The Preneed Guide to Navigating Inflation

Part 2: The Impact on Your Advance Funeral Planner

Uncertainty appears to have gone from summer fad to fall fashion. The Everyday Price Index decreased by 1.3% in August, up 11.1% over a year ago. And while the Consumer Price Index rose by only 0.1% in August, consumers remain cautious.1

Navigating a dynamic environment is a challenge for any business, which is why we continue to trace the impact inflation is having on funeral homes and preneed. Drawing upon insights gathered from funeral homes, field managers, and advance funeral planners across the country, we want to share the most effective strategies you can use to continue serving more families.

Last month, we looked at inflation’s impact through the lens of the consumer. This month, we turn our focus to advance funeral planners. They occupy a unique position in the preneed landscape as ambassadors of a funeral home’s brand who can share the value of funeral service with families. Helping them make the most of every opportunity is more important than ever. Read on as we cover a number of strategies, all of which will tie in directly with the funeral home strategies we’ll dive into next month.

Preneed Demand Runs High

More families than ever before say they value prearranging a funeral. It’s a win for the family and a win for funeral homes who create valuable connections with their brand.

According to a survey by business management consultant company Foresight, demand for preplanning in 2021 increased to 75% of respondents.2 Through both a greater awareness of mortality as a result of the pandemic and greater awareness about preplanning in general, there’s growing interest in prearranged funerals.

The economic landscape can and will shift, but the fundamentals and the purpose of preneed stay consistent.

We’ve also seen that, while levels of prefunding are staying the same, average funeral values are increasing. This means that by the numbers, preneed interest remains strong. At the same time, we’ve heard anecdotally from our field teams that inflation – or “the economy” – have become common concerns about prefunding in recent conversations with families. Some families wonder whether they should ride things out before making financial decisions or bigger purchases.

So how can advance funeral planners reframe how families think about preneed in uncertain market conditions? The economic landscape can and will shift, but the fundamentals and the purpose of preneed stay consistent.

  1. 1 Hughes, Robert. “AIER’s Everyday Price Index Falls 1.3 Percent in August.” American Institute for Economic Research. 13 September 2022.
  2. 2 “The Renewed Focus on Preneed.” Foresight. 9 December 2021.

Helping Families See the Economic Value of Preneed

One way to address concerns about inflation is to focus on preneed as an inflation-resistant or inflation-proof product. By creating a plan and starting to fund now, families can eliminate the effects of inflation on their future purchases.

Guaranteed pricing completely hedges families against inflation. But even without a price guarantee, families who prefund are helping their loved ones by covering most – if not all – future costs. And they’re helping their families avoid uncomfortable conversations and financial hardship during a period of grief.

In addition to having future costs covered, preneed policies offer the ability to pay over time with flexible payment options. They also provide insurance coverage, often starting on the date the policy is issued, so that families are protected immediately. And families can choose when to prefund as opposed to paying in the event of an unexpected loss.

But of course, preneed is not purely financial. Through preneed, funeral homes are creating meaningful connections and exceptional experiences with families, building their brand message in the community and encouraging organic word-of-mouth marketing.

Elevating the Message and Sharing the Total Value of Preneed

Meaning is central to everything we hold dear. But for many families, getting into the real reason they’re interested in preplanning can be challenging. There’s an emotional component that is inherently vulnerable. It’s much easier to keep things surface-level and logical.

What’s more, many families have never fully examined why ceremony, ritual, and gathering are a meaningful part of life’s major milestones. Instead, this understanding remains intuitive, with few opportunities to delve into its complete significance with a patient and helpful guide.

This is where advance funeral planners can make the most impact. There’s the logical and financial dimension of what the family is buying. However, equally important is what the family is truly paying for: one last opportunity to help their loved ones so that they can focus less on the details of a funeral and more on healing at a time when it’s needed most.

The very best advance funeral planners share both. They build the total value of a prearranged funeral by connecting with families and educating them about why meaningful connection is so crucial after a loss.

This message resonates in any environment. It’s up to funeral homes and preneed providers to help them deliver it effectively.

Top Talent Always Has Options

Advance funeral planners are just like anyone else when facing uncertainty and rising costs. If they’re writing the same volume as last year and their cost of living has gone up, they’ve effectively received a pay decrease. Yet a single solution could make a tangible impact: support.

If your planner has proven themselves in the past, supporting them is crucial. And your preneed partner should provide a system that works for you and your team. If your partner isn’t providing a comprehensive marketing and sales funnel that consistently gets advance funeral planners more appointments, it’s guaranteed that you’re missing opportunities in your market.

Prefunding even one extra contract a month could make a big difference to your advance funeral planner’s bottom line. But just asking them to sell one more policy when they’re already overburdened isn’t going to work.

Prefunding even one extra contract a month could make a big difference to your advance funeral planner’s bottom line. But just asking them to sell one more policy when they’re already overburdened isn’t going to work.

Too little support can lead to trouble down the road. Replacing top talent is costly, especially in a period of low unemployment like we’re experiencing right now. You’ll be spending time, as well as money, to find and train someone new.

And unless you and your preneed partner have significant experience recruiting top talent and coaching them to be effective, advance funeral planners will struggle to perform and grow. This can result in a lack of production, and you might just find yourself back in the same hiring cycle without the support you or your planners need.

What Does the Right Support Look Like?

Advance funeral planners provide the most value when they can spend more time doing what they do best: helping families understand the total value of funeral service.

And they can only do this when they aren’t required to spend the majority of their day cold calling leads, managing their own marketing, and carrying an entire preneed program on their shoulders. Doing this alone for years on end is a grind, and it’s a recipe for burnout.

What we’ve found is that by lifting this burden, advance funeral planners thrive. They’re more satisfied, and their production skyrockets. Even in passive preneed programs—programs that primarily rely on walk-ins and call ins with little to no preneed marketing—production often doubles when advance funeral planners are introduced to full support.

But what exactly is full support?

It starts by making sure preneed leads don’t fall through the cracks. For almost every funeral home, these cracks appear in two places. First, between turning leads into preneed appointments, and then between preneed appointments and prearranged funerals.

Many families need to be nurtured and educated about the value of preneed, sometimes for months before they ever set a preneed appointment. Creating a framework for accountability and high-quality follow-ups where you can track the progress of every lead helps ensure more quality appointments are set, thereby freeing up time for advance funeral planners to focus on meeting with families.

Of course, this is just one step towards being able to see clearly into the entire preneed pipeline. It may be that consumers are simply not responding to a marketing message like they used to. If that’s the case, another step is finding out what works right now in similar markets.

The point here is that more insight can lead to more effective support for advance funeral planners so that they can connect with as many families as possible.

5 Tips from Top Preneed Performers

  1. Adapt and pivot quickly

    A dynamic economic environment should be matched by an agile yet effective response. When the country was on lockdown at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw that having real-time preneed marketing and appointment data demonstrated the need to shift to virtual appointments. This, combined with already well-established communications channels between our field teams, allowed us to continue supporting advance funeral planners and funeral homes across the country. It’s a lesson that carries over into how to effectively respond to the uncertainty families are experiencing today.

  2. Build the total value of preneed

    Top preneed talent should be able to speak to both the financial and altruistic value of preneed when meeting with families. But learning how to share this message effectively takes time. More important, talent almost never appears out of thin air. Advance funeral planners improve when they have someone by their side providing regular coaching and feedback. We’ve also found that advance funeral planners truly thrive when that coach is a proven performer. It helps knowing that your sales leader was once in your shoes and succeeded.

  3. Align the complete preneed experience

    Everything works better when it’s effectively connected. If you work with a preneed marketing partner, make sure there’s a throughline from lead generation to appointment setting to sales. Being able to track a family’s progress every step of the way shows you where in the process you can improve. This helps your advance funeral planner make the most of every opportunity, and it also allows you to create a consistent consumer experience that reflects the quality of your brand.

  4. Integrate preneed knowledge and learning

    Don’t let anything get in the way of a good idea. Now is the time to listen to advance funeral planners and sales leaders to find out what’s working. We’ve found that our most innovative ideas arise out of cross-functional collaboration, and we see this at the most innovative funeral homes as well. When at-need and preneed teams work together and share ideas, they arrive at creative solutions. Communication is critical and so is listening, with the result being great ideas that spread rapidly.

  5. Connect with other funeral homes

    Try to get as many perspectives as possible. Not just from your preneed and at-need teams, but also from other funeral homes and professions. One of the ways we’ve been able to help funeral homes adapt to changing environments is to gather the widest range of local and nationwide perspectives. Look for opportunities to connect with fellow funeral professionals through national or local organizations. You should also be able to rely on your preneed provider to share insights from other markets. Regardless, there is great benefit to having a sounding board and learning from other professionals who may also be struggling.


A dynamic economic environment will always present its challenges. Yet with consumer interest in preneed at an all-time high, there is a real opportunity to support advance funeral planners so that they can build the total value of preplanning with families.

Part of this support includes effective feedback and coaching, as well as insight into the preneed pipeline so that it can be continuously improved. Yet the result will be more prearrangements and fewer cancellations because families will better understand why funerals matter.

In next month’s third installment, we’ll shift our focus to funeral homes and what you can do to manage costs and navigate a dynamic economy effectively.

Tyler Anderson is vice president of business development at Precoa. Through his leadership and extensive experience in the funeral profession, his team helps funeral homes see how they can expand market share and grow through preneed.

Jim Schaffer is vice president of product development at Precoa. With his in-depth knowledge of data analytics paired with his expertise in preneed insurance products, he leads the company’s efforts to develop innovative preneed products for funeral homes and families.

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