Alan Creedy’s Outside-the-Box Wisdom for Funeral Practitioners: Part Two

Posted February 3, 2016

5 min read

In this two-part series, CRäKN was able to speak to Alan Creedy about what funeral directors should be thinking about as they look ahead. Creedy also shares what excites him most about this year’s OFDA Education Conference, where, as always, he will be bringing his fresh ideas and candor to the industry. Read the first part of the interview here.

Q: What would be some of the core things that funeral directors should be focusing on, as they look ahead?

Alan Creedy: [A focus can be to] try to look at things differently. What you do is you sit there and say, “Okay, let’s look ahead for five years. What are our challenges going to be? Where is it going? What do we really have to address?” Another question is, “How can we address it?” The last question then is, “Who’s going to do it?” Now, about 70 percent of the firms are going to transition in the next ten years…And so for many, many firms, the last question can’t be answered.

If you have no one to respond to challenges, then the question becomes, “How do I exit in style? How do I get my act together so that I can preserve, protect my family and my retirement?”

That’s a logistical issue, not a people issue. When you’re 60 years old and you have to take your firm through a complete transformation, you just don’t have the energy…But people are pretty good about saying, “We’ve got to get a grasp on this cremation thing. We’ve got to figure out what customers really want.”

Sometimes, maybe a third or more of the time, there is somebody who says, “You know what? I can make that my focus. I can do that.” And the next prescription is to [help the funeral directors go see, and learn and study] because most funeral directors tend to learn by experience.

For instance, I’m doing this Blue Ocean Tour in May. I’m taking about 50 funeral directors to the Mount Pleasant Group in Toronto, which is, without question the single most innovative practitioner in death care, and has been for generations. They’re going to see some things that’ll probably shock them. For instance, their marketing strategy is to keep themselves top-of-mind but to do that by causing the public to continually be talking about them.

One example: They ran a spoof ad that you could buy this watch called the “Quitbit” and it would tell you when you were going to die. It was a 90 second commercial. You could order it—not really, but some people tried to.

The average funeral director would be absolutely horrified, but people were talking about it. They dominate the Greater Toronto area….and it is an example of how to be innovative.

Q: The OFDA in February is quickly approaching. What do readers have to look forward to there? And what are you excited about when it comes to the event?

Alan Creedy: They’ve given me an opportunity to do something that is fundamental. It’s a 3-day workshop. I call it the “Why” Workshop. It’s focused on the concept that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

But it is not as simple as asking someone, “Tell me why you do it.” Most people can’t think that way. The Why Workshop, and the reason I’m really excited about it, is that once people internally grasp why they’re doing something, then you kind of unleash something. Their motivation increases, their desire for personal growth increases, and more.

The Why Workshop is really intended to help them get in touch with their first and personal why—but also their corporate why, or the company why. I do that by looking at four differentiating factors…

Every funeral director will tell you that they’re successful because of the quality of their service. Then you ask, “Tell me about that, what does that look like?” You get the deer in the headlights look. There are a series of questions, and parts of the exercise that help that deep discovery and connections to be made. When people know their “hill,” or personal mantra, it is powerful.

By going through the process, you really get in touch with your why. My purpose is not to give you a mantra that you can explain to the public, my purpose is for you to give yourself a mantra that helps you understand why you’re there.

Funeral directors do what they do for the rewards they get from working with families. They don’t think about that. The Why Workshop will touch the people who attend, and that’s what I’m looking forward to. It can be transformative for people and that’s my “why.” I like to help people be successful and find meaning.

About Alan Creedy

Alan Creedy has been active in the funeral service community for more than 35 years. He has served as President of a large funeral home cemetery operation, a third party preneed marketer, and as past Chair of the Funeral Service Foundation. His expertise and experience span a wide variety of disciplines—finance, mergers and acquisitions, exit planning, market strategy and organizational dynamics. He has degrees in both psychology and accounting, and is a Certified Exit Planner. Creedy is accredited with both the Center for Creative Leadership and Hyman Synergistics. Find his website that offers resources for funeral practitioners at

Categories: Industry

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