Funeral Aftercare 101: What it is and Why You Need it
You’ve just wrapped up a beautiful service for the loved one of a family you’ve spent weeks getting to know.
You know all their names, where they grew up, what church they attend, and how much their loved one meant to them.
You helped them write the obituary and plan custom details of the service (he loved golf and motorcycles).
Plus, you used an insurance assignment company to get fast funding for the family (which they appreciated) and even livestreamed the service for out-of-town relatives.
You say goodbye and watch them leave your funeral home.
Then the guilt sinks in.
You know this tight-knit family is going to have a hard time working through their grief in the next few months and years.
If only you had a way to send them grief resources and information about settling their loved one’s estate.
If you had a program like that, it would sure be easier to ask a family for a referral, a preplanning meeting, or a Google review to improve your business.
The truth is, the scenario above is all too common with funeral professionals today. Once a family leaves their care, they think:
– “Another call. Onto the next family.”
– “I wish I could help them more. I just don’t have time to follow up with every family.”
– “Should I ask for a Google review in a few weeks? What if it’s a bad time? Maybe I shouldn’t…”
Have you ever felt that way?
If so, you might be suffering from a lack of an effective aftercare program.
What is funeral aftercare?
Aftercare is the care that happens after a funeral service is over once the family parts ways with you and your funeral home. It is how you check in with a family to see how they’re doing, while continuing to build relationships with them.
Aftercare can look like many things:
- Sending email newsletters
- Making phone calls
- Sending cards on important days
- Hosting grief workshops
- Providing grief resources
- And so much more
But for an aftercare program to be effective, it must be consistent, help you maintain communication and relationships, and benefit your funeral home, too!
However, this incredibly important offering has almost always been overlooked or seen as an afterthought.
And we can understand why.
You might think aftercare families have no need for your services once you serve them. But those relationships with families shouldn’t end once they leave your care.
So, why have a funeral aftercare program in the first place?
Most funeral homes serve three different types of families:
1. Preneed – Those who want/need to preplan/pre-arrange
2. At-need/imminent need – Those who are planning a funeral (or will soon)
3. Aftercare/Post-need – Those whom you’ve served but no longer require your at-need services
Juggling these three groups can be a bit of a challenge. Each requires different marketing efforts and unique strategies to serve their needs.
They also interact with your funeral home at different times. Some families start as preneed, move to at-need, and then become post-need. Others start at at-need and become aftercare families.
The fact is, 100% of your families will eventually be aftercare families.
That’s why it’s extremely important to not overlook or neglect their needs.
Think of it this way:
If marketing is all about brand awareness and bringing in new customers, think of aftercare as customer retention.
An aftercare families’ needs
Aftercare families can improve your brand recognition, funeral home reputation, and more. But you need to make sure they get the care they need, which is help navigating grief and help with questions that arise when they’re closing a loved one’s estate.
Here are a few questions you can help families answer with an aftercare program:
- “How do I cancel my loved one’s bank accounts or change ownership?”
- “What do I need to do to claim benefits and pay off creditors?”
- “What do ‘probate,’ ‘executor,’ and ‘trust’ mean?”
- “Where do I find resources to help me on my journey to healing?”
- “How can I memorialize my loved one?”
- “How do I transfer the vehicle title and registration?”
- “What documents do I need to sign, and how can I claim my benefits?”
- “How do I close accounts, memberships, and subscriptions?”
And many, many more.
Simply referring a family to an estate attorney doesn’t help you continue that relationship. It’s better if your aftercare program can help them answer these questions for themselves. Plus, you can still involve an attorney with an aftercare program. Everyone wins.
What does a great funeral aftercare program look like?
As mentioned above, an aftercare program must be consistent, easy to maintain, help you communicate with families, continue relationships, and benefit your funeral home, too!
With a solid aftercare program in place, families can:
Access grief resources – This allows you to serve them for longer
Refer your funeral home – The longer you keep up the relationship, the more families will feel a loyalty to your funeral home
Plan ahead – This can increase your preneed block of business in unexpected ways
Write Google Reviews – When they rave about their experience, your brand reputation grows
A great aftercare program also reaches out to families in many ways, like through email and text. This improves communication and helps you check in with families easier.
Read this article for 4 things to look for in your aftercare program.
The aftercare program you need
Not only can an aftercare program grow your business, but it will lead to more well-served families.
Picture the scenario above again.
You say goodbye to a family, and instead of thinking:
“I wish I could help them more. I just don’t have time to follow up with them.”
“I can’t wait to hear how they’re doing in the next few weeks. Better let my funeral aftercare program know to contact this family soon.”
When you work with us and our program Circle of Friends+, that service is exactly what you receive. Get a demo today!
Read about aftercare in the articles below!