Sunday, November 4, 2012

What’s the Value of Continuing Education for Funeral Service Professionals?

The value of Continuing Education for funeral professional oftentimes is not appreciated or understood. The simple truth is funeral service is not an industry that sees vast amounts of change in technology. True change is there but it is very gradual. Hence, the human factor takes over and funeral professionals become complacent. They are basically doing the same thing in the same way every day. The one exception is the internet. They have been bitten by that same bug that has literally bitten every other industry and business around the globe.

And, with the exception of internet death notices which many feel obliged to place on the website, (more times as not because the other funeral home in town does) the website never changes.

So! What then is the value of continuing education? To refresh the funeral director’s thinking to those things learned in school and long set aside. To get him to “think outside the box” (I hate clich├ęs).  Maybe there is another way. The responsibility of the Continuing Education Provider is to motivate him to question just what it is he does. And, maybe even consider making some changes.

Where the funeral industry was once thought to be among the most stable, the volatile economy and the shift in people’s views about funeral services is now affecting this industry. Funerals are a deep-rooted tradition where the primary focus in conventional funeral homes had always been the body.  Maybe it’s time to redirect or rather, expand the focus.

There are a number of trends indicating opportunities for growth:  Cremation services will continue to rise; Funeral facilities are becoming a gathering place for venues such as weddings, birthdays, and other celebratory occasions; Funeral homes will continue to use social media as a means of communication; Home and green funerals and green burials will continue to rise; and Alkaline Hydrolysis as a form of disposition will continue to be accepted.  Maybe it’s time to utilize those mandatory annual CE credits as a way to benefit your standings in the industry and take advantage of growth opportunities.  

Besides the traditional classroom setting, there are a number of CE resources available as a way to obtain these credits as a means of convenience.  Online courses and home study are always an opportune way to achieve this especially when time management and travel may be the issue.  In addition, these courses offer a consistent curriculum, which is vital when trying to educate a group of people from the same organization.  CE credits may also be achieved through participation in events and seminars as well as offering a great networking opportunity with industry professionals.

Continuing Education is a great business and professional tool.  Take the time to evaluate yourself and your opportunities to determine where you might want to grow and make your CE credits count.

Richard A. Santore, Pres. Practicum Strategies

Practicum Strategies is an approved provider of Continuing Education in every State that accepts Online and Home-Study Continuing Education Courses for Funeral Professionals. Richard can be reached by email at or 800-731-4714 Visit Practicum Strategies website at

Reinvent The Way You Do Business

Have you ever felt like it's time for something different?

Maybe you have felt like what you're doing just isn't working.
The economy is different, you're different, and the people you’re doing business are different. Everything is different in today,

 Or is it you?
Have you wondered what to do when what had been working didn’t seem to work anymore? Are you becoming obsolete?

Is it that you’re not succeeding with the strategies you’ve been using?

Or, maybe the better questions is to ask yourself  are,

Am I listening to business consultants?

Am I tagging along behind the competition?

Am I listening to others who claim to know more about my business than I do?

Change Your Strategy, Change Your Results

 That's what they all are telling you, but are they right?

Maybe it’s time to take a hard look at the world around you and make some uncomfortable decisions?
Reinvention can be Easy, but is it always wise?

When you offer people sand to drink rather than water and they seem satisfied, don’t assume you made the right choice. More often than not their drinking the sand because they don’t know any better.

People want to adjust into a world of higher expectations and constant change. They want to trust you; are you taking away their expectations, and offering them sand?

Maybe it’s about time you started rediscovering your roots.

Funeral Service is not about global marketing. It’s about one neighbor helping another

Reinvention strategies for your culture, your sales, your brand, don’t always make a better Funeral Home.

The Good Funeral Director

With so much emphasis being placed on preneed both here and elsewhere and all the bandying about how it builds market share and who should be allowed to sell it. It would seem that everyone has forgotten or at least seems to be paying little attention to At-Need. Although I will admit that from time to time someone will pop-up and say, “Remember every Preneed becomes an At-Need”. Personally, I glad I get the reminder because I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Now, since I like to add my own mark on things let me also say weather we like it or not every life ends with a tragedy, it’s going to end badly, everyone dies eventually and that’s where the Funeral Director, the deathcare specialist comes in.

 So, now lets take a good hard look at this very complicated individual we call a funeral director. I have been in funeral service at this point, and I hate to say it, over 40 years and have yet to meet a funeral director that has not been friendly, cheerful and out-going. Generally he is civic and community minded; always ready with a helping hand. He is some one who can be just as comfortable eating a Hot Dog from the corner vender as he would be at a Five Star Restaurant. He is someone who is dedicated. (How many doctors do you know that will answer their own phone in the middle of the night?) And, caring to a fault, just ask his wife. Ask her how many dinners went into the trash or parties and gathering she attended with the assurance he would catch-up later all because some one whom he doesn’t know has died. I can remember my own ex-wife, yes, funeral service can and does play havoc on many marriages, saying, “Why do you have to go? What do you have employees for?” An yet to detractors of funeral service he is perceived as a merchant of death, some one who looking to take advantage of anyone when they are most vulnerable.

A funeral director needs to be an individual who is mentally very stable, how else could he go for singing Happy Birthday with his five year old to caring and sympathy almost within the same breath. And yet those same detractor will say, “It’s just and act, he’s a phony.” Perhaps some of it is “act” it has to be. Certainly he has built up defense mechanisms otherwise the psychiatrists office would be standing room only. But, there is never a doubt he is caring and sympathetic. Just ask the families he serves. What I find interesting is, if you were to confront many of those detractors of funeral service and ask if all funeral directors were evil or bad, you would usually get an answer something like, “Well, there are some exceptions. The funeral director that took care of my ______ was simply wonderful. I could not believe how thoughtful and kind he was.”   I ask you, “If all those detractors felt that way, where are the bad funeral directors?” I don’t know, maybe they’re on Mars. Okay, I better not die on Mars.

The fact is Preneed or not. When someone dies it’s always the same routine, well not quite. With a preneed you open the file scan it and begin the process of caring for the diseased and perhaps meeting with the family to review those plans they have already decided upon. Preneed is about as close as you’re ever going to get to, “Dying by appointment”

At-need is a whole other story. Everything seems to jump into high gear. Meet with the family. Arrange to pickup the body. Did we ever handle services for this family before? Get out a checklist, can’t afford to let something slip by. Will they want viewing? Which chapel should we use? Is it a big family? Its race, race, race. I’ve got to get ready before they come , I’ve got to make certain _____.

If you’ve ever seen the rehearsal and setting up of the orchestra for a concert you can get a fair understanding of what goes on behind the scenes to be ready when a family comes in for visitation. Perhaps, that why we’re called Funeral Directors.

Short comings and misgiving aside. I’m personally proud to be part of the noble profession.

Stay tuned


What is a Funeral Home?

A funeral home also known as a funeral parlor, a mortuary or funeral chapel provides burial, cremation, and funeral services. The services that are offered may include a funeral and wake, also known as viewing or visitation. Funeral homes will also help with arranging flowers, catering, and headstones. If this is what is requested. It is totally up to you as to how much or how little the funeral home will help with. Every funeral home can arrange for cremation in lieu of burial.

Above all, the funeral home is also there to provide you with the emotional support you may need at a difficult time. Most if not all funeral homes can provide assistance with filing Social Security forms, insurance forms and aftercare consulting. This can be great relief for most who need this extra support at this time.

The executor (person named in the will who is to carry out the funeral arrangements) or the deceased next of kin should contact the chosen funeral home as soon as possible after the death. A convenient time can then be made for this person to visit the funeral home and discuss the funeral arrangements and any special requests.

The funeral home will take into account the wishes of the deceased and their family and arrange the service in line with those wishes. The funeral home will coordinate with the church, cemetery or crematorium depending on your requests, and obtaining permits are always a service provided by the funeral home. The funeral home will also contact and provide newspapers with obituary information on your behalf. The deceased is taken to the funeral home before the funeral and prepared for either burial or cremation; this may or may not include embalming. While embalming is not required, based upon the type of service requested embalming may be necessary. This means the funeral home will replace the deceased blood with chemicals that it will delay the decomposition if the body.

Funeral homes provide a visitation or viewing room that will accommodate many more people than the average home where family and friends of the deceased can gather. All funeral homes provide for funeral services and/or memorials services.

This means that you really do not need to do anything. A funeral home is there to take control and take the pressures off you. This is welcomed by most after the death of someone close to them. However understand that funeral homes will not do anything you do not want them to. How much they do in relation to the arrangements you make is totally up to you. The funeral home will only do what is asked of them.
Many funeral homes will offer people prearrangement services. This means the funeral home allows you to prepare your own funeral with specific requests before your death. The funeral home will provide you with a detailed estimate of the costs for their services. Often the funeral can be paid from the proceeds of the deceased estate. However if you need to stick to a budget let the funeral home know so they can respect this and offer advice as how best to stay within your budget.