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David Mills
By David Mills on January 09, 2020

Why First Calls Go to Another Company

You've worked hard to build a quality business, but of course, it's families who decide who they will select for funeral services. If you have a relationship with them there is a good chance that their business will come your way. But what about the large percentage of people who you don't really know, and who don't know you? How can you help more of those calls to come to your funeral home?

There is a predictable circle of influences that determine which funeral home a family will call. We've already discussed one: those in your circle of relationships. You can increase this circle by encouraging your team to be involved in the community as much as possible. The other primary influences come from referrals, family and online search. Understanding how you can improve the growth opportunity with the rest of the circle (family, referrals and online search), can go a long way toward increasing the cases that you do win.

The short answer to the question, "why are they going somewhere else?" is really a market share question. The underlying reason they are going somewhere else is that you haven't connected with their primary influencers.

Influencing the Influencers

All three non-direct relationship influences above, (family, referrals and direct online search), are deeply impacted by what people find online when they search. The Story Collaborative 2019 Funeral Preferences Survey reported that at least 68% of people search online before they call a funeral home (The NFDA puts the number close to this amount as well). That's certainly true of relatives that may be helping arrange for funeral services, but it also true when a referral suggests the name of a good funeral home but leaves the person making the arrangements to look that funeral home up online. If they see a poor review, or if the funeral home isn't easy to find, they may call someone else. Good referrals can help with this, but when people are used to looking up everything online, you simply can't stop them from searching.

If a poor review is present when they search, then at least 10% will keep looking, and almost 20% will lose enough confidence to make them question doing business with you.

Why the Best Funeral Homes Don't Win in Most Cases

How many are you missing?

You may not care how many you missed, but the number does tell you something about your growth potential. In addition to looking at your total market share and subtracting the cases that went somewhere else, you can also do another calculation that might surprise you.

If 60% of people search before they call, then for every keyword where you don't have a page 1 ranking, we can assume that 60% of the people who used that search term to look for funeral or cremation services couldn't have called you.

It's is a pretty direct correlation - more Page 1 rankings equal more phone calls, and fewer Page 1 rankings equal fewer phone calls.

Opportunity Math

To understand the power of Page 1 search in creating immediate needs phone calls, we say it this way: For every keyword search for which you have a "Page 1" ranking, 60% of the people searching using that keyword will at the very least see your name. 85% of all the business goes to those listed on Page 1. Every Page 1 ranking has real financial value because it translates to immediate need phone calls.

Increasing First Calls

One important strategy for increasing first calls to your funeral home and decreasing the number lost to other companies, is to improve your Page 1 search rankings. The effort to build these rankings is often called search engine optimization or SEO, but that term can suggest a misleading reality. While a website can be search optimized, you have to take into account all of the key factors that go into rankings - and they aren't just found in the technical work of traditional SEO. The "signals" that go into top rankings combine reviews, the value of online content, the type of website that you have and the way that people behave on your website. All of these areas are part of a strategy to sustainably boost your incoming calls.

Another important way to increase first call volumes is to connect with consumers in their preferred communication channels on a regular basis. It used to be that we could be win customers by being in the "mailbox," but now we have to be in the "inbox" and the "message queue." You can get a free consultation if you want to discuss how you are doing in this area.

quick guide to online reviews

Published by David Mills January 9, 2020
David Mills