What is your funeral home business culture? To define business culture; a set of similar and collective values, beliefs as well as attitude. The culture of a funeral home has significant impact on just about every facet of the operation. Culture is also a trained attribute…does your funeral home provide training at all?
The culture of a company is undeniably noticeable in other industry’s like the Ritz Carlton and Chic-fil-A brands. Ritz with impeccable high end service and Chic-fil-A with value/friendliness “my pleasure” service. Interestingly, these two company examples vary widely in their pricing and customer base yet both accomplish the same goal: a definitive culture and a significant effort to provide consistent training on the subject.
In my funeral career I have met with owners, managers and staff of over 1,000 funeral homes that conduct as little as 25 to over 130,000 annual cases, both public and privately owned. I have been privy to strategic planning and executive level discussions about the approach that many funeral homes take to their business. Frankly, almost all commonly desire to serve the family of a deceased person with compassion, dignity and respect. But the culture of funeral homes widely vary to these core tenets of funeral service.
What is your funeral home culture? Here are some that I have observed:
- Perfunctory: Just getting the job done without much fanfare or creativity. Staff going through the motions not overly friendly nor curt, but primarily waiting for their day off and paycheck. Data collection on the deceased (always around a table or from behind a desk), choose a casket, choose a vault, choose a service, choose a date, choose a time, thank you for choosing us. This culture is akin to a bank teller line; “thank you for your deposit, next please!”
- Excessive: Over the top and oozing of obvious false compassion. “We are your new best friend and family” which makes many people uncomfortable and suspicious of the intentions. Perhaps the best analogy would be an overzealous car salesman or clerk at a clothing store that refuses to let you just shop. “My mother drove a car like that, I love those shoes, I had a cousin in the military (I wanted too but I have fat ankles/asthma which means I can’t run), I was in the scouts, you remind me of my own family, I love dogs, I love cats, I have a hamster too, blah, blah.”
- Tense: As if the boss is going to give a predetermined amount of lashings if a mistake is made or someone would dare think out of the box. This culture is certainly the “we’ve always done it this way” crowd that requires women (if any work there) to wear below knee length skirts, pantyhose and non-heeled ugly shoes. No, the owners are not sexist because they don’t allow male personnel to take off their jackets to show off their white shirts at anytime (especially when the temperatures are desert-like because that would be deemed unprofessional). This crowd can be best described as a cross between an Amish formal dinner and an ancient Monastery…can you feel the love and joy?
- Relaxed: At ease; comfortable yet professional. No hurry yet cognizant of time, respectful but not too chatty, everyone seems comfortable in their own skin. I suppose that this culture can be most notably like being at a great restaurant.
Of course all that read this will vehemently know that they fall into #4 and their competitors are all #1-#3 and I understand there are other forms of culture existent in our chock full of nuts funeral homes. How would you describe your funeral home culture?
It’s nearly Christmas and I’d like to wish everyone a joyous time with your family along with hoping for a little peace (and quite) for you at your funeral homes…a little message from me and Mrs. Commander:
From the Command Post and fog of a 60 ring gauge cigar, Cheers Y’all! #thefuneralcommander