ASD’s Year in Review: A Look Back on 2022
Jan 05, 2023
“Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us,” once said American author Hal Borland. We love this quote because it is a reminder how arbitrary the idea of a “new year” truly is, and yet it is sometimes hard not to romanticize the idea of a fresh start. Whether you find the idea of a new year meaningful or meaningless, we hope 2023 brings you happiness, peace and prosperity.
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 2022, ASD marked our company’s 50thAnniversary year which made us more reflective of our past than ever before. While we spent a lot of the year looking back with fondness on how far we have come, we never stopped looking ahead to the future.
At ASD’s Christmas Luncheon last month, Vice President, Marty Czachor Jr., delivered an inspiring speech about all the different paths our company could take in the future and different ways we may be able to support funeral professionals in the decades to come. In 2023, ASD plans to greatly expand our customer service capabilities to provide even more personalized service to our clients. We are also focused on updating 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.
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.
2022: Year By Number
Last Year, ASD…
► Celebrated 50 years of excellence and innovation.
► Handled more than 1 million First Calls, representing 5 billion dollars in potential revenue for our clients
► Assisted with more than 32% of all deaths reported in the U.S.
► Handled over 32,600 calls on our busiest day of the year. This occurred on February 3rd when a massive winter storm impacted 25 states and caused widespread power outages.
► Connected more than 450,000 MobileFH® calls
► Sent more than 9.2 million ASD Mobile Push Notifications
► Sent more than 6.2 million text messages
► Helped Funeral Directors send over 80,100 text messages and 7,490 photos using their funeral home number as the outgoing Caller ID with ASD’s powerful MobileFH® Texting.
► Sent more than 17,800 Next Step TEXT™ messages for over 1,400 funeral homes.
► Saved our clients unnecessary expenses by blocking over 2,700 Robo calls every month with Solicitor Shield™.
► Automatically transferred over 499,000 obituaries via FuneralSync™, saving funeral professionals approximately 25,000 hours of redundant work.
► Processed more than 18,700 funeral home website webforms via our Web Form WatchDog™ feature.
► Staffed our call center with 196 employees on Christmas Day to ensure calls were handled without delay. This is the highest number of Call Specialists we have ever had working on a single day.
► Attended over 35 conventions and conferences across the country
► Brought together more than 500 funeral professionals and 35 ASD employees to celebrate our 50th Anniversary on October 10th at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
► Added more than 70 employees to our new Southern Team of Call Specialists
► Provided countless hours of family time to our clients as we help with answering their callers’ needs.
Top 10 Most Read ASD Blog Posts of 2022
We spent some time researching the most popular devices on the market to determine which items would most enrich the lives of funeral directors. In this blog post, we round up our picks for the 8 best gadgets for tech-savvy funeral directors. Whether you are looking to save time, stay organized, improve operations or take better care of yourself, these tools can help you achieve your goals.
Over the past 10+ years of creating and sharing content for the funeral profession, we have stumbled upon several pieces of profound writing that have embedded themselves in our memory. In this blog post, we spotlight some of our favorites. These essays illuminate how time-honored funeral traditions are foundational to our society’s DNA and why those tasked with this sacred duty are essential to all of humanity. They are worth reading and sharing over and over again because never before have these ideas been more endangered.
All year round, and especially during the holidays, the generosity and dedication of the funeral profession is inspiring. Most people don’t know how much funeral professionals do to support and encourage others this time of year. In this blog post, we take a look at 20 inspiring examples of different traditions funeral homes have that make the holidays more meaningful for their community.
In 1972, ASD Founders Marty and Barbara Czachor sought to establish a small answering service business to support their growing family. Never could they have imagined their company would become the leading answering service for funeral homes a half-century later, working with more than 9,000 funeral homes across the United States and Canada. The story of ASD’s growth and evolution over the past five decades is one of passion, innovation, and leadership. From the beginning, our goal has been to improve the world by improving communication and to help those who are dedicated to helping others. In this blog post (originally published as a series), we trace our company’s roots back to our founding and provide of a timeline of our company’s most pivotal moments.
Over the years, we have had an opportunity to learn quite a lot of fascinating historical narratives involving funerals and memorialization. One of the things we have come to discover is that there is a treasure trove of truly captivating and surprising stories buried within the footnotes of deathcare’s past. In this blog post, we share ten of these interesting stories. While these untold chapters were likely not included on your funeral boards or mortuary school readings, they make for great conversation fodder at any cocktail party.
Although it might be easy to surmise our role here at ASD is predominately depressing due to our exposure to so much grief and sadness, we also bear witness to people’s capacity to love and support one another. By listening to the stories of callers, we have a unique appreciation for the positive impact funeral professionals bring to their communities.Like funeral directors, we are used to outsiders forming an incorrect impression about the realities of the work we do. So, we thought we would set the record straight in this blog post. To illuminate our role here at ASD and the work that goes on at funeral homes behind closed doors, we have created a list to define the most common types of people to call a funeral home.
When you consider the rituals and traditions that surround a funeral service ceremony, you can draw a great deal of parallels to the stage. There are many theatrical elements at play. All of the important props must be in place. Just as make-up artists and costume designers work behind the scenes to create a sense of realism for their audience, embalmers and restorative artists go to great lengths preparing a body for viewing. Even the programs given out prior to the funeral service share a lot in common with theater playbills. These similarities help explain why many deathcare professionals have a passion for the stage. They understand the healing and release both settings provide. Funeral directors are also naturally inclined to be skilled performers due to their experience routinely stepping into the role of conductor and orator. In this blog post, we take a look at 7 funeral professional performers worthy of the spotlight.
Every year, we compile a list of unique and distinctive gifts we think most funeral professionals would appreciate. We all know there aren't a lot of novelty gifts created for funeral professionals. Yet, each year we are able to find more awesome stuff to add to this growing list of amazing deathcare inspired gifts. We love spending time 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. Whether you’re shopping for your spouse, parent, sibling, employee or a co-worker, we have no doubt you’ll find something special on this list for the funeral director in your life.
Through the decades, the longest-running sketch comedy show has chosen funeral-related humor as a focus of many skits, with mixed results. While some are undeniably hysterical, others are so cringe-worthy you can’t help but wonder how they ever got the green light. It’s not hard to understand why Saturday Night Live! loves funeral sketches. There is something undeniably funny about combining a ridiculous scenario or idea with such a somber and serious setting. In this blog post, we take a look at the best and worst SNL funeral skits from throughout the years.
For those with an appreciation for history and architecture, walking through the doors of a mortuary can offer one the feeling of being transported backwards in time. As funeral professionals look to expand into more modern facilities and developers look to maximize space in populated areas, more of these historic gems are lost every year. It’s always a sad thing to see an old mortuary building being demolished. It’s not like there are very many people today building mansions with stacked bay windows, tiffany glass doors, high pitched gabled roofs and dumbwaiters. Every one that is torn down can never be replaced.
Fortunately, while some mortuaries do meet the cannon ball, many others are sold to someone who decides to preserve their history while giving the building a completely new purpose. From hipster coffee shops to paranormal-themed B&Bs, these former funeral homes survived by being reborn into something new. By recognizing what makes these buildings unique and blending it with modern touches, today’s architects have helped preserve the history of mortuaries. In our most-read blog post of 2022, we took a look at 9 epic ways funeral homes have been repurposed.
2022 MAJOR MILESTONES
ASD Meets Staffing Goal
Planning ahead in the pandemic age requires our company to build up our workforce to ensure the call volume does not exceed staffing levels. After a major company-wide shift toward remote work, ASD was able to exceed its targeted workforce goals by January of this year. This accomplishment was no small feat. It required our company to greatly expand our operational footprint by investing in new remote work solutions and grow our workforce by hiring employees located in the Southern United States.
By January, ASD was not only fully staffed but had also established a southern workforce with more than 100 employees residing in SC, NC, GA, or AL. Our company’s proactive approach to the unprecedented staffing challenges of 2021 opened the door for ASD to provide an even higher level of service to its clients, especially to thousands of funeral homes located in the southern United States. As the year has progressed, we have maintained these staffing levels consistently while continuing to hire and train employees in different regions of the United States.
ASD Expands Client Solutions Team
In February, three ASD employees were promoted to work within ASD’s Client Solutions Team. Sean Mehlbaum, David Tillman, and Summer Greenwood joined the team as Client Solutions Specialists after excelling within other positions within our organization. Later in the year, Sean was promoted once more to the position of Client Solution Supervisor, taking on a key leadership role within the department. These promotions were driven by ASD’s goal of expanding its customer service team and extending the department hours on second shift to better assist funeral directors when it is most convenient for them.
Established in 2013, the ASD Client Solutions Team was created to provide ASD’s funeral homes clients with a dedicated Account Specialist that can offer more guidance and assistance. Every funeral home is different and providing a deeper level of customer support ensures ASD is able to meet the specific needs of every client. With more than one third of all mortuaries in the nation trusting ASD with their sensitive calls, the Client Solutions Department is crucial for helping every funeral home receive the individual attention they need. In the coming year, we plan to expand the reach of this team even further to help provide additional client support to funeral homes.
ASD Attends ICCFA Convention
After two long years of separation, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association’s annual convention in Vegas did not disappoint. A big thank you to everyone who stopped by to visit Team ASD in the ICCFA Expo Hall. We had a wonderful time catching up everyone and spending time together on the tradeshow floor!
ASD Recognized with “Vendor of the Year” Award
In April, ASD was honored to receive the “Vendor of the Year” award from the West Texas chapter of the Texas Funeral Directors Association. Thank you to the association for recognizing ASD’s commitment to serving the funeral profession. Here’s a great photo of ASD Vice President and Family-Member Owner, Kevin Czachor (right), alongside Funeral Director, Bill Vallie of Heritage Funeral Home of The Big Bend who received his Lifetime Achievement Award during the same event.
Team ASD Conquers Tough Mudder Race
In May, the ASD Mud Team took on the 2022 Tough Mudder Obstacle Race. This grueling 15k is filled with a ton of challenging obstacles that require us all to work together as a team to cross the finish line. 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.
Click here to see more photos.
May & June
ASD Attends More than a Dozen State Funeral Conventions
The months of May and June took ASD to more than twelve different states across the country as we traveled to funeral conventions. After several years of not attending these shows it was wonderful to get back out on the road again and spend quality time with our clients and friends face-to-face.
ASD Begins Timeline Blog Series Tracing Our Company’s 50 Year History
In June, ASD began a 5-part blog series that traced our company’s history back to our founding. The blog was written to commemorate ASD’s 50th Anniversary year and included a timeline of our company’s most pivotal moments, old photographs and relics from our past.
Click here to read ASD's timeline blog series.
The Media 5 Mile Race Returns!
On June 17th, Team ASD completed the Media 5 Miler – a 5-mile race through the hilly streets of our town that surround the county courthouse. It took a lot of sweat, effort and some wonderful encouragement from the crowd, but we’re proud to share that we crossed the finish line for the 7th time! 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.
Selected Educational Trust Names ASD Family-Member Owner, Kevin Czachor, Ambassador of the Year
In June, the Selected Educational Trust announced that ASD Vice President and Family-Member Owner, Kevin Czachor, was being recognized as the 2022 Ambassador of the Year.
“I am honored and humbled to be recognized as the Ambassador of the Year by Selected. As an independently owned, family-run company, ASD’s goals align with the goals of the association and its members. It is wonderful and highly rewarding to have a seat at that table where we can swap ideas with thought leaders who share our values," Kevin shared. "We support the Selected Trust because we want to do all we can to encourage those exceptional individuals who choose to take the path less traveled that leads them to a career in funeral service. With the recent shortages of licensed funeral directors, this has never been more important."
ASD Introduces Next Step™ Solution to Help Funeral Homes Build Immediate Connections with Families
In July, ASD announced the upcoming release of a new feature to help facilitate communication between funeral professionals and at-need families. When handling a new first call from a family member, ASD will now offer to send the caller a text message from the funeral home that includes the next steps families can expect in the funeral planning process. This new solution, known as the NEXT STEP Text™, will allow funeral homes to position themselves as a resource to families from their very first call. We understand family members frequently have many questions and concerns on their mind while they are waiting for a funeral director to return their call. This is why ASD created the NEXT STEP Text™ to provide families with a helpful checklist they can focus on while waiting to speak to your funeral director. The text can be customized to include a link to any page on the funeral home website.
Click here to learn more.
ASD Releases Updated Version of ASD Mobile
On Thursday, August 11th, 2022, a new version of the ASD Mobile app was released to Apple. Our ASD Mobile 5 Update included a brand-new app icon we created to commemorate our 50th Anniversary Year. In addition to the new icon, the updated app offered funeral directors a convenient NEXT STEP Text™ button, allowing our clients to quickly send families a planning checklist using ASD Mobile. When the funeral home handles the first call, they can tap on this button to immediately send families a helpful guide on what information they will need to gather for the funeral home before their first meeting.
ASD Says Goodbye to Beloved Longtime Employee, Darlene Adorno
Early September brought sad news to our Operations as we learned of the loss of our beloved employee and co-worker, Darlene Adorno. With a career spanning over 15 years, Darlene was known and loved by so many of us here at ASD. The news of her unexpected passing came as a deep shock to us all. Darlene was a dedicated Call Specialist working on first shift whose voice many of you have probably heard countless times over the years. Every day, we answer death calls for people all over the United States, but there is no way ever to prepare for the loss of our own. Darlene will be greatly missed by all those who had the privilege to know her.
Team ASD Gathers for Company Picnic
On Thursday, September 15th, Team ASD held an Employee Appreciation Food Truck Picnic for our staff and their families! It was wonderful to bring everyone together for another one of these awesome events!
ASD Joins Commander Initiative
In September, ASD became an official vendor member of the Commander Initiative, a buying pool for independent funeral homes. The group was established to help independently-owned homes collaborate to leverage their buying power and has now evolved into a community of like-minded funeral professionals who are committed to supporting one another. The Commander Initiative’s invitation to ASD to join is a testament of their commitment to their members. The organization invested a great deal of time and research evaluating ASD's services, technology and history before partnering with our company.
Team ASD Conquers Spartan Race
We came, we saw, we conquered! On Saturday, September 17th, Team ASD took on the challenging and empowering Spartan Sprint Race at Citizens Bank Park. This miles-long race with multiple obstacles and staircases along the way requires us all to work together as a team. It is a truly wonderful fitness activity and team-building event. We especially love that there is no score keeping or time tracking as it allows us to focus on getting everyone across the finish line together as a team. We’re proud to say we succeeded again this year.
Click here to see more photos.
Kevin Czachor Honored with Ambassador of the Year Award at Selected Event
During the Selected Independent Funeral Homes’ Annual Meeting in late September, ASD Family-Member Owner, Kevin Czachor, was honored to be recognized as the Vendor Ambassador of the Year by the Selected Educational Trust. Click on the video above to view Kevin’s acceptance speech.
The 2022 NFDA Convention in Baltimore
The Czachor family and ASD team would like to sincerely thank all of our clients and friends who took time to visit with us during the 2022 National Funeral Directors Association Convention. We enjoyed such a wonderful week catching up with everyone and we’re already looking forward to next year’s convention. Watch the video above to see a slideshow of some of the many awesome moment we shared with our clients and friends in Baltimore.
Click here to see more photos.
ASD Celebrates 50th Anniversary with Unforgettable Cocktail Party
More than 400 funeral professionals from across the country came out to help us mark our company's 50th Anniversary year during the 2022 NFDA Convention . The party took place at the Baltimore Museum of Industry which is located on the inner harbor and pays tribute to the industrial history of the city. It provided the perfect setting for our family and dedicated staff to celebrate ASD's 50 years of dedication.
ASD would like to thank everyone who attended for allowing us to host you and yours. We really enjoyed sharing some old photographs and relics from ASD's storied past including a 1970s switchboard and headset. Of course, the most special part of the night was spending time with our clients who have played such a crucial role in helping us reach this milestone.
Click here to see more photos.
American Funeral Director Magazine Features ASD’s 50th Anniversary Milestone
ASD’s 50-year company anniversary was spotlighted in the leading independent trade magazine for funeral professionals. The profile article was originally published in the October 2022 issue of American Funeral Director magazine by Executive Editor, Patti Martin Bartsche. The article features interviews with ASD’s family-member owners about our company’s history and growth through the years.
Click here to read the article.
New Version of ASD Mobile for Android Released to Google Play Store
On November 17th, ASD’s technical team released a new version of ASD Mobile for Android devices. The new version provides an enhanced experience for our Android app users and eliminates a few of the bugs that were previously reported.
ASD Staff Gather Together for First Christmas Luncheon in 3 Years
On December 14th, ASD held our Annual Christmas Luncheon which brought together our owners and longtime staff to celebrate the company’s 50-year milestone and recent successes. It was so wonderful to be able to gather together after three long years of being separated. This is a great day for the Czachor family and ASD Team to reconnect to discuss recent achievements and our plans for the New Year. It is always truly special event for everyone in attendance. Here are some of the photos we captured during yesterday’s Christmas Luncheon. (Special thanks to our Call Specialists and Assistant Supervisors for their dedication in helping to ensure all calls are answered without delay during our Christmas Luncheon).
ASD Releases Christmas and New Year’s Day Stats
On Christmas Day, 8,308 incoming calls were answered by ASD staff (including 4,057 first calls). Of those, 94 percent were answered on the first ring while 98 percent were answered by the fourth ring. Nearly 200 ASD employees (over 2/3 of our staff) assisted with calls, much more than on an average day.
On New Year’s Day, 11,744 incoming calls were answered by ASD staff (including 4,553 first calls). Of those, 92 percent were answered on the first ring while 98 percent were answered by the fourth ring. More than 200 ASD employees (over 2/3 of our staff) assisted with calls, much more than on an average day.
We track statistical information through our exclusive RingTracker™ feature to help forecast daily averages and ensure that every call is answered promptly. ASD promotes an all-hands-on-deck approach on occasions when we can predict a higher than average call volume. While other answering services often experience difficulties keeping up with their call volume, ASD has taken measures to ensure your families are assisted without delay. We hope you enjoyed your Christmas and New Year’s holidays spending quality time with family and friends. We are happy to be here to protect your calls so you can enjoy these important occasions with your loved ones.
We look forward to working with you in 2023 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 2023 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