I have the opportunity to travel across the country interacting with funeral home owners as well as owners of companies that provide various services and products to the funeral industry. As large as our industry seems to be, it’s a relatively small group of companies and people that provide products and services to funeral homes. Being a funeral home owner/partner and part of the vendor world, I truly enjoy having conversations with others about their views of the “temperature” in the funeral business from a vendor perspective along with their particular company positions about offerings to our customers, funeral homes.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Kevin Czachor of Answering Service for Directors (ASD) at a state convention expo. If you don’t know Kevin or ASD, on a simplistic definition, ASD is a family owned and operated business that provides answering services for funeral homes. However, saying ASD is just an answering service is like saying the Marines are just a group of soldiers.
Family owned and operated at ASD means that Kevin’s 11 year old daughter accompanied him at the convention and was quite the pleasant young lady at their booth. Frankly, she was more attentive and engaging than many in other booths that were sitting behind tables with bowls full of candy, brochures, pens and not offering any engagement other than brief eye contact with a nod. A while back, I visited ASD’s operations center in Pennsylvania meeting key staff including Kevin’s sister Kathy and brother Marty. Besides the impressive surroundings of technology one would imagine CIA headquarters would look like (I’ll address this later), the genuine reception, tour and engagement of the staff is an obvious testament to the culture of service by the Czachor family.
I believe that a company is defined by it’s leadership. Creating the service and product is undeniably important; however consistent performance, growth, training, customer engagement, and respect is not achieved by happenstance. In the military we called it “command influence and intent.” Basically, if leaders create a climate of example and expectations, the troops will follow.
ASD is doing it right. Training, technology, work environment, opportunity and respect is provided to all staff which translates into a culture within their workforce of service to their customers. The use of technology and thirst for seeking solutions for their customers is part ASD’s success as evidenced in their operations center. Interestingly, you don’t have to take a trek to Pennsylvania, you can see for yourself by visiting http://www.myasd.com/tour. Technology anyone? ASD is one of the few funeral industry service companies that actually use and excel with social media messaging. Jessica Fowler offers interesting insights about ASD, it’s employees and customers along with sharing relevant information about the funeral industry on a regular basis.
If you regularly read my blog I share my perspectives about the funeral industry. I have been part of a big public funeral product manufacturing company, I have developed from scratch successful funeral homes with proprietary operating platforms, and I have created funeral related service and product companies. My past military experience offered me the ability to provide relevant funeral director training that produces measurable results. Whether you agree or dislike my particular sharing of observations, you know that I’m not just “shooting from the hip.”
So why am I writing this post? Hand’s down, ASD is doing it right in the funeral industry and frankly as funeral home owners and industry suppliers we should take note. As funeral home owners/management we can learn about developing a real culture of service. As suppliers, a thirst for finding new services to better our customers operations and profitability should be at the top of our list every day.
I did not ask for permission or let anyone at ASD including Kevin know that I was writing this post, but after my last conversation with him, I was inspired to share my thoughts. If they give me some flak, it won’t be the first time in my life, I’ve actually been shot at and dodged SCUD missiles before. Along with my often recalcitrant posts, I am a believer also in providing deserving kudos…this one, to ASD; they are doing it right. Cheers y’all! #thefuneralcommander.