Munchnok 1This week’s post is by Holly Muchnok, an event planner and speaker at our Regional Workshop: Fresh Approaches to Funeral & Memorial Services, which took place in Pittsburgh, PA on August 7, 2015. In part 1 of this blog, she shares how funeral directors can optimize their talents and relationships to provide the best service possible.

Photo credit: demandaj / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Life is a celebration.  As an event planner, with over 20 years in the industry, I tend to filter most events through that lens.   My western Pennsylvania based office – just this summer – welcomed organizational & planning roles in corporate, community, and social gatherings. We planned weddings, birthdays, and festivals, and had the honor of welcoming more than 22,000 guests.  That’s celebration after celebration. 

We also served families by helping them plan funeral and memorial services, which weren’t celebratory but still required planning. The families we served needed us to coordinate several days of activities that typically would have taken months to coordinate and fiscally plan.  They looked to us for personalized services and efficiency.

Different is the New Normal

How is your business becoming different?

Technology and shifting attitudes are challenging every industry to experience what it offers from the customer’s point of view.  Like everyone else, funeral service professionals are being forced to change too.  Simply stated, change means doing something different.  How is your business becoming different?  Not how did you or how will you, but how are you actively becoming different and setting your funeral home apart in your community?

For event driven industries, the change you’re experiencing in the funeral service industry has already impacted ours.

For event driven industries, the change you’re experiencing in funeral service  has already impacted ours.   From venue selection to décor and technology, we see more personalized requests now than ever before.  For years, my business has underscored the importance of concierge-styled services, so different is pretty normal for my team.

By design, I’m neither a bridal planner nor an association manager all of the time, but I’m ready to provide those skills when they serve a client.  The same is true for the funeral service professional. You may not be a full-time event planner or concierge, but you must be prepared to help families in ways that offer them both value and convenience. Otherwise, you risk losing families to hotels, funeral consultants or forward-thinking funeral homes.

It’s All about Skill Sets, Relationships, and Resources

I have allowed the framework of my small company to be designed in three parts: (1) skill sets (2) relationships and (3) resources.   As you look at increased planning for your events or augmenting what you currently offer, I’d encourage those in the funeral service profession to consider the same strategy.

1. Know your strengths – focus on those
. Be clear on your primary role.  Adding enhanced event capabilities and diminishing your good work as a funeral director will do NO good.  As you investigate opportunities to develop your business, be purposeful in remaining the best you can be in your chosen primary field. Tip: Need help with putting together a creative memorial service? Find an expert to bounce ideas off of (more on this in next week’s blog.) Unsure how to approach social media marketing? Hire an intern or outsource it to a social media company or contact OGR with questions.

2. Investigate who might be the best local professional to handle the other pieces of the puzzle – outsource that. Too often, I have found myself designing programs, arranging flowers or moving outside of my own areas of greatest strength simply because it helped a client save money or move faster.  The product may not have been the best they could have had, but it saved them a few dollars and I was happy to help. Occasionally, their demands pulled me out of my areas of expertise, stressed me out, and kept me from being efficient.  Can you relate? Tip: Develop a short list of local professionals with a proven track record, solid reputation and fair pricing – then share this list with the families you serve.   You’ve offered thoughtful advice without adding a new responsibility to your own “to do” list – and shared new business within your community. Next week I’ll explore how you can capitalize on these business relationships and be compensated for referrals.

By: Holly Muchnok, East Wing Events

Speaker at OGR Regional Workshop
Event Planner

Stay tuned for next week’s post, where Holly will offer practical suggestions on how to take advantage of the intersection between the event and funeral service industries.

Photo credit:
Main Image: 1. Frabuleuse / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA,
2.EJP Photo / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
3. ZilbermanStreet / Foter / CC BY-NC
Man: Johnny Magnusson / Free Stock / CC0 1.0
Florist: Flower Factor / Foter / CC BY-NC