Look around, and if you are over the age of thirty, you can likely pick out dozens if not hundreds of ways technology has significantly influenced, impacted, or improved our world. Take for example the simplicity of what was once a phone. A long, corded device that you used to call a friend. Then text messaging came into play. And now? I don’t have to go into detail about your most cherished friend – you already know. Your phone is your gaming competition, your personal assistant, your finance guy, your travel agent, your matchmaker and to some a best friend. The phone is only one device. The world has changed in the last twenty years. Technology has improved life, and yet not every industry has embraced these changes. That is, not until recently.
The funeral home industry is notorious for maintaining the standard in “This is how we used to do it, and that is fine.” In a way, it has worked, and for two reasons. The first is that the funeral home industry is a generational business in that children often take over the business from their parents. It is not an industry where you suddenly wake up one day and say, “Hey, this is what I am going to do today!” Secondly, and more important, unlike most businesses in the world most people, posthumously, will need the services of a funeral home. The idea of consumer need is a powerful one, and an idea which has held back technological enhancements for nearly two decades. After all, what could technology provide that funeral homes haven’t managed without for the last century?
The answer to this question is easy. These advancements provide convenience, simplicity, and the ability to include more than just those who have the availability to come to the funeral home. They open the funeral home up to an ever expanding and transient world. No longer is a memorial service for those people with geographical proximity; it is now open to the world. Whether people are a couple of states over, studying a semester abroad or serving overseas in the military love ones can interact and celebrate one of the hardest moments in life.
You might notice a few changes since the last time you stepped foot into a funeral home. Sure, you will see teenagers taking selfies near the casket. People will be tweeting their sadness and affection during the memorial. But, what about the funeral home itself? From photos to podcasts, the modern funeral home is changing. So, let’s step inside the modern funeral home – one that is more savvy, techy, and modern.
Advertising will be the first thing you’ll notice. Websites were one of the first changes to the funeral home industry. Like many sites, they started organically, and often a result of a less tech-friendly owner trying to piece together a few photos and clichéd text. Those websites were then passed onto grandchildren and ultimately evolved into a dynamic and attention-driven site. While a website might bring you into the funeral home, it is digital signage that will display the most impressive improvements. From tablets to walls, digital signage will be the dominant interior and architectural change in the industry.
Imagine a funeral home with a large digital sign in the lobby to display current and future services, words of encouragement, or even sponsored advertisement. These signs are attractive, sleek, bright and most importantly they are memorable.
Inside, instead of walking up to a paper register book, you sign in on a digital screen to leave words of encouragement. Turn around, and you might see strategically placed screens on walls and in corners. The screens may scroll through business advertisements, potential services, a snapshot of the weather, and even social media feeds. Other digital signage may take those words you just tapped into the tablet and display them for a service.
There was a time that framed photos lay strewn throughout the funeral home. They may have been on walls, corner tables, and by the dozens surrounding the casket. Now, an HD screen runs through a series of predetermined photos. Additional screens display digital portraits of the deceased with graphic themes to reflect upon their lives.
But, what if someone couldn’t show up for the funeral? Ever more common is live streaming of the funeral. That means, your son who is attending college overseas, will still have the opportunity to say his last respects to Grandma from 7,000 miles away and watch the memorial service. He would be able to contribute to the digital memorial “book” and possibly even interact with people at the service through podcast or another format.
And architecturally? A common facelift, both inside and outside funeral homes are free standing digital directories and wayfinders. Hand crafted furniture with video displays direct families to chapels and viewings. Attractively designed digital signage is made specifically for the space of intended use as it fits seamlessly into the environment. These displays, often multiple screens to serve both wall and freestanding, can be specific to a memorial, or provide business updates and other information consumers may find interesting. Funeral homes now prominently display attractive, unique, and often interactive content relating to the families they serve.
The modern funeral home is one that embraces technology for the benefit of those in mourning as well as the business itself. Digital signage allows the family to share the past, reflect on the good times, and regardless of location bring family and friends together. What was once a closed-off ceremony is now open to the world. Digital signage, social media, and video streaming bring people from all distances closer together when they need it most. And what could be more important to the future of a funeral home than bringing people together and showing them you care? FBA
Jeff McCauley is the owner FuneralScreen, a Green Valley Media company. As a licensed funeral director, Jeff had the vision to see the value of first impressions. After years of hard work and testing in local funeral homes he launched his business devoted to the funeral industry. Today Jeff provides a complete digital signage service. His business, seen at www.FuneralScreen.com, provides digital solutions to funeral homes, delivery of products to installation of services. Funeral homes are provided a comprehensive service from installation to custom management of software for clients worldwide. Jeff is committed to the funeral industry and to helping with a transition from the old signs and boards into the latest digital solutions.
Lawn Funeral Home, Tinley Park Facilities (www.lawnfh.com)