Recruiting at Zaxby’s

The single greatest challenge facing funeral service is not cremation.  It is our inability to find and recruit and retain good quality funeral directors. Fully 2/3 of the current licensee labor pool is over 55. Our inability to replace this work force has very nasty consequences.  Not only will families be underserved but the pressure on the remaining workers will ultimately exceed the capacity.

What Should we do?

When faced with a dilemma no one is working on it is best to take matters into your own hands. I believe the answer is in our past.

If you know a first – generation funeral director who is in his or her 70’s, chances are they entered the profession through the ambulance service. Younger than that, many of them were engaged in their late teens to do mundane work around the funeral home like mowing lawns and washing cars but the owner bought them a suit and they started helping out on funerals. Many of these recruits grew to love the work and ended up getting licensed. In my opinion, the ones I have met who came in this way represent our best practitioners.

A few weeks ago I was working with a client and we took a break to go down the street and have lunch at Zaxby’s. I am confident that you, dear reader, have eaten in a “fast” food restaurants and the overall experience is…shall we say… underwhelming. This experience was remarkable. The young man who took our order was probably 17 or 18, well groomed and extraordinarily personable. He greeted us by looking us in the eye, he engaged with us, asked what we were doing for the holidays and sincerely thanked us for our order. WOW! He made an unmemorable experience memorable.

When my client and I sat down I asked him what he noticed about the young man and I was surprised to realize he hadn’t really noticed.  Sometimes we have our focus so intent on our own challenges we don’t see what’s around us. When I pointed out my observations he realized what I was talking about. When I told him I would have introduced myself and given him my card and asked him to stop by he got up and did it.

So, what should we do? We should do what our grandfathers did. We should be intentional about looking for solutions wherever we can find them.  We may not be able to solve the profession’s labor shortage but we can solve our own by recruiting locally. Yes, you will have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince or princess but you will be helping yourself along the way.