Your funeral home may offer a number of grief resources to families, but are you distributing the information in a way that reaches the most people? Below are some ideas for providing grief information as a way to market your expertise, build relationships, and engender trust even before a pre-need or at-need situation.
Utilize Numerous Methods for Providing Grief Information
Grief information and support can be provided in a wide variety of ways.
- Providing printed materials at your facility that families can pick up after a viewing, visitation, service, pre-need appointment, or at-need situation is one of the simplest ways to share grief information. Be sure to include your logo and contact information on all printed materials either by customizing them or adding a sticker; you will want whoever ultimately receives the materials to know where it came from.
- Sharing information on your various social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.) is another way to distribute information.
- Hosting community presentations and remembrance events can take more time and resources than providing printed materials, but they are especially powerful ways to share grief information.
All of these methods show your community that you are serious about serving their grief needs.
Build Relationships with Local Partners
Even though I emphasize providing information directly to families, you can also become known as a source of grief information for local partners such as hospice professionals, clergy, mental health professionals, teachers, and other community professionals. A consistent message I hear from these professionals is, “I did not get enough education and information about grief and loss in my training program.” Funeral homes can build relationships with these community partners by providing them with grief information.
- One form of information is printed grief materials. For example, you may decide to pay for a book on grief for each member of a support group at your local community center or perhaps you provide a child-friendly grief resource to your local school guidance counselors after the tragic loss of a student.
- Another way to provide grief information to your local partners is to sponsor a speaker on a grief topic. Many of these professionals not only want the information but would also benefit from receiving continuing education credits/units (CECs or CEUs). This will help your local professionals to be able to better serve the grieving people in your community, and it sends the message to all of your community partners that your funeral home takes grief seriously.
In other words, it shows that your funeral home really does care, and your community partners can refer their clients, patients, parishioners, and families to you with confidence.
Connect with New Families
I suspect that most funeral directors have seen an increase in the number of families moving in and out of their communities compared to previous generations. According to a recent US Census report, about 16 million people move out of their counties each year. This means that a funeral home will need to continually communicate why they provide better service than their competitors. How individuals and families go about choosing a funeral home is a complicated question, but I am convinced that funeral professionals who are committed to providing grief information are viewed as being more sensitive and caring than those who don’t. In fact, the 2015 NFDA Consumer Preferences Survey found that the #1 quality respondents were looking for in a funeral director was for them to be “caring, compassionate, and sympathetic.” I believe providing grief information and support demonstrates your desire to compassionately serve bereaved families.
It is helpful to provide a bereaved family member with a booklet after the graveside service or direct them to your online resources after an arrangement conference. But if you are only providing grief information in these situations, you are missing out on numerous opportunities to demonstrate your commitment to caring service. If you share your grief resources with your entire community, you will be building relationships
with families and community partners. And when the time comes for a pre-need or at-need appointment, they will already know which funeral home to call.
By Dr. Jason Troyer
Dr. Troyer is the Founder of Mt Hope Grief Services and a psychology professor at Maryville College in Maryville, TN. Dr. Troyer is a published author, former grief counselor, and provides presentations, grief publications, pre-need products, training seminars, and consulting services. Learn more at http://www.mthopegrief.com or contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.