Funeral Business Advisor sat down with Robbie Brantley, a funeral director at Patton Funeral Home in Brownsville, Kentucky to learn more about his career and experience in the funeral industry.
Did you always want to be a funeral director? What made you want to be a funeral director?
I have been in the funeral business for over 20 years now. Previously, I worked in healthcare, and I have always known that my calling was to help people. My wife’s family owns a funeral home and it gave me the avenue to do what I was meant to do. After discussing it with my father-in-law, I decided to begin working at his funeral home to see if it was really something I wanted to do. In one sense, it’s a very time consuming business, but it is also one of the most rewarding careers. I worked and served my apprenticeship first, and then went on to mortuary school shortly thereafter.
What makes the Patton Funeral Home stand out from others in the area?
We are a family owned funeral home that strives to provide the very best, yet compassionate service to all families that we serve. Patton Funeral Home offers two chapels, one in Brownsville and one in Park City, KY. Most of the families that we serve are good friends, neighbors and our family members. With that being said, we try our best to abide by the golden rule and serve every family as if it were our own. I have full confidence in our staff and feel that they are the greatest! However, we work as a team and are constantly looking for ways to improve and become even better. Whether it is technology, equipment, our merchandise selections, services or facilities – we work hard to go above any beyond.
What is your favorite part about working in this industry?
Being able to serve families to make their difficult time easier or more bearable is my favorite part about working in this profession. I’ve always known I was meant to work with people and help them and I get to do that every single day. This is an industry that you put a lot of hours and time into, but in the end it’s so rewarding. I just couldn’t imagine doing anything else. There are times when I’m out in the community, I run into families I’ve worked with and they thank me for what I’ve done. It’s such a compliment and everything I work for.
You were nominated for this feature by CJ Boots, what is your relationship like with them?
Chris at CJ Boots is a wonderful man. I have known him for countless years. His story is really inspiring to me– beginning with how he started his business, to how he’s developed the business to what it is today. I respect him, his work ethic and practices. He doesn’t cut corners and provides quality workmanship. We use CJ Boots products on our floor daily and are proud to offer quality products to the families we serve. CJ Boots exceeds our expectations time and time again.
What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
I served as President of the Kentucky Funeral Directors Association this past year, which was very humbling for me. It allowed me to travel around the state and meet funeral directors, visit other funeral homes, and travel around the country to attend industry events. While I was President, my wife, who is also a funeral director, and I were able to work with other funeral directors, vendors and affiliates to raise $25,060 for Kosair Children’s Hospital (Norton’s Children’s Hospital) and Kosair Charities. Each year, the state convention has a theme. The theme for 2016 was”FDAK Heart Beats for Kids”. All proceeds raised from the auction, raffles, and gala went to the two organizations. We experienced a near death experience with our middle son, Ty. As an infant, he underwent heart surgery for coarctation repair of the aorta. While he was at Kosair Children’s Hospital, we witnessed critically ill kids that never left the hospital. This life changing trial gave us the desire to help children that were fighting for their lives. I am very proud of the success that my peers and I were able to achieve for those charities and for the position that I served on the Kentucky Funeral Directors Association. However, my proudest moments are any time that a family is grateful because I know I’ve accomplished what I need to do – make their most difficult time a little easier.
Are you a member of any community groups or organizations?
I’m a member of Pleasant Union United Baptist Church, Edmonson County Chamber of Commerce and Barren River Health Department Board.
How do you keep residual emotions from following you home from work at the end of the day?
In this industry that is easier said than done. I do get emotional at times, and I feel like that allows me to serve our families to the best of my ability. If my heart is in the right place, I will hurt when my friends and family members are grieving. When we spend time with families at the funeral home, and we see the impact that their loss has on them – it effects us too.
Looking forward to future, what are you most excited about? Concerned about?
Looking forward to the future, I’m just excited to see how the industry continues to change. There is new technology and equipment being developed every day and new resources coming available. The traditional ways of doing things is still there, but the people I serve everyday are always looking for ways to make the funeral service unique. I’m excited to see how personalization continues to shape the industry. This change also brings great concern with new generations to come.
What does excellent customer service mean to you?
It means everything. To quote my father-in-law, because he has always been a great mentor to me, “Good enough isn’t good enough. We do it right.” That is something that sticks in my head everyday as I strive to do better than my best. I feel like that mentality is what really sets our funeral home apart from others because we make sure we do it right because good enough isn’t acceptable.
Do you have any advice that you would share with other funeral directors, especially those just now entering the profession?
My advice is to work in the industry before making a commitment. The younger generation sometimes doesn’t understand the time constraints and dedication that this business requires. FBA