In continuing with our last post about a cemetery preneed pivot, the cemetery operator seeking to improve its burial revenues can initiate a preneed program that first focuses on its existing lot owners. To efficiently market to existing lot owners, the cemetery should use a questionnaire to reach out and learn the owners’ current preferences and whether steps have been taken towards funding a prearrangement. As suggested in our previous post, the cemetery’s first priority should be owners that have already purchased a traditional funeral prearrangement from a funeral home. Those owners have taken concrete steps towards their funeral plan, and now need to address the costs of the burial.
Running a close second in marketing priorities would be those lot owners who still want a traditional burial service but have not taken any steps towards funding their plan. Following the lead set by the funeral industry, cemetery preneed marketing needs to educate the lot owners on the costs of the burial options. Lot owners frequently assume that the opening/closing service is included with ownership of the grave. Most consumers seriously underestimate the costs of a vault and a marker.
Cemeteries will also need a plan for working with funeral homes. The cemetery’s questionnaire should seek the lot owner’s funeral home preference and whether he/she had had any discussions with that entity. Lot owners that have not funded any type of funeral prearrangement contract pose a challenge because the lot owner will eventually need to address funding of the funeral costs. If the cemetery costs are funded, but the funeral costs are unfunded, the Wirthlin reports suggest that any unfunded cost could play a major factor in a child’s decision on whether to cancel the burial funding and use the refund to pay for cremation services. As funeral homes have found out, leaving one side of the prearrangement unfunded causes many families to unwind the funded side to pay for a cremation. In that situation, the cemetery typically comes out on the short end of the stick.