Family Advisor--State-of-the-Art Funeral Arrangement System in Action
No question about it. Family Advisor, a first in the funeral industry business, is making it easy for families to plan funerals for their loved ones. With the touch of the keyboard and a 36-inch color computer monitor, the bereaved can choose a casket and make funeral arrangements. They need not walk with the funeral director through a roomful of caskets, which can be forbidding.
This groundbreaking approach, called Family Advisor, is the brainchild of Chris Barrott, executive vice president of operations at Aurora Casket Company, a 110-year-old family business based in Aurora, Indiana, a tiny town where the company turns out 500 caskets a day--caskets of every style, price and color. Name it and they have it-bronze, copper, stainless steel, carbon-steel. (Hardwood caskets come via Victoriaville Casket Company in Canada, with whom they formed an alliance in 1989.)
How it works? Family Advisor allows funeral directors to present funeral plans to families in a comfortable and relaxed setting. Instead of marching through the traditional showroom, with maybe 30 caskets, the bereaved family members sit around a small conference table and view the caskets and other related products on the computer monitor. They see all the options in front of them and they can ask questions, which the funeral director can answer or point to to a specific video presentation addressing the issue.
And talk about options. Lance Larkin of Larkin Mortuary in Utah, one of the first funeral homes to use the Family Advisor, says he's able to show more than 120 caskets and 200 varieties of urns with the push of a button. Plus related products such as guest registers, floral pieces. No need to check all over town for a florist. This indeed is one of the biggest benefits of Family Advisor- to have a "virtual inventory" of all products available from the service center.
Maggie Volski of Staley-Crowe says the system offers everything from caskets to vault liners to flowers-everything needed for a funeral. "Yes, we're even able to type the obituary right there and then." It makes funeral arrangement conferencing go more smoothly, according to Volski, who says they are so pleased with the system -the options, the sharper images-as well as the families they serve.
Rick Sadler, at Poway-Bernardo Mortuary in San Diego, who was reluctant to move away from a traditional selection room but has now elected to use the system, says that families are pleased with the interactive approach to looking and selecting merchandise on the computer monitor. Adds Theresa Dias of Poway, "It makes the families deal with the reality of the death of their loved one at their pace in the process of making funeral arrangements."
Most families know they have to make the arrangement-go to a showroom of caskets and make a selection. Which many dread. Says David Reinbold of Jens, Reinbold & Pfeffer in Manitowoc, WI. "I can't believe how difficult the casket selection process is for most families. The Family Advisor keeps it neat and clean and in the family's control." (If families would rather do preneed arrangements in their homes, funeral directors can come to them and do the presentation using Aurora's laptop version. It's calmer and more comfortable at the home setting.)