Funeral homes and directors have adjusted to changing business practices, but some have been slow to adapt to fast-changing marketing practices. While it is important to maintain a tradition of excellent service and warm compassion, failing to embrace the technology available today could be – for lack of a better word – a death sentence.
As the world around us continues to change and our industry evolves, the importance of integrating technology becomes a requirement not an option. Jon Clare, CEO of FuneralTech breaks down the main areas that technology has impacted funeral service:
Efficiency and Productivity – When technology is used properly it’s one of a firm’s greatest resources. Technology does not need a day off. It will never be upset if you work it too hard. Technology can streamline your day to day operations by making your funeral home more efficient. This increase in productivity allows you and your staff to be able to spend more time on what really matters – serving your client families.
Marketing and Merchandising – Technology helps tremendously with your marketing and merchandising efforts in so many ways. The simplest way technology can help with merchandising is by enabling zero cost product expansion. You can showcase more products and services without having the items physically on site. In addition, as mobile internet usage has eclipsed desktop use, families can access your goods and services through apps available on their smartphone or tablet.
Revenue – Leveraging technology for marketing and merchandising leads to a growth in revenue. Case studies have proven how technology has increased the average revenue per funeral. It’s been a powerful enabler by adding valuable revenue to your company’s bottom line without compromising the integrity of your firm.
Personalization and Family Experience – With the technology at your disposal today, you can have a deep impact on the experience of the families that you serve. Technology makes an incredibly difficult time for a family not only a little easier, but a better, more meaningful, and memorable experience. These experiences nurture a stronger loyalty between families and your firm.
“As in just about every other business sector, technology is revolutionizing the marketing of a funeral home and it is the single major driver to gaining or losing market share. The enormous growth of ecommerce is not about price wars, it is about value competition. Consumers can go to Expedia to book a room at Motel 6 or they can book a Ritz Carlton. It is important for both brands to show consumers what they offer at their respective value levels. Rarely is price the deciding factor when consumers select a hotel. Neither is it the case in selecting a funeral home. Price is only one consideration. Successful funeral directors today understand that,” explains Ed Michael Reggie
CEO of Funeralocity.
Technology doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it is just the opposite. While the process of implementing something new might include a few bumps in the road, technology can help make many aspects of our days easier and result in fewer errors.
“Technology helps to speed up communications with families, allowing them to process more at home and coordinate with all family members as decisions are made,” states Jake Johnson, President and CEO of Funeral Director’s Management System.
Technology has now become ubiquitous in most people’s everyday lives and the way they do business. With new and improved technology becoming more widely available comes new expectations from consumers. Successful funeral homes and crematories need to embrace these changes and adapt accordingly for them to keep pace.
“It’s easy to see how technology facilitates better communication- improving collaboration with partners as well as within the business. Technology helps reduce errors and reduce paperwork. The use of technology can help funeral directors and crematory operators keep up with busy schedules and improve time management. Utilizing new technology that the industry has to offer allows funeral professionals to spend more time and money where it matters: with families. In recent years there has been an increase in the request for personalized services,” shares Perry Gard, Owner of Halcyon Deathcare Management Solutions.
It is also important to remember that not all technology is worth embracing. Technology should be added to your funeral home when it directly or indirectly results in the family having a better experience. The challenge for an owner or operator is to know when to make technology optional and when it is required.
“For example, it doesn’t make sense to still create contracts from a typewriter. Moving to computers should be a mandatory (and obvious) requirement for the staff. However, while some families prefer to communicate through text messaging, it doesn’t make sense to require a funeral director to force all families to communicate in this method. This is an example of when technology should be presented as an option. If the family chooses to use it, then you will be creating a better experience for them. If they do not, then there’s been no harm done in offering the option,” warns Josh McQueen, Director of Sales with Passare.
At the end of the day, technology keeps you prepared, organized and efficient. It brings your data to fingertips and makes life easier for you and your families.
“Technology allows you to be proactive and to continually exceed family expectations. Easily reduce liability and create peace of mind. For example, prove to families that you are returning the correct cremated remains to them. Technology can quickly give you a chain of custody,” says Courtney Steinmiller, Marketing Coordinator for SRS Computing. FBA
See what some of the industry’s top tech companies have to offer in this feature editorial.
Funeral Director’s Management System is a case management platform for funeral homes and cemeteries.
They also offer Performance Tracker, which is a sales and family customer survey performance and analysis system. For the sales analysis, this software tracks case count and average sale at Company, Region (if applicable), Location, and arranger levels. The second part is the family customer survey component. The system surveys families and provides comprehensive reporting on customer likes, dislikes and areas for improvement.
“It’s important to know that it doesn’t matter what size you are. We have clients who have well over 100 locations, and then we have clients who own one location in a small town, and the technology benefits both customers equally,” notes Jake Johnson, President and CEO of Funeral Director’s Management System
Both Johnson Consulting technologies are simple to learn and use. FDMS specifically is built by funeral directors for funeral directors. It keeps all pertinent case information in one place for management of active cases and archiving of relevant data for look up in the future. As it is web-based, it may be accessed from anywhere from any device with internet access, including a smart phone.
Performance Tracker is unlike any other program in the market. It is a complete Sales Analysis/Customer Service and Arranger Performance tool, giving a unique perspective for training and incentive compensation programs.
“Our experience—from a technology standpoint, there are very few others out there that have as much combined funeral and cemetery experience as we do, it’s a unique and rare paring. Experience, combined with performance improvement guarantees, and the ease of no contracts. We know that we can help. If our clients don’t find value in what we do, they can stop paying us anytime. We stand behind our ability to make any funeral business more successful,” Jake states.
Funeralocity.com connects undecided families with the best funeral and cremation providers for their needs. When a family enters an address or zip code at funeralocity.com, all funeral providers in the area are displayed along with their GPLs.
Funeralocity’s Excellence Provider Program brings added value to qualified funeral providers, allowing them to add photos, videos, testimonials, updated pricing, points of differentiation and other information that makes them stand out from their competitors. Funeralocity is free to families and completely risk-free to funeral providers.
“Funeralocity brings funeral providers more business, higher revenue, greater market share…all risk-free. Online comparison shopping is now the new ‘Main Street’ for everything from food to travel to funeral care. With Funeralocity, the smart funeral home or cremation service can thrive in this new marketplace,” explains Ed Michael Reggie, CEO of Funeralocity.
Funeralocity is a new concept that is long overdue: a comparison website for funeral providers developed with the guidance and support of leaders within funeral service.
“When we are in the market for a house, we go to Zillow. When we look for a job, we go to Monster. When we are looking for love, we go to Match. And now for undecided families, there is Funeralocity to compare funeral and cremation services in one’s community,” he adds.
Funeralocity has listened to the needs of the industry and has taken the steps to help funeral directors respond to these needs.
“We have also listened to leaders in the funeral industry about what their needs are. Funeral homes need to adapt to the new frontier of ecommerce in which consumers demand a seamless online shopping experience in which they compare providers all in one place online. The market is rewarding those funeral directors who have met consumers on these new terms. And it is penalizing those who have not,” adds Ed.
“FuneralTech is the profession’s leader in funeral home management software—both web-based and desktop—funeral home websites, personalized tributes, and online funeral planning software. We’re known for bringing innovative new products to our clients before anyone else. Our exclusive crowdfunding service has been developed specifically for funeral homes. We offer a full remembrance suite that includes memorial videos, stationery, Portraits of Life, 3D Crystal Tributes, My Life’s Urn, 3D-printed urns, and so much more. Our vision is to leverage technology to bring the most innovative solutions to our clients,” begins Jon Clare, CEO of FuneralTech
At FuneralTech, their goal is simple: to ensure you are covered end to end. This means they are with you from the moment a family first hits your website or walks into your firm, all the way through to the aftercare they receive a year later. It is important to FuneralTech that they help their clients understand how they can put technology to work for them. A hands-on approach helps them deliver solutions that are specific to each individual firm’s goals.
“Everything we do is to help our clients manage, market and memorialize their business and the families they serve, through our innovative products and services. Our board of advisors comprises a group of funeral directors that we meet with on a quarterly basis. They really help to ensure the product has the flexibility to meet the different challenges that our clients face in different markets by sharing. They use our software every day and provide valuable feedback to help us create the best tools available,” adds Jon.
On top of that, FuneralTech ensures that every solution they create is custom to the specific firm working with them.
“Early on we found out that our clients all have their own specific way of running their business. Although it’s our mission to create the innovative solutions that today’s families are looking for, it is equally imperative that these solutions are easy to use and customizable,” Jon elaborates.
Halcyon has been offering funeral home management systems for over 15 years.
Halcyon Platinum combines funeral home and crematory management into one simple, powerful package. Halycon also offers two companion products to the Platinum system. These are Halcyon Arrangement Assistant and the Planner app.
Halcyon Arrangement Assistant complements the Halcyon’s Funeral Home Management System. Its purpose is to provide a mobile-enabled and customizable family-friendly view for handling the arrangement process. Halcyon Planner is a read-only smartphone app that integrates with your Halcyon system to provide information. Contacts, case and service details and maps for your recent and upcoming events are all at your fingertips wherever you go. The Halcyon Planner App is available for both Google and Apple devices.
Halcyon Platinum was designed in direct collaboration with funeral directors as well as crematory operators. Updates and improvements to the web-based system are constantly being made by the responsive team at Halcyon, which are immediately available without upgrade charges or downtime. Halcyon Platinum is designed to be highly customizable, offering control over fields available on data entry screens and custom forms. The system is fully web-based, meaning users will have access to their data anywhere they have access to the internet. Halcyon Platinum’s trade partner portal and system integrations help to eliminate dual data entry and minimize data errors. The system features top-of-the-line security steps and features so users can have the utmost confidence in their data protection.
“From the start we have collaborated directly with the individuals who use our software to give us design direction and we continue that to this day. Throughout the years, everyone at Halcyon (including our developers) has spent hours talking to funeral directors and crematory operators and even visiting facilities to understand how the software should be programmed to work best based on how customers run their facility,” explains Perry Gard, Owner of Halcyon Deathcare Management Solutions.
Passare helps funeral professionals reimagine the funeral experience.
Passare provides funeral home collaboration software. At its core, Passare provides business management software that streamlines a funeral home’s processes and communication. Passare also uniquely offers an online planning tool that allows families to work with the funeral director on the funeral details online.
“A recent study found that 48% of families are dissatisfied with funeral service as a whole and 63% of families are dissatisfied with the way funeral homes interact with them. It was concluded that the reason for this dissatisfaction is due to the lack of options when it comes to communication. Passare is designed to solve this problem,” states Josh McQueen, Director of Sales with Passare.
At the end of the day, Passare is more than a digital filing cabinet of information, their goals are to improve communication throughout the entire business. Passare is a management platform where families will truly notice a difference.
“Acquiring technology should be viewed as making an investment. There are multiple ways to measure your return on investment, however. In some instances, you will see direct benefits such as time savings (reduced labor cost) or gaining new customers. In other instances, though, the return might be harder to quantify. It could be higher customer satisfaction (more referrals), happier employees, or reducing liability. This being said, just because something is difficult to quantify does not mean it should be disregarded,” Josh explains.
Whether we like it or not, technology has become an expectation in all facets of life. Other industries have widely adopted technology to improve communication with consumers, yet many funeral homes still operate and use the same technology they did fifty years ago.
“If our goal is to create the best possible experience for the family, technology must be a part of that equation. I won’t point to one single piece of technology, but to a mindset. The businesses that are seeing the most impact because of technology refuse to abide by the saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Instead, these firms look at their business and say, ‘It’s not broke, but it can be better,’ and often the answer to how things can be better is by implementing some piece of technology. These firms treat technology as an investment and know that the short-term pain and discomfort of change will be worth the long-term benefit,” adds Josh.
SRS Computing business management software products create a seamless process for one-site to multi-location funeral, cemetery and crematory corporations.
Accounting, scheduling, tasks/reminders, virtual files, payroll, electronic signatures, electronic white board, presentation software, the list goes on and on. The software is 100% scalable to your needs. Pick and choose the features that are going to make your business proficient. SRS also offers support and training to help you along the way.
“We provide hyper-focused single point data entry. We have unparalleled support, and the most robust software management developed for the death care industry,” says Courtney Steinmiller, Marketing Coordinator for SRS Computing.
Founder and President of SRS Computing, Scott Simons is the son of a 3rd generation funeral director. His sister, brother, uncle and cousin are all also directors at Simons Funeral Home in Pittsburgh. SRS is driven by Scott’s generational mix of funeral services and his constant drive to lead the software industry. Scott has modeled SRS to fulfill funeral directors and their needs giving them exceptional tools to better service their families.
“We have an encompassing management suite. Every system has their pros and their strengths, but our software is the only true all in one system that doesn’t just have a few features. It’s truly a one stop shop. On top of that we have a support team to assist you along the way with both tech needs and training of the software,” Courtney expounds.
SRS Computing was established in 1999. They currently serve over 4500 clients that span across all 50 states, 6 Canadian provinces and 5 countries. SRS has maintained a reputation built on integrity and appreciation for the SRS customer and they believe in delivering zero-defect customer service.
“At SRS we have two rules: Never leave the software and never double enter. We provide scalability. You can keep track of competition, perform mail merges, set reminders, make prayer cards, preform billing, etc. The list goes on and on. Technology widens your business’s capabilities and gives you creditability. All your data can be stored within a software. With that you can go paperless with a virtual filing cabinet. If your server dies, no problem because you’re clouded and all your data is backed up. Technology provides the ultimate efficiency,” adds Courtney.