4 Ways Your Funeral Home Can Continue to Pursue Operational Excellence

Posted August 19, 2020

8 min read

In order to meet the preferences and demands of client families, you want to be sure your firm’s operations can be agile and efficient so that you can continue to support a compassionate experience for each and every family. After all, a business that is running as smoothly as possible is more equipped to better serve its families.

Even though that may be more challenging than ever right now, here are 4 key steps you can take to continue to pursue operational excellence so that families get the experience they deserve:

  1. Use tools that allow you to put client families first
  2. Commit to improving how you collaborate
  3. Ensure your communication adds value for client families
  4. Make the invisible visible

Let’s take a closer look at each.

1. Use tools that allow you to put client families first

How much time are you spending with families each day? Or looked at another way, are there any tasks (or repetitive pieces of work) that you don’t have to do, and if they were more streamlined, you could be more focused on quality time with client families?

Asking these questions can uncover potential opportunities in how you manage your day-to-day operations—and what you’re doing to empower staff to continually put client families first.

The challenge is that often times we get caught up in all we have to do each day, and we don’t sit back and see if there are more ways for us to put client families first, through our structure, our systems, and/or in how we manage our people.

Take for example administrative work. Often times you may be pulling information together from various systems each day. What if you had a way of working, such as a single entry system, that would allow you to enter case information once, and then see that information automatically populated across all your forms?

CRäKN allows you to do just that, saving you time entering the same information over and over on forms (the contract, the financials, family authorizations, government forms) and also onto your digital whiteboard, the case file, and even the obit. The information also is immediately available for stationery providers, your answering services, your calendar and any other person, place or vendor that needs access to this information. In other words, it’s one and done in CRäKN!

Since you can enter information into CRäKN as you talk to a family, there’s also no need to have to type up your notes again later. Additionally, as the family makes their selections, you can generate the Statement of Funeral Goods & Services with one click. Then it’s ready to print for approval.

Tools like CRäKN mean you can reduce and minimize the amount of time on admin tasks (both operational and compliance-related), and you increase the time on building relationships with client families.

2. Commit to improving how you collaborate

Many teams have had to reconsider what effective collaboration looks like right now. As you continue to figure this out in your funeral home, consider these two things that may help you improve how you collaborate:

Prioritize clear expectations. One of the biggest components of improving your collaboration is making sure your standards, roles, and responsibilities are as clear and transparent as possible. Especially in a remote setting (or a partially remote setting), this can be even more challenging.

The sooner you get clearer on expectations and the goals of each person, the better suited you will be to serve your client families.

Prioritize accountability. Accountability isn’t about blame and it’s not about micromanaging, either. In fact, it shouldn’t be thought of in negative sense; it should be about delivering high quality work in a trusting environment where everyone is able to fulfill their role and contribute to the best of their ability.

Keep in mind it is challenging to achieve operational excellence if there isn’t a culture of accountability. Accountability is both on the individual level and it ought to be shared across the team, too.

To get there, make sure you don’t assume two things: first, that people know how work should be getting done right now (and the expected timeline for that work), and second, that they automatically know what their highest priorities are. Once you get crystal clear on expectations, then you want to be sure to give resources that support people and set them up for success.

More specifically, take advantage of tools that can help empower people to have, and take, clear directive on their work and what’s most urgent and important to get done. They should feel supported and trusted to get their work done to the best of their ability. This also may feel like more communication than you’re used to (again, especially if you are more remote than normal), but it will help to clarify the new way work is getting done.

3. Ensure your communication adds value for client families

Effective, transparent, timely, and efficient communication can help you deliver the best experience possible for families right now.

Most would agree with that idea, but the reality is that quite a few people can be involved in every arrangement. From internal staff to external partners, everyone needs to be aligned and in sync with every last detail. If communication isn’t helping people stay informed at all times, it may mean you have a problem.

Ideally, technology allows you communicate in a more efficient and productive manner.

For example, instead of meeting your team onsite right now, your entire team–including full-time and part time staff—can now log in to CRäKN and discuss the specific details for every family. Virtual board meetings can be fast, easy and help everyone stay aligned. They also minimize the amount of “phone tag” you have to play each day. Even if you’re able to do meetings in-person right now, your digital whiteboard can make sure everyone knows about any and all changes that happened throughout the day.

Another example: no matter who last talked to a family, CRäKN will show you every last detail of that conversation. Being able to track and easily access every interaction that’s happened with a family gives you peace of mind you’re staying on top of every detail.

4. Make the invisible visible

Ever wish you could spend less time reacting to problems in your funeral home? Or do you feel like you’ve been putting out a lot of fires lately? Or have you ever wondered how a certain breakdown or major miscommunication actually happened in your funeral home?

Consider taking time to visually show how work truly is getting done in your firm. Sometimes this exercise has been called “mapping a systems view” or “creating a systems view” but the idea is that you visually demonstrate how work is really getting done, step by step.

By visually drawing out how work gets done in your day-to-day operations, you can finally make the “invisible” visible, meaning you’ll start to see where certain breakdowns or certain problem areas tend to be. Additionally, making the work more visible allows you to share why you approach work a certain way, and it allows others in your firm to also share why (and how) they approach their day-to-day tasks.

As a team, you’ll have the chance to see, share, and understand how work is really getting accomplished. Even in situations where you think you know all the work that’s going on, this process is sure to be enlightening.

All in all, it helps to eliminate any form of chaos, bottlenecks or barriers, and puts an end to any finger pointing. After all, the great majority of the time it’s not a people problem, but it’s a process problem, and this helps to show what’s really happening.

What Does Operational Excellence Look Like For You?

When was the last time you looked at the entire experience a family has—through their point of view—because of your current way of operating? Are there opportunities where you could cut down on paperwork, which in turn, could free up your time for other, more important tasks only you can do? Are you taking steps to visibly improve your collaboration as your team figures out this new normal? And last, how are you supporting your team’s internal communication, and their communication with client families?

With CRäKN, you can stay on top of each and every detail associated with every arrangement—no matter where you are located. Using your digital, real-time Whiteboard, you can see all cases at once, or drill down to get details on a particular case. And better yet, cases are flagged when details are pending, so no one ever missed a beat.

Learn more about CRäKN’s efficiency tools: get a demonstration from a Licensed Funeral Director.

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