Cofounder of Parting Pro, Head of Product.

4 Lessons from The Economist: Why Undertakers Are Worried

The bereaved, better-informed, no longer always do what they are told or pay whatever they are asked.

Last week, The Economist wrote a great article titled, Why Undertakers Are Worried, about the profound shift in what people want from funerals. This inevitable transformation of the industry is something we WriteAnd talk. A lot. About.

We see our forward-thinking funeral home customers get rewarded for embracing the oncoming change. Proud to see one of our customers, Mark Musgrove from Oregon, featured in the piece. 

Here are the four lessons that we believe are important to highlight in the article:

1. Event planning will be crucial for differentiating your business and increasing your margins.

"In North America the modern undertaker’s job is increasingly one of event-planning, says Sherri Tovell, an undertaker in Windsor, Canada. Among the requirements at her recent funerals have been a tiki hut, margaritas, karaoke and pizza delivery. Some people want to hire an officiant to lead a 'life celebration', others to shoot ashes into the skies with fireworks. Old-fashioned undertakers are hard put to find their place in such antics."

2. You need a strategy for rising cremation and direct cremation rates.

"As families move farther apart, relatives are less likely to tend to a grave in their hometown. As people increasingly identify with more than one locality, so they begin to hanker after more than one resting place."

"Over half of Americans are cremated, up from less than 4% in 1960 (see chart), and this is expected to rise to 79% by 2035."

3. A good sales process must be implemented to convert the increasing number of Price Shoppers (Informed Buyers).

"Classes such as 'Mastering cremation phone-inquiries' teach attending undertakers how to deal with that tricky 'how much is cremation?' phone-call. When the pretend customer, 'Helen', asks if she can bring an urn from Hobby Lobby, a crafts shop, she is reminded these are not designed for cremated remains. To a customer who is 'just shopping around' the undertakers are taught to say, 'I admire your due diligence', and suggest asking budget cremators how they’ll know for sure that the cremated remains are their loved one’s."

4. You need a good process to consistently get positive reviews online. More positive reviews mean more new business.

"Technology brings a clientele better informed in other ways, too. Reviews of undertakers on Google or sites such as Yelp are becoming more common."


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Tagged: Forward-Thinking Funeral Homes

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