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Wednesday 24 January 2024

Outsider’s perspective of the funeral industry

Hi everyone 👋! I'm Anna, a guest writer on Jennifer’s blog 💫! I’m here to provide an outsider’s perspective on the funeral industry. My professional journey has been in finance & strategy at tech startups (very different, I know!); but, after I lost my mom in 2016, I’ve become fascinated with the deathcare space and passionate about making the end-of-life process easier for families. Now in 2024, I find myself in the process of discovering my path within the industry and also serendipitously crossing paths with Jennifer! 

Last week, Jennifer & I hit up the Trend ReCON conference hosted by Tribute Tech. Tribute is a leading tech company in the funeral space that builds websites, case management software, and other tools for funeral homes. This was Tribute’s second year hosting Trend ReCON, a small conference where they invited speakers and hosted fireside chats to review & present new technology. Lecture topics ranged from reminding funeral directors of the importance of digital marketing to providing a crash course on how to use ChatGPT. 

As an outsider, I found the conference really helpful in understanding a unique & niche industry a little bit better. Here are some of my key takeaways:

  • Confirmed, the funeral industry appears to be very technologically behind.
  • Many funeral homes still don’t have a website and rely on word-of-mouth and community referrals. To put it into perspective, Google and SEO activity exploded ~20 years ago. 
  • For the funeral homes that are tech savvy, they will at the very least have a website, maybe Quickbooks, and maybe case management software. 
  • The pandemic forced funeral homes to become more tech savvy. 
  • It was a necessary change that is here to stay. 
  • The pandemic pressured funeral homes to create websites and offer virtual live streaming. Even now post-pandemic, virtual attendance is increasing while physical attendance & visitations are decreasing.
  • Although the landing page is important for funeral homes to advertise their business, the obituary page is their goldmine.
  • On average, an obituary receives 200 views. 60% are 45+ years old, 60% are female, and the majority are within 15 miles. This means that obituary viewers should be funeral homes’ target leads for at-need and pre-need.
  • The funeral industry is very short-staffed. This is an acute & persistent problem across the industry.
  • The funeral industry has shifted from an employer’s market to an employee’s market. The space is paying employees more than ever, but there is just not enough supply to meet demand. 
  • What’s interesting though is that in 2021, overall enrollment in mortuary school jumped by 24% indicating an increasing interest in the space.
  • Succession planning will be a problem. I predict more consolidation over the next few years.
  • 60% of funeral directors will retire in the next 5 years. Most will have issues finding a successor and will probably get acquired.
  • The fragmented industry has just started getting consolidated in the last few years (20% of funeral homes are owned by consolidators). Right now, consolidators are focused on scaling their portfolio, but more consolidation will come in the next few years. 

I hope you found this post interesting. Leave a comment if you have any thoughts, questions, or input into what you think the future of tech is for the funeral industry!

~ Anna

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