Trista Lewis - Sept. 14, 2022
Real Stories of how pre-arranging helps families
Melissa Hernandez - Sept. 21, 2022
Real Stories of Pre-arranging Making a Difference
September 21, 2022
Can anyone believe it is already the end of September? I sure can’t! The funeral home has had a busy month, last week was the craziest with three burials! I finished my first semester of school (passing all my finals), and I am geared up for the next one! Yesterday I hosted my first luncheon at Billy Gene’s where I talked all about pre-needs and my attendees got a free lunch and a goody bag along with great information to take home. It was a good turnout, and I will be doing more so keep an eye on our Facebook page to get the date and location of the next one! Well today I am going to tell a couple of true stories of how having pre-arrangements extremely helped families when they had no idea how they were going to afford the services they wanted to feel like they honored their loved ones best.
This first story I am going to tell you is from when I first started at the funeral home. Seriously, it was my first week. Melissa had told me that the normal cases they get are simple cremations and burials every so often. Well leave it to my luck that we get one of the craziest and tragic cases right when I start. A father and daughter passed away in a car accident. The family wanted both the little girl and her father to be buried next to each other and have traditional catholic services. We understood the circumstances and were doing all we could to find some financial help for these families, even trying to see if the Texas Crime Victims Unit would pay for at least the little girl’s arrangements. If you are not aware of what that is, it is a state funded unit that MIGHT pay for the funeral arrangements if the death occurred because of a crime. Long story short, that did not pan out. Then we hit a jackpot! We found out that the mother of the gentleman that passed away had a pre-arrangement policy with us and it was paid in full! You might be thinking, how does that help pay for the funeral arrangements for either funeral? Well let me tell you, all our pre-need polices have what’s called “Children Supplement to Prepaid Funeral” built in. So, if one of our policy holders has an unmarried child, grandchild, or great-grandchild under the age of 18 pass away, the company that holds our policies will pay out the same amount that the policy is worth towards the funeral for the deceased. So, the grandmother had a $6000 burial policy paid for with us, so we were able to get the little girl’s funeral paid for using that Child Supplement feature of her policy since she was a grandchild. Her policy stayed paid in full and she still has it with us to this day. They were able to raise money for the father’s funeral and get that taken care of as well, but as I’m sure everyone knows, you can only get so much money out of the community. Had the grandmother not had that policy with us, the family would have had to stress and worry about how to come up with double the amount of money to pay for both funerals.
If you are thinking, “why didn’t the funeral home just give them a deal and not charge them full price?” I will answer that right now. We are the most reasonable priced funeral home in town. We would love to be able to give every one of our families exactly what they want for free, but we can’t. We have bills to pay just like everyone else and we can’t afford as a small, family-owned funeral home to do services for free, or less than our stated prices for every family that struggles to find the money. We helped the family the best way we could by filling out numerous applications and trying every avenue we could until we finally found a way with an, already paid, pre-arrangement policy.
The next story I am going to tell you is a little similar, but the policy holder could not use the Child Supplement. One of our long-time policy holders had a sister who passed away. The family wanted to do cremation with a memorial service here at our funeral home. I will tell you that cost comes to about $1800 and the family was unsure of how they were going to come up with those funds. Our policy holder, who we had a close relationship with having done many of her family members, came to us and asked if there is any way she could help using her already paid cremation policy she had written with us years and years ago. We told her we would look into it and were able to figure out that she could pay for her sister’s funeral bill using her policy. She did not want to cancel it to get the funds because she would lose money from it so what were able to do is send the pre-need company the funeral bill and death certificate and state that it was the policy holder’s sister and they paid us the amount that the policy was worth. Now because she was not using it towards a child or grandchild, she did have to start paying her policy all over again, but she was okay with that because she was able to pay for her sister’s arrangements when the funds were needed, and the rest of the family would hold fundraisers to help pay her back.
As you can see, there is many benefits to pre-paying for your funeral arrangements and it can make a huge difference when families are struck with a death in their family. We take pride in keeping our prices low for our families and offering many payment options that are comfortable for everyone.
Thanks for reading our blog and I hope everyone is praying for cold weather as we all put our fall décor up in 90 degree weather!
What Sets Us Apart
September 8, 2022
What Sets Us Apart…
I would like to think people look pass appearances and seek the value, loyalty, and true self of a person (building) they conduct business with especially with the care of their loved ones. Over the last year, I have encountered people that have praised us for the new updates to our building (interior and exterior) appearance, we have worked so hard at make happen. But on the flip side, you have the ones that judge us on the one feature that is waiting to be updated but not in the current budget. I get it… but don’t get it at the same time. Our pricing is one thing that sets us apart, within an 80-mile radius from where we are located… we are the lowest price because we do upgrades to our business as the budget allows instead of taking loans and having payments that we must cover. The prices at funeral homes are driven based on the overhead expenses. I always take that into count when we get ready to do something big here at the funeral home, how will this benefit a family and to what expense. We are smaller, we don’t have numerous employees or several cars out front. I always tell families, what is a hearse, family car or limo going to do for you when you want a simple cremation. I focus on the needs of the family we are serving. In the last 10 years, the trend here at our funeral home is that cremation is the desired disposition. The other thing is, we are not here to sell you items you do not, none of us are on commission-based salaries. I did not become a funeral director to be a salesperson. I think our customer service puts us above the rest but definitely PRICE sets us apart.
Approach: I think the approach we take with our families is one of the big ones for us. When the family walks through our door, they deal with the same funeral director (i.e. Trista or me) through the whole process. And if they call and their funeral director is out of office, the other one is so familiar with their case, they can answer the question the same as the other person. By the way no answering service and Trista or myself answers 24/. My mom always instilled into us that the family’s we serve becomes apart of our family and we treat them as such. The other thing about our approach is time… we give the family time to say goodbye before removing their loved ones, time to make decisions and not feel rushed, we give our time to make sure they have the steps to navigate this most difficult time. We don’t charge to file insurance, make a FEMA claim, VA benefits and notarize for free. We learn tips from our families that we can pass along to other families and help develop checklist for families to take home for future use.
Modern Funeral Director: I am so thankful to my mom for this out look! One, is our ages (23, 44, & 63) are so relatable to the families were serve. The people sitting across from us are in the same age bracket as we are. It does make me laugh, when we go to the first call removal and people are shocked at our ages, “yall are way to young to be doing this”. The other thing is our appearance. We make families feel comfortable when they walk through the door because we are dressed business casual. No… three-piece suit, panty hose and high heels here! I dress in business attire that makes me relatable to my families that want to jeans and t shirts. The last thing on a person’s mind coming to make arrangements for their loved ones is what am I going to wear the funeral home for this initial conference. At this point, they don’t care if their hair is done or make up on or what they are wearing, all their focused on their loss, grief and sometimes devastation. I think what sets us apart is when they open the door at their home or here at the funeral home, I look like a normal person and so do my employees.
Girly touch: (Lol) Well, we are girls. I put this in not to be bashing male funeral directors, but I think when we arrange items for the service it has more of a personal feel. I have moved the entire chapel around to make items the family wanted to include in the service look and flow right. We encourage families to make the front of the chapel resemble the life of their loved ones. That includes putting the person’s prized motorcycle in the building. It is all about personalizing the service for families; from the video tributes (where the family gives us music not just a set list the must choose from that the loved one would have never ever listened too, memorial cards (poems/ handwritten letters, photos, quotes from the loved one, each card created never looks like someone else) and last the flow of the service ( I will give suggestions but I never tell a family you should not do this or that, especially if a loved one has a certain request). We are all unique individuals in life why should the funeral/ memorial service be cookie cutter and the same as the next.
In my heart of hearts, what sets us apart is I am a daughter, mother, sister, grandmother, and I am a funeral director. I believe my empathy, compassion for others, and my sympathy for the people that enter my door and need my services truly sets myself and my funeral home apart.