This week we conclude our discussion on the intersection between event planning and funeral service. Holly Muchnok, an event planner and speaker at OGR’s “Regional Workshop: Fresh Approaches to Funeral & Memorial Services” on August 7, 2015, gives practical suggestions for how funeral directors can incorporate event planning into their businesses in this final post.
The intersection between the event and funeral industries is surprising and frequent. Each profession is serving others, streamlining options, caring for those in an emotional state of being, managing budgets, creating schedules and meeting vast and various needs during one of the most important times in people’s lives. The tips below are from my office to yours as you navigate the question of how your funeral home and you as a professional might offer excellence to your community.
5 Event Planner Tips for Funeral Directors
- SUBSCRIBE TO AN EVENT PLANNING TRADE MAGAZINE OR EVENT BLOG
Rounding out your understanding of a complimentary field’s trends can be beneficial as you look for overlapping opportunities to drive new revenue to your own business and develop your business plan to create enhanced experiences for the families you serve. Some of my favorite magazines include specialevents.com, catersource.com, and bizbash.com.
- TAKE A FIELD TRIP
When was the last time you took a field trip in your town and explored new venues?
More and more end-of-life celebrations are utilizing “out-of-the-box” venues based on the uniqueness of the individual. Are you incorporating alternative venues into your services? Make plans to get to know your neighbors by visiting local parks, attractions, historic sites, clubs and banquet centers that might become a partner to your organization instead of direct competition.
- Takeaway: Get to know the capacities and restrictions of those properties and meet with their special event coordinators or managers to discuss a possible referral business relationship.
- Takeaway: Broaden your scope and consider the life lost – was she a singer? Check out the local opera house or concert hall. Was he in the military? Inquire about the battleground or fort nearby. Nature lover? Connect with the local butterfly farm or animal sanctuary instead of holding a simple butterfly or dove release.
- PARTNER WITH A LOCAL PLANNER
Working with a local event professional may help add that special touch to your current services.
- Takeaway: Consider test-piloting a relationship with an event coordinator/concierge in your area who can assist with some of the creative and time consuming details of unique event development (e.g. design details and enhanced print and photo possibilities, event rentals and themed decor, special entertainment, food and beverage trends or food trucks that might add extra personalization to overall planning). The addition could enhance your existing business model and build opportunities that you may not have otherwise considered.
- Takeaway: Are you strategically building profit margin into your cost of goods/service for these important referrals and developing your own staff to help with these planning opportunities? If not, involving the right planning professional could open up new opportunities to meet a family’s needs while retaining a portion of the revenue created through them.
- NEGOTIATE TERMS
Do you get a percentage for making a referral to a local business?
Should you elect to engage with individual vendors, be clear about your hopes and get them in writing so expectations are appropriately communicated.
- Takeaway: The terms can include a percentage of gross sales or flat compensation per job/referral or volume discounts (eg. I work with one company that offers 10% of each new project as a special “commission” – If I send him a $1,000 job, and he books it, he sends me a $100 check; another rental company offers up to a 10% discount based upon volume of referrals). Informed event planners can often pay for themselves.
- DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL TODAY, BUT TRY ONE NEW THING THIS WEEK.
As you look for ways to set your funeral home apart, what one thing can you do this next week to move toward change? You may not want to start offering to get involved in the food and beverage planning or the floral design of your next memorial service quite yet, but trust me the requests will come if they haven’t already. The more informed and equipped your funeral home becomes to choose to meet these concierge-styled needs, the more you will set yourself apart in the industry and drive new revenue from these offerings. The truest test of hospitality comes when we can make others feel at home, even when we wish they were.
Would you be able to incorporate any of these event planning tips into your business? Which ones?
By: Holly Muchnok, East Wing Events
Speaker at OGR Regional Workshop