I worked closely with an attorney in our area; when we had a need for attorney services, I knew who to call. We had a great relationship, and I knew the family would get his utmost attention. He truly wanted to serve families, as we like to do.
About six years ago, he and I talked about how great it would be if we could put together under one roof all the professionals we deal with who talk about end of-life planning or events. That's not going to happen soon, but wouldn't it be nice to put together an organization that could do the same thing?
What we've done is put together a group called Life Service Providers. Our focus is not "senior consumer" but "adult consumer." We want to look at the adult consumer, maybe someone 40 years old who has an elderly parent who needs nursing home care and they don't know how to find a good one. Or they have a disabled child who needs 16 hours of care in their home. Where do they go for that resource?
Our group works with people to ensure that questions regarding life care planning and services are answered by qualified professionals. What this type of group does is make you, as a participating company, a resource that goes beyond your service offering.
If I have a family who comes in and says, "Dad died. Mother's house is in total disarray; she has some organizing issues."
I can pick up the directory we have in a binder at all our funeral homes and say, "Please call Nancy at Your Personal Organizer. Nancy will take care of it—she'll go above and beyond."
The family gets great service and calls us back.
We've created a number of categories, including:
• Financial services—we have bank trust officers;
• Investment companies—we have three investment professionals;
• Legal—we have four attorneys, two who deal with estates and wills and two who are elder law specialists;
• Funeral planning/memorials—that's us;
• Insurance—they can help with medical, long-term care, the new prescription drug plans;
• Real estate services; and
• Grief support—two clergypersons.
A lot of groundwork went into this.
This article compiled from an address presented by the author at the 2006 ICFA Annual Convention