Adapt & THRIVE in the New Normal
Lockdown and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic have transformed the way we interact, work and shop, dramatically accelerating the adoption of digital technologies. Shopping around and comparing services online has become the norm. Social distancing and economic uncertainty have combined to create new challenges for funeral businesses.
To try and share some practical and useful tips on how to THRIVE online, Funeral Guide hosted a webinar for funeral directors, showing them the different ways in which it is possible to ensure their business can be found online. Topics ranged from paid advertising on search engines, to local SEO strategies, to the benefits of appearing on comparison websites such as Funeral Guide.
What are the new challenges posed to Funeral Directors?
The COVID19 pandemic has caused a shift in behaviour. Bereaved people are shopping around for funeral directors more than ever before, and loyalty is being diluted. Direct cremations are cutting into the traditional funeral market, meaning that actual funeral numbers are falling.
On top of this, Funeral Directors are facing unique logistical challenges. Social distancing guidelines mean that arrangement meetings, which are crucially important, have had to be conducted either over the phone, or online. This makes it harder for both the arranger and the bereaved family to make decisions on the funeral itself. Arrangement staff cannot show off their product catalogues, and families miss out on the personal touch that is so important.
Funeral software that allows arrangers to showcase their entire catalogue of products can help with this. By giving bereaved families the choice of an entire range of products and services, arrangers can be sure that a personal touch is maintained. Software such as Showcase by Arranger is perfectly designed to help in this situation.
What options are there online?
Funeral directors have several options for being found online, each of which have advantages and disadvantages.
Large corporations are paying a small fortune in advertising, making paid-search an extremely expensive way to be found. A single click can cost more than £10, and the price is only heading in one direction. Investing in local SEO can be an extremely effective way to get seen. The first step in this is to make sure that your website has the correct keywords, metadata and a regular stream of relevant content. Even then, the nature of Google searches means that there is only room for one, sometimes two, local businesses on the first page - and people don’t scroll down to page 2.
The other option for small businesses to compete is to be part of a larger comparison website that has the search engine expertise to compete with the larger companies who spend large amounts of money on advertising and optimisation. Even better than any one of these, is to make sure that you are educated and aware of all of the options available.
How can you give families more choice?
When we conducted our research, many funeral directors were worried that hosting arrangements online would mean less choice for families. Purely from a logistical perspective, how can you offer a full range of products and services without being there to talk through a catalogue? Further, the demand for memorialisation products has risen as families have adapted to socially distant funeral services, with many not able to attend at all. Funeral firm J.C. Atkinson found in their research that, above all, families like choice when it comes to selecting the different elements of their arrangement.
Therefore there are two concerns - how can I showcase my full range of products and services as a funeral director, and as a bereaved person, how can I make sure that my loved one is memorialised in a personal and lasting way?
As a funeral director - You need to showcase what you do!
Make sure your website features a digital catalogue of all products and services. Send the catalogue as part of the confirmation, and encourage families to share and view your catalogue with others. Think about how you can offer choice. Whether you decide to use video meetings on platforms such as Zoom or Skype, or call a family on the phone after sending over a digital catalogue, presentation is key. If you want to make sure that families have as much choice as possible, you must consider your digital catalogue as a core part of your business.
Our answer is to take full advantage of digital solutions. Showcase by Arranger is a fantastic way for you to give families a full range of products and services, with PDF brochures and estimates generated in real time.
What can I do to make my Business more Profitable?
If you want to truly Thrive you have to look inside your business to do well. The best businesses regularly review Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and reports in order to determine what is working well and what is not. Once you have started to track your KPIs, you will be able to notice trends, both positive and negative. Make sure you track and analyse the performance of each of your arrangers and homes, as well as tracking your overall margins. Keep track of all of your debt, and make sure that you have robust processes in place to recover it. Understand where your most active post codes are, invest in marketing yourself to these areas - maybe even consider opening a new branch!
It has long been an adage that if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got. That is no longer the case - the world is moving faster and new behaviour from the public online means that old habits must change. Now, if you do what you have always done, you will not get what you have always got. You will wither on the vine. In order to do more than survive in an online world, you must Adapt & THRIVE.