By Managing Editor Courtney Gould Miller
Jimmy Altmeyer Jr. is the president of Altmeyer Funeral Homes & Crematory, which now operates more than 40 funeral and cremation businesses across the East Coast.
Altmeyer also founded Treasured Memories, a preneed marketing company that assists families all over the country.
He draws upon a rich legacy of family service. The family business was started back in 1917 in Wheeling, WV, and has since expanded to Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.
I recently spoke with Altmeyer at MKJ’s Elite Cremation E-Commerce Mastermind Event in Nashville. He shared his thoughts on the Mastermind, as well as the state of the profession, including what he sees as the biggest challenges.
“The biggest challenge we have in deathcare services is the professionals that we have on our team. We need to make sure that we have the absolute best people we can have. Not just hire them – but draw them into our profession, educate them, and bring them along so that they can deliver outstanding service for the families we serve,” he said.
So many licensed funeral directors believe their job ends with the skills they learned at mortuary school. As important as those skills are in providing quality service, the future of our profession demands for professional staff to come up with creative solutions to the challenges we all face. We need staff with management and leadership qualities.
Altmeyer also weighed in on what today’s consumers have come to expect from funeral homes.
“Consumers want a life celebration; they want the service to be about their loved one’s life, attributed to them and celebrate it with their surviving friends and family. If we don’t have a service that is dedicated towards a celebration, they’re going to move on without us,” he said.
Many families want a traditional, religious service with a clergy. For them, this represents a personal service. However, not all families are religious. Instead, they want a sectarian service that honors the deceased.
Food is an important part of every significant human event. Today, many families leave the funeral home for a restaurant, country club, or hotel banquet facility. We should be positioning our funeral services to include food service in our facilities.
At the same time, not every family wants a service, or they don’t want a service where the family member resided when they died. We should be prepared to provide a simple disposition service for them. Some families want to meet with a funeral director to receive counseling even when the service is direct disposal. However, some families are comfortable making their arrangements online with an e-commerce cremation arrangement website. Traditional funeral homes should be prepared to provide families with both.
Many funeral facilities are outdated and in need of remodeling. The baby boomer generation and their children will not accept a dark and dreary funeral facility. They demand contemporary furnishings and rooms filled with light. Amazingly, there remain hundreds – if not thousands – of funeral homes nationwide that have the same carpeting and drapes from the 1960s.
The most important message for every funeral homeowner is “there are too many funeral homes in the U.S.” To avoid being a business left behind, or becoming impossible to sell, demands change and aggressive management.
Watch the video below to hear more of Altmeyer’s thoughts as a leader in funeral service.
We’re profiling leaders in the deathcare industry to gather their ideas and insights. Do you want to be featured or know someone who should be profiled? Email us at [email protected].