technology driven. My grandfather turned 94 years old this month. He begrudgingly uses a flip-phone from 2007, which is used to only make phone calls, no texting and is still confused on how to make outbound calls. He could make a six-course meal with a microwave and still calls a refrigerator “the Frigidaire.” His grandchildren are always on their “thing-a-ma-jigs” but he loves watching television and as long as it is turned up to an unbearable decibel for everyone without a hearing aid.

This generation made due just fine without technology and are happy to continue on just so.

Mature/Silents Generation: (Born 1927-1945)

This generation lived through the Korean and Vietnam wars, but also through the postwar happiness of peace, jobs, suburbs ,television, rock ‘n roll and cars! This generation sparked civil rights, women stayed home to raise children and men pledged loyalty to corporations for long-term careers. This generation also has the richest, most free-spending retirees (Generational Generalities, 2005).

Much like the GI generation, this group was on the cusp of technological advances. While their use of technology is extremely limited, much of this generation is willing to explore the benefits of technology. This generation is likely still involved in day-to-day operations at your funeral home and is the reason the fax machine from 1992, “works just fine.”

Baby Boomers: (Born 1946-1964)

This generation can be described as the save-the-world revolutionaries, the party-hardy career climbers and the “me” generation. This generation is self-centered, optimistic and driven. They also are the first television generation and a group that envisions technology and innovation as a learning process (Generational Generalities, 2005).

Baby boomers are adopters of technology and are willing to learn and explore the benefits that technology offers. My parents are baby boomers and definitely exude a willingness to learn how to use laptops, tablets, cell phones and the latest smart televisions and applications. I may have to remind my mother how to “tag” people on Facebook 15 times a month or how to download new Apps on her phone, but at least she tries!

Generation X: (Born 1965-1980)

Also known as the “latchkey kids” grew up street-smart with divorced or career-driven parents. The term latchkey came from the house key that this generation wore around their necks, because they would often go home to an empty house. This generation is very individualistic and entrepreneurial; they desire a chance to learn explore and make contributions. Generation X-ers are typically weary of commitment, cautious, skeptical and self-reliant (Generational Generalities, 2005).

This generation, believe it or not gives millennials a run for their money from a technology standpoint. A recent study by IDG Global Solutions showed that millennials and generation X have equally migrated to mobile devices, with 65% of millennials using a tablet simultaneously with another device and generation X following closely with 60% (2015). This generation is slowly migrating into more definitive leadership roles, paving the way for younger generations to implement even newer technologies.

Millennials: (Born 1981-2001)

Millennials, also known as the 9/11 generation, are nurtured by omnipresent parents are optimistic and focused. They do not live to work and prefer a more relaxed work environment. Millennials demand fast and immediate processing of information (Generational Generalities, 2005).

This generation prefers digital literacy, and gets all their information and a majority of their socialization from the Internet. The U.S. Census Bureau says there are 83.1 million people between the ages of 18 to 34 in the United States, and of those a recent study showed the average Millennial spends 18 hours per day using digital media (2017).

As a millennial myself, I can speak to this. I want fast Internet speeds, flexibility with the ability to work from anywhere, and access to the latest technologies. I enjoy the luxury of applying my mascara in the morning and calling to my male- Australian-voiced Siri to ask what the weather is like, without picking up my phone, and speaking into my television remote to tell it what channel I would like to watch without having to search through the guide.  Millennials find these tendencies “normal” and do not know a world without computers and technology, we are expecting it wherever we go!

Generation Z (Born after 2001)

Generation Z easily outnumbers the baby boomers and in 2006 a record number of births occurred in the US. The Z generation is growing up with web based learning and is throwing conventional toys like Barbie dolls and Legos behind for electronics such as cell phones and video games. This generation is growing up to be a savvy consumer; they know what they want and how to get it (Generational Generalities, 2005).

This generation asks, what is a typewriter? They are the ones you see doing 360 spins on their hover board in your funeral home parlor and asking for the Wi Fi password. As they grow up they are going to be expecting innovative technology solutions at every turn.

Understanding your consumer is essential for a successful business and with new generations segmenting into the funeral industry it is as important as ever. Millennials and Generation X-ers will be highly involved in the planning of funerals, remembrance services and cremations in the near future. Both of these generations are tech-savvy and are expecting your funeral home to be also.

These generations are going to look your funeral home up on their smart phone and they want to see a social media presence and an updated website. When they are planning a funeral service they will want to view their service options on a big screen TV or tablet. They may want to live stream the funeral or have the tribute video put on a USB drive and distributed to all of their family members. When a millennial or generation X family comes into your funeral home, they will expect to have access to the Wi Fi and expect you to provide innovative services.

Is your funeral home equipped with the necessary technologies to appeal to each generation coming to your funeral home? Do you still have an outdated website or poor social media presence? Are you thinking like your consumers and providing service options to appeal to younger generations? Do you still think “the cloud” is that big white thing in the sky?

Technology will continue to evolve and change the workplace and how the consumer interacts with your funeral home or cemetery. As funeral professionals you must constantly evolve with technology if you want to join the rest of the world in the cloud.

2017 NFDA International Convention & Expo

2017 NFDA International Convention & Expo

Uncategorized

The Express Funeral Funding sales and marketing team traveled to Boston this October for the 2017 National Funeral Director Association (NFDA) International Convention and Expo ! The team began the week, at Stow Acres Country Club in Stow, MA for the Funeral Service Foundation Annual Golf Scramble. Express Funeral Funding was proud to sponsor the 12th hole as an Eagle-level sponsor, donating $3,000 to the event. While the day was scattered with cold winds and rain showers, this did not slow the foursome down! Andy Buckman, Adam Setty, Deanna Dydynski, and Jay Tiesing, brought home the trophy, winning the golf tournament with the best gross score of the day, 16 under! Later that evening the entire team had a chance to catch-up with fellow colleagues and old friends at the NFDA college-alumni-themed welcome party.

The next three days were jam-packed with motivational key-note speakers, educational seminars and NFDA campfire sessions! With the NFDA convention falling on Halloween, the Express team brought out their best for the October holiday. Suited, in khaki and neon orange-striped jumpsuits,  black boots, elbow pads and the necessary proton-pack, the team made sure the convention center was “all clear” in their Ghostbuster costumes! Not to go unnoticed, Adam Setty, customer relations manager completed the Ghostbuster group with his Stay Puft Marshmallow Man suit.

The remaining time at the national convention gave Express Funeral Funding a chance to thank funeral homes and cemeteries nationwide with amazing Express giveaways! The team gave away hundreds of gifts, from custom designed Boston t-shirts, and EFF Ozark koozies, to Apple Watches, Yeti coolers and much more! Now home in Clarksville, IN the Express team is gearing up for next year’s National Funeral Director Association convention in Salt Lake City!

Take a look below at some of the memories from the NFDA Convention & Expo!