13 Time-Saving Solutions For Busy Funeral Directors
Jan 22, 2018
In your career as a funeral director, you can probably count on one hand the number of occasions when you had nothing to keep you busy. Funeral directors today are pulled in so many different directions and, unlike other professions, there is no pause button when it comes to your workload. The daily challenges you face come at you like oncoming traffic, making it impossible to slow down.
With such a multitude of responsibilities to juggle, finding ways to streamline your everyday duties can make a big difference to both your business and your peace of mind. Analyzing how you spend your day, hour by hour, and seeking out ways to complete tasks more efficiently is crucial. Those few minutes of saved time each day can add up to a lot collectively. Eliminating time wasters will allow you to work smarter and help you get the most out of every day.
Here are some simple, tried-and-true methods for reclaiming your free time.
1. Set Up Automatic Payments
With so many service details and obituary deadlines floating around in your brain, there is no need to add payment deadlines into the mix. You have enough to think about! Set up auto payments with the companies and organizations you regularly conduct business with so that your reoccurring payment is deducted without any effort on your part. ASD offers an auto-payment option that can be set up in just a few minutes with your checking account or credit card number. To activate, log on to our website and click on the Billing link or contact the ASD Billing Department M-F, 9a-5p EST at 800-868-9950 ext. 1.
2. Sync Your Website to Your Answering Service
Unless you’re taking a keyboarding class, there is no good reason for you or anyone employed by your funeral home to retype something that has already been typed. In addition to being a waste of time, money and resources, duplicate data entry is also a liability as it increases the chances of errors. Even copy/pasting data can cause inaccuracies if the data fields do not match. By integrating your funeral home’s website to your ASD account via FuneralSync™, you can ensure information on your current services are always up-to-date. Best of all, you only have to type out an obituary one time – saving you time and eliminating headaches. This integration can be set up with just a quick phone call or email to your website provider with your ASD account number.
3. Call Forward Your Phone Lines Remotely
No more running back to the office every time you need to call forward your phone lines. Whether you live five or 50 minutes from your funeral home, it is still a time-consuming hassle to drive back to the office just to make sure your phone lines are protected overnight. If this has happened to you, it’s time to contact your local phone company and ask them to enable Ultra Call Forwarding for your line. This gives you the ability to divert your phone lines from anywhere, giving you more flexibility to do business on the go and saving you from unnecessary trips.
4. Keep Information and Past Records Easily Accessible
Whether it’s a family member needing a copy of an itemized bill from a funeral handled five years ago or an assisted living facility requesting a faxed prearrangement policy, funeral homes are often flooded with requests that require a search through the archives. These inquiries will only increase the longer a funeral home stays in operation. If your current system for locating old records is not up-to-date and streamlined, it can turn a routine request into a time-consuming nightmare. Find ways to organize and categorize your file documents to make looking up any record a fast and easy process.
ASD provides a Deep Archive search feature to help you achieve this goal. You can use this tool to locate call recordings and messages handled for you by ASD within the past five years. Search by name, phone number or key word. You can also filter messages using a date range or categories, such as ‘prearrangement calls.’ In addition to saving you a lot of time, ASD’s Deep Archive can also help you evaluate staff performance and follow up on new business opportunities for the funeral home.
5. Use Mobile Technology to Simplify Tasks
It is quite a vicious cycle –you need to become familiar with mobile apps to help you save time and decrease your workload, but you’re too busy and overworked to do the research. Here’s where to start: make a list of all of your routine funeral home tasks. Next, cross off anything physical or any responsibilities that require a funeral director’s license (such as embalming, transporting remains, etc.) What you are left with is a list of jobs you can most likely streamline in someway or complete remotely. Here are some examples:
- Cash a check: Skip the bank line and use your bank’s mobile deposit app feature.
- Fax a document: Use a mobile fax machine app like eFax to send a fax from anywhere
- Obtain a signature on a form : Easily create documents and obtain signatures with trusted apps like DocuSign
- Update a file: Remote desktop apps like Splashtop allow you to access your office computer form any location.
These are just a few examples of different processes that can be expedited with mobile technology. Many mobile apps also now use push notification technology to communicate directly with you. This eliminates the need for unnecessary phone calls and saves you time. For instance, when ASD handles an urgent message for a funeral home, on-call directors have the option to receive a SMS text message or a push notification from the ASD Mobile app. However, opting for push notifications is the faster solution as directors can simply tap “Save” or “Delete” right from the app screen to confirm their receipt of a message without having to reply. When considering how many messages funeral homes receive after hours, this option can be a great timesaver for on-call directors.
6. Be on the Same Page As Your Team
When you’re in the thick of it, there may be times when you feel like you’re operating in a vacuum, cut off from the rest of your team. During those busy days when you are out of sync with your colleagues, it is imperative to touch base and make sure everyone is aware of current cases, pending deadlines and upcoming appointments. A simple miscommunication can result in a lot of wasted time that can easily be avoided by making it a habit to stay in contact. Use group text messages or team collaboration apps like Asana Mobile to easily and effectively communicate important information to your team. Share your location on your cell phone during funeral processions, removals or other times when your colleagues might need to keep track of your location. Finally, take advantage of the ASD Mobile’s ‘Share’ tool, which allows you to instantly send messages handled by ASD and call recordings to any contact on your phone via text message, email or social media. With this feature, you can quickly send your entire staff a group message about a new case or appointment with all of the particulars included.
7. Back Up Your Phone Lines
The only thing more frustrating than being interrupted mid-task by a phone call is when you end up missing the call anyway because you couldn’t reach the phone in time. Now, you’ve used up valuable time and may have lost an opportunity to serve a family. However, this situation can be avoided entirely by ensuring your call forwarding settings are configured properly. Did you know you can program your settings to automatically forward your line if it is not picked up after a predetermined number of rings? In most areas, this option is known as No Answer Call Forwarding and is available through you local phone company. You will just need to provide your ASD call forwarding number and instructions on how many times you want the phone to ring before it forwards (we recommend four rings). This simple procedure can offer you much needed flexibility and freedom to focus on the task at hand without worrying about missing an important call.
8. Improve Your Password Management
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Those twelve words we all hate to read. No doubt, they have caused us all a great deal of frustration at one time or another. When conducting business online, it is crucial for funeral directors to use strong passwords to protect confidential documents. However, it can be both confusing and exasperating to remember different passwords, especially if the site requires you to change it every few months. Fortunately, you can use a Password Manager to create and store passwords for every site you visit so you never have to waste time looking up an old password again. Apps like 1Password use sophisticated encryption, keeping information protected by a Master Password only you know. These apps can also store your log in credentials, credit card information and secure notes so you can quickly handle transactions online without sacrificing security.
While you’re reviewing your password management, be sure to confirm your funeral home has a designated Billing password set up with ASD. This extra step will save you a lot of time in the long run as it allows you to make your ASD payments on the go via our website or mobile app. (Please note: the Billing password will be different from your regular account password. Your Billing password can be set up in just a few minutes by clicking on the ‘Billing’ link once you have logged in to your ASD account online.)
9. Reduce End-Of-Day Tasks
Make a list of some of the routine duties you and your staff often have to complete before leaving the office at the end of the business day. Determine if these responsibilities can be done at a different time or streamlined in some way to avoid waiting until you are about to walk out the door. As much as you love talking to your answering service (and we love talking to you too!), at the end of the day there is too much on your plate to have to worry about making another phone call. Send ASD your daily on-call information in seconds via our website or mobile app anytime, day or night. You can also set up a repeating weekly or monthly on-call schedule so you never have to question if we have the correct on-call list. This only takes a few minutes and can save you from making hundreds of phone calls throughout the year to give ASD your on-call information.
10. Sync Your Management System to Your Answering Service
The next time you find yourself typing something you have already typed, ask yourself, “Isn’t my time more valuable than this?” As we stated earlier in #2, there is no good reason for duplicate data entry, not when there are time-saving alternatives available to eliminate this headache. Get a head start on your First Call case files by connecting your funeral home software to ASD’s systems via FuneralSync™. With this integration in place, every time ASD handles a new First Call for your funeral home, information on the deceased person will be automatically pushed to your funeral home’s management system. Rather than having to log into various databases and copy/paste information into multiple fields, the data is automatically synced without any effort. You control what information ASD obtains and what information is pushed to your software. Even call recordings can be copied over!
11. Share On-Call Duties
If there is one aspect of funeral service all funeral professionals can relate to it is the unpredictability of a night on-call. There is no way to know if your phone is going to be silent all night or ring incessantly. This is why funeral colleagues must share the burden and assist one another by providing backup support. If only one director is on-call and responsible for the transport of remains, your funeral home is more vulnerable to issues that could occur if more than one death occurs around the same time. Family members, nurses, police officers and coroners often have very urgent and time-sensitive questions that must be answered before a deceased person can be picked up. Designating a backup person for your primary on-call director will prevent unnecessary delays that are likely to occur if you do not have this safety net in place.
Have you ever received an urgent message while you were on call that was meant for a different funeral director? This might not sound like that big of a time waster, but as we all know, trying to explain something to someone over the phone when you’re half asleep usually takes about twice as long. Save time and get more rest by using ASD’s convenient ‘Redispatch’ app feature. When the message is displayed on the ASD Mobile app, you will see an option that says 'Redispatch' at the bottom beneath the message details. Tap on 'Redispatch' and you will be prompted to select one of your funeral home's employees from a drop down menu. ASD will then reach the employee you selected with the message. This tool provides you with the added flexibility to remain on-call without having to respond to every message yourself. Best of all, you will have less phone calls to make when you are bone tired.
12. Block Those Annoying Telemarketers
Too often, calls from telemarketers and recorded solicitations tie up phone lines, waste time and prevent critical calls from getting through. Since businesses are not permitted to add their numbers to the National Do Not Call List, you may assume nothing can be done about this, but there are several ways to combat solicitors. First, make note of the phone numbers used by telemarketers who routinely solicit to you over the phone. Rather than just hanging up, be sure to tell them to put you on their Do Not Call List. Contact your local phone company and let them know what phone numbers to block from calling you in the future.
During times when your phone lines are forwarded to ASD, they are automatically protected by our patented robocall-blocking technology. Known as Solicitor Shield™, this feature automatically detects and blocks calls from recorded solicitors that might otherwise tie up thousands of funeral homes’ phone lines. In addition to preventing these dial storms, Solicitor Shield™ also allows you to manually block any phone number that routinely calls your funeral home. You can easily add multiple numbers to your Solicitor Shield™ block list through ASD’s website and mobile app. Whether it is a pushy salesperson, a rude caller or someone you simply do not wish to speak with, Solicitor Shield™ ensures you are not wasting time listening to messages from those you don’t want to hear from or being charged for calls from telemarketers.
13. Give Productive Feedback
Let’s be real: no one, especially not funeral directors, has time to write a review for every purchase they make or service they use. Unless your experience was over-the-top positive or horribly negative, chances are this task is not going to end up at the top of your priority list. However, there are occasions when leaving feedback can lead to real improvements in your life or business. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say, and sometimes giving your opinion might lead a company to create a tailored solution just for your situation. This is certainly the case at ASD where the majority of our features and tools originate from suggestions funeral directors have communicated to us. Sharing your feedback should not take a lot of time or effort—if a company makes it hard for you to give them your opinion, they don’t deserve your business. To send feedback to ASD, for example, our clients can easily utilize our convenient CareTracker™ feature at the bottom of every message on the app and website to instantly share their comments without ever placing a phone call.
For those that work in the funeral profession, time management skills will always be crucial. The incredibly short window of time you have to complete important tasks can lead to a great deal of stress that will only build up if you don’t take steps to get a better handle on your workload. Without an adequate amount of sleep and downtime, your ability to compassionately serve families may be severely impacted Using the suggestions above to carve out a few minutes here and there for yourself will enable you to better serve others and practice better self-care in the future.
While it may be true
that funeral directors have to remain available to the public 24/7, you don’t
have to do it alone. Want to learn more about how ASD can help you gain
freedom for your life and protection for your calls? Call 800-868-9950 or
Sales@myASD.com to learn about our 30-Day Free Trial Offer.
About The Author
Jess Fowler is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD's company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess.Fowler@myASD.com