Funeral Pricing Transparency: A Few Thoughts

This article is commentary on a Dead Ringers' Blog Post.

It's funny how the data from Parting.com is used to argue both sides of a story. On one side, a person can look at the variance in price and say, "I can't believe there's such a big difference!" On the other, "Look, there's the expected difference."

We didn't create Parting with the intention of forcing any funeral home to operate a certain way. Parting was born out of the necessity of trying to find and understand options quickly and easily. We never cared how outrageous a price might be because in a free market, the informed consumer has all the power.

What about a direct cremation? A direct cremation may be a guideline for the minimum amount of services required, but the final price is only a tiny part of the story. A business should be able to set pricing based on overhead, demand, marketing costs, and all the other expenses it takes to run a business. We don't understand the need to want to add useless rules to the already heavily regulated funeral industry.

It's quite the slippery slope when we have those with no financial obligation in a business trying to set prices for a business owner.

Yes, transparency is great for everyone. Though at what point is it the industry's responsibility to provide that? The answer is now. In creating Parting and Parting Pro, we have seen first hand the shift in consumer's behavior. This "new" consumer now expects businesses to be honest, consumer-focused, and provide immense value. The shift is happening NOW and those firms that relied on a veil of secrecy are losing market share. 

Instead of forcing anyone to do anything, Parting Pro is here to help those innovative funeral owners that want to grow with the trends. We're enabling those that see the future of the industry, and want to stay ahead of the game. Consumers are voting with their dollars, and we're here to make sure our partners are winning the vote.

Grow your business with software

Everyone in the funeral industry is looking to grow their cremation business, and competition is as fierce as it’s ever been. The tactics and strategies you choose make a difference and give you a competitive advantage.

The traditional strategy to growing cremation businesses has been to focus on marketing. Traditional marketing includes purchasing traffic online, engaging through social media, and print media. But here’s the problem: all funeral homes try the traditional methods! If everyone is doing the same thing, it’s no wonder it is so competitive and frustrating. Abandon traditional thinking and embrace innovation. Separate yourselves from the pack.

Innovation through technology is the untraditional way to grow your cremation business. The way to grow your business without throwing money at marketing is to become efficient operationally.

Why technology? Technology can be overwhelming. People think that there is a high learning curve, and high switching cost to use technology. But finding the right technology that solves a specific problem will change everything. You will save both time and money by utilizing software to make your business more efficient. That time and money can then be reinvested into other revenue generating opportunities.

Let’s look at an example of how technology improves something funeral homes do on a daily basis. It’s every funeral home’s responsibility to make sure the decedent is identified before cremating the body. We call this process ID Verification. It seems like such a basic task that it’s easy to overlook how to improve this process.

When you break down the costs for ID Verification for a funeral home, it looks something like this (estimate):

  • Preparing the body:  $30/hr * .5hr = $15
  • Reserving a room for viewing: $50
  • 1 attendant for viewing: $30/hr * 1hr = $30

That’s a total of $95 to ID the decedent for every cremation. There are also extra costs for the decedent's family as well. They need both time and travel to perform ID Verification in person. What seems like a simple task actually requires heavy lifting on both sides. How many cremation cases do you average in a month? If you averaged 10 cases a month, that would total to a $950 spent on ID Verification every month.

So how can we use technology to save time and money on ID verification? Everything changes when we drop the need for the verification to happen in person. A room no longer needs to be prepared, an attendant is no longer necessary, and the family does not have to travel at all. In this ideal scenario, we have reduced the entire cost of ID verification! It’s a lot easier to get a leg up on your competition if you have an extra $950 to invest every month.

Parting Pro software already has this ID Verification solution baked in. Any employee can take and send an ID Verification photo from their Parting Pro dashboard in minutes. The family can then view and identify the photo online at their own convenience. If you’re interested in saving time and money, contact us for an in-depth demo.

 

Know Your Numbers

Here are some numbers you should know by heart:

What percentage of your business is organically generated? How many marketing dollars do you need to spend to generate an additional inquiry? How many phone inquiries does it take to convert a new customer? What’s your average revenue per case?

Knowing the answers to these questions begins to give you the answer to an even more important question. If I put X dollars into my business, how many will I get out?

Once you can accurately predict this, you can scale your business to any heights. Many funeral home owners can give rough estimates or educated guesses, but there’s only one way to have numbers that you can confidently base decisions on. You must diligently track your operations.

Tracking this data is not only imperative, but it’s also pretty easy. You can measure exactly how each marketing stream is performing by training your staff to ask potential customers how they heard of you. Use a shared spreadsheet to track the status of every call. You can even begin to track who took the call, what script they used and continuously improve conversion based on this data. Once you have solid data on call sources and customer conversion, you can back these numbers into your marketing spend.

It’s important that your team understands why your operations need to be tracked because they will most likely be the ones that are doing it. Start off small, but engrain it into your business process. Once it becomes a habit, start expanding the scope. There’s hundreds of different ways to track your operations, but I found the easiest and cheapest (free) way to do it is to use a google sheet to record every call or conversation. You can easily bookmark this to any computer or phone and anyone on your team can update this simultaneously.

Here’s an example to start you off.

Whether your plan is to grow by 10% or 1000% this year, it all begins with tracking.