Forces of Change in the Funeral Profession: A Dispersed Society
January 10, 2020
By Josh McQueen, Vice President of Product
In my last article, I addressed how the technological revolution has changed how consumers expect to do business with us in the funeral profession. But this is only one of many forces of change that are driving consumer behaviors and preferences. In this article, I’d like to explore another huge force of change that is not often discussed: the dispersed family. If your family is like mine, your siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins no longer all live in the same community where they were born. In fact, families today are spread out across the entire nation, and sometimes the world, and that fact is changing how they plan funerals and even which funeral homes they choose at a time of loss.
On the Move
You have probably faced this scenario pretty often in your career: mom has died, and the children are traveling from various states to help plan and attend the funeral. Some may not be able to make it for the arrangement meeting. Families today are often spread out, leave the state, and make a “big move” (or two) in their lifetime.
Here are a few stats and figures:
- 17 million Americans make a “long-distance” move every year.
- The average American moves 11.9 times in their lifetime.
- 42% of Americans have lived in two or more states.
- 38% of Americans say that “home” is not where they currently live.
Apart from the shift in population and dispersal of families, funeral directors are also beginning to feel a shift in loyalty from families. The reason you may perceive a decrease in loyalty could be due to other members of that “loyal” family moving away. Considering all the moving around that families are doing today, it only makes sense that loyalties would be shifting more than ever before. For some families, it no longer makes sense to go to the funeral home in the town where they grew up. It makes more sense to choose a funeral home that is closer to where they live.
Dispersed families also have changing needs. They tend to need to communicate more over the phone, text, and email to plan and arrange the details of the funeral. They also may need more concierge-type services to locate caterers, reception areas, hotel accommodations, and more. Often, these families do not have a built-in support network they can turn to to assist them in during a time of loss, and they may turn to their funeral director for help in many of these areas.
An Updated Strategy
To serve today’s dispersed families, funeral directors need to have an updated strategy. First, we need to be aware of the unique challenges that out-of-town families are facing and be sensitive to their needs. Next, we need to provide flexible and convenient communication options. That is where Passare’s user-friendly family collaboration center can really shine for the families you serve! Finally, we need to be prepared to adapt to the needs of dispersed families for concierge-type services that local families may not have needed in the past. If you’re still unsure of what to do, let us help you help families no matter where they live.
This is only an excerpt of our “New Funeral Consumer” booklet. For more information about the changing funeral consumer and how to better meet their needs, check out our free Passare eBook.