Social Media and Marketing Manager, Funeral Director

Brian Leffler: "Parting Pro's Digital Forms have been a GODSEND"

Serving the growing market of funeral consumers shopping online.

Brian Leffler is the owner of  ten funeral homes across  Pennsylvania, including Kniffen O'Malley Funeral HomeSchlitzer Allen Pugh Funeral Home,  and Gerald W. Vickery Funeral Home. Brian is also the owner  Cremation Specialists of Pennsylvania I sat down with Brian to talk about how digital forms and ID verification has helped him serve the growing  market of new funeral consumers shopping online. Watch or read our conversation below. 

 Brian Leffler
My name is Brian Leffler. We currently run Cremation Specialists of Pennsylvania, which is an online cremation business that is serving all of Pennsylvania. We started about 18 months ago.

Parting Pro
What is an average annual call volume for you?

Brian Leffler
We started out slow. This year, we’re probably on target to hit 100 calls.

Parting Pro
Growing quickly!

Brian Leffler
Yes, more so on the pre-need side than the at-need side, but we are growing on the at-need side as well.

Parting Pro
How did you hear about Parting Pro?

Brian Leffler
Through Facebook, I believe, and I had a friend that was using it as well.

Parting Pro
So an online community and a business community?

Brian Leffler
Correct.

Parting Pro
Wonderful. How would you say you came to the decision to actually implement Parting Pro in your business?

Brian Leffler
We were with a different company prior, and we were really struggling with the online forms. We offer the traditional business model funeral home, and the low cost business model. On the low cost business model, we really wanted to do everything online. We were really struggling with executing forms properly and easily online without utilizing fax and multiple emails. It was a long drawn out process, and there was a lot of hiccups. So that’s really what turned me on to it, and the fact that I really wanted a secure online ID system.

Parting Pro
For people who may not be quite as tech savvy, explain a little bit about what that means for you. 

Brian-Leffler---Super-Easyv2

Brian Leffler
The whole process, the set up was super easy. I gave them the forms I wanted to use, they made them fillable PDFs. We went over what fields would be optional, and what fields would be mandatory. So that was super easy. On the ID process, I feel that it’s important to confirm the identity of the loved one before the cremation, because there is so much liability. It’s super easy, you can use an iPad or an iPhone, pretty much any electronic device. Take a picture, upload it, it’s secure. We’d put a little bit of care into the person to make them presentable and we’ve gotten good feed back on it.

Parting Pro
Tell me what your family feedback has been to things like the digital ID verification system and other Parting Pro features?

Brian-Leffler---Forms-Godsendv3

Brian Leffler
Most of the families on the digital ID are very pleased with the image they get. We’ve had no complaints, and it gives them a little bit of piece of mind since we’re not meeting with them a lot in person. It gives them the piece of mind, “Yep, that’s Dad. They have the right person. This is how the process is going to work.” And as far as the forms, it’s really been a Godsend. It’s made our life much easier than chasing fax machines and emails and trying to get people to comply and fill stuff out properly. 

Parting Pro
Part of what I ran into as a funeral director is people would say, “Oh yeah, I know how to fax. I’m familiar with fax. I have access to a fax.” I’d say okay, and I would get this fax from them and it would be really dark, really grainy, not readable, not usable. I’m thinking, “We just spent the whole day establishing that you know how to fax, and this is not something I can use now!” So I had to go back and ask for it again. What was your experience with that?

Brian Leffler
Pretty similar. They’d put it in the fax machine the wrong way, and you’d get a bunch of blank pages. Of course they faxed it at 7 or 8 at night, and “I can’t get to a fax machine again until tomorrow night!” So the online signature and completion of the forms has been really the main reason. That, and the ID viewing. That’s why I like Parting Pro. 

Brian-Leffler---Why-I-Like-Parting-Pro

Parting Pro
In the cases when you’ve been able to use the digital ID verification, do you feel like it’s given families a convenience that they didn’t have before?

Brian Leffler
Yes, I believe so. It’s helpful, and they find it reassuring to know that we have the correct person.

Parting Pro
Wonderful. So really, from the time that a family contacts you or your firm, it sounds like you put Parting Pro to work right away by sending that email immediately – then it begins, right?

Brian Leffler
Yes. We pretty much send the Shopper information emails for people who call in looking for information – I’ve found that some families are much slower in their decision process than they used to be a few years ago. Whether it’s making a decision, a provider they’re using, or contacting you when the death has occurred. So it’s nice to be able to send that to them, and then they have the ability to follow up or look the information over.

Parting Pro
Absolutely. I’m interested in what you just said, when you mentioned that families are being a little more selective in their choices and their shopping of funeral providers – what is your conjecture on that? Why do you think that may be happening?

Brian Leffler
I think our industry is changing faster than it ever has. I think consumers are relying more on the internet.
I still believe in the traditional brand, but I believe that the growing segment of our business is younger people who are online, doing research, and for me it’s very odd to take a first call over Google text messaging or online and the person never even talks to you. But we’re doing it a lot more frequently now. We have people that don’t even talk to us, that are also just going through the process and we get the alert that there is a new call – they’ve already checked out and paid for everything. But it’s a slower process it seems, than them calling immediately – it’s a day or two later after the death has occurred.

Parting Pro: 
think it’s interesting that you alluded to a different type of consumer that’s really gone online. Maybe there’s a generational difference, maybe not. But consumers are really researching their options online. It almost seems like if you don’t have these digital options, and if you don’t have these features that give them that online experience, you may be left out of a market that you would have rather been a part of, to serve these families. Right?

Brian-Leffler---Growing-Market

Brian Leffler
Yes, I believe it’s a growing market. I believe we’ll see more and more consumers shopping online in the future. I don’t believe it’s for every consumer either. But I do believe it will be a growing segment.

Parting Pro
I also have to applaud you for what you said a moment ago – you were uncomfortable taking a first call over a Google text, and it was maybe uncomfortable for you at the beginning. I appreciate that you offer that vulnerability, because I think other directors need to hear that. It’s okay to be a little bit uncomfortable at the beginning, but if you’re willing to take that step and educate yourself and grow and learn with your business, then your business will grow and learn with you back. 

Brian Leffler
Yes, it’s definitely been an experience. We didn’t talk to the person for 2 or 3 days, and we offered to call them. They’re like, “No, no, this is fine. I’m very comfortable with this option.” So it was just different.

Parting Pro
It is different. I’m a fourth generation funeral director, so I have some family context historically in the business. But I’m also a millennial myself, and I understand comfort with technology and comfort with being online. So to speak to that point, I can relate to both sides. I relate to you in that it’s kind of strange to work with families over this medium, but at the same time, if a family is asking for something, you have to provide it or they’re going to go somewhere else.

Brian Leffler
Correct. 

Parting Pro
If you had to choose a single feature about Parting Pro that you would just walk down the streets and tell people about it if you could – what would that glowing feature be?

Brian Leffler
While I like the two features I mentioned – the ID and the electronic forms – really, the electronic forms have simplified our entire process and made things run much smoother. I’d have to put that at the top of the list at this point. And their customer service is always good. If there is an issue or something needs an adjustment or we need to modify a form, they’re very helpful with getting it done effectively.

Parting Pro
Wonderful. That’s great to hear, I’ll have to let the guys know.

Brian Leffler
Okay! 

Parting Pro
Last question – what would you say to other directors who are maybe considering implementing Parting Pro into their business, but they’re still not really sure. What do you wish someone had told you initially, and what would you tell someone whose in that seat right now?

 

Brian Leffler: They should look at the process they’re doing, and look at how productivity can be improved – consumers can reach this from anywhere, online, from their iPhone, their tablet, their computer – and really just give it a try for a couple of months and see if it works for them. If it makes things smoother and more efficient for their staff, I think they’ll be happy in the long run.

 

Parting Pro:  Awesome, thank you.

 

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