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Q: Our firm has a hard time selling cremation urns. It seems as though many families are satisfied with the container. Can you share some information on how to effectively convey the value of a cremation urn?
A: The most recent industry research (a 2006 Disposition, Container and Service Survey conducted by the Cremation Association of North America) indicates that approximately 60 percent of families selected a cremation urn vs. a temporary container. Though more urns are being purchased now than in previous years, there are still families who do not see value in a permanent urn for their loved one.
A permanent urn serves as a protective container and becomes a treasured memorial for a loved one that will last for generations. A plastic or cardboard container is a temporary receptacle that houses the cremated remains until a permanent urn is chosen.
Cost may be a factor in choosing an urn. However, too often family members choose not to purchase an urn simply because they don't see anything they like or they don't perceive any of the urns available to them as being reflective of their loved one.
From high-end artistic pieces to less expensive brass and veneer wood urns, an abundance of products are available today to suit the many needs of families choosing cremation urns for their loved ones.
Firms who have a high ratio of cremation urn sales attribute their success to their up-to-date offerings, an effective display and the ability to guide families through the selection process. Consider the following:
Evaluate your current offerings - When was the last time you took a good hard look at your cremation urn selection? Do you have old bronze urns that have begun to tarnish or plain hardwood urns that are collecting dust? It may be time to revamp your offerings with the assistance of your supplier(s). Ask them if they would be willing to exchange old products for some new up-to-date models. One of the most important elements in your offerings is to make sure you have a variety of materials to fit different budget needs.
Take a look at your current display - If you don't have the right display, you will encounter numerous challenges in showcasing your products. An effective display should be attractive, use proper lighting, show personalized products and include visual merchandising through the use of colorful graphics. The graphics might depict scenes such as family members cherishing an urn at a memorial service or a family gathered at a graveside with the urn/urn vault on display at the service. Note that most major suppliers have a collection of graphic images. In some cases, they will even customize a graphic that best exemplifies your marketplace.
Consumers are exposed to the use of visual merchandising in their everyday shopping excursions. A professional display offers your customers a certain comfort level: The cremation products may be different from what they are used to seeing; however, the presentation is not.
It is also essential that the products be positioned in a logical sequence, such as according to price or according to their appropriateness in final disposition (burial, home, niche and scattering). Other important considerations are achieving a consistent look for your signage, displaying matching keepsakes with urns, and properly maintaining your display. Get rid of the dust and make sure to quickly replace urns that have been removed from the shelves.
Understand your products - With the abundance of different materials now being used in cremation urns, it is essential for funeral arrangers to be up to speed on the material components. You need to know whether a product is constructed of solid hardwood vs. veneer wood or solid bronze vs. brass. Work with your suppliers to obtain the information and share it with your staff. An even better way is to have your supplier present the product information at a staff meeting. It has been said that product knowledge is one of the top rules for exceptional customer service. Conveying knowledge about products and services will help you gain a customer's confidence.