Talking Heads; What We Allow Will Continue.


“The Talking Heads; Often Wrong But Never In Doubt.”

I have often posted and shared thoughts, experiences, successes and failures of being a funeral industry entrepreneur; for example Funeral Industry Entrepreneur and Funeral Entrepreneur?  The path is paved with all sorts of challenges however I thrive on teamwork, critical thinking, beta testing, along with continuous improvement.  For those fellow stalwarts that do the same, bravo my fellow comrades!  But this post is to call out and challenge the “posers” that are emerging around us.  As defined by the Urban Dictionary

Poser: 1. one who pretends to be someone whose not.  2. who tries to fit in but with exaggeration

As Social Media provides a platform for anyone to share information, whether the information provided is correct has no relevance to building their audiences.  Even more interesting, when the background and experience of such a person is further vetted, we are surprised by the lack any credentials whatsoever to position themselves as an authority.

There are copious examples to undermine the theory that in order to create something fantastic relevant to the funeral industry that one should be a licensed funeral director, and I’m not advocating such.  What I am describing fits into one or more of these:

  • No formal death care or funeral service education.
  • Never worked actively at a funeral home in any capacity.
  • Does not regularly participate or observe in person funeral arrangement sessions.
  • Assumes process without experience.

Funeral product manufacturers, service providers (insurance, marketing, technology, etc.) and now preparing for “launch season” which is pretty much the NFDA Convention in October.  Many will bring “the newest and best” thing to their booths hoping to convince buyers that their particular service or product will “make a difference” at a funeral home.  The big companies have research/marketing departments that have either repackaged something or attempting to create a new “need.”  Smaller and new manufacturers/providers simply believe they have the “next best thing” in the funeral market.

Rarely does most ever conduct any BETA testing of the service or product; meaning real funeral directors sharing with real at need families.  Actually listening to what funeral directors think or suggest much less consumer needs and acceptance.  Focus groups don’t count or provide an accurate measure of anything compared to making selections in funeral arrangements and actually paying.  However, the “posers” will provide anecdotal scenarios and spew forth inane figures based on “research” which is contrived by people who have never set foot in a funeral home, much less looked a family in the eye during arrangements.

As the “launch season” approaches, start your own research to formulate investigative questions that are relevant to your needs.  Ask for actual data (if it’s printed in a brochure, it’s likely made up) and reference names of other funeral homes that have had success with the service or product.  Does the company actually manufacture the product, have in-house technicians/content writers/designers, actually own the service/laboratory, or are just a sales agent?  Unfortunately there are few funeral industry vendors that actually produce their own product and services…most are “farmed out.”


There is a great saying; “what you will allow is what will continue.”    Ask questions or challenge to the talking heads and decide for yourself their value.  If not, expect the same results of performance and behavior.  From the desk of The Funeral Commander, Cheers Y’all!  #thefuneralcommander

  1. Good observation…and funny that Steve and I are the only “likes” so far. When I met you the first time in Charlotte in 2013, that was the first convention I had been to in over a decade… I attended think tanks and “by invitation only” workshops instead….incubating new ideas with like-minded business owners.

    Leaving that convention I mentioned to others that not too much had changed since my last convention, except for that “DNA thing”, of course….

    May your ashes be long and your draw smooth.

    Ray V.


  2. Jeff Harbeson said:

    Thanks Brother Ray! Much can be solved over cocktails and cigars…#thefuneralcommander

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Howard Beckham said:

    True, True, and more True. This is not only true of manufactures and suppliers, but to a large degree true of many consultants. Many, many years ago I read a book called “in Search of Excellence.” One of the co-authors was Tom Peters who promoted management by “wondering around” a company to find out what they wanted to do, observe how their people went about accomplishing their task (the process), and what results they got. Once he was able to understand where the company wanted to go, how the company was doing on getting there, he would look for process improvements to be sure they arrived at their goal. I one met a funeral consultant who refused to sit in on funeral arrangements with his clients to observe how and what they where doing, but was was quick to tell what results they need to get from the families they met with. How the heck can you get to be an expert with no experience?


  4. Jeff Harbeson said:

    Thanks Howard for responding. As usual, we agree. Unfortunately, “funeral consultant” is a loosely used term in our industry. Jeff


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