By Leader Editor Kara Apel

Seeing a spike in cremation within your market? You’re not alone.

According to the most recent research from the Cremation Association of North America, the cremation growth rate has nearly doubled from a national average of 1.5% to 2.5% (comparing the first six months of the pandemic to rates from 2019).

CANA Executive Director Barbara Kemmis said these numbers are “entirely unprecedented” in 100 years of her organization’s research. She believes this trend will likely continue for some time.

As part of the first-ever Leader Briefing, we brought together a panel of experts to talk about how funeral homes and crematories can capitalize on this continued spike in cremation.

“I Don’t Know What to Ask For Because I Don’t Know What You Offer”

Glenn Gould, CEO of MKJ Marketing, shared the knowledge he gained from hosting a recent focus group about what consumers need and value.

Gould said many of the focus group members made remarks similar to this: “I wish I had more information in advance.”

He believes that many families may be choosing minimal cremations — not just because of the price point — but because they just don’t understand what’s possible.

“The best marketing a cremation service can do is to offer and provide information to families,” Gould said. “Making information available will set you apart.”

Gould also believes there will be an increase in price shopping calls as the pandemic continues — and that some families may be interested in direct cremations for the first time.

An emphasis on preneed is also going to be vital heading into the next year.

“Mortality is on consumers’ minds more than ever before. They want to look into preplanning but don’t want to go somewhere in person,” Gould said.

Gould noted that some preneed companies are hosting virtual “dine and learn” opportunities by sending meals to the participants’ houses that they can enjoy while listening to the presentation. This illustrates there is still a way to serve these clients, and this could be a big competitive advantage for firms who pivot during this time.

The Funeral Director’s Perspective

As part of a family-owned firm that has been in business since 1885, Paul Cavanagh said they thought they already knew the best ways to talk about cremation with families.

However, he said everything changed when their firm started using the Cremation with Confidence™ marketing strategy, calling it a “difference maker and a decision-maker.”

Cavanagh said many families have told him that they chose his funeral home even though it was not the least expensive option because they felt more confident and comfortable trusting their services. The firm also added the phrase “private crematory” to its name to reinforce this point of transparency.

He has invested in training his staff, making sure they know how to explain all the options available to families. Because of this, Cavanagh has seen a steady increase in not just cremation — but also with services to go along with it.

“It’s not so much a price point decision; it’s a service decision, and they just don’t know these services are available,” Cavanagh said.

Cavanagh explained his staff uses the “As Many Ways as Wishes” guide to present all of the options and let families decide. He believes that when families really understand the choices, they are more likely to select more services and products. 

“As soon as we get them in, we sit them down and put it in front of them. There are images and pictures that show every option. They can pick which best fits now that they know they can do what they want. It’s easy, but you just have to have the information to use it,” he said.

Software for Crematories of All Sizes

Halcyon’s crematory and funeral management software has processed tens of thousands of cremations over the years.

Perry Gard, who heads up business development for Halcyon, said crematory customers value the consistent, predictable work process that their platform provides. He said another bonus is the chain of custody controls that help crematory owners avoid any issues with liability.

Halcyon’s software utilizes QR codes so that each cremation case can be tracked from beginning to end, along with the location and time of each step of the process.

Click here for more information.

Make a Difference

Are you getting the most out of your firm’s cremation recycling? Kevin McKay, manager at Cremation Recycling, said some firms could be earning $40 to $60 per case — but it depends on the type of processor the firm is using.

He says asking about the type of processor that’s being used is the first question he asks of any firm they consult with.

Just like many funeral homes and crematories in our industry, Cremation Recycling values transparency. They offer tours of their facility, along with comprehensive references that they can refer firms to for more information.

Click here for more information.

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