1. Interview Room
Before showing your memorial display, you must invest your time in developing a solid connection with the customer. Make an effort to spend time with the family, connecting with them, and getting to know the individual they have lost. Learn their unique family history, and listen to their stories. It is important to understand the family’s dynamics and get a firm grasp of who the main decision-makers are. It is also vitally important to learn their expectations of you, whether those expectations are emotional, or more concrete (for instance, taking point on some of the memorialization decisions or details). Most importantly, it is vital to learn what memories are held most precious and most valued by the family of the loved one who has passed on. In this, you are attempting to discover their legacy points – the main pieces, identities, or memories which make up the loved ones’ life – which are dearest to the heart of the family, especially to the decision-maker. It is also important at this stage to ask the right questions that will help you gain a sense of the family’s budget. Do not attempt to show the family memorial displays before you gain this understanding of the customer and their particular, unique needs.
In a home, the atmosphere- the physical decorations and layout- sets the tone for a conversation with friends. The same applies to the space in which you hold these interview conversations with families. Thus, be deliberate about the interview space in which you have these important conversations. Create a space that mirrors a living room environment with a homey look and feel. Avoid overt product displays in this room. Allow the customers to focus on their personal stories and memories. Give them this opportunity to reflect and discuss what their needs are without the distraction of products. The only product display that is recommended for this interview space is a high-resolution television. Use a television to project carefully cultivated and categorized slideshows of memorial products.
Some suppliers like SuperNova International, Inc. can supply online retail catalogs which can be displayed on a large screen HD TV. You can also ask your suppliers to send posters; many suppliers provide large posters for free (such as Cold Springs Granite, Dakota Granite, and SuperNova). Consider scanning the posters into high-resolution digital format and display using the television. After gaining a good understanding of the customer’s needs – their legacy points and their budget – during this initial interview, you can then turn on the TV and display the slideshow sections with monuments you believe would be a good fit for the family. Begin with the most expensive designs, then go downward. All of this communicates to them that you want to make certain they are making the best, most informed choices.
At this point in the process, most families have already created a beautiful tribute video for their loved one. As they have gone through a lifetime of memories captured in photos, these photos become engraved in their minds forever. A tribute memorial is a wonderful way to help families capture and display a beautiful lifetime of memories in granite forever. This is a wonderful opportunity as well to gently encourage the celebration and inclusion of creativity and humor into their memorialization experience. If there was a strong interest in a tribute video, this is a natural segue into offering photo packages. It is best to offer photo packages before choosing granite, so all options are explored. Most retailers offer a six photo package at $2995, $250/each additional photo, 12 photos for $3995. One immediate benefit to garnering interest in photo collage memorials is this encourages them to choose bigger and better (higher end) monuments in order to better accommodate their photos.
3. Display and Presentation
Less is usually more. While this simple idea is often counter-intuitive, this makes it no less true. This idea can very much be applied to the context of memorialization displays. The idea of minimalism, in fact, often works to the benefit of funeral homes, as most funeral homes do not have a surplus of space for indoor or outdoor memorial displays. Therefore, your granite displays should focus more on artistic presentation, rather than the idea of aggressively or fully displaying your inventory. Indeed, a cluttered, overwhelming atmosphere is the opposite of what helps create a space conducive to decision-making of this kind.
With one or two pieces of high-end monuments (statue monuments, for example), a granite color sample display, and a lettering font and style display, you can tastefully – and minimalistically – present your customer’s options in a way that sells itself. The initial cost of an expensive granite display may feel unaffordable and prohibitive. But blank monuments can come off as cold and impersonal, and can prohibit families from emotionally connecting to the possibility of a name and photos beautifully displayed on a sandblasted or laser etched stone. Often it is the details – the lettering, the size of the photos displayed, etc. that provide the real emotional connection for the families, so do not underestimate the importance of the details in the display process. Keep in mind as well that an expensive, beautifully finished memorial display is an investment with a high initial cost that will continue to sell itself long after that initial price sting had faded. Consider also that photos of these display pieces – particularly beautifully etched granite – can be displayed pictorially as well, and on many different marketing pieces.