Americans, it seems, still feel poor. In a CNN article published online in late January of 2013, Why Americans Still Feel Poor, writer Nin-Hai Tseng prompted this comment from a reader, “I feel poor because the price of everything has skyrocketed and my salary has not.” It seems the buying power of our hard-earned dollars continues to be cut dramatically, as inflation continues unabated.
For so very many families feeling the same pinch, the often unexpected expenses of a funeral can contribute significantly to survivor stress levels. And the funeral firm which “goes the extra mile” in helping their families with well-planned, value-driven funeral payment options is sure to find their call volume growing higher over the course of a year.
Turning to my funeral service peers and colleagues on Facebook, I broached the subject of funeral financing, asking the question, “As more families today (or so it seems to me) struggle to pay final expenses—does your funeral firm offer any special financing options (in-house or otherwise)?”
As always, a number of folks chose to take up some of their valuable Friday morning to respond. (I can’t fully express how generous funeral professionals usually are with one another—my gratitude for their insights, opinions, and experience grows daily.)
“We take credit cards, insurance policies,” wrote Michael Lewis. This is, of course, common; and was echoed by many funeral directors responding to the question. Like that of Tim Wilson, who works for Demaine Funeral Home, a Dignity Memorial facility, who shared, “I work for a corporation, and we take credit cards or checks at the time of arrangements.”
Other firms do things differently, but still find problems with the whole issue of funeral service funding options they have worked with. For example, Debbie Hamelik, candidly shared, “We have in-house financing, (which is )sometimes not such a good idea.” Dana Goodell concurred with Debbie’s assessment, when she wrote, “Twice in the same day within the last 6 months, we had families come in to make arrangements. They wanted traditional services, but when the total charges were brought up, then all at once, we hear, “Well, we are going to have to make payments on this.”
The best pet answer to this is simply, ‘We have an agreement with our local bank, that being, they do not run funerals, and we do not make loans.’ Needless to say when they figured out that they could not come up with the cash advances, let alone any of the service or merchandise charges, cremation looked more attractive. And still to this day, we have not been paid on either account. Better to lose a direct cremation, than a traditional funeral.”
And Alexander Scott, really dove right into the topic, writing, “Great question Kim, as I have seen multiple spectrums on this issue. I’ve worked with firms that required payment in full on or before of the day of the service and firms that gave 30 days, just requiring cash advances up front. Oddly enough the firms that gave 30 days had less receivable issues/collections garbage to deal with that the up-front fellows. It’s a really sticky topic, but it’s all in your mind set and how you present it to families in a polite and tasteful manner. Location and demographics play a big role too. I liked the option of giving people the 30 days for the left side of the contract, especially when the loss was tragic, sudden, and horribly unexpected, so on top of all of the emotional conundrum, they aren’t getting whacked in the wallet too.”
Why Not Make a Difference Even When the Loss isn’t “Tragic, Sudden or Unexpected”?
Even in the most ordinary of circumstances, you can help your families breathe a sigh of relief when inform them that your funeral firm truly understands the issues they currently face, and have flexible payment options that will allow them to have the kind of funeral or memorial service their heart is calling them to have in remembrance of their loved one.
Be on the Consumer’s Side…with ConsumerSide
Recently, FrontRunner Professional and BlueFin Payment Systems have put together a comprehensive all-in-one payment solution offering the most competitive rates on the market. ConsumerSide is designed with both the new consumer and the funeral home in mind, under a shared belief that “When you put families first, they’ll take notice”.
And because we understand the funeral business and the range of funeral expenses family can choose, with ConsumerSide you get a transaction limit of up to $15,000 to help provide the convenience for families to pay for funeral services immediately. Included with the ConsumerSide program is an all-encompassing administration software system which allows you a single look at your entire program. You’ll be able to track payments, review pending auto-payment status, or customize the payment option your client families request, from this single, easy-to-use interface. With it you can:
- Reduce the number of families choosing to buy funeral goods from third-party suppliers
- Increase the amount of services and ancillary products sold for each arrangement
- Achieve a higher level of customer satisfaction
Robert Christopherson, a retired funeral professional remarked, “The owner of one of the funeral homes that I work at told me to discount the funerals to meet the family’s needs. He said it’s better to cover your expenses and have a family happy than burden them and never get paid.”
What if you could do it all—cover your expenses, relieve a family’s burden, give them some sense of financial peace-of-mind, and ensure your funeral firm’s reputation of offering families a higher level of service? If you’re looking for the right answer, find out more information on ConsumerSide today.
And if you have some time, I’d love to know what your funeral firm is doing to reduce the financial strains felt by families who have lost a loved one, without compromising the financial soundness of the firm.