Throwing open the front doors of your funeral home to let inquisitive groups look through your facility may be a cause for consternation in some. In an industry where discretion is of foremost concern, welcoming groups of interested people through your premises may seem counterproductive. However, there are some very positive reasons to conduct ‘Open Days’ at your funeral home, where the local community is invited to come and learn about your business and services.
Demystifying funeral homes
The most compelling reason to host an Open Day is to demystify the stigma which is often associated with funeral homes and ‘death’ generally. For the layperson, funeral homes are seen as places to avoid; only to be visited at the worst possible times during your life. However, our research suggests that encouraging the local community to an Open Day will result in the understanding that your funeral home is a welcoming space that offers an array of specialised services, respectful care of deceased and dedicated support for families during times of great stress. Some attendees at the Open Day will be contended to see your front office and possibly an arranging room, others will want the full tour of back offices, mortuary and cremation facilities. Both experiences however will help people to understand that your funeral home is a safe, caring environment, which does not warrant preconceived anxiety or fear.
Opportunity to explain the importance of funerals
An Open Day also gives the funeral home the opportunity to explain the importance of a funeral and related services in the grieving process, which is important information that is often misunderstood and undervalued in today’s society.
As Dr Alan Wolfelt (from the Centre for Loss & Life Transition) suggests, funerals help families to:
- Acknowledge the reality of death;
- Give testimony to the unique life of the person who died;
- Encourage the expression of grief;
- Provide support for mourners; embrace faith, beliefs, and questions about life and death; and
- Find hope for continued living.
People who understand the importance of the funeral process have a better chance to creating a more meaningful experience for themselves and others.
Outlining services offered
Many funeral homes are moving towards providing a more comprehensive range of services to families, including: chapel facilities, catering services, in-house video production, and butterfly releases etc. An Open Day allows visitors to become aware of your range of services which can help them leave more explicit instructions to their families regarding their wishes for their own funeral service, and to share with others what services your funeral home offers.
Open Days are a positive way for funeral homes to interact with the local community, to share knowledge and to promote the variety of services that they offer. They do not have to be highly orchestrated events, they can be as simple as inviting the community to your funeral home for a free sausage sizzle and tour, where every attendee receives an information pack with further reading material about your funeral home and/or prearrangement, plus other marketing collateral or freebies. For relatively little expense, these days can lead to new requests for prearranged funerals and to new enquires from word-of-mouth referrals.