“REFRESHING TRADITION” …Just do it

The oldest Funeral Home in America dates back to 1759.  Bucktrout Funeral Home of Williamsburg, VA has 261 years of rich funeral history.  Like many funeral providers, Bucktrout Funeral Home has its beginnings in cabinet and casket crafting.  They say if you “live long enough, you see everything”.  Think how long funeral homes have survived and the changes that have occurred.  Since 1759, the United States has been involved in 30 wars (thoughtco.com – Martin Kelly), transitioned from horse and carriage to the automobile, a man has walked on the moon, and the computer has become a part of everyday life.  

The average life span of a typical family-owned business is 24 years (familybusinesscenter.com, 2010).  Companies that are publicly traded have an average life span of about 10 years, taking into account acquisitions, mergers and bankruptcy (businessadministrationinformation.com - Susan Thurston). 

How will today’s family owned funeral home maintain its rich lineage and heritage for the generations to come?  

4 ways to refresh tradition:

1.  Give families a welcoming first impression by keeping curb appeal fresh with an updated entrance.  It may be by implementing more upbeat music, a scented candle, to a concierge desk to greet them like a high-end hotel.  A more relaxed dress code (coordinated business casual that is branded with your funeral home logo) may help families feel more at ease.  This isn’t to say the suit and tie isn’t appropriate, but is it an uncomfortable moment for families?

2. Tell your families up front that you too don’t want the process to look and feel the way it did for Grandpa.  This may be a pleasant surprise to families that “you’re in it with them”; that you too want it to look and feel different, more refreshed, more creative, more valuable.

3. Allow families to decorate.  They know they’ll be participating in the song selection and eulogy but are they welcomed to participate in decorating the chapel that their loved one will be presented in?  Encouraging families to decorate with personal memorabilia of a loved one allows them creative input.

4.  Allow families to be designers.  They also know that they will pick out some sort of cards for their loved one but can they help design the cards?  Families participating in personalizing and designing prayer cards, memorial folders, thank you cards, and other funeral stationery items makes for a more personal keepsake.  When the services have been completed, there is very little the family takes home with them.  Personalized funeral stationery becomes even more impactful when they have helped design and create it.

Refreshing tradition doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel, it just means improving it.  Hilton Funeral Supply believes that tradition is good, but sometimes it just needs to be Refreshed!