5 Things Funeral Directors Should Know About Offering Pet Funerals

If you read the 2017 FOX Business article, “Americans are pet obsessed, spending over $69 billion a year” you’ll find Americans spend a whole lot of money on their pets.

Such spending has led hundreds of funeral homes to add pet funeral services to their offerings. If you’re not already a pet funeral services provider and wonder if your funeral home should add pet loss services, here are a few things for you to think about before taking the leap.

But first, let’s look at the growth of pet funeral services in the United States.

Type “funeral home pet funerals” into a search engine, and in milliseconds you’ll have the names of at least a half dozen funeral homes which offer pet funerals to their communities – and that’s just the first page of search results.

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There are funeral homes offering pet funerals across the country: Farley Pet Cemetery and Funeral Home, in Venice, Florida and Pet Passages, from Anderson-McQueen in St. Petersburg.

In Maine, there’s Meader & Son Funeral Home & Cremation Service, in Rumford. There’s also Chamberlain-Huckeriede Funeral Home in Lima, Ohio, and Entrusted Pets, Inc., operated by Messinger Mortuaries in and around Scottsdale, Arizona.

On the West coast, there’s A Special Touch Funeral & Cremation Service, in Dublin, California. In Pearl City, Hawaii, Leeward Funeral Home provides pets funerals to local residents.

According to Jessica Koth of the NFDA, close to 15% of funeral directors in America offer pet funerals, and the number is growing: five years earlier, in 2011, it was just 10%. (Source)

That means most funeral homes in the United States are like the Rosel Mortuary, in Ketchikan, Alaska. While they recognize the debilitating power of the grief related to pet loss (offering site visitors “Pet Loss:  “One of the Family!”), but haven’t yet stepped into the pet funeral business–despite its profit potential.

Without doubt, there’s money to be made from pet funerals. In January of 2016, Zara Stone, author of “The Pet Funeral Industry Makes 100 Million Dollars in Profit” shared the opinion of Tom Flynn, the president of Hillcrest-Flynn Pet Funeral Home and Crematory: “If you’re in this business right now you’re just sailing with the wind right at your back.” He went on to say his profits have grown 25% year over year since opening in 2006.

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So, offering pet funerals can be a very lucrative side-business for your funeral home. Still, you shouldn’t take it on unless it makes sense for you. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Does your community even want or need pet funeral services? Do some market research before adding pet funeral services to your funeral home’s offerings. Two online articles worth reading include Forbes’ “Market Research on the Cheap” and HubSpot’s “How to Do Market Research: a Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding Your Buyer’s Journey“. Pet funeral service providers can do very well in dense, urban areas but less so in rural communities.
  1. Just as you’d expect, there’s some negative press out there about pet funeral service providers. In other words, be prepared to fight against the same kind of negative thinking which has plagued funeral directors for years.
  1. Although, at first glance, providing pet funeral services looks similar to what funeral directors do every day. But it’s not. Planning a pet funeral can be creatively challenging; read Jeff Staab’s “Ideas for Pet Funerals” for inspiration.
  1. Pet owners grieve deeply. Sadly, society discounts pet loss grief, a fact which means you’ll need to learn all you can about pet loss grief. A good book to start with is Dr. Alan Wolfelt’s When Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering and Healing. Add to your pet loss grief library by visiting the Amazon Best Sellers page for Pet Loss Grief.
  1. Adding pet funerals to your list of services means developing strong relationships with local veterinarians. How will you go about doing that? Fortunately, there are valuable resources available to members of the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance. The organization also has a LinkedIn group, where you can connect with other funeral directors offering pet funeral services – both during the market research phase and when you’re a certified pet loss professional networking with local vets.

If you’re on the fence about adding pet funerals to your service offerings, tap into the power of the internet. Read “Inside the World of Pet Funerals“, Funeral Business Advisor’s online article “The Wizard, A Curtain, and The Good and Bad Witch”, from Colleen Ellis, founder of Two Hearts Pet Loss Center and PLPA chairperson.

One more thing you can do: head over to LinkedIn and do three things: connect with Colleen, request to join the PLPA LinkedIn Group, and do a search for “pet funeral homes”. LinkedIn will reward you with a list of pet funeral service providers to question during this initial research phase.

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