afd cress center

Congratulations to Cress Funeral and Cremation Services and The Eernisse Funeral Home for being featured in the November 2013 issue of The American Funeral Director.

“When was the last time you looked – really looked – at your funeral home? An up-close-and-personal look may reveal some hard truths – outdated furniture, peeling wallpaper, a space that screams, “I’m a funeral home!” In other words, everything a family doesn’t want.

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Physicians Mutual and The Outlook Group Celebrate One-Year Anniversary

This month marks the successful one-year anniversary of Advanced Funding Solutions, a new pre-need program created to meet the growing needs of funeral homes across the country. Advanced Funding Solutions is a collaboration between The Outlook Group, one of the nation’s largest pre-need marketing organizations, and Physicians Mutual, a premier provider of health, life and retirement products.

Read the full release here.

Co-Wide

The Outlook Group Holds Annual Meeting in Omaha, Debuts Innovative New Tool

The Outlook Group recently gathered for its annual company-wide meeting in Omaha. Attendees included more than 50 members from The Outlook Group’s home office, along with Advance Funeral Planners (AFPs) from all regions. Together they celebrated The Outlook Group’s partnership with Physicians Mutual, as well as the introduction of The Consumer Presentation Aid, a new resource for AFPs.

Read the full release to learn more

Victoria O'connor

The Outlook Group Reinforces Presence In Southern California

The Outlook Group would like to congratulate Victoria O’Connor of Lake Elsinore, CA, on her new role as Regional Development Director for the Southern California territory, as the Outlook Group continues to grow and support funeral homes throughout this region.

Michael Anderson, vice-president of The Outlook Group, points out, “Establishing a strong presence in Southern California is a top priority for The Outlook Group, and Victoria will play a critical role in bringing that to fruition. Victoria brings a wealth of leadership and B2B experience to the funeral homes we serve. I’m looking forward to watching her reinforce our commitment to them.”

Victoria comes to the Outlook Group with a broad background in marketing and sales. Victoria has worked as director of admissions and financial aid at two colleges in California, where she spearheaded aggressive plans for growth and developed outstanding and effective admissions teams. Victoria’s experience also includes her position as director of sales and marketing at a senior living facility. Her eagerness to help enhance a productive team in a progressive profession led her to join The Outlook Group, where she can apply both her extensive sales analysis and presentation skills. Victoria’s familiarity and experience in several parts of Southern California also play an important role in what she brings to this RDD position.

Candace Franco

Candace Franco Featured in American Funeral Director

My 9-year-old granddaughter Reilly and I were having a discussion about pet cemeteries recently. She thinks it’s a good idea for people who love their pets to have a place to go when they want to remember them after they’re gone. I decided to take this opportunity to see how she feels about the need to have a place to visit with me once I’m gone.

Read the full article in American Funeral Director

Tyler Anderson, The Outlook Group

Outlook Group CEO Tyler Anderson Featured in May 2013 American Funeral Director

10 Tips for Marketing Preneed Services

Preneed services in your funeral home are a way to serve families before a death occurs and can help ensure your future. You can build on your legacy by actively educating your community about the value you provide. You can rely on your traditions to assure your families their plans are secure. But how do you generate the interest? Tyler Anderson, CEO and president of The Outlook Group, offers these marketing tips for preneed services.

Read the full article

Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson Shares Perspective on Funeral Profession Survey Results in American Funeral Director

Marketing is one of the most important aspects of growing a business, and is an investment that will pay for itself over and over again, pointed out Michael Anderson, vice president of marketing and business development for The Outlook Group. Unfortunately, it is often misunder- stood or neglected due to a lack of time, resources or knowledge of its potential, he added.

Read the full article in American Funeral Director

Kyle

The Outlook Group Enhances Presence in the Southeast

The Outlook Group would like to congratulate Kyle D. Aler in his new role in Business Development for the states of Tennessee and Georgia.  Kyle will be focusing on this new opportunity along with continuing his role supporting Raymer-Kepner Funeral Home in Huntersville, North Carolina as an Advance Funeral Planner.  As the Outlook Group continues to grow and support funeral homes throughout the Southeast, Kyle is looking forward to the opportunity.  “As a funeral director who has worked in all aspects of the funeral business, it’s a humbling opportunity to take this step.  I look forward to building relationships with funeral homes throughout Georgia and Tennessee,” Aler states.

View full press release

Tyler Anderson, The Outlook Group

Tyler Anderson Quoted in American Funeral Director Article on Preneed

The guarantee versus nonguarantee argument is continuing to pick up steam, especially with the lagging economy, lower death rates and higher product prices.

“It continues to be this ongoing debate,” said Tyler Anderson, president and CEO of the Franklin, Ohio-based Outlook Group, which teamed up with Physicians Mutual to offer Advanced Funding Solutions, a new preneed program created to meet the growing needs of funeral homes. “There are so many varying opinions.”

Read full article

Steve Brown

The Outlook Group Expands its Presence in Ohio

Franklin, Ohio, January 28, 2013 – The Outlook Group welcomes Steven G. Brown who will be joining the company as the Regional Development Director supporting Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation Service in Columbus, Ohio.  Brown has over 15 years of experience in the insurance and financial industries, including roles as an underwriter, administrative services manager, and marketing specialist.  Brown leveraged his entrepreneurial skills when he successfully started and operated his own insurance agency for six years.  Most recently, Steve spent 10 years with Nationwide Insurance as a Sales Manager in Columbus and Northwest Ohio before moving to the Nationwide Sales Academy to lead all of their many Commercial Agent and Sales Manager training workshops.  Steve has his Ohio P&C, Life & Health, and FINRA Series 6, 26, and 63 licenses.  Steve graduated from The Ohio State University where he played varsity athletics and enjoys football, lacrosse, hockey, and anything that has to do with being outdoors.  He lives in the Columbus, Ohio area and loves to spend time with his wife and two young girls.

In a related move, Everett Collins is assuming responsibility for new business development in Ohio.  Collins has held a variety of roles at The Outlook Group and most recently supported Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service in Columbus, Ohio.  John Feher, Vice President of Sales for The Outlook Group, stated, “This is a great opportunity for The Outlook Group to support additional proactive funeral homes throughout the state of Ohio.   Everett brings a lot of experience to the table and I am excited to watch him build new partnerships in our home state.”

Read the full release

Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson Celebrates His One-Year Anniversary With The Outlook Group

Michael Anderson, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, celebrated his one-year anniversary with The Outlook Group this month.  “It has been an exciting first year to say the least,” said Anderson.  Anderson’s path to the funeral profession is a unique one.  He is a registered pharmacist and received his B.S. Science at Butler University in Indianapolis.  He also attended The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan where he received his M.B.A.

Anderson joined The Outlook Group after a successful 12-year career with the pharmaceutical concern, Eli Lilly and Company.  “I had a wonderful career at Lilly – I met great people who taught me a lot and had a tremendous impact on me.”  At Lilly he held a variety of roles in sales, alliance management, six sigma and marketing.  “I was fortunate in that I was able to start my career in sales working directly with our customers.  And throughout my career Lilly continued to challenge me with additional opportunities & experiences.”  Anderson also commented on how his experience as a Six Sigma Black Belt helped change the way he thinks.  “Six Sigma taught me lessons I’ll never forget, such as getting input from your customers – at all times – and the importance of measuring results.  Those lessons are relevant today,” said Anderson.  Just prior to leaving Lilly, Anderson was a Marketing Director for the Cymbalta Brand Team.

When the opportunity arose, Anderson jumped at the opportunity to get back into the funeral profession.  “Growing up in a family of funeral directors and working at the funeral home at such a young age, funeral service has always had a special place in my heart.  Watching firsthand the impact that my dad and my brother had in our community – it is something special.  And now I get to work with my cousin (Tyler Anderson) and my uncle (Charles Anderson)…it’s just something I couldn’t pass up,” said Anderson.

As the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, Anderson helped spearhead the collaboration between Physicians Mutual and The Outlook Group which resulted in the launch of Advanced Funding Solutions in August of 2012.  Anderson also helped to revamp the existing marketing materials and launch three new campaigns that funeral homes can use for lead generation.  Anderson also oversees training at the Outlook Group as well as the new marketing analytics capability, Insights.  “This first year has been wonderful for a multitude of reasons and I am blessed to be surrounded by family and so many friends.”

John Feher, Vice President of Sales shared, commented “having Michael on our team has stretched the way we do things.  As we continue to innovate, he challenges us by asking “why” we do what we do and “how” can we do it better.  The marketing and branding campaigns Michael developed for our Funeral Home customers are some of the best I’ve seen.  Never before has The Outlook Group been able to assist a funeral home with a complete branding campaign as we are now.”

Click to read the full release

Christian Chambers

The Outlook Group Announces The Christian Chambers Mortuary Science Scholarship Award

The Outlook Group is pleased to announce the Christian Chambers Mortuary Science Scholarship in honor of one of the finest directors in funeral service.  For the next 20 years, a scholarship of $2,000 will be awarded annually to selected students in a mortuary science program accredited by the American Board of Funeral Service Education.  Chambers holds his B.A. from The Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and joined The Outlook Group in 1992 after working at-need at his family funeral home in Columbus, Ohio.  His knowledge of the funeral profession combined with his extensive pre-need experience has given him a unique ability to assist funeral home owners, managers and pre-need sales professionals.

“First, I’d like to thank Charles Anderson and The Outlook Group for allowing me the  opportunity to grow with such a great company. I am also honored to have worked with all of the funeral homes I have had the good fortune to partner with over the past 21 years.” Chambers added, “I am passionate about the funeral profession and it means a lot to me to be able to give back through an opportunity like this.”

For more information about the scholarship, please visit:
www.theoutlookgroup.com/chambersscholarship/

View the full press release

Charles Anderson

The Outlook Group founder Charles Anderson featured in “American Funeral Director”

What will funeral service professionals remember most about 2012? Rising cremation rates? Major acquisitions? Mismanaged trusts? The increasingly important role of celebrants? And how will all that happened in 2012 affect the year ahead?

Rather than relying on a crystal ball for answers, we turned to two wellknown igures in the funeral industry: Charles Anderson, founder of The Outlook Group and owner of Anderson Funeral Homes & Anderson Life Celebration Center in Franklin, Ohio, and James D. Price, executive vice president of the Tampa, Fla.-based Foundation Partners Group, and former senior vice president, chief operating oficer and co-founding partner of Keystone Group Holdings, for their thoughts on the state of funeral service in 2013.

Read the full article

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Weiss Reaffirms Physicians Mutual’s Rating

The Physicians Mutual family is pleased to announce Weiss Ratings has reaffirmed their financial rating. Physicians Mutual maintains a rating of “A+” (Excellent). Weiss Ratings recognizes Physicians Mutual as an outstanding insurer offering excellent financial stability for its customers, business partners and employees. According to Weiss Ratings, less than one percent of the nation’s life and health insurers meet this criteria for exceptional financial strength.

“It is an honor to receive this exceptional distinction and reinforces the importance we place on security, investment strategies, business operations and underwriting commitments,” said Mike Wade, Chief Financial Officer.

Click here to see the full release

The Outlook Group Names Jon O’Hara Regional Development Director for Michigan

Franklin, Ohio, December 21, 2012 – The Outlook Group proudly welcomes Jon O’Hara as the new Regional Development Director for the state of Michigan. Vice President of Sales,
John Feher, stated “We had an incredible amount of quality individuals apply for this position, It was clear Jon was a perfect fit for Michigan and the Outlook Family” Jon is a
native Michigander and has been in funeral service for more than 13 years. Starting in the profession at the age of 16, Jon has made funeral service his only career and professional passion. A licensed funeral director and embalmer in Michigan, Jon was most recently a Regional Director for the booming startup, Tributes.com. Jon also represented Aurora Casket Company as a Sales Consultant in West Michigan from 2006-2008, along with working in corporate and family owned funeral homes from 1999-2010. Jon is married to Michelle O’Hara and they reside in East China, Michigan with their newborn son, Henry, and their Labradoodle, Sydney.

Jon starts work in January and will be visiting funeral homes all month long introducing
himself. Any questions please call John Feher at 440-785-8780.

View Full Press Release

continuing education

Continuing Education Now Available For Funeral Professionals!

Physicians Mutual and The Outlook Group have partnered with WebCE to provide continuing education discounts for Funeral Professionals that work with The Outlook Group and Physicians Mutual. As seen in the post on December 4, this opportunity also extends to partnering Advanced Funeral Planners (AFPs).

Effective Immediately, WebCE is funeral professionals and AFPs who sign up for coursework via this link (http://theoutlookgroup.webce.com/) a 10% discount off Continuing Education courses.

In addition, Funeral Professionals & AFPs working with The Outlook Group will receive an additional 10% discount for courses purchased by 12/31/2012. Students have one year from the date they purchase their courses to complete them. So even those who don’t need the credit right away can take advantage of the additional savings to get the CE they need for next year.

If you need to complete your Continuing Education coursework for license renewal by the end of 2013 this would be a great opportunity to sign up now and save a total of 20%.

In order to get the initial 10% discount you must register for courses via the link provided. (This link will be available via the AFS Service Center in January 2013).

For the additional 10% discount you will need a special Coupon or Voucher number. When you are at the shopping cart page you will see a box at the lower right hand corner of the page called “Additional Discounts”. You will be asked to enter the Coupon or Voucher number. Enter F977480. Additional 10% discount will be applied at checkout. It’s that easy.

If you do not have a WebCE account, now is the perfect time to get signed up for this excellent saving opportunity.

If you have any questions, feel free to call Donna Robinson at 402-930-2511.

continuing education

Continuing Education Discounts through 2012

Great News! 

Physicians Mutual and The Outlook Group have partnered with WebCE to provide continuing education discounts for our Advanced Funeral Planners (AFPs).

Effective Immediately, WebCE is providing agents who sign up for coursework via this link (http://theoutlookgroup.webce.com) a 10% discount off Continuing Education courses. 

In addition, Outlook Group AFPs will receive an additional 10% discount for courses purchased by 12/31/2012.  Students have one year from the date they purchase their courses to complete them.  So even those who don’t need the credit right away can take advantage of the additional savings to get the CE they need for next year.  

If you need to complete your Continuing Education coursework for license renewal by the end of 2013 this would be a great opportunity to sign up now and save a total of 20%.   

In order to get the initial 10% discount you must register for courses via the link provided.  (This link will be available via the AFS Service Center in January 2013).   

For the additional 10% discount you will need a special Coupon or Voucher number.    When you are at the shopping cart page you will see a box at the lower right hand corner of the page called “Additional Discounts”.   You will be asked to enter the Coupon or Voucher number.   Enter F977480.  Additional 10% discount will be applied at checkout.  It’s that easy. 

If you do not have a WebCE account, now is the perfect time to get signed up for this excellent saving opportunity.

If you have any questions, feel free to call Donna Robinson at 402-930-2511
Donna Robinson, Manager, Licensing and Commissions, Physicians Life

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The Outlook Group & Physicians Mutual Introduce Advanced Funding Solutions

The Outlook Group, Inc., one of the nation’s largest pre-need marketing organizations, and Physicians Mutual®, a premier provider of health, life and retirement products, recently announced Advanced Funding Solutions™, a new pre-need program created to meet the growing needs of funeral home owners and their families. A collaboration between the two companies, Advanced Funding Solutions will deliver sustainable pre-funding options to proactive and progressive funeral homes across the country.

“After listening to our funeral home customers over the years, we saw an opportunity to create something new and different based directly on their feedback,” said The Outlook Group President and CEO Tyler Anderson. “We are well positioned to exceed the evolving needs of funeral home owners and Advanced Funeral Planners for years to come.”

“Advanced Funding Solutions brings together two companies with shared beliefs and a combined vision for the future,” said Tim Reed, Vice President — Pre-Need Operations at Physicians Mutual. “The Outlook Group’s extensive experience and proven commitment to the funeral profession allowed us to collaboratively develop this tailored pre-need program for funeral home owners.”

According to Reed, “We spent a lot of time listening to funeral home owners. We learned they want simple products that earn growth every day the policy is in force, and treat their
families right. That’s why we offer daily growth crediting and simple early payoff options that never charge a fee and provide discounts on remaining premiums to families.”
As a mutual company, Physicians Mutual takes the long-view approach. “Our 110-year history proves this,” added Reed. “That’s why when we enter a new market, we are there to stay. This is one of the most exciting opportunities we have embarked on.”

The Outlook Group continues to provide customized pre-need services as well as identifying innovative lead generation approaches for the future. Services include pre-need program development, marketing services, a pre-need business insights program, the Academy for Advanced Funeral Planners and the Web-based Outlook Relationship Management System (ORMS).

“As funeral home owners ourselves, we are excited to offer a different option to our current and prospective customers,” said Anderson. “We’re proud to associate ourselves with one of the most trusted insurance carriers in the nation.”

The Physicians Mutual family maintains one of the pre-need profession’s strongest capital
positions, with capital and surplus of $843 million. Headquartered in Omaha, Neb., the
Physicians Mutual family is comprised of Physicians Mutual Insurance Company and Physicians Life Insurance Company. Founded in 1902, and with total combined assets reaching almost $3 billion, the Physicians Mutual family continues to earn the highest financial strength ratings in the nation from independent industry analysts, including A.M. Best Company (A Excellent) and Weiss Ratings (Physicians Mutual A+ Excellent; Physicians Life A- Excellent).

The Outlook Group, based in Franklin, Ohio, has long leveraged their personal experience as funeral home owners to successfully provide a broad range of pre-need training and marketing services to funeral home owners. The company has recorded 27 years of improved pre-need sales and training performance in the industry, a record regarded as unmatched in the profession.

For more information on Advanced Funding Solutions or to become a partner, please visit
www.advancedfundingsolutions.com.

The Value of Funeral Service

The funeral story is about life, family, and friends.

Written by Candace Franco

A prearranged funeral has a common thread – a story line – that is composed by funeral professionals on both the advance planning side and at-need side of funeral service. It is more than a set of directions and paperwork. Writing neatly and including detailed information may be important, but it is not what brings the story to life. In the end, the funeral “story” is about life, family, and friends. All funeral professionals need to bring those elements into the conversation.

It is easy, in this day and age, to forget why we do what we do – why we have funerals. Why we need to tell our loved one’s life tale. Everyone seems to be so focused on price and shopping that it is easy to get swept up and lose sight of how a funeral helps a family who has lost someone they love.

A year from now, or maybe 20 years from now, a funeral director will open the pre-need file you put together this morning. He will be in the presence of those left behind, the family. How will they feel? Most likely there will be relief, coupled with sadness. The family will be relieved that there will be money to cover the cost, relief in knowing what to do. Relief is good, but as we all know, it will not diminish the loss or the sadness. The funeral will begin to do that.

The funeral will gather friends and family. For a time, the conversation will be about what happened. The details of the illness and the medical treatment that was given will be discussed. If an accident occurred, the circumstances and speculation about the cause will most likely be talked about. But then, at some point, the conversation will turn. Someone who worked with the deceased will share a story with a family member. Suddenly, a daughter who knew her father only in his father role will see a different side. Knowing that her father’s co-worker laughed with her Dad, was mentored by her Dad, or learned a valuable skill from her Dad will comfort her.

The focus will change from what happened to her father to who her father was. The long healing process will begin.

As funeral professionals, we need to get it right. On the pre-need side, we need to be certain we consider the survivors when we put together a funeral plan. We need to ask: “Who is closest to you?” “Who do we need to think about as we put together your funeral plan?” “How can we help your family?” We need to try to change the focus from hurry, hurry, and cost to family and friends. That is not always easy.

Sometimes we don’t know how to ask, so we don’t. Some of us are so comfortable with “the way we do pre-need” that we fail to update our process to meet the changing market. Too often, we just let the customer “drive” with cost. We need to make an attempt. Most people will tell you about their family, friends, and those close to them, if you ask.

When death occurs, the at-need team picks up the thread or story line and completes or updates the tale. “Let’s talk about your family today. Who else was close to your father?
How do you feel about this plan? Does it meet your family’s needs and interests today?
How would you like to remember your father?”

When we let the consumer drive the arrangement conference or pre-arrangement conference, a consumer who often does not know all that much about funeral service or its impact on the grieving process, we place funeral value at risk.

We need to embrace the role of confident advisor and paint a word picture. We need to illustrate clearly the kind of service we know will provide an effective funeral experience.

We need to ask, “What if we did this … how would this work for your family?” We need to help find the service options that will be of value to the person we are prearranging and those that will strike just the right chord with his family, friends, and community. Funerals are important. If you have lost someone close to you, then you know that unexpected triggers make that service pop into your head when you least expect it. The memory of the funeral had better be a good one for all who attend. This is how we will preserve the true
value of funeral service.

It’s a Jungle Out There

By Candace Franco

Are you sending your customer off to fend for himself when you could be closing the “Circle of Service?”

“Depending on the survey source, between 60 and 85 percent of customers who chose a
new vendor indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with their former vendor.” Online Business Advisor July 26, 2010

It’s 2:00 am and the telephone rings; it’s a first call to your funeral home. Someone has just lost a life partner, a beloved parent, a brother or sister. And so it begins – your “Circle of Service.” You take the call, arrange for the removal, and schedule the arrangement conference. You move through the process, ever mindful of dignity and service. Your family brings in the clothing and selects pictures for the video tribute. They make plans for the post-funeral luncheon. The minister is contacted. A eulogy is prepared. Family and friends gather, a service takes place, those closest to the family move to the cemetery for committal or to the scattering location, others drift away. Perhaps they will gather again at a survivor’s home or maybe they just get back to life, returning to work and family obligations. You return to the funeral home, confident, and rightly so, that this family appreciated your effort, that you helped. How long will it be before you see this family again? What will happen in their lives in the meantime? Are you sure they will return?

Just looking at the statistics should raise some concern. The life expectancy for a boomer at age 60 today is 80.7 for men and 83.8 for women (Source: MetLife study of Boomers in the Middle.) Wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume the next generation will have another 20 years or so before they need your services? A great deal can occur in 20 years. What has
happened in the last twenty? Cremation rates have risen and are still rising. In some cases the church has become a competitor. Funeral discounters have appeared on the scene.
Walmart and Costco now sell caskets. Green burial is on the horizon. Challenging economic times have affected most… and on and on. Can you be sure the family you served will remember you and how much you helped? True of the children, you say, but not when the survivor is the spouse. Surely then, you are all set? Well yes, probably, unless mom or dad moves to be closer to children and grandchildren. You really just never know, do you? It is a bit of a jungle out there, so why leave your families on their own?

Why don’t we close that “Circle of Service?” Why don’t we link today’s service with the next through advance funeral planning and a Continuing Care program? Why are we reluctant to embark on the Continuing Care path? Still not sure you want the “risk” of future business? Afraid the program will be too aggressive and offend people? Maybe you just haven’t had the time to put a program together? Or perhaps you have started a program but it has not performed as you anticipated. No doubt about it, Continuing Care is a tricky program to get off the ground. We have all struggled.

But rest assured, it can be done. When it is done—and done right—it sings. A 250-call funeral home could reasonably expect to add 33 funded prearrangements to their file in the first year alone. That means you have a very good probability of seeing all of those families again. It is also reasonable to expect your Continuing Care program to actually create good will and leave families with a positive lasting impression. Your program need offend no one.

So, what is required?

Preparation
… The right staff doing the right things
… Pre-need & at-need working together
… Good program design
Training
… Everyone knows what to do and how to do it
Data
… A solid tracking system for contact and response
Consistent Activity
… Doing what needs to be done today, tomorrow and beyond

A good Continuing Care program provides you with valuable feedback, brings your families useful information, and assesses interest in learning about the many advantages of
advance funeral planning. A great Continuing Care program provides your families with a positive, lasting touch.