Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Funeral Directors: Are You Practicing Basic Blocking & Tackling Skills?

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I have once again survived the drought that begins at the end of the Super Bowl and finally starts sprinkling this time of year… ITS FOOTBALL SEASON! From little boys to professionals, pre-season practices and scrimmages are abundant preparing for official kick off. Whether a 6 year on the field for the first time to the seasoned pro veteran, everyone works on the basics of blocking and tackling. So why don’t funeral directors have regular “practice” on the basics?

Just recently, I was part of a training exercise at a large volume funeral home. The training focus was for phone discussions with consumers whether they were a shopper, pre-planning or at-need inquiry. This part of a funeral director’s job is rarely practiced, monitored much less honed. The engagement with callers is critical to the success of funeral homes as the conversation between the funeral director and inquirer can determine if the firm is selected for services.

Fortunately for this particular funeral home, their leadership understands and provides directors regular relevant training for various aspects of a funeral directors job. However, with certainty I know that training is the exception rather than the rule for a vast majority of funeral homes. As an owner or director, have you ever wondered why business is slow, your firm is losing market share to others or the revenue per call is in a downward spiral? A coach on the sidelines sees when his offense consistently jumps off-sides, missed tackles, fumbles, interceptions and so on. What is the difference in the approach to the problems? Training, practice and coaching.

Funeral homes have sidelined their “players” by not offering regularly scheduled meaningful training. Unfortunately the industry has created a mess for funeral directors educationally. Once graduated from Mortuary School, the only “training” that is offered for funeral directors come from CEU’s or seminars. CEU’s are mandated, however often provide no practicum (with the exception of regulatory classes) and none have a pass/fail requirement. Basically, just attending is the standard. As for seminars, the majority of directors are not privy to such because the firm leadership/owners usually attend. Thus, “the field” is full of players with no practice for a game plan with potential for devastating losses.

Solutions? First, funeral home leadership must recognize that training/practice is a solution to literally every challenge. Second, find an experienced/credible coach and program for training. There are “consultants” that make a lot of money prolonging the problems by not producing measurable results…many that never even “played the game” and don’t own a team. A casket rep training YOU on how to handle phone calls…pathetic! Finally, be determined. Successful teams build programs with consistency; not fancy plays, a star player or gimmicks.

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