The Funeral Rule Challenges are not the Real Problem by Sean Fagan, Owner of Leap Tie, Inc.

Changes that are potentially coming to the current Funeral Rule seem to be upsetting many firms who feel putting prices online turns funeral service into a commodity. It certainly can, but only if firms allow it to affect them in this manner. What many firms do not realize, is they have already been making funeral service a commodity themselves with a lack of differentiation both over the phone, in person and on their current websites.

In most towns, people are already left with nothing but price to compare. Nobody stands out especially on how they handle phone inquiries and on how their websites appear. .

Most funeral service company websites do little to communicate the value of having a funeral or why the funeral home in question is different, or better than other local choices. 

Most funeral homes are using widely available template websites, stock photos, and even stock content about what they do that is identical to their competitors’.  Most funeral homes offer information and pricing over the phone in the same way too.

If people are looking for pricing, it means they are trying to make comparisons. Don’t assume price is the only difference they are looking for.  Often it can be someone who will be responsible for arranging services for the first time.  They could be looking for help being creative or nontraditional with their budget.  They could be choosing cremation for the first time in their family and have questions. What if they are finally ready to switch from a service provider, they were not pleased with the last time services were needed, so they called you?

Thus, putting prices online could allow some of these inquiries to make uninformed decisions about the value they receive.

This New Year work on differentiating your firm online and over the phone!

The advantage is, if you give families the context of your value, show them how your services look and demonstrate possibilities, it could also do a lot to communicate the competitive value of your services

If you put your logo on a template site with stock photos, poor information, and no differentiation, you have already been allowing families to keep their assumptions that everybody does the same thing and “it’s just the cost that’s different.” The funeral rule both now and in the future does not do that.

Evaluate what you are doing to enable people to focus not only cost.  More importantly, look at what you are doing to demonstrate valuable differences with your first impression.  That first impression could be even earlier than a visit to your website.  It could be a business listing on Google, Yelp, Bing, Apple Maps, or your Facebook page.

Ask yourself, how are these communicating your difference and your value?

Many firms are already letting people compare them to competitors with no context.  This is a huge contributor to why people show up on the phone only asking, “how much is it?” 

Have you had your competitors and your own staff tested in how they answer the phone? I have shopped thousands of funeral homes by phone and in person.  Many funeral home inquiry phone calls are worse than bad websites.  This is one of the easiest areas to improve as you look at your goals for the new year.  Presentation and follow-through are critically important

 Do you have a systematic process for making your phone calls visual? It is imperative to guide callers to your website during the call, or by sending links and information immediately after the call.

California and Oregon already must put pricing online. Funeral homes have survived. Many “expensive” California and Oregon firms have thrived.  They look different. They present themselves differently. They communicate differently and they are chosen as the provider of choice in their markets, even though they “cost more” , as they have learned to say and show their value, both over the phone and online.

Subscribe to for future articles on hearing more from us on how you can build a differentiation strategy for your firm.