When you’re really hungry and you decide to stop at the nearest McDonald’s, you don’t care about that location’s reputation. You might get good food, you might get bad food, but the stakes are incredibly low: it’s not too expensive, and it’s probably not going to be memorable.
The same cannot be said for funeral homes.
For a funeral home, reputation is everything. There are a number of reasons for this:
First, in some sense, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Funerals are a commemoration, the celebration of someone’s life. Emotions are going to be at a high. You already know that.
Second, funeral homes, in general, have…a pretty bad reputation. You probably already know that, too. So many people have heard horror stories from their loved ones: People feeling ripped off and used when they’re at their most vulnerable. People feeling betrayed by the very businesses that were supposed to help them.
On the other hand, when a funeral home treats a family with dignity and respect? When they walk them through their options, helping them create a unique ceremony to honour their loved one? When they, time and time again, create funerals that leave people honestly saying “That was a beautiful service”!
Those funeral homes thrive.
There are so many things that go into your reputation: How long you’ve been around. How you serve your community. How you treat your clients. The ways in which people talk about you. The list goes on.
Almost all of the qualities that define reputation depend on how you act. For that element of reputation, we’ll leave you to your own devices – far be it from us to give you recommendations about how to treat your clients. You do your work with the dignity and compassion required in the field. We respect that.
How other people talk about you, however? That’s where you need reputation management.
Back in the day, people would learn about funeral homes by word of mouth. They’d remember the funeral home behind a memorable service, or they’d ask their friends and family. Nowadays, however, Google is often the arbiter of reputation. When people are looking for a funeral home, they’ll look for reviews, and the search engine giant is more than happy to provide. In fact, 93% of consumers feel online reviews impact their purchase decisions. That same study reveals that the minimum star rating most users are looking for is 3.3.
How to Improve Your Online Ratings (And Your Reputation)
There’s an old cliché about client management that could not be more relevant here: one person who has a bad experience will tell 10 friends, but 10 people who have a good experience might only tell one person, collectively. In other words, people who have negative experiences are more likely to post a review.
That’s a huge problem. Let’s say you have 100 clients. Even if 97 of those clients have an overwhelmingly positive experience, you might only get five who will actually review you. The remaining three clients who felt they had a bad experience (for whatever reason) are all almost certainly going to review you. Get five 5-star reviews, but three 1-star reviews, and what does your average review score end up being?
3.5 stars, dangerously close to the minimum threshold. One more bad review, and you’re in the tank. The solution? Get more reviews from clients who have had a positive experience.
At First Rank Funeral Marketing, our technique includes an incredibly user friendly software that sends texts or emails to clients asking for reviews. You can customize the messages that are sent. When a client gives a good review, they’re prompted to post it on Google. Bad reviews are instead sent to you so you can address their concerns directly. There are a number of other ways you might go about getting better reviews – simply asking your clients is one of the best ways.
When you get reviews, be they good or bad, it’s good form to reply to them. A simple thank you for a good review will suffice. For negative reviews, a post saying you’ve sent them a message to follow-up is a great idea (provided you actually send them that message). With care and compassion, you can turn a lot of 1-star reviews into 5-star reviews.
You’ll also want to put effort into monitoring reviews across a variety of platforms. People can review you on Facebook, Yelp, and other websites. Social listening and social media management are essential to keeping your reputation intact.
Here at First Rank Funeral Marketing, we’ll do more than just market your funeral home – we’ll help you grow and maintain your reputation.