How This Funeral Home Listens to Families to Innovate
Posted June 5, 2019
6 min read
David Ring, owner of Indiana Funeral Care, knows that funeral homes are often a pillar of the community—helping and supporting families often when they need it most.
This calling that funeral directors have is about helping other families…not about corporations or profit, he says. [“We are] people that live in your community, worship at your churches, and buy groceries at the same places you do. It’s not just a commitment to the community—we are part of the community,” says David.
We sat down with David to talk about Indiana Funeral Care and its unique story of ups and downs, and its distinct approach to serving families.
Here’s just a glimpse of what we learned.
An Unwavering Commitment
David bought his former family funeral business, Harry W. Moore Funeral Chapels, back from a large company 18 years ago. “My Uncle Harry established the business on the northeast side of Indianapolis in 1927 and it was sold to a large company years after his death,” explains David.
David’s goal back in 2001 when buying the business: to build a company that would offer quality funeral and cremation services at prices that would be affordable and sensible to families.
“In order to do so, we cut the overhead by selling all but one funeral home, changing the staff and training them differently and buying different caskets and cremation equipment at much better prices. We were then able to cut prices in half, offer simple funeral and cremation packages and provide those services in a place of personal significance to families.”
Re-naming the company as Indiana Funeral Care, fast-forward to today and the firm—still embracing that mission—has grown significantly. “We’re blessed to have grown so much through the years. And I think that’s just confirmation for the need in the marketplace, the need among consumers to have this choice,” adds David.
Over the years, they’ve focused on:
- Listening to families
- Educating staff
- Developing strong partnerships in the community
- Fostering a culture of caring
- Being mindful of operations
- Using multiple marketing channels
Listening to Families
One of the top ways Indiana Funeral Care has earned families’ trust: getting their feedback and input so that they can better serve them.
They really do focus on listening and connecting with families, even if that means adapting and evolving the company to better meet families’ needs and preferences, adds David.
David credits his current and background experience (from an innovative automotive parts distribution company and from the business brokerage industry) for this approach. “[Just like in other professions,] our marketplace continues to evolve. It continually changes, and people continue to change preferences. We continue to listen, and we’re just so grateful of our success in this regard,” says David.
“We don’t make knee jerk reactions, but we listen, and over time, we make adjustments to the products and services we offer.” That approach to listening to families has helped shape an innovative way of doing business, including transparency of pricing online; providing a rich and diverse library of free resources for families; customization options; and pre-need and at-need available to purchase online, just to name a few.
It’s all about being open to finding ways you can deliver value to families in an affordable and simplified, attractive format, explains David.
David also credits his staff’s commitment to their ongoing education as part of what contributes to Indiana Funeral Care’s ability to support families. Staff regularly go to educational seminars, but they also consistently participate in internal training. Team members receive mentoring and coaching from external groups and partners to grow and develop their skills as leaders, too.
Developing Strong Partnerships in the Community
David also says they have deep, long-lasting relationships with so many groups in the community. For example, Indiana Funeral Care has the exclusive endorsement of The American Legion, Department of Indiana. They are also continuously recommended by many hospice nurses and social workers, chaplains, priests and ministers in the community, which they take pride in.
Fostering a Culture of Caring
Indiana Funeral Care’s culture is one where management and owners deeply care about their people. For example, they have a diverse, inclusive staff, and that’s by design.
In addition, the staff also deeply care about families, the company’s purpose and mission, and the local community. David says it’s very rewarding when he gets feedback about just how much his staff cares about families and about how friendly and nice his staff is.
All of this comes together to foster an engaged group of funeral directors who take that focus into each and every interaction they have.
Being Mindful of Operations
Another component that’s been helpful for the business is being mindful of efficiencies of scale and operations. Some funeral directors may hear that and think it sounds cold, says David, but consider how important your operations are to being able to create the best experience possible for families.
When it came to deciding on how they would offer simplified, sensible, affordable alternatives to families, the firm’s operations were a part of that strategy and a part of that decision-making process. “[We saw] a niche that wasn’t being filled and that niche was serving people that want something simpler and less expensive. And part of the way to get there—besides what I felt was an ethical obligation—was to educate people that they have choices.” So that’s exactly what they started doing, making decisions that would educate, inform, and showcase choices and options to families.
“That’s where we came up with the idea that it doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be simple, it can be respectful, and they could be sensible,” adds David.
Using Multiple Marketing Channels
Indiana Funeral Care’s website is extremely informative and transparent by design. They also stay open to other forms of marketing and communications to connect with families and to raise awareness about all the choices they really do have.
For example, recently TV advertising has been an effective way to reach and educate families about their options, so they feel less overwhelmed and so they know more about alternatives. They may not be ready to make a decision when first seeing an ad, but this helps them have much more knowledge when they’re ready to decide.
Indiana Funeral Care: Proudly Offering Families an Alternative
All in all, David has a great deal of gratitude for his team and for the families they’ve had the opportunity to serve. “We serve all over the state of Indiana. [A family] might pass 20, or sometimes 30 funeral homes to get to us because they’re looking for an alternative. We’re just an alternative, a choice they did not have years ago, and we are really grateful,” he says.
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