Cremation seems to be one of those line-in-the-sand things where the family chooses a viewing and service, like a traditional burial service, or they choose direct cremation. I’m sure there are hybrid versions of this, but for the purpose of how families are treated, as it relates to the level of service provided, it is binary.

I’m not saying that a funeral home treats people who choose direct cremation with any less respect or dignity, that would be wrong. I’m suggesting that, like any business, the value of the sale to the funeral home dictates the level of service it can provide.

Obviously, direct cremation is the lowest cost option for the family and the services provided are minimal, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity to create a lifelong customer.

If you treat direct cremation as just a transaction between a buyer and seller, families will see and feel that. Their expectations already may be low given the price point and, if so, there is an opportunity. Consider it instead as the start of a relationship and demonstrate that by following up with them, even when there is seemingly nothing in it for you, your business will benefit over time with good will and word of mouth marketing.

Aftercare is the easiest way to show empathy and nurture a relationship after the service is over. Here are five reasons you should provide some aftercare for families that chose direct cremation.

1. They do not grieve less
The loss of a loved one is immeasurable and no less painful because someone could not, or chose not, to spend the money for a full-service funeral. Concierge level grief support would not be affordable for direct cremation families, but you could certainly have online or other resources available for them.

2. They have the same problems after the funeral is over
The list of things that need to happen when someone dies, such as closing accounts, estate issues, notifications, etc. are the same if the person is cremated for $800 and the ashes handed back in a cardboard box than if they were buried in a Bronze casket. One of the missed opportunities for funeral homes is giving families a post-death checklist and then going over it with them. That non-legal advice and assistance is a way to endear a family to your firm.

3. They have friends and family and give recommendations
A family you served that chose direct cremation can recommend your firm, or not, just as fast and effectively as a family that spent fifteen thousand dollars on a funeral. The person asking for a recommendation for a funeral home will not be asking what type of service was purchased. They want to know about their experience.

4. They can leave online reviews
Correction, they can and do leave online reviews. Reviews are a transparent view into how you treat customers at all price points. Google doesn’t just let high value customers leave reviews, they let all and this has created a higher level of service for all customers. If your business is primarily direct cremation, then most of your calls are likely coming from Google searches for a low-cost cremation provider. Reviews can affect your search ranking and, of course, whether someone will call based on what the reviews say.

5. The next time they might choose a full-service funeral
It’s dangerous to assume that once a direct cremation family, always a direct cremation family. Not every direct cremation is because of a lack of money, and things do change. The service they are choosing today may be taking care of a relative that had no money, but next time might be for their parent and they are willing and able to spend more for a service to honor them.

Bottom line
To grow a funeral home, you need to be adding new families each year but more importantly you need to build a relationship with the ones you have served so they choose you next time they have a need. A key takeaway is that any funeral home can copy your business, but they can’t copy your relationships. FBA

Ellery Bowker is the Founder and CEO of helps funeral homes and cemeteries build loyalty with an automated follow up program. Ellery can be reached by phone at (800) 721-7097 or reach by email [email protected]