By Leader Contributor Glenn H. Gould III, CEO of MKJ Marketing

The greatest challenge facing funeral homes today is learning how to make profitable cremation arrangements.

The typical funeral director is not adequately prepared to make a successful arrangement with cremation families. The typical funeral director learned to make arrangements when cremation was relatively insignificant. As cremation became more common, arrangers tried to apply what they did with burial families with these new consumers — with mixed results. 

Most arrangers simply repeat the mistakes they made in the past because they don’t know any other way. Not only is this bad for business, but it is also a primary cause of a family’s dissatisfaction. The most dissatisfied funeral service consumers are cremation families that do not know what is available.

The key to making better typical cremation arrangements is accepting the reality that most cremation consumers are affluent and can afford whatever they want. When a cremation family makes a minimal or near minimal arrangement, it is because of the arranger’s incompetence in communicating the myriad of personalization services available. 

The evidence for this is present in every funeral home. Compare the cremation arrangements of the various funeral directors making arrangements in your funeral home. Some of the arrangers will have consistently higher sales than others. This can only occur when some arrangers are better than others. The solution, then, is to make all of your arrangers competent. 

Successful cremation sales are based upon the consumer understanding their options, which happens when arrangers become better communicators. The objective of MKJ’s “Cremation Arrangement System” is to improve at-need and pre-need arrangers’ skills when making cremation arrangements by employing packages, effective training, and presentation tools. Every aspect of the “Cremation Arrangement System” is based upon proven merchandising techniques. 

MKJ Marketing invested several years developing what we believe to be a truly productive cremation presentation tool tailored to meet the strengths and weaknesses of most funeral arrangers and pre-need counselors. 

Nationally recognized merchandising authorities were consulted along with marketing and merchandising professors. The “Cremation Arrangement System” has been field-tested with leading funeral homes throughout the Midwest and Southeast. Marilyn Jones Gould has been training funeral directors since 1979 when she joined Batesville Casket Company as a speaker and presenter. Since then, she has trained thousands of funeral directors, pre-need counselors, and other funeral home staff members in funeral homes throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. 

Over the past several years, Marilyn has conducted over 75 cremation arrangement training programs in funeral homes. Although the arrangement system she created has been successful, many of the clients expressed an interest in having a video of the training program for continued use. It was for this reason MKJ created the “Cremation Arrangement System.”

The program is currently available on video but will soon be available on Advance U – MKJ Marketing’s online, on-demand training platform for funeral and cemetery professionals. By licensing an Advance U course or signing up for our All-Access Pass, you can address your firm’s biggest training needs with our expert video lessons and interactive exercises based on decades of consumer research – all while your staff earns CEUs.

Staff members will learn how to use the As Many Ways as Wishes™ cremation arrangement presentation to introduce families to cremation personalization services by watching Mark Krause, President of Krause Funeral Homes, meeting with a family. The As Many Ways as Wishes™ cremation arrangement presentation is an eight-page, customized presentation that introduces funeral home services, personalization products, and cremation merchandise. 

The “Cremation Arrangement System” is particularly popular with cemetery/mortuary combinations as it also presents cemetery products for cremation, such as columbarium placement, ground burial, and scattering. 

The skills learned from the training system will also make your arrangers more effective in making traditional arrangements while also often increasing averages, often by thousands. 

MKJ Marketing has been the leader in funeral home marketing because of the innovative products the company has introduced. MKJ was the first company to offer a comprehensive pre-need marketing campaign in 1983 and cremation advertising that focused on services (as opposed to low cremation pricing). Thousands of funeral homes nationally use MKJ television and newspaper advertising, and thousands of individual funeral directors and business owners have attended MKJ seminars in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia. The “Cremation Arrangement System” is an MKJ innovation that has been proven to help your firm become more successful with cremation families.

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