Our Q&A With NFDA’s Director of Member Development, Lacy Robinson (Part 1)
Posted December 14, 2016
6 min read
We sat down with the Director of Member Development for the National Funeral Directors Association, Lacy Robinson, CFSP. Robinson has been very busy over the last year, developing and facilitating training programs for members across the nation. In part one of our interview session with her, she shares some of her top highlights from the past year and findings from the NFDA’s annual Consumer Awareness and Preference Study survey. In part two, she’ll share emerging trends she’ll be keeping an eye on.
Q: What are your top highlights from the past year?
Lacy Robinson: 2016 has been a fantastic year! As readers may recall from a previous CRäKN blog post, NFDA introduced their highly anticipated Arranger Training Program.
In February, John A. Gupton College hosted the launch of this program, and in April I hit the road presenting the best of the best ideas and resources. We started in Albany, New York and wrapped up in Seattle, Washington. I’ve met funeral directors who were beyond frustrated with their business challenges, and they needed a recharge with new ideas and resources.
Others attending the training wanted learn what they can do to continue to provide reliable tools and as well as motivation to their team members. Whatever their reason was for attending the Arranger Training, I made it my mission to ensure every participant walks away feeling confident their funeral home can successfully overcome challenges and meet the needs of the changing consumer. I want everyone attending to be thinking, ‘Okay, that I can definitely do!’ and then go back to their funeral home with a plan in mind.
Q: And what has the response been from those funeral professionals you’ve interacted with?
Lacy Robinson: The response from funeral directors of all experience levels has been very positive and reinforces the need for customer service training. 2017 without a doubt is going to be a big year for the Arranger Training Program. I look forward to continuing my travels in the United States and presenting internationally as well.
Next year NFDA will also be introducing the student version of the Arranger Training Program. This will be great opportunity to help funeral service students enhance their customer service and event planning skills. NFDA is committed to providing resources and tools to assist students further their career in funeral service.
Q: What are emerging trends or opportunities you will be watching in 2017?
Lacy Robinson: One of the questions I’m asked about NFDA’s Arranger Training is in regards to updated content and staying relevant with trends. This program presents the fundamentals to communicating effectively in order to build trust, convey empathy and provide exceptional customer service. Those fundamentals will remain as the core content for the Arranger Training.
Current challenges, trends in personalization and new resources are the parts that are reviewed on a consistent basis and added to the learning material as needed. For example, a couple of concerns that has surfaced within that last year has been transgender issues and body donation programs. If it’s a hot topic in funeral service, we’re talking about it.
Q: How does the annual Consumer Awareness and Preference study also shed light on opportunities for funeral professionals?
Lacy Robinson: NFDA’s annual Consumer Awareness and Preference Study survey results provide tremendous insight to consumer motivation and behavior as it relates to their view of funerals, funeral directors and funeral homes in general. Attendees can always expect that NFDA’s research drives continuous advancements of the Arrangement Training Program.
Readers may recall in the study that the top quality consumers look for in a funeral director is sensitivity to their budget. Knowing this, and that the Federal Reserve reported in April that nearly half of American households would not be able to afford a $400 emergency, should prompt every funeral director to rethink the conversations they have with families regarding their financial obligation.
It should also motivate funeral directors to further strengthen their pre-need efforts. [It is about] helping families not only understand the value of funerals, but fully comprehending what their options are for financially preparing for their final expenses.
Q: Can you share what the survey revealed about prearrangement?
Lacy Robinson: The survey also revealed that 77.2 percent of Americans have not prearranged their own funeral. This information only confirms the opportunities that exist to further help consumers when faced with end of life decisions.
I personally love the new Have the Talk of Lifetime Conversation Cards! These cards add to the possibilities for community outreach and will help facilitate important end of life discussions. Any funeral home looking for a turn key community program that is as engaging as it is effective I recommend using the Have the Talk of Lifetime campaign resources and conversation cards.
Q: Were there any other findings that stand out to you?
Lacy Robinson: Two additional statistics jumped out at me in the Consumer Preference Survey Results that trigger a trend forecast for 2017. First, only 22 percent [of those surveyed] have received a formal invitation to a funeral/remembrance event.
I’m predicting we will see an increase on families wanting to create formal invitations for their loved one’s remembrance event. Sites like etsy.com and tinyprints.com are already on top of this trend with their modern, stylish invitations for memorial events.
The second survey statistic to be aware of is that just over one-third have attended a funeral at a non-traditional location. This number will continue to increase for a number of reasons, ranging from families having no connection to a place of worship to families wanting an event space that has more of a reception feel.
My advice to funeral homes would be partner with the local country club, a sports arena/stadium and/or state park and create service offerings that utilize that particular venue.
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About Lacy Robinson, CFSP
As Director of Member Development for the National Funeral Directors Association, Lacy Robinson develops and facilitates training programs for NFDA members. She regularly presents continuing education programs on both the local, state and national level establishing NFDA as the leading provider of training and development for funeral professionals. Find out more about NFDA on their website. For access to the NFDA’s annual Consumer Awareness and Preference Study survey, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your request.
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