By: Nathan Bluitt, Jr.
As Professional Funeral Service Providers we all recollect our Psychology Professors’ lecturing on the Swiss Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ grief model in her book on Death and Dying. The five stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. They were taught as part of the Mortuary Science curriculum I received from the Indiana College of Mortuary Science to enlighten us on a person’s response to the loss of a Loved One. It could be the loss of a parent, spouse, child, sibling, uncle, aunt or a very close friend, which is the reason that there is no typical response to the loss, as there is no typical loss. There’s one thing that we do know that is very important, that is that the final stage of acceptance will in most cases arrive, but it’s “ITA ” (Inestimable Time of Arrival) can be the causative agent that could create irreversible damage to our emotions and lives, as well as our livelihood, as we once knew it. It could also become the “Stone of Remembrance” that’ll help us overcome the next loss in our lives, or in our businesses, becoming an opportunity to have a positive learning experience.
“Opportunity stands by and waits on us to recognize it.” – unknown. In the past year funeral home owners and staffers have experienced not only loss, but a complete transformation of certain generational operations and administrative processes and procedures. As a result, we have been introduced to very unfamiliar, but new, innovative ways of accomplishing the same everyday goals necessary to serve our grieving families. The new methods and devises, categorized as TECHNOLOGY, have been standing by and waiting on us to recognize them as the quote says. Their innovative qualities and unprecedented efficiencies will certainly reward us with a much-improved way to serve our established clientele. TECHNOLOGY will enable us to be more bottom line effective, as it positions us to reach the new, somewhat undecided and uncommitted, decision makers (millennials) along with the more mature, tech-savvy individuals (baby boomers) that are not only listening to, but also marching to, a much more advanced and significantly different drumbeat. They’re the ones who are “care givers” in search of needed Hospice, Nursing Home facilities, Funeral Homes and other warranted services for their parents and other loved ones. Just as some of the loved ones’ grieving relatives, we stand in denial of the loss or transformation of some of our most coveted generational operation and administrative processes and procedures that will impede our reaching the acceptance stage of our grief caused by our perceived loss.
While some experience a level of failure in the processing and understanding of the imagined loss brought about by TECHNOLOGY others fail to embrace its’ innovative improvements that are appreciated in the world’s marketplace. We could end up experiencing great declines in our firms’ volume of business which eventually will affect the profitability, and in some cases cause the demise of a business. For exemplary reasons let’s look at Blockbuster, a former provider of movies and video games. At its peak, Blockbuster employed 84,000 people and had over 9,000 outlets. They were at the top of their game until the rise of Netflix and on-demand streaming that necessitated a change in their business model, but they ignored it. Former Marketing Communications Director, Jonathan Salem Baskin stated: “Digital would have changed Blockbuster’s business for sure…” Another devise that fell by the wayside, ignoring the touch screen-based technology, but Apple did not. That resulted in the demise of the Blackberry. There are many more to speak of but we’ve not the time nor space.
Some Funeral Directors were forced to offer livestreaming on their list of valued services in March of 2020 due to the Pandemic. This accelerated the unprecedented demand for livestreaming. An article on incitecreativeinc.com states “Funeral homes need to differentiate, evolve, and stay relevant, particularly in this new norm. Relying on faith-based referrals and traditional marketing will no longer sustain the average funeral home.” By improving your marketing strategies and adopting digital marketing, independent funeral homes can be found on local searches and weather the storm. The restrictions impacted by the Pandemic have severely affected the bottom line of funeral homes now that families don’t feel like they need to invest much money into a funeral experience with so few attendees. No casket, no flowers and smaller attendance has affected the bottom line of funeral homes. Now with the emergence of Zoom, Micro Soft Teams and Facetime in the funeral industry, funeral home owners and managers are in search of even more methods of marketing utilizing that former and not so popular source called, TECHNOLOGY. FBA
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change” – Albert Einstein
Nathan L. Bluitt, Jr. is President of Bluitt and Son Funeral Home, Kokomo, In. The firm was founded by his father, the late Nathan L. Bluitt, Sr., in 1957 at which time his family relocated to Kokomo from Indianapolis. Bluitt graduated from Indiana College of Mortuary Science in 1970. He acquired the Parker and Son Funeral Home in Champaign, Il. In 1983. In 1986 he partnered with Richard E. Williams of Williams Funeral Home, Indianapolis and later acquired the firm in 1992. He later sold the Indianapolis firm to Gerald Wilson of the Wilson Financial Group in 2011.