Gaining work as a funeral celebrant can be testing if you are relying on funeral directors to recommend you to people. Many celebrant training companies tell newly trained celebrants to visit funeral directors (some of them have been known to suggest celebrants hand out biscuits or chocolates to entice funeral directors to put celebrants on to their books).
I am Nicky Sutton, a Celebrant Trainer for Choice Celebrant Training, a celebrant, and a funeral director. As a celebrant who wears the dual hat of a funeral director, this isn’t how a funeral celebrant will gain work. I have had the privilege of meeting both experienced celebrants and newly trained celebrants as they embark on their journeys. One striking feature that they all have in common is the belief that funeral directors are the exclusive gateway to gaining bookings. Why does this perception persist, and why are alternative paths to being a successful funeral celebrant not emphasised in celebrant training?
Funeral Directors and Celebrants
One of the common misconceptions among celebrants, especially those just starting out, is that their bookings will come exclusively through funeral directors. There is a celebrant local to me who regularly sends a blanket email to all funeral directors in a 50 mile radius. Is this a good way to attract the attention of a funeral director to use this celebrant’s services?
The sheer existence of celebrancy as a role is to provide personalised and bespoke ceremonies for everyone. A blanket email isn’t a demonstration of personalisation, nor is it a way of gaining work. Emails are lost, directed to spam folders, and ignored.
While funeral directors do play a crucial role in recommending and collaborating with celebrants, relying solely on them is limiting and there is a much broader audience that can be reached.
Funeral directors are skilled professionals who are expertly trained in managing the logistics and practicalities of funerals. However, the art of crafting deeply personal and meaningful ceremonies, a hallmark of funeral celebrants, is a different realm altogether.
A funeral director should not choose a celebrant for a family without considering the family’s wishes and preferences. The role of a funeral director is to assist and support the family during their time of grief and to help them make informed choices about various aspects of the funeral service, including whether to have a celebrant.
If the family chooses to have a celebrant funeral directors will offer recommendations based on professional relationships, they have built with celebrants. These recommendations should be based on the family’s preferences, such as the celebrant’s religious or secular background, experience, and style. Funeral directors should also encourage families to independently search for celebrants to determine who will be a good match for them.
The family should have the final say in the selection and placement of a celebrant. They can review the recommendations, conduct interviews with potential celebrants, and should make a choice based on their personal connections or research. The choice of a celebrant is highly personal and should fit with the family’s values, beliefs, and objectives for the ceremony.
Why Do So Many Celebrants Rely on Funeral Directors
Several factors contribute to the common reliance on funeral directors for bookings, with the biggest one being that is the way most of us were taught. If you want to get bookings, you need to get in with as many funeral directors as you can and make friends with the staff at your local crematoriums by taking a box of biscuits when meeting them for the first time. This is what I was told when in training, and evidently this is still being taught by many of the large organisations.
There are other factors too, as a new celebrant, starting out on your own can be daunting. Funeral directors offer a regular source of clients. Maybe you have all the required skills to be an excellent celebrant, but you don’t have any idea how to create a brand or market yourself, so will rely on funeral directors to secure work.
The Role of Celebrant Training
Most celebrant training organisations and companies primarily focus on providing trainee celebrants with the skills to create and lead meaningful ceremonies, but they fall short when it comes to branding and self-promotion. As a result, celebrants may head out in their new career with limited knowledge of how to effectively market their services.
Self-promotion, particularly through online channels, is essential for you to become a successful celebrant. Having a strong online presence allows you to reach a wider audience. People are using the internet and social media to search for many services, including funerals.
Having your own website and social media channels will reflect your own unique style, approach, and values, attracting clients who resonate with you, as the saying goes ‘like attracts like’.
Choice Celebrant Training, Bridging the Gap
At Choice Celebrant Training we recognise the importance of self-promotion, and our Funeral Celebrant training program includes providing you with the knowledge and tools needed to build your brand to connect with potential clients directly, to build your business through social media and other channels. A professional website can showcase your services and expertise, testimonials, reviews, and positive feedback all encourage potential clients.
Sharing informative, relevant content on your website though blogs can show you as a knowledgeable and professional celebrant, while increasing your rankings.
Social media presence increases your visibility and enables potential clients to engage and interact with you through comments or messages. Social media can be a significant source of website traffic. By sharing links to your website, you can direct potential clients to learn more about you and what you can offer them.
The Choice Celebrant Training Funeral Celebrancy course includes information on starting your business, websites, logo’s, email accounts, posting on social media and blogging. As a celebrant, funeral director, and a Celebrant Trainer it is one of our imperatives every trainee celebrant is taught with up to date information, supported during and after their training and is part of a community of supportive celebrants.
Those we train are invited to take part in online and in person presentations with funeral directors, crematorium staff and other people who every funeral celebrant works as part of a team with.
Funeral celebrancy is a profession that is built on personal connections and meaningful moments. While funeral directors will always play an important role with celebrants, the time has come for us to expand our horizons rather than rely on them to secure business. Through self-promotion and a strong online presence, we can find clients who connect with our unique approach to honouring and celebrating lives.
It is your business and your journey so it is up to you to make it rewarding, successful and lucrative rather than wait around for a phone call or email from a funeral director.