October 17th, 2022
Featured in Southern Funeral Director Magazine
By: Andy Buckman, Vice President of Sales and Marketing
One of the bright spots to life on the road in the funeral profession undoubtedly is the sheer amount of exposure I’ve been able to receive from a variety of individuals across the country. Not only do you get the opportunity to meet some amazing people, but many times you get to hear some of the most interesting stories from across the profession. Among the most popular and common phrases I hear is, “The funeral industry is slow to change.,” to which I both agree and disagree. I agree in the sense that we all know a couple friends who have that same 1970’s vintage shag carpet who just refuse to let it go, so this article may not exactly be for them. Let me send another warning if you are still plugging in a phoneline to send a fax… this is probably not going to be the best resource for you. Now for all of you who do have an interest in advancing your business using technology but are not sure where to start, allow this to be a crash course guide in what I believe to be three critical areas to supercharge your business.
Area 1. Customer Relationship Management “CRM” or Funeral Home Software
When people think about what industries require the highest level of customer satisfaction, they often think about restaurants (Was the service good?), healthcare (Did they like their doctor?), automotive, insurance or retail. However, there is no doubt in my mind the funeral industry should be right at the top, because if anyone has a bad experience on a service you are never seeing another of their family members. Which is why I am so amazed at how many funeral homes still do not use or underutilize software to make the customer experience better.
A customer relationship management or CRM system is designed to help your business improve customer satisfaction, increase sales, provide data analytics, automate reporting, increase operational efficiencies, store files, run marketing campaigns, and much more. When used properly it is the backbone to making your customers more satisfied with your service, help your staff become more efficient on the day to day, and drive more leads to your funeral home.
As of 2022 the top 10 most popular CRM platforms in the US are:
- Microsoft Dynamics
Source (Ascendix 2022) https://ascendixtech.com/ top-crm-software-companies/
A properly designed CRM will allow administrators to create rules where a single action can trigger several other automations streamlining efficiencies for your entire team. At our company we have built hundreds of rules and custom functions across multiple platforms that allow us to maintain the highest level of service and offer the best experience for the customer. Most current CRM platforms have per user pricing models and are relatively inexpensive and easy to layout. I strongly emphasize that whatever product you choose be cloud based so you can securely store large amounts of data and pull up information from any device, anywhere, any time. Another benefit to this model is all the CRM companies listed above are going to continue to innovate so you will always have the latest and greatest technology. Finally, they allow for direct plugins with hundreds of other applications that can better your business.
Industry Specific CRM or Software
It is very important that I point out that not all funeral homes require the horsepower some of these CRM’s above offer. There is a lot of upfront work required to set up and customize the platform, which is the major drawback if time is of the essence. There are around a dozen or so current funeral home software products that many of you have probably seen in magazines or tradeshows. The benefit of choosing one of these providers is they have already built in a lot of the functionality specifically needed for the funeral profession. Several key questions to research or ask when going with one of these providers include:
- What functionality do they offer that is going to make your firm more efficient?
- Is this company going to be around for the long haul?
- Storage: Is the platform cloud based / accessible of multiple devices?
- Pricing structure
- Possible Integrations: Will this company integrate with other vendors/suppliers/platforms you currently work to make your life easier?
I highlighted integrations in bold as I personally believe this to be one of the most important. We live in a world of convenience and you being the customer should own and control where and how your data flows. If your CRM / funeral software company is not willing to integrate and share data with other services you prefer I would suggest you look elsewhere. Imagine your accounting team uses QuickBooks but your daily CRM / Funeral Software provider won’t integrate with QuickBooks because it sells and offers an accounting program of its own and wants to profit from it. Failure to integrate and create competition is a major red flag and results in highly inferior and quickly dated products.
Here is a great link to some of the best funeral specific software providers in the industry. https://www.capterra.com/funeral-home-software/
Area 2. Project Management
“You should set goals beyond your reach, so you always have something to live for.” – Ted Turner.
A business without goals is not going to be very successful in the long run. When I visit funeral homes, they all have goals whether they realize it or not. I ask one simple question and the goal reveals itself – “How many calls do you all do?” And the funeral director responds, “Well we have done “X” number of calls year to date but did “X,” last year and are looking to beat that this year.”
How can you improve on making these goals become a reality? Well one place to start is by utilizing a project management software and communication platform.
Trello, Asana, Slack, and Monday.com are among the most popular project management / workflow platforms out today. They are all based around the Japanese principle of Kanban meaning signboard with the idea to create a workflow from a project’s inception all the way through completion. Imagine the Henry Ford assembly line or a white board with sticky notes on it but in digital form where you can move the project from start to finish.
Benefits you will receive from using a project management application:
Layout Structure: Organized and structured layouts. The layout of these applications allow for a seamless workflow between tasks to keep projects moving along swiftly in an organized fashion.
Task Management: Ability to assign tasks with due dates to team members individually or as a group. You will be able to manage what your entire team is working on and quickly find where any snags are happening.
Full Visibility: The entire team will be able to track projects and progress every step of the way. Imagine hiring a new employee and they can get up to speed without sending a single email by simply looking down the project boards.
Calendar Integrations: Assign due dates that flow onto any third-party calendar (outlook, google, apple).
Visual Tools: Ability to upload images or files to make the project easy to understand and easy to edit/critique along the process.
Mobile Friendly: Tasks and updates can be viewed and received via multiple devices so there is no overlooking something or forgetting a task.
Area 3. Marketing Management & Websites
Now that we have you all covered with your everyday software to service customers and your project management application to get projects done efficiently, the last area we are going to cover is marketing management and websites. Having a successful marketing strategy involves more than just popping out a free website from Wix.com and expecting the customers to flood in. It involves a multi-pronged approach so that you can reach the consumer in a variety of fashions including social media, websites, direct mailers, social functions, referrals, and much more. If you thought sections one and two of this article ties together nicely then more good news because so does section three. All the technology mentioned can and should be intertwined regardless of which products you choose.
Some of the most popular marketing tools in the industry today that can be worked into your marketing management plan should include a social media software, email marketing software, and of course your website:
Social Media Software: Below are some popular social media software options designed to help you streamline your social media campaigns through a single digital platform. Meaning all your content for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, and Pinterest can be managed through one of these programs. In addition, many of these programs can easily be integrated into your CRM/funeral software, project management platform, and accounting applications.