“We Give Better Service”

modernDuring a recent funeral pricing debate on Face Book, a funeral director actually made the statement “we give better service.”  I have personally been part of conversations with both funeral directors and funeral home owners about this very statement.  Fasten your seat belts, let’s take this topic for a spin.

When I hear “we give better service” my first thought and response to the statement is “what does your firm do that that other firm does not?” Usually there is quite a pause of conversation because the person making the statement actually has to think about what they said and provide some factual basis for their position.  I have heard  with my own ears; “We have new carpet in our chapel…our chapel is bigger…our fleet is newer…the water bottles we give out at graveside has our name on it…we have a bigger parking lot…they wear different suits/ties…we care more…and we have more staff on a service.”  My ALL TIME FAVORITE is “they don’t even have an organ”…how in the world did the State Board issue that firm a license?

My responses to such ridiculous blithering is “what type and year was their carpet installed, what are the dimensions of their chapel versus yours, what year models are their cars, does your name on the water bottle make the water taste better, how many cars will their parking lot hold, what color suits/ties do they wear, the other firm cares less…how many staff dictates a better service and of course how in the world do they provide music there without an organ?”  While the other person is pondering what I asked, I throw the grenades; “how many services have you attended at your competitor and if they have such inferior service, why is their market share increasing?”  Sort of a glazed look comes over their eyes, but no answer.

Does “we give better service” mean that a huge chapel like St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City gives better service than a country church like my family church, Indian Field Methodist in St. George, SC?  By the way, St. Patrick’s parking is terrible and many Indian Field’s attendees park on grass. Can an attendee of services find God in both places?

How about an analogy in the restaurant business?  Does the famous Chic-fil-A “my pleasure” culture with $5.00 chicken sandwiches/fresh flowers on their tables pale in comparison to Morton’s of Chicago’s fine dining, linen and expansive menu?  Is the customer at Chic-fil-A any less full or served than the the Morton’s customer?  Crickets.  Basically just mindless chatter with absolutely no basis.  I know what some of you are thinking, “you get what you pay for.”  That’s my next post topic…stay tuned.

poster 1I have attended services at all sorts of funeral homes across the country…I have seen mistakes made at both.  Family cars all lined up in disarray to actually leaving an old woman in a limousine after services were over back at the funeral home (this was at a huge several location funeral home always “crowing” serving since Sherman burnt down the South).  Just because a visitation at a funeral home has an old man opening the front door for you…pointing to an old lady across the foyer…and she points/directs you to another old lady down the hall…which she points you to another old lady standing at the register stand, and after you sign the book she then points you to the old lady in the casket…does not necessarily transcend into “better service.”  Perhaps this funeral home would get high marks for an “evening senior day care center.”  I have been to funeral homes with small staff and no one greeting at the door…but the visitation was lively…people laughing, hugging and conversing (even to the like of “Enter Sandman” playing over the music system).  How would that song sound on an organ?

The point  I’d like to get at here is “we give better service” is quite a far fetched and inane discussion point especially when the person making the statement has never attended the “other funeral home.”  However making assumptions is always easy, but we all know what happens when we assume…Like I have been told all my life and have actually said to my kids; “don’t worry what so-in-so is doing, do it the best you can and move on.” Cheers y’all.



  1. Steve Zittle said:

    The fundamental problem is that funeral directors define service TOTALLY differently than do the families they serve. FDs spend their “learning” time surrounded by other funeral directors, searching for the latest gimmick, trinket, or product to bring back to their families, thinking that they are providing better service by doing so.

    Our fraternity scowls when an “industry outsider” (gasp) suggests something that might speak more directly to those we serve.

    The industry needs to evolve, according to the desires of our constituency, rather than our own “wisdom” about what’s best for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeff Harbeson said:

    Amen Steve…sounds like you are inspired to share the word!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Howard Beckham said:

    Well, well. well. Jeff you are asking a very important question here. When it comes right down to it what really matters to the families we are hoping to serve. What is it they (the families) value and expect? I would think the level of service IS important…and in many regards you do get what you pay for…sort of.

    I do not think that you need to be in a facility that is a Taj Mahal to deliver outstanding service. Indeed, if someone thinks that it is their facility that makes their service superior need to take a lesson or two in delivering quality service. In your example of Chick-fil-A and Morton’s—both deliver outstanding service—and both target different markets.

    While I enjoy a trip once in awhile to Morton’s, I visit Chick-fil-A far more often. A better contrast would be perhaps Morton’s to a far less quality fast food chain…you pick one. The one where when you walk in you think twice about sitting down and hope that the order is right and that the food taste so bad you toss most of it out (a real life on the road experience I recently had).

    My point is this. Some people will always pay for “show” as long as they can afford it, but most people go for substance.

    Funeral Home & Cremation providers MUST adapt to what families want, need and can afford.

    Ask yourself this, if a stranger asked you to explain the real differences in what you offer and deliver to families as compared to all the other funeral homes in town and why someone should call you in 30 seconds or less, could you convincingly tell your story ?

    If you can not, perhaps it time to take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself, why not.

    Happy Memorial Day to all. I salute our Veteran’s one and all. God Bless and protect those who stand for Freedom!


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