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

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