In our last post, we covered some of the trends that are going to shape the funeral industry in 2018. While there is nothing more exciting than looking forward to the future, this year is going to be a turning point of sorts. For firms who are prepared and/or willing to stay with the times, things are certainly looking up. However, funeral homes that still hold onto traditional ways of doing the job and fight the influence of technology are going to find themselves facing an unwelcome reality check. Mark my words. This year, more advancements will be made in funeral home technology and death care than ever before. As newfound innovations are aggressively sought by technology providers and everyday consumer habits continue to creep into funeral service, the landscape will begin to change drastically.
All of this, of course, in preparation for a generational shift that will see millennials planning the majority of funerals within the next decade. So the question remains, is your funeral home ready to adapt?
If part one was intimidating, it may be a fair time to warn you that part two of our funeral technology trends to watch in 2018 will not be much better. That being said, we have no interest in leaving you out to fend for yourself. We are certainly here to help with any questions or concerns you may have for your funeral home technology, whether you are an existing client or not. One of our guiding philosophies at FrontRunner is that funeral homes should have access to technology that will help them help families. And because this year is going to be more about catering to the needs of those families, we want to make sure you are prepared to deal with increasingly savvy consumers. Keep a close eye on the following trends, and those we shared with you last week, if you want to stay in the know.
With families spread across North America and even the world, the days of walking into a local funeral home, sitting down and planning a funeral are coming to an end. Getting every member of a family into one room for paperwork or a group decision simply isn’t realistic. Furthermore, families do not want to do this anymore. Everything is about convenience and the more convenient you can make their experience with your business, the better. In 2018, families are going to expect more of funeral homes. It’s no secret. Suffering from a mix of questionable press and prejudicial negative assumptions, modern funeral homes will have to buy into the idea of convenience over everything. Look for tools that will help you offer families the ability to collaborate on the funeral planning process online, from the comfort of their own home and on any device. This includes all arrangements, contracts and even accepting payments.
Funeral stationery is nothing new. But anyone who has been to a funeral recently knows it isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it still plays a key role in the loving memorial of someone who has passed away. So, expect stationery to continue in the direction of hyper-personalization, with firms everywhere beginning to offer a plethora of options in this regard. From different print lines to DVD’s and even “digital stationery”, there is going to be a big surge in the importance of stationery, whether it is recognizable or not. The result will surely be the next generation of funeral stationery as part of a larger industry-wide shift towards a consumer-first mentality. In 2017 we partnered with Pierce Chemical to help more funeral homes get their hands on a stationery solution that is both forward-thinking and efficient. We would be happy to help your firm get on the right track with your stationery, so that you do not get left behind this year.
One major trend, one that will not be popular amongst funeral businesses, is the need for multiple websites. Yes, having a funeral home website IS enough to attract, inform and connect with the families in your community. But it is not enough to dominate your service area for the next ten years. With the cremation and pet loss markets both growing, it seems like they may deserve more than a page on your website. They may need entirely different websites for their unique messaging. Let me explain. These would not be entirely new businesses (although they could be), instead just digital extensions of your existing funeral home website. This way, you have a unique site that ranks on Google for your funeral home, cremation service and pet loss solutions. The idea that every business needs and/or is only entitled to one website is dated, to say the least. 2018 is going to be a year where more funeral homes wake up to the availability of space on the web. Why settle for one slice when you could have several? This year, FrontRunner will be releasing cremation and pet loss solutions to help firms stay up to date.
Memorials have become one of the most popular types of campaigns for crowdfunding platforms. Unless you have been living under a rock, crowdfunding for funerals have become an almost expected part of any news story involving a fatality. Forget the money, these platforms provide a place for people to come together during times of tragedy, loss and greatest need. Contributing to these campaigns is special for all parties – those who donate and the families that receive these gestures. From this scope, it is easy to see why crowdfunding has become a popular part of the funeral industry. However, there have been concerns about the “grey-areas” – Where does the money go? What is it used for? At FrontRunner, we created an answer to these questions. In late 2017 we partnered with GoFundMe, the world’s #1 crowdfunding platform, to develop a crowdfunding solution specifically for funeral service. A Helping Hand gives families and funeral homes the power to create crowdfunding campaigns directly related to the costs of the funeral and expenses being faced by the family. This has set a new standard for how funeral service responds to and incorporates technology trends from outside the industry. Look for more innovations like this in 2018.
Tired of hearing about social media yet? Well, if you are, I have some bad news – social media is only going to get more important. It’s the millennial factor. Having a Facebook page is what having a website became 10 years ago – mandatory. But, Facebook is not the be all and end all of social media. To truly connect with consumers of all ages and create a unique digital brand for your funeral home – you will need to use multiple channels like Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and even Pinterest to connect with the community. One piece of advice all funeral professionals should follow is treating their firm’s social media presence as if it were their own. Take pictures, share stories, curate the best of your funeral home’s culture and make sure your network knows about it. If some or all of the team members at a funeral home engage in this, you will have a far greater reach online and may actually entice younger people into conversations about death care. This, is the main benefit that social media will have for funeral homes- engaging with young people. After all, if you are looking to prepare for the future – younger generations should be your primary target audience.
Hopefully after reading our funeral home technology blog posts, you have a better idea what to expect from the year ahead. Surely not all funeral homes or communities will see the same trends or have the same experiences in 2018. However, there is merit to understanding the direction in which the entire industry is headed. You may have a service area with a much older demographic or the majority of your calls may be traditional funerals – but these trends, in some capacity, are headed your way nonetheless. We just want you to have the time to make the necessary changes. If you want to know more about how we can help or what funeral home technology solutions we have on the way, you can contact us at anytime.
In turn, if you think I am crazy or that us funeral home technology providers are just fear mongering, I invite you to think back some 18 years ago. If someone had told you in the year 1999 that you’d have a wallet-sized computer constantly in your hand, would you have believed them? Maybe you would or maybe you wouldn’t. But I am willing to wager that you are the owner of a smartphone – one that, statistics suggest, just helped you read this blog post. That, is how technology trends come to be. Usually, by the time you find out – it has already happened. Do not sit by and wait.
Brandon is the Marketing Communications Manager at FrontRunner Professional. He holds a Social Sciences degree from McMaster University and a Graduate Certificate in Integrated Marketing Communications from St. Lawrence College. His creative writing and innovative ideas bring new life to the company, FrontRunner’s clients and funeral directors world-wide.