Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reach client families in relevant ways this Holiday Season!

Security National Life shared a post on their site with Simple Steps to Find More Success For Your Funeral Home. We wanted to expound on one of their steps, "Reaching client families in relevant ways." 

With Thanksgiving tomorrow and the rest of the Holidays following shortly after, now is the season to gather, and celebrate with your employees, clients, and community. It is not only a time to foster relationships you have, but to cultivate new ones. As a funeral home owner, your reputation in the community is everything, and creating opportunities for the community to get to you know you can be a huge part of your firm being successful. How is your community going to get to know you? Invite them over!

Depending on your funeral home and the space you have, here are some great examples of involving your community in your place of business!

Host a Holiday Party.

Invite the community over for a Holiday Party! Show a Christmas movie, drink hot chocolate, or sing carols and play games. Do you have an outdoor space? Screen your movie outside, have a bonfire, roast marshmallows. You can make this event family friendly, like having children over to decorate ginger bread houses, or decorate a Christmas tree with their creations. Or you could cater it towards a group of adults and do more of a formal sit down dinner. If you have the space, utilize it!


The holidays can be a hard time for those who have lost loved ones. Host a service at the end of the year that celebrates and remembers those who have passed away in your community over the past year. You could have a light vigil, have speakers, let anyone come up and share memories. You can really make this a night to remember! 
Rent your space!

The holidays are a time for lots of parties! If you have the ability, think about renting out some space for local businesses to host their own holiday parties and dinners. Not only does this bring people into your place of business so they become familiar with your funeral home, you can earn money on the side. Now that is a win, win!

Decorate your Funeral Home

Have you ever heard of those communities that have such astounding decorations people come from all over to see it? Light up and decorate your funeral home! Make it THE place to come and see! Blast music, sell hot chocolate, and make stopping by your firm a holiday tradition every year for people in your area!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How to Write an Obituary

Have you ever thought about who would write your obituary? We have shared several interesting and fun obituaries on this blog that were written by the deceased themselves, (HERE & HERE) but have you ever thought about the kind of pressure you would have, having to write one for someone else? If you are being asked to write an obituary for someone else, odds are they were someone very near and dear to your heart, which could pose even more difficulties for you in writing something with a clear mind. Below are some key steps to take while drafting an obituary for your loved one that should help make this processes easier and help you not feel so overwhelmed.  

1. Get in touch with your local newspaper and/or Funeral Home. 

You need to make arrangements to print the obituary. By contacting your local newspaper, and your Funeral Home, you can learn what it will cost to have the obituary printed, the deadline for when it will need to be submitted, and when it will be printed. Plan to publish the obituary at least 1-2 days prior to services so that friends and family can make arrangements to attend. Also make sure to ask if they have specific guidelines for the obituary. Some Funeral Homes might even provide you with a form to help you with the drafting of the obituary. 

2. Biographical Sketch.

It is called a sketch because you are not supposed to include an entire live's biography in the obituary, but more of a broader picture of the person's life and important information. While there are things that make each person's life unique, we all have some common threads when it comes to milestones, and so here is a list of some important factors to include:
  • Full name of the deceased (including maiden name, nickname, or any other name by which your loved one might be identified)
  • Dates and locations of birth, marriage, and death
  • Cause of death
  • Predeceased and surviving loved ones’ names
  • Schools attended
  • Military service
  • Place of employment and position held
  • Membership in organizations (for example, civic, fraternal, church)
  • Hobbies or special interests

3. Family

The obituary is for the living too, and one of the most important parts is the listing of survivors and those who preceded your loved one in death (remember that preceded means to come before, while proceeded means moved through). In the confusion and preoccupation of grief, important relatives can be forgotten. It’s unfortunate if we forget to mention a hobby or interest, but it can be painful if we forget to mention a step-child or sister.

Typically you list survivors first, starting with the closest relations: spouse, children, grandchildren, great and great-great grandchildren, parents, and siblings. If any of these relations are nonexistent or have died, skip and move to the next relation. Nieces, nephews in-laws, and cousins are usually left out, or simply numbered unless they were close to the deceased. Grandchildren and greats are often numbered too, and if you not sure you have all the names, use a number or say ‘many grandchildren’ to avoid leaving anyone out. List relatives with their first name, spouse’s first name in parenthesis, then surname. If the spouse’s surname is different, or the couple is not married, include the partner’s surname in the parenthesis along with their first name.

4. Service Times

If services are public, include full funeral service information: location, day, and time of visitation, memorial or funeral service, and burial.  If services are private, indicate so (for example, "Burial will be private" or "Private services will be held").

5. Be Unique

With all the standard and important information that is included, your obituary can easily become stale and uniform. Make your loved ones obituary unique by showing how they stood out as an individual. Using specific examples that made them unique or stand out will help illustrate and bring to life the person you are honoring and remembering. What was a quirky habit they had? Did her sense of humor brighten your life, did he always make time for the kid’s games? Did she make guests feel welcome? Paint her picture in the obituary with these details. Ask loved one's for their input here as well. Ask for details they recall, or loved about the person. How did they look or dress? What made them happy? Try and be creative with these details because this is what really highlights the individual! Try to remember specific instances where she made a difference in the lives of others. Such information inspires people and helps them connect with the deceased.

6. Special Messages

At the end of an obituary a special message is sometimes found, such as ‘in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to..’ or ‘Special Thanks to the staff at General Hospital for..’ or ‘We will always carry your memory in our hearts’. Sometimes a short prayer or a line from a poem is placed at the end. These messages are optional, but can be a way of communicating something that did not fit into the body of the obituary.

7. Photos

Photos add to the cost of an obituary, but can be a pleasant reminder of the person we miss, and a useful way for readers to recognize our loved one among all the other obituaries. It’s a great treat to see old photos and to be reminded of all the living that happened before old age and death, but friends may not recognize the person in the photo, so if you are wanting to use a dated photo it would be smart to include a recent shot as well.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Finding Harold


Unless you are used to the bustling throng of city life, it’s hard to explain the inherent loneliness one feels upon first entry into Wyoming’s high country. Internal sirens blare as all of your city coping skills call in for backup. None arrives.

It’s far too quiet.

Too big.

And under the weight of all that blue, even the sky starts to feel heavy. 

Let alone when one moves from a city of nearly 60,000 to a population of 4 in a remote outpost stuck out in the middle of a desolate high desert prairie. 

Welcome to Lost Springs, Wyoming. It’s America’s smallest incorporated town. After having moved to Lost Springs just over a year ago from Idaho Falls, Anngela Starnes learned exactly how long a day could feel.

“It was really, really hard at first,” Anngela says, wistfully. “I was so lonely for people, even though I was also really happy to finally have my family under one roof.”

She had resisted the move for four years. At the same time, she really missed her husband. Buddy owns A&B Trucking Company and had moved to work in Orin Junction with sporadic visits home. 

His persistence won her over in the end, when he overcame Anngela’s final stipulation – no trailers! – by finding a lovely rental house in Lost Springs with a rural school close for her teenaged daughter Nikki.

“It just felt like it was meant to be,” Anngela says with a smile. “I figured, why the heck not.”
That said, even with the family at place, the lack of human contact was hard for her to take. She’s naturally social with a warm, talkative spirit. Human connection is her lifeblood, and, as a certified addiction counselor, Anngela had spent the past 20 years helping people.

So she started walking.

Really walking. Often up to four or five miles a day, along the dusty country roads and section lines, the lifeblood connecting neighbors across the vast miles of empty land.

“I would walk for hours,” she laughs, “just looking for people, talking to nature, trying not to go too crazy.”

This is how she stumbled upon Prairie View Cemetery. At first, she mistook it for a grain field. The white of a headstone, barely noticeable in the overgrown drab green sagebrush, caught her attention.
She had always been drawn to cemeteries and other historic places. It’s the Victorian in her, she laughs, that ultimately led her to open the rusty gate and explore.

What she found nearly broke her heart. Overturned headstones gnarled within weeds and sage, graves so eroded that names were barely legible, others unmarked and lost in the overgrowth.

Most disheartening for Anngela were all of these lost lives, untended, forgotten or potentially unknown, by loved ones – most of whom had long since moved or passed away themselves, or are too old and frail or far away to maintain the upkeep of these familial graves.

She returned with her daughter Nikki and a weedwhacker. The pair blazed through the cemetery, clearing a path.

Two days later, she could barely operate a TV remote.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2015 NFDA Innovation Award


The NFDA International Convention & Expo is the place where all facets of the funeral service profession can come together to learn and share thoughts and ideas on the latest trends, technology and products. At this year's Convention, ASD’s MobileFH™ won the 2015 NFDA Innovation Award. This prestigious award is given annually to a funeral service vendor whose product or service was introduced during the previous year and represents creativity, innovation and excellence. 

MobileFH™ was developed by ASD’s technology team after hearing directors describe a common problem they experienced when using their cell phones for funeral home business. Caller ID, as helpful as it is, can also cause a lot of headaches. From the risk of a missed call to the frustration of being contacted while off duty, these problems can make it difficult for funeral professionals to separate their personal and professional lives. MobileFH™ provides a new solution to this problem by allowing funeral professionals to call any number from their cell phone and display their funeral home’s number as the outgoing Caller ID.

Not only are Directors less likely to receive business calls while off duty and in a distracting environment, the app also keeps phone numbers private, and ensures that families will always recognize when someone from the funeral home is contacting them. This aspect of the app alone could help secure business that would have otherwise been lost in the shuffle and stress that typically surrounds family members after the passing of a loved one.

Calls placed using MobileFH™ are also recorded providing a convenient tool to review and evaluate after-hour calls. Call recordings give Owners and Managers a way to objectively evaluate how employees handle challenging pricing and preneed calls. These recordings can become excellent training tools to help staff improve customer service skills.

Learn more about this helpful app and what it could do for your business!