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 tombguard.org

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!

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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!

Honoring Mildred Nimmo Lucas

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Ask anyone who works for Lucas Family Owned Funeral Homes in North and West Texas about Mildred Nimmo Lucas and they’ll tell you she is incredibly kind, strong, smart and resilient.  At 91 years of age Mrs. Lucas shows no signs of slowing down and the North Texas Funeral Directors Association honored her abounding energy and commitment to funeral service on March 27, 2014.  Mrs. Lucas received the North Texas Funeral Directors Association 2014 Funeral Director of the Year.  Congratulations, Mrs. Lucas!  (pictured above with son Jim Lucas and grandson Jimmy Lucas).

Mrs. Lucas has indeed led a remarkable life as evident by her biography shared with me by her family. Check it out!

Mildred was born in Godley, Texas during the hot August of 1922. Her upbringing was not a privileged one. Her family was poor and moved to Fort Worth in the early ‘1930’s to look for work, as the Great Depression found her father in desperate need of such.

Mildred has remained in Fort Worth ever since and been a life-long resident in the Riverside area, which was its own town when she was a girl before Fort Worth annexed it.

As a young woman at the beginning of America’s involvement in World War II Mildred Nimmo married into the Lucas Clan and thus began her unintentional life in the funeral business. 

Mildred proved to be an amazingly resilient woman full of tenacity, courage, strength and stability. Within a two-week period in the early 1960’s Mildred lost her oldest son in a tragic hunting accident and her husband to ill health. 

The only way to really keep the family business going was for Mildred to attend Mortuary College, as her younger son was still in High School and her father-in-law “Bob Lucas” was elderly and in poor health.  So, Mildred entered the doors at the Dallas Mortuary Institute in 1965 as the ONLY woman amongst a classroom full of men, a daunting task to be sure. Now 48 years later she is still at it 24/7/365 and that ain’t no joke.

Mildred Nimmo Lucas’ primary passion other than her own family is serving families who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Mildred through her own life’s journey has the unique ability to empathize with a grieving family. She is a true gift to society. The term Funeral Director does not fully describe her role in counseling, advising, and sharing love with the bereaved. Mildred Nimmo Lucas, a true Texas Rose and daughter of the American Revolution and the Republic of Texas!

      

Have you ever come across a product that just blows you away and feel confident it would appeal to families?

Have an idea for personalization that will set your funeral home apart from the competition? 

Do you feel there is a missed opportunity in providing a unique service to the community?

Sitting on these ideas and wondering when the perfect time to bring it up to a manager can be nerve wracking.  It really is all about presentation and timing in order to get the full attention and buy in of the funeral home owner or manager.  One of the best shows on television to learn from when it comes to pitching ideas is Shark Tank on ABC.  On Shark Tank you will see the good, the bad and the embarrassing.     

Here are six tips {inspired by Shark Tank} to help you pitch your ideas to management:  

1.  Establish the problem or missed opportunity the employer needs to be aware of.  Perhaps they have mentioned it in the past without any elaboration.  Refer back to what they have mentioned as a way to show you listened and care about the issue.  

2.  Explain how addressing these issues head on with a real plan or a specific solution will help to gain market share and increase families long term satisfaction.

3.  Identify the solution, new idea or recommendation in detail.

4.  Share the experiences of funeral homes who have successfully implemented your proposed solution. Include with those experience results achieved, client family testimonials and projected growth.

5.  Give the what’s next? Present a plan for moving forward that includes the investment of time and cost.

6.  Provide ample opportunity to examine pros and cons.  To prepare for this discussion jot down anticipated questions and develop your responses.  Look at all angles of an issue and demonstrate you have done your research.

Side note completely unrelated to funeral service.

Here are my four fave products from Shark Tank that I really love:

Travel Hoodie Pillow 

Slawsa 

Drop Stop

Scrub Daddy