In the June 2017 issue of American Funeral Director, Jeff Harbeson wrote, “Technology streamlines operations and is a major factor in eliminating mistakes.” We couldn’t agree more; but there’s a problem. Picking the wrong technology tools – or underusing the ones you have because learning the system proved too difficult – can have the opposite effect. Instead of streamlined, operations are cumbersome, and the number of possible mistakes only grows.
In this same issue, Patti Martin Bartsche, the Managing Editor of the journal, reinforced the value of technology in funeral home operations with the announcement of a new monthly column, Technology Touch-Points, to “provide the answers to your most common technology questions, concerns and problems.”
Technology tools, it seems, are causing confusion for many funeral home owners and managers. Others are not confused at all; they simple balk at the very idea of using technology and choose to continue to do “as we’ve always done”.
Can digital technology really make a difference in your funeral home?
The answer is a resounding “yes”, but with a caveat: the small business software, the social media tools, productivity and organizational “apps” you bring into your funeral home must be user-friendly – and actually used. If not used, they become digital clutter.
When we’re talking “small business software”, what do we mean? We mean a technology tool which will help you to manage all facets of your funeral home: personnel, payroll, cases, inventory; you name it. It’s all-inclusive and features robust reporting which allows you to control day-to-day operations and plan for the future.
How to Pick the Right Small Business Software
It all about asking the right questions – of yourself, your employees, and the vendors you decide to approach. First, the in-house questions:
- How much can you afford to pay?
- What features does your business require in a small business software program?
- How much can you afford to pay?
- Do you prefer cloud-based software, hosted, or on-premises small business software?
- How many people need access to the software?
One more thing: don’t forget to ask those in your professional network which tools they use and can recommend.
Once you’ve narrowed the field, contact the company to ask for a guided demonstration of the small business software you’re considering. When do so, be on the look-out for illogical sequencing, message ambiguity and visual clutter: any one of the three should be a deal-breaker. Ask the sales representative:
- Is your software appropriate for funeral service?
- Does it offer flexible tracking and reporting options?
- Is it customizable?
- Is the software scalable?
- How many user accounts can be created?
- How will data back up?
- What data security measures exist?
- Are there any additional set-up or cloud storage fees?
- What types of tech support do you offer?
Technology Allows You to Work Smarter
The right digital tools (if understood and used properly) can save a funeral home owner money and time. But they can also give licensed staff more time to spend with families, and funeral home owners more time to spend growing the business. There’s one more thing technology can do: by reducing the use of paper, it can help to reduce the funeral home’s environmental impact. Read How “Greening” the Funeral Home Can Help Grow Your Business”for more ways you can reduce your firm’s carbon footprint and attract more families.