The Saturday Service Dilemma

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Have you noticed in the last several years the number of Saturday funeral or memorial services that you conduct in comparison to the services that are done the rest of the week.  At least, anecdotally, if you don’t keep statistics, you must feel you are scheduling staff more and more on Saturdays to serve the families that choose that day of the week for the service.

I’ve noticed it here – I’ve kept statistics at our 325 call single roof mortuary and find the number of Saturday services to be over 30% of all service requests.  Saturday is only 1/7 of the week, or 14%, yet  accounts for over 30% of the services.  We will accommodate the requests by getting staff in on the weekend and charging client families more for a weekend service.  It’s interesting to note that cemeteries and the vault delivery companies will also charge more for the weekend services.  So, it is more expensive for client families to have these weekend services, yet they continue to ask for them more and more — we have five services set for this Saturday – which prompted this article.  So, what does this tell us about our consumer?

One thing I think that it tells us is that many consumers are not constrained in the amount that they pay funeral homes for – whatever you want to call them – funeral services, memorial services, celebration services, etc. as long as they are getting what they feel is valuable for them.  Think about it for a minute — some funeral homes in our area charge about $4000 for a cremation followed by a memorial service.  Families that request a Saturday service are willing to pay a minimum of about $1000, or 25% more than the listed price, if they can hold that service on a Saturday when you figure in funeral home and cemetery charges (if the urn is buried or put in a columbarium).

That simple fact should tell us that if we as funeral home owner/operators figure out what is truly valuable to the families that we serve, we should be able to raise our revenue per case amount and increase our margins.  In a time period when revenues are being compressed because of the loss of casketed burials, this additional revenue per case is very welcome.

There is a downside to weekend services — even if we can gain revenue from them.  That comes in the employee staffing area.  There is no doubt that professional funeral directors want to work less weekends rather than more weekends.

So, just like many other items, it is a dilemma where the rubber hits the road.  We need to serve families and can gain revenue if we serve them when and how they want to be served.  However, we also need to staff our businesses and keep employees happy which includes giving them the ability to be with families on the weekends.  I don’t have the answers in this article — just a lot for you to think about.

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