Is now the best time ever to build market share thru Preneed?

Our funeral home will celebrate 150 years of service in 2022.  However, we have really only helped families pre-arrange and pre-finance funerals since about 1964 — about 60 years.  And, in those early years, it really wasn’t about pre-planning and pre-financing consumer funerals, but about setting up payment options or trusts for those helped through government programs.

In Minnesota, by law, we weren’t even allowed to offer insurance plans to consumers to specifically cover funeral costs until the 1980’s.  My point, while Preneed is a big part of the death care economy today, it wasn’t always so.

As you know, I like to look at trends and with some of the trends that I have seen in the past year, I started thinking, “Will the next six months to a year be the best time ever to build market share at your funeral home through preneed sales?”  I think that we are in a situation in our country and with our economy that greatly increases the chance of closing preneed sales. . . . probably more so than ever before.

I’ll bring you through five trends I’ve noticed that I believe set up the preneed sale like never before.

Inflation —  Andy Serwer, who writes Yahoo Finances Morning Brief said this in Saturday’s edition, “Prices of everything; a house in Phoenix, a Ford F-150, a plane ticket to New York, have all gone up.  That much is true.  Unfortunately pretty much everything else about inflation — a red hot topic these days – is conjecture.”

One thing about being retired is I get to play a lot of golf with guys my age — the over 60 set.  And, the talk on the golf course is about how the costs of boats and lakeshore real estate is rising fast.  Lots of my friends are buying some of those things now before the costs go up even further.

So, if my friends are talking about these things and acting on those impulses. . . .is the American consumer interested in locking in today’s funeral prices?  I would think they would be.

Covid 19 –  There is still a lot of discussion about Covid-19, but the over 60 set that I golf with has a pretty new lease on life with the advent of all of us getting vaccines.  We go into the clubhouse now and visit after golf. . .something we could not do last year and our restaurants, movie theatres, and concert venues in the community are filling once again.

However, all of us in our small community have had friends who have died of Covid before their time and we all have an increased thought capacity of our own mortality.  It’s my take that if my friends and I have this increased capacity of our own mortality, the American death care consumer also has that feeling. . . . .and maybe even at younger ages than preneed marketers are used to targeting.

Less Allegiance —  I’ve mentioned before that Angie and I spent some of the winter months out of Minnesota and in Florida last winter.  We enjoyed it and will be going back again this winter.

What we noticed while there was the swift sale of any property listed for sale being purchased by people resettling to a different area of the country.  The pandemic, and the work-from-home economy that it has helped create, allowed not only retires, but young families to move to an area of the country more conducive to their personal lifestyle.

I think post-Covid we will get back to a more normal working environment, but it will never be the same as it was relative to “living in the office” for workers.  The post-Covid environment will be more conducive to families, and retirees, living where they want to.

These people that choose to move to another area certainly will have no allegiance to a death care provider in that area.  Now might be the time to target them.

Available Resources —  As we have been on the golf course, those of us in the 60 and above age category have talked about how, financially, the Covid experience has generally been very good to us.  Our investments, in virtually everything — stocks, fixed income, property, even our automobiles — has went up in value and we have drastically cut our spending because we could not go to restaurants, movie theatres, or spend on travel.

I’m guessing that the American death care consumer in the targeted preneed age is very much in this same situation.

Numbers — Finally, just the sheer raw numbers of the Baby Boom generation turning 65 and retiring everyday give a great reason to be actively selling preneed like never before if you want to increase your market share of funerals and cremations in your area over time.  According to this article entitled “How many people will be retiring in the years to come“, points out that about 10,000 Americans per day will be retiring.  That continues until the peak in 2025 with that number then trending lower marking the “Baby Bust” trend that followed the “Baby Boom” trend.

Retirees, by nature, should be looking at putting their affairs in order, and proper preneed marketing can convince many newly retired people that preneed arrangements are something that needs to be considered.

So, there you have it.  Five reasons why I believe that funeral/cremation preneed may be “teed-up” at its best time ever to help funeral homes build increased market share in their community.

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