Pet Loss: Seize the Opportunity. Many people today act as if Pets are really human. For some people, this it is way “over the top”. Before you frame your opinion, just imagine the possibilities. With over 140 million dogs & cats in the United States living on average 12 years or so, that suggests 11.6 million dogs and cats die each year. Only 2.5 million humans die each year. 50% of those deceased pets make it into their local veterinary office for fee-based mass or private cremation, versus 25% on the human side. Then combine the fact that more than 50% of pet owners choose “private” cremation over “mass” cremation when given an informed choice.
This means each of the 30,000 veterinary clinics nationwide lose a pet client each day, but more importantly, they get to be Funeral Director every “other” day, and profit from the disposition of the body, often after profiting from the related pre-death medical expenses. Does this sound good to you? Maybe, if you were a veterinarian.
Here’s the problem. Veterinarians never imagined they would be Funeral Directors when they entered Veterinary School. Today many veterinarians feel that assisting grieving pet owners with death-related issues is an uncomfortable and poor use of their valuable office time. In the end, the old 80/20 rule wins out, with 80% of clients being walked quickly to their car with a hug and the words “We’ll take care of everything”. Only about 20% of pet owners are properly informed of choices concerning cremation or other memorial options by their Animal Doctor. In other words, the veterinarian likes to be a Doctor, but often fails in his or her duties as Mortician, Funeral Director or Friend.
Who is going to fill the void? The marketplace will.
The pet loss industry is simply the “infant” death business for 100 million American pet owners. These pets are their children. Whether they dress their pets up with jewelled collars or simply tie them to the tree in the backyard, their pain and anguish experienced with the loss of their pet is very real, a result of the often over-used cliché expressed as “unconditional love”.
Does this suggest an opportunity for you, the professional Funeral Director? I believe so. Funeral Directors have the capacity, resources, professional training and expertise to assist grieving pet owners.
Many funeral directors have recognized that offering Pet Memorial products on their websites or within their funeral homes is a great tool for winning the loyalty of individuals and whole families who might never have had a reason to contact them, for many decades to come. And pet clients are not a “loss leader” like many child death situations. Pet owners are fully accustomed to paying for the services they receive during their entire tenure of pet ownership, start to finish, which cycles over and over for them every 12 years.
Pet owners, like anyone, can feel intense anger and emotions towards the Medical Doctor who failed to diagnose their 18-year-old pet’s illness in time. But on the flip side can feel intense gratitude and respect for the person who shows care and kindness at their most difficult hour, regardless of the expense.
The opportunity is now. Why not seize the opportunity to help grieving pet owners by offering custom urns that are designed specifically for pets at your funeral home. This new market segment opens the door for you, the trained funeral director, to assist pet owners in a way that veterinarians are not set up to do. Your business can capitalize on a revenue opportunity often not served by your local funeral industry competition. Some funeral directors view this market as a creative “pre-need” sales technique for thousands of young & old pet owners alike who walk into their doors each month. Others simply view it as another way to further secure the loyalty of their existing clients.
I’m willing to concede that pets are not really human. What I do recognize though, is the fact that more than 1/3 of all Americans own dogs, cats, horses, birds, fish and more. And while these are not human, their owners are, and they are looking for assistance from somebody just like you! Let us help you, help yourself.
James Minea is the Owner of Forever Pets, Inc. He can be contacted at 651.450.7727, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free color pet urn catalogue and wholesale price sheet.