President's Message: You’re only as good as...

There is a saying in our profession that I am sure many are familiar with. The adage “You are only as good as your last funeral” is, for the most part, one of those things that we live with, whether we like it or not.

Indeed, we have all experienced in our careers times where we just cannot seem to do right for a family we serve. There seems to be a perfect storm, we just cannot do or say the right thing. We feel we have let a family down, we have not met their expectations - or ours - and we do not understand how this negative experience happened.

We look at all our positive reviews on Google, the multitude of letters from pleased families we have served and the appreciation from our community, and wonder “How did this happen?”

Evan J. StrongI know personally this bothers me, and I am sure we all feel terrible when this happens, that we have let this family down, that in their eyes the experience was not positive and no number of apologies will ease their disappointment. It is a feeling that sticks with us, no matter how many positive interactions we have with the other families we serve. We recover, and know we do a good job and serve our families well, and this was just one of those things that sometimes happen.

Do we feel the same in our interactions with fellow staff members, our part-time help, our suppliers, members of our community, the folks in line with us at the coffee shop? Do we consider any negative experience they have with us, however trivial in our minds, with the same gravity as the families we serve? Do we try to make every interaction with whoever we cross paths with daily a positive experience and one which leaves a good impression? Or do we minimize negative experiences, knowing we serve our families well and that is what really counts?

We are part of an honorable and trusted profession. We are also part of a profession where our words, actions and mannerisms are constantly scrutinized. We are considered leaders in our communities. Do we always strive to treat those in our community with the same empathy, dignity and respect as the families who have provided us with our high standing and reputation in the community? Are we “good all-around folk” who treat all in a way that leaves an impression, and allows us not only to be part of the Golden Rule but also to live the Golden Rule?

As our world has changed, and in many ways may never be what it was before COVID, I believe that our profession can be a beacon of how people should be treated, not only in times of grief and mourning, but also in daily life. It seems to me that we can no longer be “as good as our last funeral” but rather need to be and should be “as good as our last interaction.” We should strive to make these positive and leave an impression that reinforces that funeral professionals are truly “good folk.”

I encourage all of my fellow Golden Rule members to join me in making this a priority in our business and our lives.

In these summer months, I wish all of you the best. Keep looking after your families and stay safe.

Yours in service,
Evan J. Strong

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