I am attending the Utah Funeral Director’s Convention in Salt Lake City this week and it’s been a great convention so far. This morning I sat for two (2) hours and listened to Doug Gober, Executive Director at Matthews International give a fantastic presentation on the state and potential future of the funeral industry. If you’ve never heard Doug speak – close your eyes and think of a red-haired Dave Ramsey. Their mannerisms are quite similar – passionate about the topic, factual about the information, pointed in the delivery; and all with a gentle southern accent. This was the first time I’ve had a chance to actually sit down and listen, truly listen to one of his presentations – and it was so refreshing to hear someone else from our industry talk about the changes that some of us stick our heads in the sand about. It was nice to hear another industry insider talk about the “buying relationships” of our customer base – those deep-seated practices and patterns that we ask families to throw away the day they deal in our line of business. The dynamic of host family and established funeral practice and how they seem forever locked in a dance with poor rhythm.
In any industry change is hard and sometimes I think it’s twice as hard in the funeral business. Mr. Gober talked about “Strategic Breakthrough” today and what those breakthroughs do to our industry. I remember when my family’s funeral home purchased a revolutionary piece of modern technology called a…FAX MACHINE. I remember to this day my grand-father getting mad at not only the price of this “FAX MACHINE,” but didn’t want to grasp the concept that we couldn’t just as easily still run an obituary down to the newspaper’s office like we’d always done before. I know there are still funeral homes out there that don’t have a computer for fear of Y2K (10 years after the fact). Now we’ve introduced the iFuneral app and hopefully this year an electronic contract that will make your preneed experience so much easier. Now please understand – I’m not picking on anybody for not wanting to embrace technology. I talk all the time about staying within your own comfort zone, but it was just nice to hear someone other than myself get all fired up about our industry and the good things we can do – if we only make the decision to change, then do it. Thanks Doug for your insightful words – they are appreciated! My Best, Guy Winstead