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.
My Collaborative Network Partners and I hope you find enjoyment in reading these informative articles and they help you in your career and business.
The articles will contain education that focuses on what funeral, cremation, and cemetery professionals need most. We will not spend time on “industry” updates as that is currently being well done. Of most importance is education in areas of growing a business and how to develop new skills as leaders. Topics will include using best management practices along with ways to care for you and your fellow team members. The newsletter will also contain new insights into differentiating yourself in your respective market communities and profession. For the busy professionals that love to cook but have no time, there will be a new recipe for you to try that is easy and fast to prepare. Additionally, coming in the future will be other articles focused on your personal wellness and work, life, balance.
If you are not a reader but more of a listener or enjoy podcasts, join us for our upcoming 2022 Your Funeral Coach Talks, and listen in on the new episodes. There will be great learning with guests on varying topics, from leadership to grief support program best practices, to business management and ownership transitions, along with the wellness for both you and your fellow team members. We will also be sharing marketing, community relationship building, and information on innovative training programs.
This year, we will debut a new series in our podcasts titled Elevating Women in Funeral Service where we will spend time with women leaders in our field, learning the keys to their success.
You can find Your Funeral Coach Talks on our website or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
My hope for your New Year in 2022, is for you to spend more time on your own personal wellness while accomplishing goals that help you grow and achieve a better work, life, balance.
The New Infrastructure Act that was passed really has almost no tax change provisions in it. And the new Build Back Better Act (BBBA) had more than its share of tax changes. Because they want to pass that with only one party's vote, it goes through a process called reconciliation. That simply means for one party to push something through, it must be paid for revenue wise. Of course, over the past years, we see where they make it sound good on paper, but the result is that it usually adds to the federal deficit which currently sits around 29 trillion dollars.
The changes that look to have been discarded are the change in capital gains rates, the changes to the estimate and gift tax exemptions, and the highest tax rate for companies and individuals seemed to be smaller than originally thought. One just must keep an eye on the bouncing ball and tax expert analysts' review of the ongoing changes until final negotiation and passage.
So, my recommendation is to stay in touch with your estate and tax advisors on a regular basis before reacting to rumors and things you read or hear in public.
The past few years have taken a toll on most industries. As a mental health professional, I have seen people leaving education, healthcare, and other taxing industries in droves. How do you plan to retain your best employees? How do you help them feel valued and keep them from the fiery furnace of burnout? Employee retention is not just about competitive salaries and more vacation. Many times, we spend more time at our workplace than our home, so I have comprised a few things that help employees feel heard and understood.
Managers need to be emotionally attentive. Strength and power are no longer congruent with stoicism. Being vulnerable and authentic is valued in a leadership role. Understand how to be emotionally attuned to your staff. Seek to understand them and know why they are in funeral service. Everyone has a story. Encourage personal and professional development but with rest and relaxation as a top priority. Goals should be made with intention and an emphasis on overall health.
Model healthy behaviors as a leader. If you act stressed, they pick up on that energy. If you talk about maladaptive ways of coping, they will follow suit. Take care of yourself and create a work environment that promotes self-care as a priority. Create opportunities for employees to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness calms the amygdala, which is where fear and anxiety are stored in the brain. Implement quiet areas, places to take a walk or get fresh air, and give people tangible skills on how to regulate their mood. If you don’t know how to do these things, bring in guest speakers from your community on how to implement such goals.
Create opportunities for employees to find meaning in their work. Have times of reflection in meetings. Give people a chance to share their successes and their disappointments. Encourage team-building skills. The pandemic showed us how interdependent we are on each other. No one can do this alone in a healthy way. We all need support and meaning can be made when people feel supported at work by their team.
These strategies will create a culture of appreciation and meaning that retains employees and help avoid burnout. These values implemented in everyday work life will be beneficial to you, your company, your employees, and the community that you serve.
Life is too short, not to embrace what you love. Each and every one of us has abandoned something we love, out of fear that we're not good enough to proceed with it.
Understand there is no such thing as forever, so we need to enjoy every second we can, while we still can. Here are 8 guidelines to Embrace More of What YOU Love!
1. Love yourself - how you treat yourself sets the example for how others will treat you.
2. Be true to yourself, know it is ok to be yourself, embrace who you really are, including your imperfections.
Quote: "Perfect People aren’t real and real people aren’t perfect!" Author Unknown
3. Get comfortable with pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. It is so easy to stay in our comfort zone – challenge yourself to do something that makes you just a little uncomfortable…today! Carpe Diem!
4. Listen to your heart. What is your heart asking you to do? Follow your heart, it won’t steer you wrong!
5. Understand where you are heading in life – Create a plan, does the plan include something just for you, or is it all about others?
6. Be willing to make comprises. Every time we say “yes” to something we are saying “NO” to something else. What have you been saying “yes” to that is taking away from your quality of life?
7. Name what is holding you back! If you could name just one thing that is holding you back from living a life you loved, what would it be? Fear of success/failure? Fear of letting someone down? Overwhelming responsibilities? Are you waiting for the perfect time? Money? Resources? Take a moment and write it down, now.
8.Be ready to commit! Are you ready to commit just a little bit of time to yourself, your passion, so you can “Embrace More of What You Love?”
What is something that you love, that you are drawn to, that was once “your thing”, that you have gotten away from because of whatever excuse you wrote down?
I encourage you to embrace what you love, you are a grown-up, you CAN do what YOU want every now and then! Life is too short to postpone joy…I challenge you to follow your heart, and Embrace What You Love!
HOW TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL MARKETING PLAN FOR 2022
As 2021 has ended, we have been finalizing plans for individual firms next year. It's never too late to structure a marketing plan, but its always best to do so in advance of any initiatives. Most firms ask for help after years of a "shoot from the hip" approach to marketing.
Going into 2022 without a plan, is a plan to fail. Here are four quick ways to confirm you do or do not have a good plan.
1. You Have to Have a Budget – Understanding budgeting is key. Most firms don’t have a budget. Instead, they look at expenses they called “marketing” during a prior year and try to stay close to that number. Proper budgeting is strategically calculated to be roughly 2-5% of gross revenue. Once you have a budget number, it needs to be allocated to effective strategies. When your budget is strategically planned, you know what your expenses will be before you ever spend anything.
2. Have a Strategy – We encounter many firms using multiple marketing vendors that may not be working together toward a common goal, or even worse, may not know there are multiple marketing initiatives. This does not mean you need to have a single company do everything. It does mean you need a plan so that your marketing tactics complement each other. Understand how Facebook ads should complement direct mail, TV, and outdoor initiatives. Separate vendors could be communicating different messages, which will only confuse customers rather than leading them to your objectives.
3. Make it Measurable – Most marketing is highly measurable. Prioritize direct response and measurable initiatives first. Also, be sure you understand what is being measured. There is a tremendous difference between activity and results. We have seen many vendor reports that simply measure activity. An example would be a Google ads report showing impressions, clicks, costs, bounce rates, and click-through rates. That is all activity. It does not help you understand how your campaigns are delivering results. Good reporting will come with outcomes of paid search visits. These include time-stamped phone calls originating from the ads, form completions from visits originating from ads, and leads.
4. Accountability – Have a tracking system, a call log, or a CRM to track and manage the results of the opportunities your marketing strategy creates. Your resources are wasted if you cannot look at your sales and attribute them to specific investments you made with your marketing dollars. How often does your phone ring? What happens with those opportunities? How many appointments were set? What were the outcomes?
There is no better time than now to start a measurable, outcome-focused plan. Start with calculating your budget, plan a measurable strategy, and use tools to track your opportunities.
This time of year, we all could use a little comfort food, yet it always needs to be healthy.
My personal favorite when it’s cold is to make a big pot of chicken noodle soup. It is low in fat, high in nutrients and you can dress it up with some added vegetables if you choose.
To make it easy, you can buy a baked rotisserie chicken (peel off the skin and debone and cut into 2-inch pieces), or if you have extra time boil 6-8 chicken thighs or 4 - 6 breasts depending on if you are a dark or white meat lover. I personally like to mix it up, but my husband prefers chicken thighs.
You will need 8-10 cups of low salt chicken broth. I usually buy 3 boxes of 32 oz of organic
1 fresh bay leaf
3-5 sprigs of fresh thyme (take out the sticks after cooking)
1-2 tbsp of poultry seasoning
1-2 tbsp of garlic (for those that love garlic)
1-2 tsp of pepper to your taste
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 chopped sweet yellow onion.
Optional ½ cup of white wine (chardonnay or pinot grigio)
1 package of egg noodles (I prefer the Amish type thinner noodle) or 2 cups of rice of your choice (I use brown)
If you want more vegetables, you may add fresh cut or frozen green beans or peas to the mix.
I suggest you sauté the onion and celery in advance (10 minutes) in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the garlic.
Put all ingredients in a crockpot or boiling pot.
***Note if the chicken is pre-cooked it is added for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
If you cook your chicken raw, boil chicken for 30 minutes in chicken broth. Or on high in the crockpot for 2-3 hours (see crock pot directions) Save and set broth aside to use for the noodle boil, cut the chicken, and reserve for later
Boil the noodles or rice (2 cups of rice) in the pot or crockpot with the vegetables.
When almost tender, add chicken and extra broth as desired.
Serve with parmesan cheese crisps (instead of crackers)
Add garnishes such as fresh spinach leaves, Cilantro, or parsley.
I serve the soup with my favorite baby dill pickles. My husband Monte says to add a glass of your favorite milk! Enjoy!
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