Planning Preneed Events That Work: Interview with Funeral Leader Margarita Hernandez

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By Managing Editor Courtney Gould Miller

With the internet and social media, today’s consumer is inundated by information, so how do you cut through all of the noise and engage with them in a meaningful way?

Margarita Hernandez, vice president of sales at Cypress Lawn Funeral Home & Memorial Park, has been able to do just that through many interactive preneed events within the Bay Area community.

Cypress Lawn President & CEO Robert Gordon Jr. has made it a priority for his team to educate the community about the value of preneed, which includes talking about the topic on their Facebook, blog, and monthly e-newsletter – as well as hosting events within the community.

“We keep it short – 15, 20 minutes – with a little presentation involving the audience and asking them some trivia questions and making it fun for them,” Hernandez said.

Her goal with these events is to make the guests feel light-hearted and make discussing death feel less taboo. It’s important to help the attendees feel comfortable enough to ask questions.

“Most of those people are healthy; they’re not thinking they are going to die tomorrow, so it’s a conversation that they don’t feel threatened by because they’re not sick or they’re not planning for their death today, but at least they can ask questions,” she said.

The goal of every event is to get each attendee’s name, address, and phone number and let them know that the Cypress Lawn team will be following up with them to give them basic information about preplanning their arrangements.

Hernandez has worked in a variety of markets, including Hawaii, Southern California, and now, Northern California. Because of this, she has a lot of experience serving different ethnic groups, including Chinese, Hispanic, and Filipino families.

She says it’s most important for these families to feel as though they’re talking with someone authentic who understands them and their cultural customs.

“If a Filipino family comes in, and they get someone who has never done a Filipino service or hasn’t talked to Filipino families, and they try to guide them in a different way, they’re not going to be successful, and they’re not going to get future family members … because they’re going to have a bad experience. We need to make sure that we’re clear when we’re working with different ethnic groups to try to get people who work for us that can work with those groups,” Hernandez said.

Watch the video below to see the full interview, including to learn how Hernandez thinks cemeteries can stay relevant in today’s world.


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