Some of the necessary funeral director skills have to do with the technical knowledge needed on a day-to-day basis, but the most important virtues are those related to the psychological and emotional management involved in offering a good service to people who are grieving the death of a loved one.
What makes a good funeral director
The funeral director skills cover everything to do with planning, directing and coordinating a funeral home. They are responsible for funeral management, organising funeral services, maintaining a schedule that fits the workflow, supervising the work of embalmers and crematorium operators, and overseeing the proper maintenance of the facilities, all with an eye on the bottom line to make the necessary decisions to ensure the business runs smoothly.
At first glance, the funeral director skills are similar to those of any manager, but we must not forget that this job is carried out in an extremely complicated context because it involves providing proper care to customers affected by the emotional shock of the death of a loved one.
For this reason, funeral director skills must be psychologically strong and allow them to understand their customers very well. It is a delicate and complex balance between the commercial talent to sell a funeral service and the empathic ability to offer customers reassurance, understanding and trust. If that balance is broken, the business fails.
Key funeral director skills
One of the key funeral director skills is to be a good leader. You must be able to build a team and guide it to achieve a goal. This also implies the ability to motivate others and to be able to detect their weaknesses and strengths in order to enhance the positive parts as a good coach would do. Moreover, from good leadership comes trust. Your team will follow you without hesitation towards the goal you have in mind.
Empathy is the ability to perceive, share and understand what another being may feel. In the case of a funeral director, this empathy should be towards other employees or collaborators, but also towards clients affected by the death of a loved one. Empathy will help you understand people’s reactions and make it easier for you to sell a quality funeral service where customers don’t feel that you are just trying to make money out of them at a time when they are vulnerable.
One of the main causes of unease among workers is the perception that the boss doesn’t have a clue about the business. If you want to avoid the feeling of a ship adrift with an incompetent captain at the helm spreading through your ranks, you need to acquire the technical skills to guide and mentor others when necessary. Don’t hesitate to sign up for all the training courses you can think of to increase your knowledge of the funeral industry.
Another funeral director skill is the ability to sense when there is a problem and figure out the best way to solve it. You must be able to observe your surroundings, listen to those around you, analyse the situation to see how you can help and make a decision. This does not imply that you must be infallible. If your decision has not solved the problem or has created a new one, keep trying and learn from your mistakes.
Following on from the above, the best way to solve a problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Your strategic skills will help you set your funeral home’s priorities, develop a plan of action, and anticipate those mistakes and problems that could have been avoided with good planning. A tip: learn to differentiate between what is urgent and what is important.
Keep up to date with industry developments
A good funeral director must keep abreast of developments, news, legislative changes and trends in the funeral industry. Staying stuck in the past and presenting an outdated image can be a fatal mistake for your business. Exhibitions and trade fairs are a great way of finding out first-hand where the market is heading – and don’t forget World Funeral News! Here you will find all the latest news from the funeral industry, comprehensive studies and interesting resources to improve the management of your funeral home.
A successful funeral director must be able to express his or her thoughts effectively, both orally and in writing. You must know how to address your customers and your employees. It is also essential to understand the differences in the type of language and speech depending on your interlocutor and to know all those tricks and strategies to learn how to speak effectively in public. And remember that for effective communication, the first rule is to be a good listener.
A funeral director is in charge of supervising and organising the work of the funeral home. This role requires a great deal of personal discipline. You can help yourself with tools such as the classic diary, a list of daily tasks and a reasonable timetable with effective time management. Start by trying to lead as orderly a life as possible; your own personal discipline will help you to keep order at work. Don’t forget to take care of the details.
Experience is undoubtedly one of the great assets of good funeral business management. But there is something equally important known as “beginner’s mind”. Try to remember how you felt when you started in this business, all the ambition, excitement and new ideas you brought with you. Keep challenging that absurd argument of “because it’s always been done that way”.
Resilience is the ability of human beings to adapt to adverse situations. You have probably experienced how the covid-19 pandemic has tested you in ways you never imagined. The ability to adapt to change, to lead your team and to face difficulties with optimism is essential to be able to move forward.
Training Options for Funeral Home Managers
Each and every funeral director skill can be learned and improved with good training, practice and effort. There are a multitude of funeral courses that you can supplement with specialised training in business management and leadership skills.
If you are considering becoming a funeral director, you should opt for the necessary studies to obtain your state-mandated licence to practice, as is the case in the United States. If your country’s legislation does not require specific training, the best option is to take an undertaker’s course or an expert degree in funeral service management. Depending on the type of clientele you have, you can complement this with a course in ceremonies and protocols to gain a better knowledge and understanding of the different types of religious services you can offer in your funeral home.
If you want to develop the necessary funeral director skills, here are some options:
- Business Marketing
- Coaching for Managers
- Leadership and decision-making course
- Digital skills for professionals
- Learn how to speak in public
- Financial and Business Accounting
- Quality Management Course
- Occupational Risk Prevention Course
- Emotional Intelligence