Preneed Success Story: Schumacher-Kish Funeral Home and Cremation Services
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Scott Kish knew that if Schumacher-Kish wanted to increase its market share and preneed business, he needed a plan. Though he was apprehensive to change, a representative from Funeral Directors Life (FDL) told him he’d see results. Seeing his funeral home’s preneed success today, Scott reflects on his experience with FDL and says, “We wish we would have started earlier!”
I know the funeral home is a family business, but what inspired you to continue working there?
My brother and I both grew up watching our dad in the funeral service and swore we’d never do it for a living because we never saw him when we were kids. We both laugh about that now that we work in funeral service. But things have changed to give us a lot more freedom than our dad ever had. I think once we both got into funeral service, we realized how much what we do means to the community. The more you get to know all of these different people, the more satisfying the job is. And I think that’s why we – even though we swore we wouldn’t do it – have both been doing it for 35 and 45 years now.
How would you describe your experience with Funeral Directors Life (FDL)?
Oh, it’s been a game-changer for us. We never had a formal preneed program or aftercare of any kind before we joined the Select Producer Program. Anytime you start something new, there’s apprehension, and you think, “Boy, what are we doing?” But it didn’t take us long to realize it was a very smart move for preneed success.
Since we started, our visibility in the community has just skyrocketed, just because of the different things FDL does for us.
What made your funeral home start using the Select Producer Program*?
It took us a long time to agree to do it, and I think we finally just realized, “It’s a great program. Why aren’t we doing it? Let’s bite the bullet and go ahead with it.” Back then, Jeff Stewart was our lead, and he just kept pestering us until we said yes. He would tell us, “Once you start, you’re not going to believe you didn’t start ten years ago.” And he was right on that. We wish we would have started earlier.
Did you have any kind of preneed program before that?
No, nothing formal. We used a couple of different companies, but we weren’t doing anything to draw clients in. If somebody walked in off the street, we’d sit down with them and write something up. But we didn’t have any formal program.
What results have you seen since joining the Select Producer Program?
Our call base has gone up! With everything we’re doing, like seminars, the number of people commenting, thanking us, and sending us emails has gone up. We have people in here almost daily meeting to set up prearrangements. The volume of business we’re doing has definitely increased since we started.
Would you recommend the Select Producer Program to a colleague?
Oh, yes, 100%. As long as they’re not in my area!
What would you say to someone to convince them to join the Select Producer Program?
All we would have to do is show them our numbers. We could explain what we’re doing with seminars and things like that, but the number of contracts we’re writing speaks for itself. If you didn’t join the program after you saw that, you just don’t want to do a preneed program at all.
You mentioned aftercare earlier. How do you feel like that has impacted your business?
It’s been fantastic. We’ve gotten a lot of very positive comments from families, thanking us for keeping in touch and doing things for them. They appreciate that we don’t just finish with the funeral, say thanks, and walk them out the door. Keeping in touch with them has been a big plus for us.
Are there any other challenges the Select Producer Program has helped you with?
We’ll have to wait and see down the road, but with the increase in cremation, I think getting people in and sitting down ahead of time and talking with them has been helpful. We tend to be getting more out of our cremation services than probably the average funeral home. I think it’s because the majority of them are being planned ahead of time, and we’re letting them know what their options are. With that extra information, they’re selecting more things than they might at-need, so that’s been a big plus for us.
Do you have anything else to add?
No, just hopefully Jake [Select Producer] will stay here for another 20 years!
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*The Select Producer Program is a preneed strategy that pairs a well-trained preneed agent with your funeral home to turn a passive preneed program into an active one for preneed success. Learn more here.