The Death of the Funeral Business

What happens when you take a former executive who ran Disney’s Epcot Center and you put him in charge of a major purveyor of funerals and cemeteries?   The death business is finding new life.

As the trend continues to move away from burial plots and caskets, instead savvy funeral businesses are moving into the entertainment business.  Gone are the showrooms of caskets (depressing to clients).  Now the family can pick those from an electronic catalog.

But in place of that, the new trend is a multisensory room that is jam packed with electronic audio and video capabilities.  The family can now come to “celebrations” of the deceased’s life.  Cremation, which in 1980 accounted for 10% of the outcomes of the funeral process, is predicted to be 70% by 2030, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

This movement will force the traditional funeral experience to change.  No longer will the transaction of a casket and burial plot meet the needs of the funeral business or that of the grieving family.  Instead funeral homes will need to learn how to become production companies, replete with skills in video, music, lights and staging.  Like those organizations who have Business Charisma, they will need to look at their place of business as a stage, or an arena.

How can a casket even compete with a video wall with a projection of mountains, beach, or other favorite place of the deceased?   That multimedia production of family pictures and memories will take center stage in the celebration of life.

Transactions (buying the casket FROM) are on their way out.  Instead the shared experience of the person’s life has a “we are here WITH you” feel.  A charismatic business moves their focus to “with the customer” and away “customer buys from us.”  To compete the funeral organization must migrate to a higher level of engagement with the life of the loved one and their family.

Business Charisma battles the status quo. The funeral business is just starting the revolution that will bring that battle across the country.


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