ASD’s Year in Review: A Look Back at 2019
Jan 06, 2020
Happy New Year! A new decade began this week and no one should complain about their vision as everyone is seeing 2020 now!
Okay, lets pump the brakes for a moment on all those bad 2020-vision puns. (Who else is getting sick of hearing that joke already?) As much joy as a new year can bring, we know that this is often the busiest time of year for our clients. For many funeral directors, the days and weeks surrounding the holiday season are one of the most hectic times of the year. A multitude of studies and statistics have confirmed there is a spike in deaths that occurs annually between Christmas and New Year's Day. While many associate the beginning of the New Year with resolutions and goals for the future, funeral directors rarely have time to take pause for personal reflection.
Here at ASD, we believe every year we serve the funeral profession is better than the one before because we are blessed with the best clients any company could ask for. For us, this time of year is about brainstorming new ideas for the year ahead and different ways we might be able to help shoulder some of the burdens you carry during the busy season and all year long.
In 2020, ASD plans to enhance our mobile and online features to provide funeral directors with more freedom and convenience. Our Technical Team is busy working on some exciting new innovations that will help funeral directors to enhance their communication strategies to better serve families. We always have something new in the works and don’t believe in slowing down when it comes to finding ways to make life easier for our clients.In fact, the future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades! (last one, we promise!)
As we look forward to an exciting and innovative year here at ASD, we’ve taken some time to look back on all the significant moments and major milestones from last year.
2019: Year By Number
Last Year, ASD…
► Handled 743,455 First Calls, representing 4.4 billion dollars in potential revenue for our clients
► Assisted with more than 26% of all deaths reported in the U.S.
► Handled more than 23,000 calls on our busiest day of the year. This occurred on April 15 when many funeral homes in the South and Eastern areas of the United States were impacted by severe thunderstorms and tornados.
► Enabled more than 850 Funeral Homes and 1,232 Funeral Directors with ASD’s powerful new MobileFH® Texting feature
► Connected more than 271,500 MobileFH® calls
► Sent more than 8 millionASD Mobile Push Notifications
► Sent more than 4.6 million text messages
► Helped Funeral Directors send 58,650 text messages using their funeral home number as the outgoing Caller ID with ASD’s powerful new MobileFH® Texting
► Saved our clients unnecessary expenses by blocking 113,929 Robo calls with Solicitor Shield™
► Automatically transferred more than 404,314 obituaries via FuneralSync™, saving funeral professionals approximately 21,000 hours of redundant work.
► Attended over 40 conventions and conferences across the country
► Participated in a dozen different TEAM ASD events and activities
► Exercised on ASD's Treadmill and Recumbent Bike Work Stations for more than 5,000 miles, the equivalent of walking from Pennsylvania to California and back again.
► Donated more than $5,000 to charities selected this year for ASD's Exercise for a Cause Program, including The Children’s Heart Foundation, Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, The NYS Tribute Foundation and Bringing Hope Home.
► Helped countless grieving children find comfort by supporting Eluna and Camp Erin
► Donated 62 units of livesaving blood to the American Red Cross during our ASD Company Wide Blood Drives.
► Cleared away countless weeds and overgrowth to make room for new blooms at Tyler Arboretum
►Supported the millions of Americans impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder by taking part in the Autism Speaks Walk and fundraising event.
► Helped thousands of animals at Providence Animal Center by supporting the Bark in the Park community event
► Created 173 Christmas cards for Seniors living at Belvedere Nursing Home, a senior care center in our local area.
► Provided countless hours of family time to our clients as we help with answering their callers’ needs.
2019: A Year of Giving Back at ASD
Every year, ASD’s company culture continues to evolve, leading us to so many worthy causes to support. Our staff is passionate about finding different ways for Team ASD to help others. We have learned that there is no one way to give back; you can donate time, money, blood or even a little physical exertion!Whether it was through our “Exercise for a Cause Program”, donation drives, volunteer days, or company donations, Team ASD supported many valuable and important charities in 2019. Here’s a look at the different organizations we helped this year.
We are so proud of our staff's generosity, kindness and team spirit! 2020 will certainly be another year of giving back for us here at ASD!
Top 10 Most Read ASD Blog Posts of 2019
After 47 Years, the Czachor Family has learned a lot of about running a funeral home answering service. This past fall, ASD’s 2nd generation Family-Member Owners were interviewed by the Funeral Business Advisor. In the interview, Kathy, Marty and Kevin spoke about the enduring influence of their parents and shared insights about specialized solutions have allowed ASD to grow into the company it is today.
Funeral director characters on TV shows and movies have little to nothing in common with the real people who devote their lives to serving grieving families. So many of these misrepresentations are decidedly negative and have reinforced false ideas and misinformation about the death care profession. In this blog post, we examined five funeral director character tropes we think should be put out to pasture.
Ask any director their least favorite aspect of working in the funeral profession and most will answer, “death certificates.” From data entry challenges, to issues with Drs. causing delays, to problems with state filing systems, there are a lot of reasons to detest the D/C. How do you deal with all these death certificate headaches? We think laughter is the best medicine and this blog is your remedy.
In this blog post, ASD announced the release of our enhanced ASD Mobile 4 app and the official launch of an exclusive texting solution we created for on-call funeral directors. MobileFH® Textingallows ASD clients to send and receive text messages using the funeral home’s main business number as the sending number. This innovative technology empowers funeral professionals to be responsive to families without sacrificing privacy.
Funeral professionals are known for their expert ability to honor and memorialize the dead, but when it comes to innovation, they are also highly skilled at bringing new ideas to life. A combination of ingenuity and determination, mixed with a dash of exasperation, provided these pioneers with the drive they needed create new solutions. In this blog post, we take a look at six inventions most people might be surprised were first invented by funeral directors.
In this guest blog post from Dr. Jason Troyer of Mt. Hope Grief Services, Dr. Troyer discusses what he has learned from his work with the funeral service community about the nature of compassionate fatigue and how this condition impacts the daily lives of funeral directors. He also shares some practical tips to help funeral directors combat feelings of burnout and find balance between their professional and personal lives.
Over the years, there have been some inexplicably strange or extremely challenging calls that have embedded themselves in the memory of our staff. Recently, we asked our staff to anonymously share the most shocking phone calls they have handled for funeral homes. In this blog post, we are peeled back the curtain to reveal some of their unbelievable stories with you.
To kickoff the Christmas season, ASD compiled this list of unique and distinctive gifts we think most directors would appreciate. There aren't a lot of novelty gifts created for funeral professionals, so we went to work scouring the web to find the coolest funeral-related products. While some of these items are meant to bring laughter, others are thoughtful gifts you can give to show a mortician how much you appreciate them.
Working in the funeral business, you know there are many humorous situations and dilemmas that only other funeral professionals could understand. To illustrate some of these unique challenges, we created 11 memes and GIFs to illustrate the everyday struggles of being a funeral director or embalmer. Hope this gives everyone a good laugh!
In our most read blog post of the year, we spotlighted funeral homes who shared an image that positively reflects the service-hearted nature of the funeral profession. Whether it demonstrates the funeral home’s commitment to making a service extra meaningful for a family, giving back to their community or displaying reverence, these photos all capture the very best of the funeral service profession.
2019 Perfect Attendance
Congratulations to our employees who achieved Perfect Attendance in 2019. Attaining a full year of perfect attendance at ASD is no easy feat - to be recognized with this award, you cannot be absent or late, even by one minute. This important “on time” rule ensures that the office is never short staffed and allows us to provide the most consistent and reliable service available. We are proud of the dedication of our employees and commend them for their exemplary performances.
2019 Major Milestones
January 14th: ASD Mourns the Loss of Beloved Call Specialist, Helene Schultheis
Early into 2019, ASD sadly said goodbye to our longtime employee and friend, Helene Schultheis. Helene’s endless capacity for love and the deep concern she held for each one of us made her a truly one-of-a-kind person whose memory will live on. Her loss has certainly been felt by all of us here. The enduring wisdom and lessons she imparted during her years here at ASD will remain always with our staff. Helene taught all of us how important it is treat others with compassion and how a few kind words can mean so much to someone who needs to hear it. She touched so many lives and we all miss her deeply.
Click here to learn more about Helene’s legacy of compassion here at ASD.
January 29: Mobile Technology Survey Results Published
In late January, Kates Boylston Publications published The Funeral Directors Guide to Statistics (2019 issue). The guidebook included an article from ASD that examined mobile technology trends in the funeral profession. This survey assesses how the expansion of smartphones and mobile technology impacts the day-to-day work of funeral professionals. Overall, more than 1,100 funeral professionals responded to the survey. Participants were asked to answer questions pertaining to their usage of different mobile apps, social media and language translation tools. The survey also examines common barriers that prevent funeral professionals from utilizing mobile solutions. In addition, participants were asked to share their opinions on mobile technology and provide recommendations on different solutions that have helped their funeral home.
Click here to read the article and survey results.
February 12: ASD’s Holds 3rd Company Wide Blood Drive
On February 12th, we hosted the American Red Cross in our basement conference room for the third time. In total, 24 units of lifesaving blood were donated by ASD staff on this date. Special thanks to our Sales Office Manager, Stephanie Bradford, for organizing all of our blood donation drives.
In March, ASD’s Technical Team began working with a group of more than one hundred funeral homes to beta test our powerful MobileFH® Texting solution. We worked closely with these funeral homes to gather feedback and their firsthand accounts of using the feature. This process ensured MobileFH® Texting was fully compatible with all devices before its official release.
April 3-5: ICCFA Convention Delivers Meaningful Connections and Valuable Lessons
In April, the ASD Team traveled to Charlotte for the annual ICCFA Convention. These events bring together thought leaders in our profession from all of the country to share strategies, trade tips and educate others based on their own experiences. By far, the most rewarding aspect of the ICCFA Convention is the people you encounter and the priceless interactions you have with others in attendance. Full Recap.
Whether we’re speaking with funeral professionals who want to learn more about our service, catching up with our valued clients, sharing a laugh with a fellow funeral service vendor, or supporting one another within the ASD team –these shared connections make it all worthwhile. In many ways, the convention center truly feels like the stage for one big family reunion. And while competition will always exist on some level, this is eclipsed by the many ways people in this profession are devoted to supporting one another.
April 27th: Team ASD Recognized for Supporting Run/Walk Event to Help Grieving Children for 3rd Consecutive Year
In late April, more than 70 members of Team ASD arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed to participate in the annual Care to Carry On Walk/Run at the Philadelphia Zoo. The event was created to raise awareness about children's grief and the support they need to carry on in a healthy way. This year, ASD was honored by Camp Erin with a special “Top Corporate Team” Award for our continued support of this wonderful event. ASD is proud supporter and champion of Camp Erin, a program created by Eluna which runs overnight grief camps for children and teens that have experienced the death of a significant person in their life. We believe it is so vital to support our young people who are grieving and Camp Erin is truly making a difference in the lives of so many children.
Whether it is on our in-house exercise workstations or through the Philadelphia Zoo, we believe in exercising for a higher purpose here at ASD. It's wonderful for our staff to be able to come together and enjoy some wonderful fitness activity all while giving back to such a worthwhile cause! A big thank you to our Financial Manager, Dara Ann Shirley-Dix, for organizing this event for our team, and to the Camp Erin volunteers for all that you do! More Photos.
May 18: Team ASD Takes on the Tough Mudder Obstacle Race
In May, the ASD "Mud Team" got dirty at America's Toughest Mudder - a 10-mile mud run with more than 20 exciting obstacles. ASD Vice President and Family-Member Owner, Kevin Czachor lead our team for the third consecutive year. ASD athletes always looks forward to this grueling but rewarding challenge. We’ve learned that while this race is definitely not a picnic in the park, it is a wonderful team building activity that encourages everyone to support one another through cooperation and positive reinforcement. More Photos.
May 30: MobileFH® Texting Released to Apple Platform
In late May, ASD announced the release of the ASD Mobile 4 app to the Apple App Store and the official launch of an exclusive texting solution we created for on-call funeral directors. MobileFH® Texting allows ASD clients to send and receive text messages using the funeral home’s main business number as the sending number. This innovative technology empowers funeral professionals to be responsive to families without sacrificing their privacy.
ASD’s Technical Team created MobileFH® Texting specifically to support on-call funeral directors by helping to facilitate mobile communications. The feature works by connecting the funeral home’s office number to ASD. MobileFH® Texting ensures families and contacts are using the right phone number when sending sensitive information to the funeral home via text message. It also provides on-call funeral directors more freedom to conduct business on the go without giving out their personal cell phone numbers. Funeral home owners and managers can easily review their staff message exchanges with families as all text messages, photos and important documents are stored safely within the ASD Mobile app. Learn More
June 19th: The 2019 Media 5 Mile Race
This past June, for the 6th consecutive year, TEAM ASD completed the Media 5 Mile Race AKA “America’s Longest 5 Miles.” This challenging race is lined with long, rising hills and many twists and turns. This year, our runners were supported by our Team ASD H20 Specialists who kept everyone hydrated and in good spirits throughout the race. A big congratulations to our Team ASD runners this year on crossing the finish line and a big thanks to our H20 Specialists for helping to cheer everyone on! This is truly a special event that brings everyone together and makes us proud to do business in a community as wonderful as Media, PA. More Photos.
Mid-July: ASD Finishes Construction on New Break Room For Staff
Creating an office environment where team members are passionate about their work, care about co-workers and want the company to succeed has remained a constant goal through ASD’s leadership. This past summer, we finished work on a brand-new break room for our staff. Featuring modern design touches, natural light, and awesome amenities like our new massage chairs, the spacious new room offers our staff a relaxing place to enjoy their work break. The creation of the new breakroom is just one of the many different ways ASD strives to encourage staff interaction and provide moments of fulfillment to our team.
August 6: ASD Announces Staff Promotions and Training Department Expansion
In early August, ASD announced the promotions of employees Renee Mancer, Ana Lopez and Tish Baker. Renee Mancer, who joined ASD more than 25 years ago, was promoted to Human Resource Administrator. In her new role within ASD’s Human Resources department, Renee supports our staff by communicating important information on health insurance, 401k plans, college tuition reimbursement and other ASD company benefits. Ana Lopez was named a Training Supervisor after demonstrating an exceptional work ethic and strong aptitude for teaching others. In her new position, Ana helps new ASD employees understand how to professionally and compassionately assist funeral home callers. Tish Baker was also promoted to Training Supervisor to help ASD enhance our 6-month Training Program and provide new employees with added support. As a Training Supervisor, Tish mentors new Call Specialists and evaluates each employee’s performance. Learn More
September 17: ASD Call Specialists Reveal Most Shocking Calls Answered for Funeral Homes
In mid-September, ASD published a list of 24 of the most jaw-dropping phone calls handled for funeral homes (as told by our Call Specialists). It takes a lot to shock an ASD Call Specialist on the phone. Just as funeral directors have witnessed many bizarre or atypical events during funeral services, ASD staff have handled just about every type of call scenario you can imagine. Yet, over the years, there have been a handful of inexplicably strange or extremely challenging phone calls that have embedded themselves in the memory of our staff. From unsolicited confessions to unorthodox requests, these “Call of Fame” conversations have become quite legendary around the office. We asked our staff to anonymously share some of the most shocking or peculiar phone calls they have handled for funeral homes.
Click here to read the blog post.
September 19th: Team ASD Tyler Arboretum Volunteer Day
Team ASD spent some time together in September volunteering to help maintain the scenic grounds at Tyler Arboretum. Tyler Arboretum encompasses 650 acres of renowned plant collections, heritage and champion trees, historic buildings and 17 miles of hiking trails through woodlands, wetlands and meadows. It is a truly beautiful and tranquil place that ASD is passionate about helping to preserve! Team ASD volunteers helped out by clearing weeds, mulching garden beds and assisting with other conservation efforts. We are proud of our staff for giving back and working hard to make the world a more beautiful place! More Photos.
October 1: MobileFH® Texting Released to Android Platform
In early October, ASD released an updated version of ASD Mobile for Android to the Google Play Store. Android users who had been eager to try MobileFH® Texting were given access to this powerful new feature, along with the other new enhancements we added to our app. With the help of many funeral director beta testers, ASD’s Technical Team built a more advanced and powerful Android app. These enhancements delivered convenience and peace of mind to the thousands of funeral directors who rely on our Android app every day. Learn More.
October 10: Dr. Jason Troyer Visits ASD to Educate Staff on Grief Communication
In Mid-October, ASD was visited by Grief Expert, Dr. Jason Troyer, who came to speak with our staff about the nature of grief, supporting the bereaved, and self-care. There were so many incredible insights and valuable takeaways from Dr. Troyer’s presentations. Our staff appreciated having an opportunity to expand their education in this area and also gain support for some of challenging issues that can arise while taking life’s most difficult calls.
October 26: Team ASD Bark in the Park Volunteer Day
ASD is proud to be a longtime supporter of Providence Animal Center, a no-kill animal shelter and adoption center that has helped thousands of animals in our local area. Many of our employees found their furry friends at Providence or have volunteered to help at the shelter over the years. This past October, Team ASD participated in Providence’s annual Bark in the Park Dog Walk and 5K Run & Fall Festival. This annual event is held to raise support and funds for Providence. ASD was proud to sponsor Bark in the Park and we are extra proud of Team ASD for helping to make this day extra special. While some of our staff participated in the run, others helped out by cheering on runners or manning the festival booths. More Photos.
October 27-30: The 2019 NFDA Convention in Chicago
It’s been almost three months since the official commencement of this year’s NFDA Convention in Chicago and we are still reeling from all of the excitement and stimulation of the largest gathering of funeral directors in the world. The memories made in the Windy City remain indelible in our minds as we look back on the quality time we spent with our clients, longtime friends and the wonderful NFDA representatives who do such a spectacular job putting together this engaging conference. For the ASD team, it is always exciting to watch old friends coming together while new trends are debated and analyzed.
With every convention we attend, our goal is always focused on making new friends and strengthening our existing relationships. We place a high value on the interactions we share with funeral professionals at our booth and always look forward to an opportunity to reconnect. We gain so much from these exchanges. Many of our company’s greatest innovations have originated from the conversations we have with convention attendees about the communication solutions they nee to better serve families. Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by to visit with the ASD team at the 2019 NFDA Convention. We appreciate everyone who took the time to talk to us.
Click here to read our Full Convention Recap.
October 28: ASD’s Client Cocktail Party at the Mid America Club
More than 400 funeral directors spent the night on top of the town with us during ASD’s Client Cocktail Party held during the 2019 Convention. The party took place at the sky-high Mid America Club, the only club in Chicago that offers panoramic views of the entire city skyline. From the unrivaled outlooks of the city, to the unforgettable piano singalong to the rousing games of shuffleboard, The Mid-America Club provided an incredible cocktail party atmosphere like no other. More Photos.
“ASD’s Client Cocktail Party was thrown to thank all of our clients for voting for us to win the 2018 NFDA Innovation Award for our Web Form WatchDog™ feature. We truly appreciate their support of ASD and hope everyone who attended had fun celebrating with us,” said ASD Family-Member Owner, Kathy Kelley. “With this being our fourth Innovation Appreciation Celebration, it was important to find a venue that reflected how much we value the support of our clients. We feel so fortunate to serve some of the kindest, most hardworking people you will ever meet and wanted to give back to our clients by providing an opportunity for everyone to come together for a memorable evening during the NFDA Convention.”
November 20: Profile on Czachor Family Published in Funeral Business Advisor
After 47 Years, the Czachor Family has learned a lot of about running a funeral home answering service. This past November, ASD’s 2nd generation Family-Member Owners were recently interviewed by the Funeral Business Advisor. In the interview, Kathy, Marty and Kevin spoke about the enduring influence of their parents and shared insights about specialized solutions have allowed ASD to grow into the company it is today.
Click here to read the profile.
December 7-8: Team ASD’s 3rd Annual Christmas Card Crafting
In December, ASD’s conference room was transformed into the North Pole during a special Christmas Card Crafting Team ASD Event. Our employees helped to make the holiday season a little brighter for the Seniors living at the Belvedere Nursing Home, a local healthcare and assisted living facility for seniors in our community. Hundreds of Christmas cards were handmade by ASD staff and their families during our Team ASD event. Many senior citizens living in nursing facilities report feeling lonely and isolated. We hope these heartfelt messages from the ASD Team and their families brought smiles and Christmas cheer to the individuals who received them. More Photos.
December 12th: ASD Mobile Turns 8
December 12th, 2019 marked the 8 Year Anniversary of when ASD released the first version of ASD Mobile to the Apple App Store. ASD Mobile provides directors with a constant and reliable link back to the office, allowing funeral professionals to manage their telephone communication and conduct business from anywhere. Over the past eight years, our app has been updated numerous times to provide more features and tools to help improve the lives of funeral professionals. To celebrate ASD Mobile’s birthday, we created a timeline of the evolution of the ASD Mobile app. Learn More.
We look forward to working with you in 2020 to provide all solutions you need to take your funeral home’s communications to the next level. We have some innovative features and tools on the horizon, so be on the lookout for some exciting news from ASD this year! What features would you most like to see from ASD in the future? How can we make your life easier as a funeral director? Leave us a comment and let us know how we can help make 2020 a great year for your funeral home!
Want to learn more about how ASD's company culture, technology and training have evolved over the past few years? Check out our previous Year in Review blog features.
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (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@myASD.com