I hope you enjoy the articles in this issue of our Newsletter. Your Funeral Coach is a Coaching and Mentoring Firm that lives in the funeral, cremation and cemetery services space. We offer a wide variety of affordable consulting options and have joined with some incredible companies to provide the very best advice and education possible to help owners and individuals grow themselves and their teams in our profession.
With the economic news of late not painting a pretty picture for 2023, it is imperative to create a good business plan for your firm this coming year. Based on when your fiscal year begins, planning for the upcoming year for 3 months or better is a wise business practice. If you start over on January 1st, it is not too late to get started. Whether you are in management or ownership, or just want to learn more about designing an annual plan, it is essential to learn how to design a good plan!
Inside this plan, there should be a strategy for your people, your performance, and your profits. It does not have to be complicated, but each of these areas of your business should be evaluated each year for effectiveness and efficiency.
I’ve created an outline to help you get started in this Fall Newsletter. I encourage you to involve your staff in all of these areas of your plan. The old saying that “two heads are better than one” comes to mind as you consider engaging your team in evaluating how you did this last year and what you should be focusing on this coming year.
I could fill 10 or more newsletters with content and more detail in the areas listed below. For this edition, I am encouraging you to begin to get better organized in your business practices to evaluate and learn from your past year, while spending the next couple of months planning in the 3 areas listed below for your 2023 year.
1.Your first priority should begin with paying more attention to the needs of your people
What more do they need from you in care programs, training, team building, and benefits? For new hires, what does your orientation and onboarding look like to help prepare your new staff well? As your staff is your number one asset, I encourage you to begin by involving them in time to think together. Plan a Town Hall meeting and make it a time of sharing. Tell them how your firm is doing in comparison to your competitors, in comparison to last year, and share some ideas you have for this coming year. Get a big whiteboard out and take good notes as you ask them their ideas.
Some suggested questions could be: what should our company stop doing, do more of, or do differently to better care for your staff, better care for your clients, and to better grow your company?
2.Your second priority is your client families
Are they satisfied? How are you measuring this satisfaction? What more services are they asking for that you need to provide, and what more service enhancements should you be providing to better care for them? How will you market to them more effectively this coming year? Where should you be more visible in your community, what pre-planning seminars will you offer? Of most importance are your website and social media presence. Your online presence is critical that it is well managed. Your website should be unique and tell the story of how you will care for your customers in a very special way. It is the first place most shoppers will go to and the impression you make online could determine whether or not you ever receive a call.
3.Your third priority is your profitability
As a business, you must consciously be planning for your net profit per client served. To do this, you should determine, understand, and control your overhead costs. Evaluate your pricing programs and purchasing costs. This year with increasing costs, you may need a plan to begin to execute small price increases to keep up with inflationary expenses. Hopefully, you have good financial and management reports that you review quarterly and compared to last year, last quarter, etc. If you are only receiving year-end reports from your accounting firm, then I encourage you to create a goal for 2023 to make changes as to who executes your financial reporting and cash flow measurement reporting systems.
#1 People Plan
·Retention & Wellness programs
·Recruitment, hiring & onboarding
·Monthly Development, training & performance tracking
I am honored this year to serve the Funeral Service Foundation as the new Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and their first woman chair. I spoke at the 2022 National Funeral Directors Association International Convention & Expo in Baltimore about the supportive programs that lift up grieving communities the Funeral Service Foundation provides. The Funeral Service Foundation also offers scholarship opportunities, resources for professionals, and grant opportunities.
In August 2022, I joined in on Lisa Baue’s podcast, Your Funeral Coach Talks. Lisa and I are old friends, not in age, but as in “we go back a long time!” It was truly magical as we laughed and shared stories. It was a casual conversation between two old friends who are so passionate about the professional space we reside in: death care. I hope readers, that you will listen in to the fun we had and find some benefit in the teaching I shared about serving pet families when they face a death of their beloved pet family member.
Lisa and I talked first about the beginning of my journey with the start of my business almost 20 years ago, then the first of its kind in the United States, a pet funeral home without a crematory. She commented to me which gave me “cause to pause.” Lisa stated, “Oh, Coleen, I remember some of our colleagues literally making fun of you for starting THAT business.” We laughed like old friends do when they hear something so ridiculous. We laughed and guffawed with an “oh who’s laughing now” kinda tone. It was so much fun doing this podcast and reminiscing about our early business challenges!
The holidays are fast approaching. And while many are planning family festivities, buying gifts, and keeping family traditions, those that are grieving have expressed many mixed emotions about the upcoming holiday. Whether a family has lost a loved one recently, or many years ago, there is no timeline for grief and most likely traditions have changed since the loved one died. Those well-intentioned people that help those that are grieving, tend to tell the family to “stay busy.” But it is important that anyone who is associated with the grief community gives mourners the space to feel and the permission to slow down.
The message of staying busy becomes a resounding gong that invalidates the emotions of the griever and exhausts the person to an unhealthy state. For those that know better, especially those in funeral service, the message must be clear. Slowing down is essential to the grief process. And although one can get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, staying busy does not create meaning. Intentional activities create meaning. Slowing down and listening to the body honors the loved one.
Work Relationships are vitally important! It's not just about getting along. As human beings we crave connection with others. We have survived for thousands of years by living as a tribe. “Tribes live in groups and are organically connected and defined by traditions of common descent, language, culture, and ideology.” (Wikipedia)
So, what can we learn from tribal living and building work relationships? Full-time employees spend the majority of their time at the office. Work relationships are essential to employee well-being. These relationships at work can either positively or negatively affect an employee’s stress levels, productivity and general sense of happiness. These factors not only affect an employee’s work performance, but it affects employee health too.