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7 Unique Ideas to Try at Your Funeral Home to Connect with Today's Families

January 2022 - Featured ImagesBlog Headers (2)


How do you get people to come to a cemetery with no one to bury?

Sunset Memorial Park in Albuquerque, NM wanted to create more brand awareness and draw people to their cemetery. The challenge was, how would they get people to come to a cemetery with no one to bury? Sunset Memorial Park teamed up with brand agency McKee Wallwork + Co. to find a unique solution. While researching, they discovered that 1 in 5 families had cremains in their home they had never scattered or placed anywhere.

Sunset Memorial, with the wrong mindset, could have easily created marketing materials and a campaign around selling more urns. Instead, they created an event called Scatter Day. Sunset Memorial Park opens its cemetery to the public and allows anyone to scatter their family’s ashes there. They now attract over 1,000 people a year.

Because they approached the problem with an innovative mindset, they had a major impact on their community and the families that were given a chance to grieve and give their loved ones a final resting place. As a result, the Sunset Memorial team has received national recognition, and hundreds of funeral homes across the country take part in their own Scatter Day in their communities.

In this article we’ll talk through 7 unique ideas you can try to improve your funeral home’s ability to adapt to industry changes, anticipate families' needs and increase brand awareness.

Take the first steps toward being more innovative

How can you apply an innovative mindset to solve your unique problems and achieve your goals, just like Sunset Memorial did? Well, while it looks a little different for each funeral home, we know of a few steps you can take to identify your mindset, come up with new ideas, and then try them out!

First, identify your mindset. How do you react to change? Do you resist it, or do you rise to the occasion?

Read this article to see more about each mindset >>>

Then, come up with a plan. Think about how you can apply new and innovative ideas at your funeral home.

Sometimes, it can be hard to come up with new ideas on your own, wondering how they’ll turn out. Being proactive doesn’t mean you’ll get it right every time, but it does mean you’re trying. Check out this list of ideas you can apply at your funeral home to connect with today’s families. Hopefully this list will inspire you to try new things and come up with some ideas of your own!


7 unique ideas to try at your funeral home 

#1: Attend local or national conventions

Connecting with fellow funeral directors can be one of the best ways to find inspiring ideas. Capitalize on your time spent at conventions by using it as an opportunity to:

  • See what other funeral directors have tried and what you might be able to bring back to your funeral home.

  • Attend presentations you think sound interesting (even if you don’t think you need them!).

  • Visit with different vendors to see what new and innovative services they bring to the profession.

  • Make new friends, visit with old ones, and spend time with other funeral professionals who are working to meet the needs of today's families just like you are.

Read about our experience at NFDA this past year >>>

#2: Host, sponsor or participate in community events

You can open your funeral home up to the community by hosting, sponsoring or participating in different events. Sunset Memorial’s Scatter Day is a great example of an event that involved an entire community, and likely many more outside of that community.

If you’re not ready to host your own event, see if you can participate in one! Plenty of funeral directors speak at local events about preplanning or coordinating with other end-of life specialists. Start by thinking through the next local or national holidays and how you can create value for your community.

Take a look at 20 suggestions for holiday events to host at your funeral home published by our friends at ASD >>>

#3: Update an existing service

We’re not suggesting you change everything or make your whole staff try something new. Start small. Ask your most change-conscious funeral director to incorporate new ideas and methods to see what resonates with your families best. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Bring up one unique idea that you’ve never done before in your next arrangement conference. Get inspiration by reading 20+ ideas from Busch Cares >>>

  • Try a new script when talking with families about cremation. For example, when a family requests cremation, respond with “What kind of cremation would you like?”, rather than just checking a box. Making a small change like this can give your team the chance to talk about the value of having a service, even if the family plans to cremate.

  • Offer a new way to connect with families online by using technology like Passare’s Planning Center.

#4: Offer new services

Are there services you’ve never offered before? We’ve heard of one funeral home offering a photographer to families. This sounds like an odd thing to suggest to a grieving family, but there are typically 3 reasons a family gathers: weddings, reunions and funerals. For some, a funeral may be the first time an extended family has all been together in years. Offering a photographer may be fulfilling a need that the family didn't even realize they had.

That’s what we call going above and beyond.

#5: Start using social media

Social media is an easy way to promote your funeral home’s brand and build connections with families, staff members, and others online. But building an online presence through social media can be a daunting task. Here are a couple ideas to get you started:

  • Buy a ring light and create a video for social media. Everyone looks like a professional videographer with a ring light!

  • Take photos at remembrance and community events to build awareness of how your funeral home is engaging with the community.

  • Celebrate staff members online to build comradery amongst your team and boost your workplace reputation.

Check out more helpful social media tips you can use at your funeral home by reading this article from Funeral Director’s Life >>>

While you may not be on the latest social media platforms, searching “funeral home ideas” on Pinterest or Google will uncover a treasure trove of ideas that'll take days to go through. A word of caution though: give yourself a time limit. Scrolling through ideas is great as long as you do something with them. Spend an hour a week looking for ideas, write them down, and then put them into practice.

#6: Connect with the next generation of funeral service

The key to finding high quality staff members to work in your funeral home is to connect with mortuary students early. We’ve heard from several young funeral directors, that even if they weren’t a part of a family business, they may have gotten involved as early as high school. Giving people the opportunity to get in the door early can foster that love of the funeral profession that seems to be missing. This might mean you have to do a little more training, but if you can get plugged into mortuary schools early there seems to be a pretty good chance of finding high-quality job candidates.

Check out these tips to start building connections with the next generation of funeral service:

  • Enter your funeral home in a school career fair to get students interested in funeral service early.

  • Offer internships where students have the opportunity to learn from you and your team and develop their skills.

  • Provide a scholarship or grant for future mortuary students.

Read more suggestions here: How to Recruit the Best & Brightest: A Q&A with mortuary students >>>

#7: Change your process entirely

There are times when a simple update won't do. You need a complete update. Some funeral homes have done just that with the way they talk to families and share the value of a funeral service.

Another way is to take inventory of your business tools on a regular basis. Take a look at the different services and tools you’re paying for and ask yourself “What tool or technology are you paying for but not using or are not satisfied with? What tools are we missing?”

By taking inventory of your tools, you’ll be able to identify weak spots in your business processes and tweak them to make your team more efficient.

Looking for a way to do more of your day-to-day process in one software? With 30+ integrations, Passare allows you to integrate services you’re already using to get tasks done easily and efficiently. See Passare >>>


Next Steps: Try out your new ideas

Now that you’re thinking more innovatively, it’s time to try out new ideas! Be patient as you tweak your processes and try new methods - a huge part of innovating is trial and error. The best innovators keep trying new things until they find the best solution to their problems, so don’t give up after one failed idea. Keep going and you’ll find what resonates best with the families you serve.

Hopefully these ideas will serve as a good starting point for you and your staff to begin adopting an innovative mindset and connecting with your digital families.


Another way to be more innovative?

Use case management software that also helps you connect with families. You get it all in Passare. Request a demo to see what we mean.