After traveling across North America and working exclusively with cemeteries over the last 8 years, I’ve found the number one reason most cemeteries continue to struggle. Whether the struggle is finances, talent, regulatory, morale, or “the times have changed”… it all boils down to one principle that has been lost!

Struggling cemeteries have forgotten to put customer value first.

Customer value is the amount of satisfaction your customer senses in your product or service.

I’ve heard the following excuses as to why “our cemetery [can’t, won’t, does not need to] change”:

  • It’s too big or expensive of a problem
  • We’ve never needed to do that before
  • We’ve been in business for nearly 100 years no reason to change now
  • We need to finish our XYZ project first
  • Our customers have not changed
  • We’re already more modern than most cemeteries

For an industry that has prided itself on “being there for you”, it’s sad to see how far out-of-touch many cemeteries have drifted.

If your cemetery is struggling, here are a few tips to help you start modernizing:

  • Re-evaluate. Take a look at your product and service offerings. Now, I realize you have it memorized, but I need you to find it on paper… Go to the safe, inside the drawer, under the typewriter ribbon supply there is a dusty folded letterhead on linen paper… Ask yourself, if the times have changed? if people have changed? if they don’t understand the service… Hmmm, perhaps we should consider a change.
  • Listen. Every Community is different. Embrace the variety in your community and build a product and service offering that meets their needs. If it still takes your staff 20-35 minutes to locate a burial location for loved ones, take a few of those minutes to ask the customer about their needs.
  • Talk. Attend local cemetery association meetings and get to know what your fellow cemeterians are doing. If it sounds like just more of the same… stop and find someone who is doing something new and is succeeding at it. Look online for other cemeteries your size, that have a modern look, give them a call and schedule some time to chat.
  • Take Action. Take what you have learned and implement it. It’s become proverbial, but take a cue from Nike and “Just do it!”

In my upcoming articles, I’ll be sharing with you a number of things I’ve seen cemeteries change that has made dramatic impacts on their customer value. Until then, if your cemetery has made changes with great success let us know, so we can share it with others!