Last week, in a post titled Eulogies are for the Living, I laid out the problem:  fewer people are choosing to have big traditional funerals.

I believe this has a lot to do with folks not seeing the kind of service they want among the services funeral homes offer, so they choose to create it themselves.

Americans have been asking for choice and other industries have responded with options.  Prego now offers 22 different sauce varieties.  There are fewer car companies than in the past, but there are more models available than ever before.  Amazon.com allows you to choose from millions of books, music CDs and more.  Need a pain reliever?  There are options for back pain, arthritis, migraine, nighttime and more.

Want another die-cast Mustang, just like the one your mother threw out when you left home?  Hop on eBay, where millions of people buy and sell their used stuff everyday.  No longer happy with the doctrine your family minister is preaching?  Try out the Church of God, the Church of the Nazarene, the Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Church of Scientology, the Shiite Muslim Church, the Hindu Temple, or one of thousands of other variants.

What am I trying to say? 

First, funeral clients are used to choice in everything else they do.  Why wouldn’t they expect it from funeral service?  Sure, we can continue to push an ultimatum (“This is how we’ve always done it”), but that will only drive people to other alternatives.

Second, those who don’t adapt die.  It’s a simple fact.  Seth Godin, whose blog I read everyday, shares the story of the ice sellers in the early 1900’s.  They were making good money by cutting and delivering big blocks of ice so customers could keep their icebox cold.  But how did they react to the new convenience of refrigerators?  Did they change with their clients and become the biggest makers of the new system?

No.  They failed to adapt, continued to sell blocks of ice, all while complaining about their dwindling market share and how to stop the new technology.

But the answer is to embrace the new idea or product.

Today, the issue is choice.  Will you embrace it?  Or will you just keep offering the same funerals you’ve always done, selling your blocks of ice until it’s time to close the shop?

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