Feb 07, 2018
A common lesson taught in English classes is the different types of major conflicts characters might go through in a story. One of these conflicts is man vs. nature, and for good reason…humanity’s struggles against the elements are as ancient as our first historical records. It is a persistent conflict that every single person can relate to, for there is no way to control or fully predict what Mother Nature might have in store. For business owners, this is a terrifying thought. While it may be true that we cannot influence the forces of nature, there are several ways funeral home owners can both plan for and adapt to major weather events.
Here at ASD, staying ahead of the storm is a crucial concern that our company takes very seriously. In previous blogs, we have described how ASD’s thorough weather response plan allows us to perform at full capacity during snowstorms and hurricanes. Beyond our back up generators and redundant communication systems, there are a myriad of behind-the-scenes steps in place to ensure we remain fully staffed and operational during major storms.
Did you know there are several precautions that can be taken before and after a major weather event to minimize the impact on your business? Here are a few weather planning tips that can help funeral directors stay ahead of any storm:
1. Set Up Your Call Forwarding Preferences in Advance
Your funeral home’s telephone is the first point of contact for both the families you serve and those that may need to convey vital information during extreme weather events. When a bad storm strikes, it may be difficult for you to answer calls in the funeral home. If a power outage occurs or if travel conditions are too hazardous to drive to the funeral home, you can still keep your phone lines are protected and that families can always speak to someone.
Do not wait until the storm is at your doorstep – contact your local phone company to set up your call forwarding preferences in advance. This ensures that if circumstances prevent you from forwarding the phone lines from your funeral home, calls will transfer automatically. We recommend that directors keep this option turned on 24/7:
- No Answer Call Forwarding: This option ensures that if the phone is not answered in the funeral home after a predetermined number of rings, the line then forwards to ASD or your cell phone. You can customize how many times the phone rings before it forwards. With this setting turned on 24/7, lines will be automatically diverted if you ever lose power at the funeral home. Click here to learn more.
2. Use Group Texts To Communicate with Staff
The lifestyle of a funeral director is hectic enough, but when you throw in 12+ inches of snow, it can get a lot more chaotic. Don’t be afraid to use communication shortcuts to simplify tasks and get a message out to your staff quickly. ASD uses text blasts before and during major weather events to quickly relay information and to notify our staff when they are needed. Whether you need to find out which one of your directors is available to help make a removal or how bad the roads are near the funeral home, group text messages can help make severe weather just a little less stressful for you and your staff.
Create a group or multiple groups in your phone’s contacts in advance to ensure you can get a message out quickly during a severe storm. Depending on how often new employees join your funeral home, you may want to set a reminder to add new staff members to your group text list.
3. Update Your Website and ASD To Keep the Public Informed
One of the most common reasons someone calls a funeral home during severe weather is to inquire about scheduled services. Whether it is a family member, friend, clergy member or newspaper calling, providing responsive customer service is essential. You can keep the public informed from any location by keeping your website and ASD up-to-date with the latest information.
Use your funeral home’s website and social media pages to share information about service delays and cancellations. If any information is still pending, inform website visitors when they can check back for more details. Be sure to also update your obituary information with ASD to ensure your callers are always given the most current service details. You can add notes about current services 24/7 over the phone with a Supervisor, online or through the ASD Mobile app.
In 2009, ASD implemented our Crisis Notification System to ensure our clients receive a timely notification in the event that there is an outage at ASD. Since that time, there have been no outages that have required us to use this. However, preparing for every possible scenario is crucial to everyone thing we do at ASD which is why this system is tested annually. We strive to be a responsible business partner to the funeral professionals we serve. Likewise, we know many directors feel it is their duty to provide support to their community at all times. For this reason, keeping the public informed should be a major objective of any funeral home’s weather response plan.
4. Back Up Your Funeral Home Data Offsite
During stormy conditions, it may be impossible for you to travel to your funeral home due to road closures and other obstacles. When you’re unable to commute to the office, having all of your important files backed up in a secure location can give you great deal of peace of mind. Using a protected, cloud-based service will allow you to store vital documents digitally so they can be retrieved from any location. These services can automatically back up your files safely offsite and provide you with a web-based dashboard to easily access important documents from anywhere.
5. Use Remote Desktop Apps to Access Your Files from Anywhere
When an at-need or preneed call is reported to a funeral home, there are often many questions that arise. Families may need to know pricing information, if their loved one had prearrangements set up, or when they can visit the funeral home. During times when you are unable to commute to the funeral home due to weather conditions, you can still remain linked to your office from anywhere.
Mobile applications such as LogMeIn Ignition and Splashtop allow users to control their desktop computers from their mobile device and access documents remotely. With this option, you can have your General Price List, prearrangement records or appointment scheduler at your fingertips in a matter of seconds. You can also share or transfer files and back up your vital documents in case of an emergency.
If you ever have difficulty locating contact information or any other data that was given during a call handled by ASD, utilize the ASD Mobile app to access our Deep Archive and Search Tool. With this option, you can easily locate old messages, call recordings and dispatch logs by searching for a name, phone number or any other detail from the call. You can also narrow your search to a specific date range or to specific types of calls. This tool can save you from wasting time searching through multiple files and forms.
6. Implement An “All Hands On Deck” Weather Policy
During severe weather, it is essential for funeral home staff to come together as a team and work out a weather planning strategy that allows everyone to pitch in. You never know what challenges might arise as a result of extreme weather. There are likely to be more tasks that are not part of the funeral home’s normal routine, such as plowing or shoveling snow. At ASD, we rely on more employees than normal to work during major storms so that our Supervision team can remain available to manage our scheduling needs. By speaking to your staff in advance and ensuring that everyone understands their specific role, you can gain confidence in your firm’s ability to tackle any storm as a team.
How has your funeral home handled major weather events in the past? Leave us a comment and share with us some of your own experiences.
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