Archive for the ‘Stories from our Partners’ Category
I recently visited one of our partner firms, Green Hills Mortuary, in Palos Verdes CA. Not easily impressed, I was blown away by the gorgeous remodel and innovative ideas everywhere.
VP, Robert McNerney, contacted me a little over a year ago inquiring about the In Loving Memory Box program(ILMB). Within a month he brought me out to tour the facility and grounds, train with his staff, and roll-out their first ILMB order.
Over 25 people attended the training and their excitement for this new idea and for funeral service in general were contagious. I was electrified with positivity after spending the day at Green Hills and so grateful that Robert was including me in such an exciting time at their company.
Their main building containing meeting spaces and administration was undergoing a complete remodel. Robert’s plan was to introduce the ILMB to the public as part of their location/brand relaunch. No stone was left unturned in this renovation and no brand detail was overlooked. The finished product is breathtaking.
Walking up to the new building, you feel like you are walking into a resort to check in for spa treatments. Though grand, it is warm and inviting with scrolling iron work, buff stucco, hand crafted ten foot tall mahogany doors, elegant modern finishes and a front desk that looks like it is straight out of an interior design company as opposed to a funeral home. The central gallery of tables has a complimentary drink/coffee bar on one side. Surrounding this Starbucks like setting are the pre-planning rooms. Each behind a frosted glass privacy glass door flanked by electronic kiosks displaying the upcoming meeting time as well as the family’s name. This small detail gives an impression of importance and organization. You feel like you are being cared for by a place where details matter.
Inside the pre-planning rooms; an inviting and intimate round table and chairs, a large flat screen tv on the wall, natural light floods the room and that’s it. No clutter whatsoever. The tv on the wall acts as the computer monitor and you sit with your funeral arranger, click through your options and visualize your customized upcoming experience with beautiful example imagery allowing the family to see exactly what they will get.
When ready to view merchandise, the family walks down a hallway to a set of locked glass doors. Their funeral director punches in a code and the doors quietly slide open to either side allowing entry into the promised land of funeral possibilities, celebration of life items and memorialization opportunities. A little “Get Smart”, a little “Mission Impossible”, the fact that you need to be escorted into this area makes it feel very important, almost like a sanctuary within the rest of the building.
The recent purpose of my visit to Green Hills was to have a follow-up meeting with the funeral director staff. At Green Hills, the Funeral Directors and Funeral Arrangers are two different entities with Hugo Martinez acting as the liaison between the two. It was an upbeat and energetic download of ideas and possibilities. These guys are just the best. They all love what they do and it shows. We talked through how they hold their ILMB services and they are doing some pretty cool things.
They recently had a service for someone famous, who’s name could not be mentioned. At the outdoor grave side ceremony, they handed people the memory cards as they walked up and they said, “hold onto this, you’ll be using it later”. This intriguing way of introducing what would be happening at the service had people buzzing with anticipation. They played music while people wrote and when they were finished writing, two directors walked down the end of each aisle with an open Memory Keeper. People passed their memories to the end of the row and they were ceremoniously placed into the box. Elegant drama, just the statement that the deceased would have loved.
Another innovative thing they’ve done; they took a writing slate and had it blown up to four feet tall by two and a half feet wide, framed it and display it on an easel for people to see as they enter chapel services.
At ILM Services, they seat the family in the front row and they make a ceremonial act of collecting their memories first so everyone in attendance can see that the family members have filled out the memory cards, which of course prompts even the faint of heart to participate and write a memory.
A few things they weren’t doing that they felt would really help the ILMB effort; they are going to start sending the email notification so that people show up to services prepared to participate. They are also going to start asking about the box in their follow-up calls to reinforce the power of the ILMB as well as gathering intel on what the family learned about their loved one. At a place where they are doing EVERYTHING right, these simple additions will make the ILMB even more powerful to the Green Hills brand and the lucky families they serve.P.S. The “future” of funeral service might just be at 27501 South Western Avenue Rancho Palos Verdes, CA