Jill Muenich is the President of the Homesteaders Solutions Group. Jill has spent 9 years of experience serving the funeral industry. She is a devoted Wisconsin Badger and Packers fan and avid Jeep enthusiast. In her personal life she enjoys working with local non-profits to help accomplish their mission. We sat down with Jill and she shared with us both her career and her insights on the industry today.
Jill Muenich credits the successful progression of her career to a few extremely basic success principles. She has used determination, commitment, goal setting, clear vision and surrounded herself with successful people who genuinely supported her along the way.
Originally born and raised in Northern Wisconsin, Jill lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her wife of 12 years, Laura Webster.
Upon graduating college, Jill’s began a professional journey that provided a strong marketing and sales foundation. She spent nine years with PepsiCo Foods before her first foray into the insurance world as a selling agent for Northwestern Mutual. An opportunity at Verizon Communications ended up being her last outside of the insurance industry. A challenging new position opened up at MassMutual, which led to an executive role at National Guardian Life.
Jill flourished at NGL, a multiline insurance company where she had responsibility for preneed marketing, sales and operations. In 2019, she fortuitously connected with Homesteaders Life Company CEO Steve Shaffer, who offered her an opportunity to join his organization as V.P. of Business Development. In 2020, she was appointed President of Homesteaders Solutions Group, a newly-formed subsidiary of Homesteaders.
“Homesteaders Solutions Group is a growing organization that includes companies in which Homesteaders Life Company has invested or formed affinity partnerships for the sole purpose of curating best-in-class marketing, sales and business solutions that help funeral professionals connect with consumers and enhance their long-lasting brand strength,” says Jill. Current members of Homesteaders Solutions Group include The Domani Group and eFuneral, both of which have received capital investments to continue innovation pursuits and expand their market reach.
In asking Jill what she credits most with her rise within the funeral industry and the successes that she has enjoyed; she is quick to point out that it is the people she has been fortunate enough to surround herself that has had the biggest impact for her. Jill acknowledged, “I have been so lucky that early in my career I was tied into leadership at both the NFDA and ICCFA. I knew I needed to learn more, and I needed to be attached to the best and the brightest in our industry.” In doing so, Jill first looked to the national funeral associations for these opportunities.
Some of her initial experience involved diligently working with the ICCFA Sales and Marketing Team that facilitates the Wide World of Sales. Today, she still serves on the NFDA Grants Committee and ICCFA’s Education Foundation “People from the ICCFA like Kirsten Kase, Nadira Baddeliyanage, Jim Price and Christine Pepper from the NFDA were all examples of people who took me under their wing and introduced me to influential people in the industry and welcomed me on committee work which further helped me to grow,” Jill stated.
Jill gives tremendous credit to these great mentors and sponsors. “I was fortunate to have people that could explain to me the ‘why’ and help me understand what was important,” she remarks. “This connectivity was crucial to my development.” I feel giving back to the funeral industry is important work and I am honored to be a part of that movement.”
“Because I had great people to emulate, I feel it is now my turn to give back as an emerging leader myself and to make sure I am mentoring and sponsoring others,” she commented. “I want to help foster their successes as well. I feel that as an industry we are exceptionally good at doing that and I have benefitted as well.
She also is quick to give credit to her personal habits for her success. Goal setting is an important part of Jill’s professional acumen, and she uses quarterly goals to stay focused on both personal and professional objectives. She considers her goals to be part of her professional and personal health care plan.
“I brush my teeth to my goals every morning,” she notes. “I have them right in front of me and I look at them and think about them. I always try to pull out one or two to ask myself.. “Am I doing that and am I accountable to do and as well as what I want to accomplish?”
Jill reflected on her time in the industry and pointed out some of the things that she wished that she had realized earlier in her career. “Early on I wish I would have had a true understanding and appreciation for the efforts that our funeral home owners and funeral directors put forth each day,” she proclaimed. “Both in how they serve the community and run a business at the same time. I really have come to appreciate how these family-owned multi-generational businesses have been able to maintain their legacy and their brand with the way they resonate throughout their communities. I just wish I had known not only how important that is, but also how difficult it is too.”
Jill uses her passion for the industry to continue to look for ways to improve both her job performance and the success of Homesteaders Solutions. In discussing some of the day to day challenges she faces, Jill states that it is the work with the funeral consumer that is most challenging. She explains, “The funeral consumer continues to seek education and access, but they do not seek the funeral professional enough for that education. She continues, “The difficult struggle is with the consumers and helping them connect with our funeral service professionals.” “I look forward to working towards connecting more families with funeral professionals.”
“I have a passion for funeral service. I knew this is where I wanted to be and this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my working career,” Jill exclaims. “I feel that I have 10-15 years left in my career, so I still have the goal to influence more consumers. And that is going to take more time.”
Jill feels there are many people yet to inspire and feels she is just getting started. “I have a lot of passion around that, and I look forward to seeing where Homesteaders Solutions and Homesteaders Life takes it,” she stated.
In looking forward, Jill also looked back to 2020 to see how things have rapidly changed in the industry. She noted, “This past year has been challenging for us all, but many changes have been implemented that has proved beneficial. She pointed out that COVID-19 has drastically changed the use of technology within Homesteaders Life Company, and it has been beneficial.
Jill observes, “Tools like eFuneral and Domanicare have been in high demand to enable our funeral professional to connect with consumers virtually.”
With respect to how Homesteaders can now help funeral professionals serve consumers, she noted some important changes. “On the consumer side with respect to the COVID-19 restrictions, we were first-to-market with a complete distance-selling solution. This provided safe and easy access to online and digital sales tools,” she remarks. “In addition, the consumer has become familiar with the technology such as FaceTime and Zoom, allowing families to remain connected — especially with seniors. As these technologies rapidly improved and became more accessible, it has become decidedly easier, more comfortable, and more acceptable facilitate shopping and purchasing online.”
“I think we have progressed in our ability with consumers by at least five years because of COVID-19 and the forced use of technology, she remarked. “Before, an older consumer may not have wanted participate in a sales call via Zoom or similar application. Jill feels seniors are now frequently talking to their grandkids using this technology and have become comfortable with it. She commented that they now say, “I know this technology and I am comfortable with it, so if you want to meet with me to do my planning, let’s do it!”
Jill sees a bright future for Homesteaders Solutions Group. She looks forward to continuing to bring Homesteaders Solutions to market and executing against their plan.
She states, “We are getting back to focusing on the consumer. It is not about ‘direct to consumer’ but having the influence to drive them to our funeral home partners who can use our tools to enhance the family’s brand experience. We can accomplish this by enhancing the consumer engagement needed to provide the right products and services.”
Jill always would like to specifically acknowledge all the funeral homes and funeral professionals that she has had the pleasure of working with throughout the years. She emphatically stated, “I see you and I acknowledge you. These COVID-19 days have been difficult times and I so appreciate the service to our communities that you have provided, and I want to thank you for that.”
She also feels this professional has a great future and outlook as we work together for a common goal. says Jill.
She concludes with the following advice to her peers. “My advice would be when you are considering changing or planning, take it slow. Align with those that can assist you and your priorities and not distract you from your mission. In chaos comes clarity. Note the changes you are considering and plan those changes deliberately and be sure to track the outcomes to ensure success. And make sure you celebrate those successes,” states Jill. FBA