Out of the estimated 20,000 funeral homes in the United States, 86% are owned by families or individuals.
Many funeral directors today got into the profession because they watched their mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, or another family member doing it. Some funeral homes have as many as four or five generations that have kept them going.
But what happens when passing the torch to a family member isn’t an option? It can happen for a lot of reasons — differences in opinion, younger generations not choosing the profession, the lack of an heir apparent, the list goes on.
When this situation comes up, finding an appropriate apprentice can make all the difference in the future of your funeral home and the community it serves. So where do you start?
We’ve come up with a list of tips to help you find the right apprentice for you:
Public speaking is a skill most funeral directors possess, and it’s typically used when attending community events or talking to client families. But what about at mortuary science schools?
Reach out to your local mortuary science program and see if they have any upcoming events that you can speak at. Getting yourself out there will show that you are a strong mentor, and the students who approach you after your speech are the types of people you want apprenticing once they complete their program.
This is another great way to work with your local college or university. Find out if your school of mortuary science is hosting a job or career fair any time soon, and make sure you sign up to be there with information about yourself and your funeral home.
Mentoring students isn’t restricted to college and apprenticeships — talk to your local high schools about whether they have an upcoming career day or if there are any options for you to speak to students. This is a great way to get younger students interested in the profession and also gives you a chance to dispel a lot of misconceptions they may have.
Good apprentices aren’t always mortuary school students — try using some of these techniques with related fields like pastors, EMTs, nurses, or even cosmetologists. Many people don’t consider being a funeral director simply because they don’t know much about it.
Funeral homes are a notoriously difficult place to get your foot in the door unless you are a part of the family who owns the home.
Be open to people outside the family, especially if the members of your family aren’t well-qualified or passionate about the career. This isn’t the place for someone who is only in it halfway, so find someone who is as dedicated and passionate as you are.
This may sound like an odd recruitment tool, but you’d be surprised at who you might reach by posting information about an apprenticeship on social media like Facebook or Twitter. You also should seriously consider creating a LinkedIn page for both yourself and your funeral home.
There are more than 330 million people on LinkedIn, and a quick search for “mortuary” (which would include both professionals and students) returns almost 25,000 results. Joining LinkedIn also has other benefits, such as access to professional groups like Funeral Service Insider.
What are some ways that you’ve found an apprentice that worked well for you? Let us know in the comments below!