Since the death of Joan Rivers death last week I have tuned into every tribute on television and read every update on my fav celeb gossip sites.  If you follow me on Twitter you probably could tell I was a fan of Joan Rivers and was on full alert last weekend.  Like many of you in funeral service I was particular intrigued by the excerpt from Joan River’s 2012 book “I Hate Everyone…Starting With Me” where she openly shared exactly what she wanted for her funeral service.    

For me, it was refreshingly inspiring.  Over the years I have joked with my close family and friends that I want to be in dressed in a champagne gown, embalmed with my arm up holding a champagne glass toasting everyone.  I want champagne flowing while everyone listens to Lawrence Welk, Tina Turner and Elvis Presley.  I want Tony Lovello, a world famous accordion player, to entertain people like they’ve never been entertained before.  I want people to taste my favorite candy (Ruth Hunt Candy) and people see the thousands upon thousands of pictures I have taken since I was in high school documenting nearly every life experience I ever had. I want the tapestry of myself Karl Weisenbeck from Funeral Home Gifts gave me for my 35th birthday displayed in a ridiculously obvious place for everyone to see.  I have visions of my funeral team - Stacey Cassidy and Brandy Hardwood ~ swooping in with clip boards and walk talkies bossing everyone around.  While it all seems quite outlandish it really isn’t a joke and it’s one thing to talk about it, but what crossed my mind this week is maybe I should be like Joan Rivers and put it writing.

So after Joan Rivers funeral I decided to update my pre-arrangement on  I’m providing to my funeral team more details, more ideas, more demands and more direction.  I am leaving no mystery as to what I want just like Joan Rivers.

Another impactful Joan Rivers moment making it’s rounds on the internet is the open conversation Joan had with her daughter Melissa about her death.  It was an incredibly moving conversation one that most of us don’t have with our closest family members and friends.  I was so moved by it that my goal by then end of next week is to record Private Messages through that will be delivered after my death to family and friends.

We all need to take a lesson from Joan Rivers and make our wishes known and be as detailed as possible.  Before my funeral plans were in a folder written out on a funeral home arrangement form.  While my plans overall were somewhat unique, but the reality is they were as boring as the arrangement form itself.  I say be wickedly inspired by Joan Rivers, be as detailed and demanding as you want to be because it truly is the final curtain call. 


Good Morning Everyone!  Wow! I can’t believe it’s already September. We are in the thick of preparations for NFDA Convention in October and look forward to connecting funeral professionals from around the world. If you or someone you know would like a free expo pass to NFDA Convention leave click ASK at the bottom of this page.  I’ll be presenting ‘Four Generations at the Funeral Home’ on Tuesday, October 14th (8:30AM)!!  

In an effort to stay focused and organized as I move into my busiest time of the year I utilize a variety of apps.  Below are 12 of my fav! (Tip - Check out busy mom blogs for the latest and greatest productivity apps. Super moms are always on top of it!)

jotnot - scan documents and email

dropbox - cloud base utility storage 

evernote - archiving documents                                               (I keep all of my CE certificates here)

due - reminder for mundane tasks

hootsuite - social media manager (can’t live without this one)

swizzle - remove commercial emails from your inbox

logmein - remote computing 

1password - stores usernames/passwords (lifesaver)

lucyphone - hate when you’re placed on hold?                       You’ll love this one.

dragon dictation - hands free text input

InstaPaper - article organizer 

calm - refocus in 2 minutes through quick meditation

Happy Friday, Everyone!  I’ve been here, there and every where lately training and speaking to funeral directors all over the country.  I recently received a request from a customer for an introduction and transition statement to assist their receptionists into obtaining first call information.   Take a look at the suggested dialogue below:

Miller Funeral Service.  This is Megan. 

My loved one just died.  I need to come in and make funeral arrangements. 

First, on behalf of Miller Funeral Service please accept our heartfelt condolences.   Again my name is Megan Robinson and I am the receptionist at our Smithville Chapel and can certainly help you at this time.  May I who I am speaking with?

This is Betty. 

Thank you, Betty.   May I ask your loved one’s name and your relationship?

Frank.   Frank Bennett.   He’s my husband. 

Thank you, Betty.   At this time I need to ask several questions gathering important information to share with our funeral director.   Once the funeral director has this information they will call you to discuss a time to meet in person and plan details for how you may want to honor your husband’s life. Please know we are here to help in any way possible.  

A few things to point out:  

~Notice after receptionist gives her name there is no “How may I help you?”.  As The Telephone Doctor says, “Anything said after the name cancels the name.”

~The phrase “heartfelt condolences” is said instead of “I’m sorry for your loss.”  Place a greater emphasis on the very personal information they shared with you.

~Credibility is given along with a peace of mind statement using a very positive customer service word, “certainly”.

~Appreciation to the caller for sharing their name is given by saying “Thank you, (name)”.

~A statement outlining what will take place next is communicated in order to transition the called and provide direction.

Use the above dialogue as inspiration to create a customized statement that works for your receptionists or administrative assistance.  They’re an important part of your team and appreciate any guidance you provide!



Baby Boomers: What do they want?

Tomorrow I’ll be presenting ‘Decoding the Generations’ at the Florida Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association annual convention in Orlando.  Those who know me know I absolutely love researching and speaking about the generations whether it’s in regards to interoffice management skills or communicating with consumers.  As i looking through my previous blog posts I was a little surprised I had not posted anything about Baby Boomers ~ the most intriguing generation!  So tonight as I prepare for tomorrow it’s all about the Boomers! 

A few fun facts about Baby Boomers … 

born between the years 1944 - 1964

unofficially nicknamed ‘the show me generation’

the largest consumer group out there

control 70% of the total net worth in American households

outspend other generations by $400 billion

And a few tips to enhance the arrangement conference … 

Boomers need flexibility, ease of purchase, no confusion and high efficiency which basically means make the arrangement conference as SIMPLE as possible.  What can you do on their behalf? How can you help boomer consumers narrow down selections?  How can you increase productivity during the arrangement conference?

They will ask challenging questions and press you for details.  While they are very interested in your actual response they’re also analyzing your nonverbal language along with that response.  Remember,  ’The Show Me Generation” wants a performance!

Boomers are more motivated by emotion than any other consumer. Whether you are recommending a product or have an idea for adding personalization they need feel some sort of emotion within it in order to move forward with a buying decision.  If there’s no emotion it’s a no go.  A few of my favorite starter phrases for making recommendations and creating the emotional connection include:  

     You mentioned everyone loved …

     You shared a concern about …

     You talked a little bit about …

     It was interesting to hear about …

And my last tip on Boomers - DO NOT refer to them as SENIORS. That would not go over well at all!

Powerful Insights from Why She Buys


If you are like most people, the women in your life are probably the ones who do it all, who live within the normalcy of hectic schedules, busyness, and extreme multi-tasking.  Regardless of their station in life – older or younger, married, divorced, or single, with or without kids, working full-time or part-time – they have a daily to-do list that must be accomplished. Today’s women do it all!  And while women are doing, doing, doing, they are also thinking, thinking, thinking and they’re buying, buying, buying!!

No one explains it more succinctly than Bridget Brennan, founder and CEO of Female Factor, and author of Why She Buys: “Women are females first and consumers second.”  Below are a few powerful insights from one of my very favorite books!

The Needs of Others are Always a Top Concern

Women are very good at recognizing and taking into consideration the needs of others.  When women are the ones making decisions, they are acutely aware that they are representing not just themselves, but the rest of their group too.  Brennan emphasizes: “It’s important to address absent influencers during the sales process by asking your prospect if there are other people who will be involved in some way.”  

Kids are People, Too!

Brennan urges readers to consider the needs of mothers who have children with them.  Think about whether your funeral home is easy to navigate with strollers or carriers and whether there is a good spot with comfortable furniture for kids and mom to relax.  Consider having a stash of children’s books and toys, or maybe an available television with cartoons or kid movies.  Ensure your restrooms are kid-friendly and equipped with facilities to help parents with infants.  

Demonstrate Your Understanding

Let your female consumers know you understand them by effectively demonstrating empathy.  According to Brennan, expressing empathy can help women feel more comfortable.  She writes: “This is a reassuring style of communication that women use with each other in conversation.  The technique is especially powerful when it comes to complex and expensive purchases.” 

Empathy is simply taking a moment to see things from another person’s perspective.  Demonstrate empathy by anticipating the needs and concerns families may have. It really works….try it!  

132nd FDAK Convention Highlights

imageThis past week was the FDAK Convention in Louisville!  A great time was had by all!  Lots of notables in attendance including Vernie Fountain, Robby Bates (NFDA President), Dean Jones and Star Jones (Emmy award winning special effects makeup artists and founders of Post Mortem Restorative Cosmetics and the original Jimmy Lucas of Lucas Funeral Homes.  It was great to see everyone! 

Remembering and Honoring

{a few of my favorite pics from ANC visits}

Wishing everyone a peaceful Memorial Day as we all take time to remember and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our independence.  

| reading + reflection |  Memorial Day Links

Memorial Day is Every Day for One Verizon Volunteer via

Memorial Day 1911 - 1967 in pictures via LA Times

The Real Story of Memorial Day via Forbes 

8 Things You May Not Know About Memorial Day via History

In honor of Earth Day today here are a few questions to ask families who are desire an earth friendly celebration of life!  Remember, there are different shades of green.  What is earth friendly to one family may not be enough to a different family.  Discover and learn what shade of green they want their loved one’s service to be.

May I ask how you came to select a earth friendly funeral/burial for your mother?

How familiar are you with environmentally friendly funerals/burials?

On a scale of 1 to 10 how earth friendly would you like your mother’s service to be?

What thoughts do you have about how to publicly remember your brother while keeping his service as earth friendly as possible?

What was it about green burial that appealed to your father?

Share with me a little bit about your mother’s commitment to preserving the environment.

In looking back at a traditional funeral service you have attended were there things you liked that you want to incorporate into your mother’s service?

Thoughtful Cremation Questions-Give 1 a Try!


Asking the right questions to get the right answers will help you align your offerings with the experiences families want and need when they are selecting cremation.  Understanding their thoughts and feelings with questions that get to the heart will begin that process of advising.

May I ask how you came to select cremation for your mother? 

Is this the first cremation you are planning in your family?

What type of services did you have in conjunction with the cremation?

How did you feel about those services?

How did you feel about not having a service?

What thoughts do you have about how to publicly remember your brother?

Have you given thought of  when (or where) you may want to scatter your mother’s cremated remains?

Have you given thought to a final resting place for your mother? (notice I did not say ‘for your mother’s cremated remains’)

You may have read a few of those questions and thought to yourself, ‘there is no way I could ask that.’  Not every question is compatible with every funeral director.  Remember, it’s all in how you ask the question. The tone of voice, emotion expressed and genuine desire to learn more from the family will impact the effectiveness of the questions asked.  Give one a try today!

Greetings OFDA 2014 Convention Attendees!