by Glenn Gould

In recent years, the death care business has gone the way of other industries. As with those providing hotel rooms and automobiles, the most successful businesses are those that profitably serve a diverse customer base. SUVs have become the most popular vehicle, but customers still purchase pick-up trucks, sedans and sports cars. Hotel customers range from those who choose the Super 8 minimum motel experience to those who want a Las Vegas luxury hotel with casinos and entertainment.

The baby boom generation has become the primary death-care consumer. Unlike their parents, baby boomers are not well informed about funeral pricing, cremation options and the differences among a discount funeral home, a cremation society and a full-service funeral home.

Contemporary death care businesses want and need to serve all segments of their communities to protect market share and to secure future business.

The greatest challenge in serving all segments of a diverse consumer base is to minimize overhead costs, which is why so many funeral homes are investing in online cremation arrangement websites. With so many cremation arrangement sites active, we are beginning to see what works and how best to market them.

One of the most significant findings is that the online consumer wants to keep it simple; they purchase the simplest packages.

Because funeral homes are accustomed to offering ancillary services both to better serve families and to increase sales and profits, many initially include additional services and products on their online arrangement website.

However, making funeral arrangements online is still a new concept to the consumer, and the process can be frustrating. Experience has shown that fewer than 1 percent of online sales include additional services or ancillary products, so it is better to limit packages and add-on options. People who visit online sites and decide they want more typically telephone the funeral home and meet with a funeral director.

Offering online cremation is not for every funeral business. It demands a progressive owner with an interest in expanding the business to serve diverse segments of the market.

Also, it requires a comfort with technology. Online arrangement is cutting edge today, but will become common over the next decade, just as preneed sales, cremation, reception rooms, et al., grew over time.

An overlooked benefit of having an e-commerce website is the ancillary business it generates for the funeral home. Not every prospect who finds the site wants a minimum service, just as not every family who meets with a funeral director opts for minimal service.

Also, just as with preneed, not every family who meets with a counselor makes prearrangements immediately. Many families visiting the online arrangements website will return to make arrangements in the future, and even recommend the site to others.

For more advice from Glenn Gould on building a successful online cremation website, including tips on pricing, facilities, advertising, and more, pick up the latest edition of the ICCFA Magazine, where this article appears in full. Or, call him at 727-524-8100. MKJ offers many e-commerce options for cremation businesses. Request more information by contacting us here