Wednesday, August 31, 2016

3 ways you can add revenue just by creating value

By Ethan Darby, Director of Business Development

As a manufacturer, understanding the type of business you are selling to is extremely valuable. The fact that my family owns both funeral homes and a cemetery is one of our best competitive advantages.  We know that most cemeteries aren’t “cash cows.” We know that customers are becoming more informed, cremation rates are on the rise and margins are getting slimmer. We know we need to keep growing too. 

Sometimes we can create new revenue streams by offering new products or services, but sometimes we generate new revenue just by enhancing what we already offer. Anyone can create new added-value that your customers can get behind. Here are three ways to do that with bronze memorials:
  1. Create scripting that upsells – I find the words “scripting” and “upsell” have negative connotations in our industry and I’m not sure why. If you believe that a “high-end” product has the most value, then you shouldn’t feel bad about upselling to drive your sales towards that product line. You also shouldn’t feel bad about creating scripts to help your customer understand the value that you see.  Think about what you like about a certain product line. How are you transferring those positive feelings to your customers?
  2. Become confident in your product – I have spent a lot of time in our manufacturing plant. I can’t even begin to quantify the value that has been created when I am making a sales presentation. I know exactly why certain product lines are more expensive than others. For example, the full color photo Collage memorial is more expensive than the Classique memorial because the Collage takes a lot of design time. It is fully customized, while the Classique is a templated design with names, dates, and emblems easily switched out. Come see us at Trigard Memorials and ask questions. We would love to help you increase your knowledge of our products.

  3. Set goals for yourself or your sales team – Set goals that drive the behaviors you want. We all know setting goals is a good thing. Narrowing your goals to specific product lines can be an even better thing.
It really is amazing what an upsell can do to your bottom line and to your confidence. For instance, I believe that the Collage memorial is Trigard’s best product. Every time I walk through our cemetery, I believe it more and more. After all, the collage series is like a magnet that pulls you in. It tells a story about a person and will be valuable to their family for generations to come… and I tell my customers that. That’s how I create value in what we offer. How will you?  

This article originally appeared in Modern Memorialization, Trigard Memorials' weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Prepare now for the dreaded winter months

By Jason Murphy,
Director of Family Services, Sunset Memorial Park

It may seem crazy, but now is the time to start preparing your sales force for the colder months of the year. In cemetery and memorial sales, we all know that the winter months can pose a challenge to have consistent sales coming in. The foot traffic through your cemetery decreases, markers can’t be installed when the ground is frozen and there is simply less people coming into your office because they are staying home where it is warm and cozy.

So, the question is, do you accept lower sales during this season or do you do something about it? We have a strong philosophy – we don’t buy into the idea that just because it’s cold out it means that sales decrease. In fact, we challenge ourselves to have our biggest sales months during this time of year. Here are some things that may help your team counter the lack of walk-in or call-in business during this period.

First, have your sales reps follow up on all the leads that they haven’t closed from the previous couple of years. Develop a list of these leads and come up with a way to contact them all during the winter. You could develop a direct mail letter touching base with these families or maybe even give them a call to check in and see how they are doing.

Finding any way that you can have contact with them during this time is critical. One of the major reasons is that the colder months mean that the holidays are near. For these families, this will be the first holiday season without their loved one. So, this is a great time to reach out and let them know that you are thinking about them. Even if you don’t turn the conversation into an appointment, you are at least strengthening your relationship with the family, so that when they are ready to choose a memorial, the process will be much smoother for everyone involved.

Another idea is to hold a lunch and learn seminar either at your facility or at a local restaurant. Everyone appreciates a warm meal on the house. This can give you an opportunity to promote the importance of permanent memorialization and discuss details of your memorials in a group setting, where everyone has a common interest. Many people become more relaxed with a group and the ideas and questions seem to flow better.

A final idea that could correlate with both of the previous thoughts would be to develop a promotion or discount for these families based around the holiday season. You could offer a certain percentage off or maybe give a free grave blanket or holiday floral arrangement with a purchase of a permanent memorial. Make sure to remind these families that if they purchase during the winter, that their memorials will be the first ones to be installed once the ground thaws in the spring. This will also help develop a sense of urgency for them to act, along with the expiration date of the discount.

The main concept is to not let yourself, or your team, begin to accept the fact of lower sales during this time of year. Stay positive and begin game planning now, so that your sales stay consistent throughout the entire year. If you plan well enough, you could even see an increase in sales during the dreaded cold months of the year.

This article originally appeared in Modern Memorialization, Trigard Memorials' weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

4 steps to emotional selling

By Mary Ellen Fricke, Creative Director 

Think of the last time you bought a candy bar. Did you choose that candy bar because you weighed all the facts and made a well-informed decision? “This Snickers has the highest nut-to-calorie ratio for my dollar. Wow, what a ROI!”

I didn’t think so. Whether it’s a sugary treat or a legacy memorial, people base decisions on emotions and then justify them with logic. You wanted a Snickers because it reminded you of your childhood. Or because you felt smart buying it on sale. Or maybe it’s just because Snickers satisfies.

Once you understand that we are by nature, emotional beings, you can spend less time describing details that customers don’t care about and more time helping them find memorials that speak to their hearts.

Here are four steps you can take to help families make the decisions that are best for them.

1. Find out what families really want.
Maybe your customer is looking for peace of mind, fearing that tough decisions will fall on the family. Maybe they are looking for a sense of security, wanting to know the “right” decisions are made. Maybe they are looking for respect, desiring a memorial that reflects a loved one’s accomplishments. Listen to your customers. Find out what their heart wants, not their brain.

2. Ignore the feature. Focus on the benefit. 
Now that you know what your family wants, you need to give it to them. A woman nervous that she will be forgotten by time, doesn’t really care if her bronze memorial is carved or casted, but she does care that the precision of carved lettering will last for generations. Don’t sell the feature of your products. Highlight the emotional outcome of the feature.

3. Remember you are addressing emotions, not playing on them.
You are serving families during emotionally trying times. That’s why we in the death care profession need to give special attention and understand what families are really feeling and care about. You want your customers to feel good about their decisions and share that good feelings with their friends and neighbors.

4. Practice, practice, practice! 
This approach to serving families may feel awkward at first. It may feel time consuming, too. After all, it’s easy to give a family a catalog or quickly show them your “go to” choices. With every solution you find for a family, you will become more and more comfortable and confident with the process.

My advice to you? Sit down with your favorite candy bar in one hand and a product catalog in the other. Choose one feature and think about how it can fulfill an emotional need. By the time you’re done with your candy bar, you’ll have at least one new benefit for your customers. Now that’s a real treat!

This article originally appeared in Modern Memorialization, Trigard Memorials' weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

Monday, August 8, 2016

Don’t limit your customers’ colorful legacies

By Drew Edwards, General Manager, Sunset Funeral Homes 

Recently, a gentleman stopped in our funeral home and ask if he could talk to someone about a columbarium. I happened to be in the foyer, so I introduced myself and offered to answer any questions.

At first, I thought he was a client looking to purchase a niche in our cemetery located across the street. Upon further conversation, I learned that he was actually a board member for a nearby cemetery. He wanted to build a columbarium to drive new revenue to his cemetery. With the rise in cremations, he realized that even in his small town, the number of burials was decreasing each year. The cemetery was losing customers with every family that chose cremation.

Before entering our funeral home, this gentleman drove through our cemetery and found a columbarium that he liked.  It was one of our basic units. Each niche has a simple bronze nameplate on front.

It’s a nice columbarium, but I asked him if he had time to look at other options. After all, we have new choices that appeal to today’s families. He was hesitant. Without question, he was sold on the basic niche. But after a little discussion, he agreed to take a second look.

I showed him our “Storybook” glass front niche unit. This columbarium has bronze plates with photo-realistic portraits of the deceased, in brilliant full color. Each niche tells a unique story. It didn’t take long before this gentleman realized how many members of our community are looking for more than just the “basic bronze” nameplate.

The moral of the story is simple.

Each of us is unique and we like to memorialize our loved ones in different ways. Every life creates a wonderful legacy and we should never limit the consumer to a “basic” legacy. Give your families all the options, educate them and then support them in their decision. We were all given the precious gift of life. The question is, how do you want to be remembered? Basic or full of color?

This article originally appeared in Modern Memorialization, Trigard Memorials' weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Our new mission puts new focus on you

By Blake Swinford, Project Manager 

We are more than half way through 2016. Where are you with your New Year resolutions? Have you kept all of them? Half of them? None of them? We often make pledges that we don't keep.

At  Trigard Memorials, we have recently made a commitment that we know is here for the long haul - a new mission, vision and set of key values. Best of all, they include you!

Mission: Our mission is based solely upon you. We will be the best partner to our clients, employees, vendors and community.

Vision: Our vision is to be the clear choice; a strong, viable, innovative leader.


  • Passion
  • Integrity
  • Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Family
  • Stewardship 
While you may have not kept the goals you set at the beginning of the year, it’s never too late to start something good.  If your company has an outdated Mission or no Vision or Values, now is the time to get started. Need inspiration? We are here to help. Just pick up the phone and call 800-637-1992.

This article originally appeared in Modern Memorialization, Trigard Memorials' weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at