Q&A :: Obtaining Funeral Work

The Question:

I’d love to get advice on how to market funeral work.  After 13 years in a mostly Jewish neighbourhood of my city ( so without much in the way of funeral work) I have recently moved to a more mixed area, which includes several funeral homes in close proximity.  I am not looking to get in with the funeral homes on a contract for their flowers (that issue is a whole other question) but am rather stumped on how to market the funeral work I can do. Does anyone else use social media to show it?  Should I go in and talk with the funeral homes or is that strictly for the florist trying to win the contract? I am having trouble thinking outside the box on this one. Keep in mind I am in a city of 2 million people so there are a lot of florists for people to chose from rather than just the one or two options of a smaller town.


The Answers:

When I worked at my former Florist shop, we had a contract with a small funeral home. They sold a package to the family that included flowers, either a casket spray or urn or photo “surround”. We also did the altar flowers for two churches in town and they would call us when they had a memorial service. So my suggestion to you would be to contact local churches that are in need of a weekly florist, and let them know about you. I would also go to all the Funeral homes and talk with them and let them know, also. When I do a condolence arrangement I may post it on Instagram and identify it as a condolence arrangement. I would post a standing spray on my business Facebook, but not a casket piece or urn arrangement.
Margaret, Margaret Joan Florals, California


I have had a slow and long road to a tremendous amount of sympathy work. The single, local funeral home here only works with the three florists in town who have retail storefronts and are members of the most recognized wire services. Since I am a floral design studio and not part of the two major wire services…puts me at a uphill battle so to say. I feel that posting photos of the work I have done and reminding thru my facebook page and my blog page that I do offer this kind of work, is going to have to be a continuous effort. I try not to get distracted by the so called partnerships these others have with the local funeral home, but to make my focus on providing comfort to those who do require my services with unusual designs that are exceptional in their time of need. Also, for me, the families that I have done prom corsages, weddings etc. are the ones who call me when they need sympathy. Building those relationships have been a tremendous help.
Kris of KRISanthemums, Oregon


Funeral work is hard to get into. I know here most only deal with only a few locals florist. I also hear some take a percentage of the budget from the clients they send to you. I guess I would try talking to them, maybe drop off a nice book of your work for them to keep on hand to show their customers. I know I would also send over a nice upscale silk floral piece they could use in their building that matched the decor.
Tracy, Park Place Design, Michigan


Sympathy designs are an extremely important part of the retail florist’s sales. What I love about this part of our industry is that these designs are generally higher priced (therefore more profit!) and the turnover is quick. The smartest thing to do, Jess, is form a relationship with the funeral directors and their staff. Create a beautiful design and personally take it to the location. Even if everyone is busy, they will view the design later and appreciate receiving the gift. Then do a follow up call and visit. This way you can be added to their “recommended” list of florists. Many people call the funeral homes to find out who they recommend for flowers. Once you’re on their list and prove your value with both your design and service skills, you will have repeated business. I also think it’s a good idea for a small “kickback” to these directors. 10% is nothing to pay for being highly recommended. This fact could steer some large family orders your way. How $3000 worth of orders from one family. 300 bucks is well worth it! Be well and best of luck with your journey…any questions don’t hesitate to message me on Facebook or my e-mail, joe.jpdesigns@gmail.com.
Be Well…..enjoy your journey and embrace your life!
Joe Guggia AIFD, Floral Consultant/Instructor, California


I think there are a few great ways to market yourself for funeral business. First and foremost, go out and make connections with owners of funeral homes. It’s not tacky at all to simply stop by and say hello and introduce your business. If you have a website (you should if you don’t) add that to your list of services. That way, when people are searching online for funeral flowers, your site should pull up in organic searches of funeral flowers in your area. Finally, if you’re using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, post images of funeral work you have done (be sure to get permission from the family to share the image if you take it anywhere other than your shop).
Malori, Hoot and Holler, Arizona


You will have to dress up elegantly and visit the funeral homes yourself. Bring some flyers of what you have to offer. Tell them that you will give them a percentage per piece. You can break it down for them as far as : 1- you can either give my number to the customer and I will take care of it and will bring or mail the commission or percentage shared. (this is a best option because if the person has other family members you could call in with updates and at the same time ask if they need something else done. 2- they can take care of all the orders for you and they will send you a check minus the percentage you agree on. 3- you can advertise in the obituaries, something very serious but make yourself available 24/7 since funeral preparations happen at any time. To lower your costs, the racks that are used when leaving the funeral wreaths are usually left at the cementeries and they don’t know what you do with them; you can talk to someone there and tell them to save them for you for a tip. Good Luck!
Suzanne, All Star Orchids & Flowers, Florida


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  1. Paige Wills says:

    I have worked with numerous florists, some who do a lot of sympathy work and some who were working hard at getting more. I don’t believe that kickbacks are good for anyone in the industry. The create a presedent where 1. You are left with less profit for your hard work. 2. Funeral directors recommended florists who may not be the most skilled, but whom they might may the most money off.
    I suggest you have a beautiful professional looking portfolio printed and make an appointment to meet the funeral homes and their staff. Explain all the wonderful things you can offer and leave your portfolio with them. You can send a fresh design as an appreciation of your meeting with a thank you note. I have found this works wonderfully.
    When you are taking orders, chatting with customers or at any time where you have a lull in a conversation take the time to educate them that you are a full service florist, and you can offer bespoke sympathy designs or however you feel comfortable explaining it. This has also proved important to florists I have worked with as many of their loyal customers were going elsewhere are they simply didn’t realize their own florist did sympathy work. Best wishes.
    Paige Wills

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