4 min read · April 6 2022
Keith Walker has heard from countless families that Walker Funeral Homes reversed their preconceptions about funeral service. His staff crafts services that matter, giving families reasons to trust in the Walker name, and preneed was helping him connect with more of his community.
But Keith wanted his program to grow. Walker Funeral Homes operates six locations in Northwest Ohio, and they had built a well-respected brand. Keith knew that 70% of people are interested in preneed. If he could connect with even a fraction of them, preneed could become the biggest driver of at-need growth, introducing the value of the Walker name to a larger segment of his market.
To do this, Keith needed a proactive program, one that functioned at a super high level, yet getting a preneed program off the ground was challenging. “Preneed was an area we started and stopped so many times,” Keith said. “Parts of it we did very well, but no one seemed to have the extra support we needed.”
When Walker Funeral Homes first partnered with Precoa, they received the full support of ProActive Preneed®, helping them with every piece of the preneed pipeline. By using proven marketing programs, Precoa generated high-quality leads and set appointments through the Funeral Planning Center, which was a huge help for Jennifer Waldron, Walker Funeral Homes' all-star Prearrangement Advisor.
Back to the Path of GrowthSince re-joining Precoa seven months ago, Walker Funeral Homes has had two of their best sales months and they are back on the fast track to growth.
With Precoa, Jennifer could focus more time on inspiring families. She was soon writing more preneed than ever before, and it became clear that support and growth went hand-in-hand.
“There was always someone there to assist us, whatever problem we had,” she said. “And they gave us the tools we needed to be successful. The Funeral Planning Center, the marketing channels, the veteran’s programs—Precoa was a complete program. It took us to that next level.”
Manager Ryan Hobbs saw tangible growth of another sort. “Every time we pulled a file out of our drawers,” he said, “we were replacing it with two. That had never happened before.”
Driving up the replacement ratio meant Walker Funeral Homes was building their preneed pipeline, ensuring a steady stream of future business. “Our efforts, combined with Precoa’s efforts, achieved critical mass,” Keith said, and their preneed volume doubled.
Yet Keith began to wonder how long they needed an extra foot on the gas. He had seen what was necessary to drive preneed growth, and other providers promised attractive results. With his preneed volume growing and his marketing reach amplified, he decided to make the switch. For a brief moment, things were looking up. It seemed that they could sustain their momentum.
But then cracks began to appear. “As soon as we left Precoa, our star counselor had to spend her time developing other people and managing them,” Keith said. “Her performance really suffered.”
Lacking Precoa’s specialized recruiting and sales management help was not the only thing they missed. Jennifer, along with the new trainees, needed to spend more time generating leads, setting appointments, and making follow-up calls. They had considerably less time to meet with families.
Walker Funeral Home’s central location lies at the northwestern edge of Toledo, Ohio. Since 1933 “The quality of our services presents a clear advantage in choosing Walker the others, but the best way to explain that is when families are sitting down to discuss preneed” –Keith Walker
Marketing also became a challenge. Without Precoa, direct mail and lunch and learn programs were sputtering, and Keith became increasingly concerned about keeping the funeral home’s name out in front of people.
With preneed growth cut in half and revenue spiraling downward, the numbers told the rest of the story. “I’ve got to make a change,” Keith remembers thinking. “I was subsidizing preneed. I was spending so much energy and time trying to rebuild the system when Precoa already had it working so well.”
Deciding to partner back up with Precoa was an easy choice for Keith. The task of trying to connect every piece, from lead to sale and everything in between, had been exasperating. Besides, word of mouth still ran strong. His peers had continued raving about the growth they achieved with Precoa, growth he had already experienced himself. “I went back to what worked, and that’s Precoa.”
In the past seven months, Walker Funeral Homes is back on the fast track to growth. Their marketing channels are active again, they’ve had two of their best sales months, and their current run rate puts them in a great position for the end of the year.
We have a plan that is proven, a plan that will work. Keith Walker President | Walker Funeral Homes & Crematory
“Nobody gets results like Precoa,” Keith said. “My people are getting the support they need, there’s always follow-through, and our salespeople can be out there actually selling. It’s taken a lot of pressure off of Jennifer.
”She agrees. “It’s a relief to be back, to be successful again.”
Keith is exceedingly pleased. “There’s so much we can do,” he said. “Without Precoa, I lacked confidence. In fact, I was concerned.” But his tone brightens. “Now that we have a plan that is proven—a plan that will work—I’m excited to get this ramped up again. With the entire program back together, we’ll see some real take off!”