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Celebrant Training

Posted By CANA Staff, Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Celebrant Training

 

From May 18-20, 2017, CANA staff members were privileged to participate in the InSight Institute’s Celebrant Training presented by Doug Manning and Glenda Stansbury.

As association staff, we're responsible not only for responding to the needs of our members and the industry, but also monitoring the changing winds of consumer preference and practitioner trends and understanding the difference between fads and forward thinking. InSight’s excellent celebrant training spoke to all of these concerns, describing new consumer preferences in an increasingly secular world and illuminating what the role of a funeral director is and can be.

Taking the class with industry professionals allowed us to hear stories about their work with families outside of their crematory operations and their perspective on the role of the funeral director. The thoughtful class lectures, case studies, and the final project assignment challenged preconceived notions of how our members interact with families, what consumers want, and the heart of real service to communities. We've all gained an understanding we did not have before.



Personalization Isn't Product.
I once read an unintentionally humorous article about the right number of accessories to wear based on a codified point system where certain items were worth certain points and you weren't ready to leave the house until you'd scored well. I think we can all see that, while well-intentioned, this method is ridiculous. And, like something as personal as style, you can't codify quality and sell keepsakes and products to add up points and score something as personal as memorialization. It's about knowing your audience—your own style in the case of accessorizing—and listening to a family's wants and needs in end-of-life planning.

The funeral director is the expert in options, but listening and guiding is the next step to making personalization a matter of course. Families can't be coded and assigned urns, keepsakes, and options based on assumptions about their spending, love for the deceased, or style. And it's only when consumers trust that they're being heard without judgment that they will talk and share. From there, the right products, like the right accessories, will come.

Brie Bingham, Membership Coordinator

Watching Doug Manning and Glenda Stansbury present this workshop was a revelation. It was evident that they’ve spent many years thinking about people and grief and a meaningful way to help families and friends work through the deaths of the significant individuals in their lives—and find deeply personalized ways to remember them. Amidst the current revolution in consumer interaction with the death care industry, Doug and Glenda have developed a powerful response that was inspiring to witness. They’ve truly brought the art of listening to a new level and they lay out clear strategies to incorporate listening into interactions with those that seek their assistance.

The wealth of information and the creative and insightful approach shared by these experts has broad applications to the issues we consider as we work to serve CANA’s members and their best interests. CANA’s staff does not include any funeral directors or cremationists, so we benefit from hearing real-world experiences. Such stories helps us to see the through the eyes of the people who belong to CANA.

Sara Corkery, Communications Manager

As the education director, I was excited to participate in Celebrant training to make sure CANA education incorporates best practices and well-rounded perspectives. But I got more than I was expecting. My father died when I was 19. He was cremated and we had a memorial service for him. During the celebrant training, we talked a lot about the importance of a funeral or memorial service in beginning the healing process. As I thought back to my father’s service, I began to appreciate what my step-mother did, instead of resent it. She had taken control of planning my father’s service and what resulted was far different than anything the rest of the family was expecting. In other words, a traditional service. What we attended instead was a highly personalized celebration. Various people told stories about my father that I hadn’t heard before, and we played his favorite music. It was exactly what it should have been, but twenty years ago I didn’t understand that and still didn’t until I attended the celebrant training. And once that understanding took root, I was overcome by a desire to make sure everyone I know gets to experience that kind of funeral or memorial service when they lose someone they love.

At the same time I was experiencing a personal healing, I was also learning a lot about the funeral industry. As someone with no training in funeral service, I was shocked to learn that funeral directors aren’t the ones leading funeral or memorial services, and they aren’t the ones helping families plan them either. It’s usually a clergy person who may or may not know the family or the deceased. That explains why my step-mother did most of the service planning. The concept of a celebrant was almost non-existent in the US in 1996. Now I’m excited whenever I talk to funeral directors who have been through celebrant training or incorporate them into their business models. But I also see a huge missed opportunity for those who have not.

Jennifer Head, Education Director

I'd rather be ignored for $2,000 than $10,000.
I found celebrant training to be a transformative experience. I didn't expect to relive every funeral and grief experience of my life on day one, but that is exactly what happened. At the end of the session I was emotionally drained, but also exhilarated. Doug Manning and Glenda Stansbury provided the language to describe so many of my negative and positive experiences.

In response to a question about the increase in direct cremation, he told an anecdote when he was told, "I paid $10,000 for my father's funeral and my grief was ignored. The funeral director didn't direct anything, just took my order. I'd rather be ignored for $2000."

This story struck me profoundly. I thought about the behaviors of funeral directors that made the most impact on me, such as anticipating my need for a tissue or water, hugging or touching me when I needed comfort and saying my family member or friend's name. I have never been ignored, thankfully, but no one deserves to be ignored.

Barbara Kemmis, Executive Director



InSight

CANA Staff send our warmest thanks to Doug Manning and Glenda Stansbury of the Insight Institute for sharing their passion and professional expertise during the Celebrant Training course. We congratulate our fellow new Certified Celebrants who joined us for this course!

Tags:  celebrants  consumers  services  tips and tools 

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The Framing of a Fiery Controversy: Part 2

Posted By CANA, Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, July 18, 2017
The Framing of a Fiery Controversy: Manufacturers' Recommendations

 

As we discussed in Part One, community backlash over a proposed crematory can be swift and severe. The efforts you go to well in advance of the actual proposal will be well worth the time and effort. And who better to help you navigate this than your crematory manufacturer? Here are just a few of the tips shared by various manufacturers when it comes to being prepared.

FT the Americas believes that education is the key… you need to educate anyone and everyone that may be involved with the project. It needs to be extensive and based on scientific facts, not hearsay. Your opponents will have done their "research," and will likely cite many negative stories and "facts." Your fiercest competitors will be the “not in my backyard” naysayers.

Matthews Environmental Solutions also points out that the NIMBY (not in my backyard) crowd is getting bolder and more vocal, so they suggest starting earlier by developing allies in the community well before you submit any applications. Having these allies, or others who have no vested interest in your business, speaking on your behalf will add a lot of credibility and help offset the complaints of the NIMBY’s.

Cremation Systems advises on doing your due diligence. Knowing whether your zoning board and city council officials are elected or appointed will matter during an election year. Have ready examples of installations in similar environments along with pictures. Research the other local crematoriums and document how long they have been in operation.

The common thread, and thus a critical point, is that talking to anyone and everyone as early as possible is vital. Talk to prospective neighbors of the crematory so you know what kind of objections to expect, or who may end up being an ally. Educate people with accurate cremation content before they discover the "facts," a.k.a. inaccurate data or misinformation, that would hurt your efforts.


Members can read the full article in Vol. 53, No. 1 Issue of The Cremationist.

Not a member? Consider joining your business to access tools, techniques, statistics, and advice to help you understand how to grow the range of services and products you can offer, ensuring your business is a good fit for every member of your community – only $470!

Tags:  manufacturers  public relations  tips and tools 

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The Framing of a Fiery Controversy: Part 1

Posted By CANA, Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, July 18, 2017
The Framing of a Fiery Controversy: Bethany, Oklahoma

 

If you are thinking of expanding your business by building a crematory, your community may not welcome you with open arms. Even if you are well-established and well-respected. We at CANA hear the stories of these often fought battles regularly. These battles are wars of words, and often are a result of opponents to the crematory not having all the facts, or even correct facts, to support their view.

Take the sleepy little conservative town of Bethany, just outside of Oklahoma City, as a case-in-point. A very well-known and respected funeral home submitted their Planned Unit Development proposal to construct a chapel and crematory and squeaked by with the votes to get approval, despite the vocal and loud objections from residents. The first hurdle was overcome. However, the community backlash that followed eventually caused the funeral home to withdraw their proposal. But because a referendum was already in progress and could not be stopped by law, the withdrawal didn’t matter. The community then broadened their appeal, and began vilifying the members of the city council who failed to heed the voice of the people. They did this by shaming the members on a billboard for all to see. Six months later, the community was finally successful in convincing the city council to overturn the approval. The funeral home will not be able to grow and expand.

There were several surprising issues that were observed from this series of events. First the community, though very conservative and home to several faith-based universities, did not object based on religious reasons. In fact, some of the opponents planned to be cremated themselves. Their concerns centered around air quality, depreciation of property and its proposed location (next to a senior living center, restaurant and other retail stores). Eventually, they even brought traffic and parking in to the mix as issues of concern. Another surprise was that the community did not attack the funeral home, but instead this inanimate object called a crematory.

There were also several lessons learned in this situation. Location will play a significant role in the type and frequency of opposition. In addition, this opposition can be formidable and adaptable and hard to predict. While accurate technical data is necessary in presenting your side, you must also account for the emotional response that may come from opponents and not ignore it. Finally, be aware of "planned opposition." The internet is chock full of forums and groups all too willing to share tactics.

How will you prepare when the time comes for you to build a new crematory? Stay tuned for Part Two as we share advice from CANA manufacturer members in future blog postings.


Members can read the full article in Vol. 53, No. 1 Issue of The Cremationist.

Not a member? Consider joining your business to access tools, techniques, statistics, and advice to help you understand how to grow the range of services and products you can offer, ensuring your business is a good fit for every member of your community – only $470!

Tags:  consumers  installation  manufacturers  public relations 

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Asking the Right Questions: Interviewing Families with an Event-Planner Mindset

Posted By CANA, Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Asking the Right Questions: Interviewing Families with an Event-Planner Mindset

 

Have you ever really planned a funeral service event?

Sure, the flowers are set up, the urn is in place, the seats are reserved, and staff knows exactly what to do and when to facilitate a flawless service. But all too often, the actual ceremony, the most meaningful part and the invaluable marketing tool telling everyone in the audience what you do matters, is left in the hands of the family.

For most of us, consulting with families is a mixture of how the person we interned under did it, mixed with a lot of trial and error. Though we want to serve well, we default to an "Every family, every option, every time" approach giving the family our entire set of resources, in hopes that they will choose well. But to your client, it means "I’m unwilling to get to know you, so I’m dumping my entire bag of tricks on the table, and hopefully you can pick what you want."

Beyond legal and financial matters, they have five basic choices to make in their time with you, their trusted guide: 1) having a viewing, 2) type of remembrance event, 3) a final resting place for their loved one’s remains, 4) an appropriate container for saying “good-bye”, and 5) an appropriate urn and/or keepsakes.

As a profession, we have a tendency to either (a) make assumptions and not educate families well or (b) to overwhelm them with options. Instead, we must become expert consultants, asking the right questions and making meaningful recommendations.

Out of necessity, we have to ask families a lot of questions. We are skilled at asking questions clearly and compassionately. We often focus on the questions that meet our immediate needs, but we must also ask the questions that reveal memories and stories stacked with emotion and importance. Examples of these “feeling finding” questions are:

  • What are the special things you hope friends and family members will remember most about your brother?
  • Who were some of your son’s closest friends? What were those relationships like? How did they spend their time together?
  • When your grandmother found time to relax, what would she do?

Being a good interviewer hinges upon your ability to be a good listener. Fight the tendency to tell your own stories in response to what the family is sharing and focus only on the family at that time – set aside the to-do list and listen.

These answers allow us to guide families on the choices they need to make – your suggestions give them permission to be creative. Be willing to take the remembrance event outside your facility or bring the essence of a unique location inside because your recommendations should flow into the event experience itself. Consider the stadium, the beach, the driving range, and other outside-the-funeral-home-box places.

By focusing on asking the right questions and honing our creative event planning skills, you can ensure that each family’s experience is the best possible and that, ceremony or not, the outcome is an experience that you can be proud of having provided.



Foundation Partners

With thanks to Justin Baxley, Senior Vice President of Business Development for Foundation Partners Group, for sharing his passion and professional expertise.

For more information, take CANA’s new Cremation Arrangement Conference online class get more tips for talking to families.

Members can read more techniques in Vol. 53, No. 2 Issue of The Cremationist.

Not a member? Consider joining your business to access tools, techniques, statistics, and advice to help you understand how to grow the range of services and products you can offer, ensuring your business is a good fit for every member of your community – only $470!

Tags:  arranging  consumers  services  tips and tools 

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3 Simple and Effective Aftercare Touches (you may not be doing!)

Posted By CANA, Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Aftercare Touches You May Not be Doing

 

In the face of continued growth in cremation, CANA applies more than 100 years of experience to help funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematories seize this opportunity to build their businesses by nimbly shifting to a customer-centric approach. Simply stated, service does not begin when you get a call and it does not end when we return the cremated remains to the family. By incorporating some simple touches and tools, you can create a more personal relationship with your families in the aftercare process.

  1. Good Old Fashioned Correspondence, like a hand-written note.
  2. Create Engaging Events for your clients to attend such as an art/paint night party or host a mystery author/book event.
  3. Build your Brand by Dividing and Conquering – by training your team members to be extensions of your business.


Foundation PartnersWith thanks to Kitty Alexander, Community Outreach & Marketing Manager for Foundation Partners Group, for her invaluable insight.


Members can read more techniques in Vol. 53, No. 1 Issue of The Cremationist and make use of our new PR Toolkit for planning your community outreach strategies.

Not a member? Consider joining your business to access tools, techniques, statistics, and advice from the only association who focuses exclusively on cremation families – only $470!

Tags:  aftercare  consumers  tips and tools 

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