Stuck on the Escalator


I was recently at a funeral home strategy/training meeting and the Broken Escalator video above was presented as a primer for discussion.  This is a fantastic and thought provoking example for us in the funeral industry.  The NFDA just posted estimations that cremation will eclipse burial this year (see: Rates of Cremation and Burial) and consumers are as scattered in their views about death/disposition as cremated remains in a hurricane.

Yet, the majority of funeral service providers are “stuck on the escalator.”  Here are some examples:

  • “It’s not a problem in our community.”
  • “My families don’t/won’t blah, blah, blah.”
  • “We have been through this before.”
  • “We’ve always done it this way.”
  • “Training?”

The “stuck on the elevator” syndrome is also an epidemic in the funeral supplier world:

  • Repackage the same offerings.
  • Same casket, different color.
  • Discount and rebate games.
  • “Our research shows.”

Jessica A. Smith recently published a great post  I Want A Direct Cremation, Please on the OGR blog offering common sense approaches to assist consumers with cremation choices.   The pundits and talking heads (see Talking Heads; What We Allow Will Continue) continue to lead the blind sheep over the cliff with their “charge more and show more value.”  I guess my question is; why are there so many funeral providers stuck on the escalator?  Thoughts and comments?  From the desk of The Funeral Commander, Cheers Y’all! #thefuneralcommander

  1. Howard Beckham said:

    So many people want the market to adjust to them instead of adjusting to the markets wants, needs and expectations.


  2. I read Jessica’s post. It’s ok. But she has fallen into the same trap that all of funeral service has done. She is using language that only funeral people use and trying to tell us that we have to force people to talk like we do to really understand the “reverence” of death. It’s a bunch of hooey. No one but funeral service people have ever used the word “commemorate” or “memorialization” or “cremated remains” or “Healing Experience”. Imagine yourself as the greeter at Walmart and talk to the people that are walking past you in the language that they use. When you use fake, big words it only serves to alienate you from the people you are trying to serve. Kool and the Gang did not write the song “commemorate good times, come on” and Prince did not write “i’m going to memorialize like it’s 1999”. Use the language that relates to the customer. It’s ok to use “party”, and “Ashes” and “Celebrate” and remember.


  3. Jeff Harbeson said:

    Dale, you are right on point! We often create our own problems…being authentic and ourselves in my humble opinion is the secret sauce.


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