3 Tips to Help You Put Your Families First in 2018

Posted February 21, 2018

5 min read

“My eyes and ears are always open,” says Cody D. Jones, Owner and Funeral Director at Callaway-Jones Funeral and Cremation Centers.

“I will almost always allow a salesman to pitch their product or show me an online demo of their offering. That doesn’t mean I will necessarily make a purchase or sign up, but you can’t move forward or stay as innovative as possible if you aren’t open to new ideas,” explains Jones.

Jones- a fifth-generation funeral director-is also a crematory operator, insurance agent, and a certified funeral service arrangement specialist.

He’s also past President of the South East Texas Funeral Directors Association, and is a Past Board Member of the State of Texas Funeral Directors Association where he also served on the Legislative and Membership Committees. Jones is also going to be a featured speaker and presenter at the National Funeral Director’s Association’s annual cremation conference in 2018.

In the second part of our interview with Jones, we reveal 3 key tips from Jones on how Callaway-Jones stays innovative while putting their families first.

Tip #1: Always Be Ready to Respond to Different Family Preferences

Jones explains that his team works relentlessly to relate to each generation of families, knowing that each generation tends to have needs and desires that greatly vary. “Innovation allows us to match their skill-set and preferred means of communication to help them be comfortable,” explains Jones.

Part of the ability to meet each generation’s needs is about empathetic listening. “We will listen to our families first. Our family conferences are not emphasized by sales pitches or bait and switch. We believe families should only pay for what they want. They should not feel pressure to over-spend, for example.”

Even if some individuals do not fit within “norms” consistent with their generation, the point is that Jones and his team are ready and prepared to receive and work with a variety of preferences. “And, as an example of that, many of our senior citizens are tech savvy and they complement us, saying we are as well,” he says.

Simply put: When you’re ready and open to serving all kinds of needs and preferences, innovative opportunities and unique, memorable solutions tend to present themselves.

Tip #2: Support a Culture of Learning to Stay Innovative

Another way Callaway-Jones distinguishes itself in the community is through its ability to embrace innovation.

Their secret to staying inspired and innovative comes down to a simple approach: spending time reading and listening. “I probably listen to podcasts 1-2 hours a day while I’m driving and while I’m at the gym. These aren’t funeral podcasts, they are entrepreneurship podcasts where the hosts discuss successful business practices that have worked for them in their profession,” explains Jones.

Others on the Callaway-Jones do the same, based on topics they are interested in. And, together, the team stays inspired and ready to come up with new ideas and solutions for families. “We try and see if there is a way that [the lessons learned or ideas there] will or could translate into our profession of serving families,” explains Jones.

Other podcasts Jones listens to include shows on hospitality, marketing, and social media. He also listens to podcasts specific to how to treat employees, how to relieve stress, on work and life balance, among other topics. Diving into these disciplines also ensures his firm isn’t operating in a “bubble.”

In addition, Jones looks to consistently make time to read articles and books written by successful entrepreneurs-leaders who are inside and outside of the funeral profession.

“Many times, I discover these books from a podcast. You have successful people offering basically free information right at your fingertips, processes that some of them have perfected with decades of experience, packaged perfectly for us to process and adopt as we find occasion,” he says.

Tip #3: Enable Innovation Through the Right Mindset

The best place to start if you want to be more innovative so you can better serve families is to start with your mindset, which is what Jones and his colleagues do.

“Innovation is a mindset. Families come in here, walking through the door while talking on their phones, and in the arrangement conference, they are often on their phones, speaking, texting, checking e-mail or looking at lists they made to share with us. They text us and Air Drop us photos. They upload videos and photos directly into our software from their smartphones, so this is evidence they are open and ready for forward-thinking offerings,” adds Jones. With the right mindset, you can be ready and equipped in those situations to share creative ideas.

That’s a mindset shift for some, but once that’s practiced, directors can broaden their thinking to see more innovative possibilities and solutions that will be sure to “wow” their families.

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