By Leader Managing Editor Courtney Gould Miller
Keith Walker, president and licensed funeral director at Walker Funeral Homes & Crematory, has proven himself as an industry leader through his decades of work within funeral service.
Walker previously served as the president of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association. He is a past president of the Sylvania Rotary Club and is a current member of the Board of Directors for the Sylvania Area Chamber of Commerce, proving himself as a leader not only in the industry but also in his community too.
Walker attributes his success in leadership to meeting and hiring the right people and using that knowledge to build the foundation for his business.
“Find the right people, give them the guidelines in which they can operate, and the freedom to be themselves within those guidelines. Use their natural talents where they are the most valuable to come together as a team to really serve the client families that we take care of to the best of our combined ability,” he said.
It’s important for Walker to compliment his team members and recognize them for contributing to the success of his organization.
“Time and time again when people compliment me in our local communities about how well we’re doing, it’s not me – it’s my team. And that’s how I really feel,” he said.
When it comes to families who choose direct cremation, Walker said it’s important to convey the value of holding a service or gathering.
“Direct is more of a percentage of our business than I wish it was, but we do work very hard on educating our consumers prior to the event that they might need us about the value of a service to celebrate this life,” Walker said.
Walker said it’s also vital to inform them while they’re making arrangements, asking questions and guiding them to find an appropriate choice for their situation. He said direct cremation families almost always choose to include a service of some kind.
“It’s constant education. People don’t do funerals very often – they need our help. You wouldn’t want to go to a doctor and walk in and say what you think is wrong and have them agree with you and do it, you’d want that person to use that professional skills and knowledge to help you make the right decision,” Walker said.
Walker also emphasized the importance of understanding what millennials will need and want during their time of need.
“We need to make sure we are doing social media, make sure our websites are very well functioning, make sure that we are offering more than just a video. We’ve got to come up with a more interactive experience for these people. They’re used to interacting with their environments, so I think the days of passively sitting there and watching a funeral are moving toward their end. I think we need to make sure that we engage the people that are attending the funeral as much as we engage the people who are leading it,” Walker said.
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