Every year, dozens of new products roll out across the funeral industry, promising everything from better results to lower costs to enhanced features.
But how can you separate the “fact” of a product’s key benefits from the “fiction” and hype of the marketing materials surrounding it? Watching out for any of the following five mistakes funeral homes make when implementing new technology will keep you from wasting your time and money on products that won’t help you achieve your business goals.
Making Decisions Based On Cost Alone
Let’s get one thing straight… The cost of a product is a critically important factor that must be considered when making final purchase decisions. But it’s not the only thing you’ll want to take into account! Say you’re in the market for a new funeral home website. If you automatically select the cheapest possible option, you might ultimately wind up without the features you need to deliver an attractive, engaging web presence to your customers.
As an example, suppose you’re comparing two website providers – one that offers a free “DIY” website based on a shared template and another that charges an upfront fee to create a custom site. With the free website, it will be up to you to do the work of customizing your chosen layout to suit your funeral home’s unique history and personality. If you’re comfortable handling this work yourself, saving money by going with the “DIY” package might make sense.
But if you make the decision on cost alone and aren’t comfortable making changes to your site, you’re unlikely to wind up with a website that will serve your customers effectively. You may even lose business if your website looks bad enough to turn away potential customers that expected a more professional site. While cost is an important consideration, it’s imperative that you compare both costs and features – alongside your particular skill-set – when evaluating new funeral technology.
Not Understanding The Full Cost of A Product
Of course, it can be difficult to take the cost of a product into account if it isn’t immediately clear which features or options you’ll need to buy. It isn’t uncommon for some funeral technology providers to offer module-based solutions that deliver certain features in the form of product upgrades or add-on modules. In and of itself, this isn’t a problem – as long as you know which modules you’ll need up-front and what your total costs will be.
Imagine a funeral home management program that lets you handle traditional burial and cremation arrangements, but only offers pet arrangements as a separate module. Even though the program’s website might advertise that it can handle pet arrangements, it may not be immediately clear that you’ll be charged extra to add this feature. Unless you take the time to call and confirm what it will cost to have all the features you need, you may not be comparing apples to apples in terms of the true costs of funeral technology.
Jumping From Solution to Solution
All new products come with a learning curve – and funeral technology is certainly no exception! Whenever you adopt new technology, you can expect to spend some time learning its ins and outs, as well as how to utilize different features to meet your company’s needs. So if you add a new product to your funeral home’s arsenal, but then invest no time in training, you risk missing out on the potentially powerful benefits you could have enjoyed if you’d taken the time to learn about them. To avoid this situation, you’ll want to take two different steps:
Do your research up front. Narrow down your list of potential providers (say, different tribute video creators or funeral home management programs) ahead of time based on the features you know you’ll need. If you can rule out specific solutions ahead of time, you’ll need to try fewer products (or, hopefully, just one) to get the results you need.
Ask for assistance. Any good funeral tech provider should be willing to work with you to provide initial training and ongoing support. As you experiment with a new solution, don’t be afraid to reach out to the company for assistance. Reputable providers will be more than happy to help get you up-to-speed!
If you eventually find that the tech solution you’ve chosen isn’t the right fit, don’t be afraid to move forward quickly. But instead of jumping around aimlessly, do your research and give each product a fair shake before trying something new.
Adopting Products You Don’t Really Need
It’s easy to find yourself swept away by a shiny new toy or a flashy sales pitch. But don’t let these marketing ploys distract you from the unique needs of your individual business and customer base.
Don’t do a ton of embalming at one of your locations? No matter how attractive of a deal you can get on a new state-of-the-art piece of embalming tech, it’s probably not ever going to pay off for your business. The same goes for any product that won’t ever offer your business enough value to justify its cost. A new lift system might sound appealing, but if it’s only going to be used a few times a year, that money might be better spent elsewhere.
To determine whether or not you need a particular product, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does this product support a service I’m already offering (or plan to offer in the future)?
2. Will this product save my staff time or energy?
3. Is this the right time to add this product to my business?
4. Do the costs of this product justify its value?
5. Will this product help me reach my target customers more effectively?
Avoiding Change For Change’s Sake
Asking yourself whether or not a new product will support your business is one thing – being afraid to invest in technology because “we’ve always done things that way” is another.
There’s no doubt that the thought of adding new technology to your funeral business can seem overwhelming – especially considering the packed schedules and diminishing revenues many firms are facing. But if you use this as a perpetual excuse to avoid implementing new technology, you risk losing customers to competitors that offer more tech-savvy options.
The Baby Boomers have just begun hitting the funeral industry, but their impact has already been monumental. They want more options than any generation before, and the firms that will get their business are those that are willing to implement the tech solutions needed to provide these new alternatives. If you aren’t willing to evolve through the use of carefully-selected funeral technology, chances are you’ll find it difficult to maintain your competitive advantage in this changing industry.
The bottom line is this… Funeral technology holds plenty of promise, but it must be added in a thoughtful, measured way. Keep all of the recommendations above in mind in order to avoid the five biggest mistakes funeral homes make when implementing new tech solutions. FBA
Matt Frazer is the owner of Frazer Consultants, a personalization, technology and consulting company for the death care profession. Founded in 2003, Frazer Consultants’s top product lines include the all-in-one Tribute Center personalization suite, the Life Journey stationery collection, funeral home website design and the new revenue-generating Tribute Store plugin. Matt can be reached at 866.372.9372, by email at [email protected] or by visiting www.frazerconsultants.com.