Success in the Senior Market -- Part Two

Last week we explored Ed Pittock’s “Nine to Thrive” brochure. This week I want to highlight his Number 6, “Use plain language; go the extra mile in your communications.” I love these tips because as you read them you’ll realize they are just great tips about communicating in general.

• Reduce background noises.

• Before you speak, make sure you have the attention of the person who is hard of hearing.

• Face the listener directly.

• Lower the pitch of your voice, but still speak in a normal tone.

• Make sure the person can see your face as you speak.

• Have the listener repeat the message so you know your words are understood.

• Consider writing out notes from the meeting and mailing them to the client afterward.

Ed says that about a third of American older than 60 have hearing problems; and half of people 85 and older have hearing loss. That’s the demographic of the end of life clientele. Another tip that I learned right out of Mortuary School was, when meeting with a family put your pen down every time they speak. It reminds you to listen and not be in a rush.

For more information on Ed Pittock and the Society of Senior Advisors visit

Success in the Senior Market -- Part One

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I love brochures. Who has time to read books anymore? And when I do have time I want to read about a fun topic, not 500 pages about death. So here’s another brochure I have and reference often. I met Ed Pittock last year when he spoke at a convention I attended. His brochure “Nine to Thrive: Nine Ways You Never Thought of for Success in the Senior Market” is jam packed with great tips on serving your senior clients. (He’s a great speaker, by the way.)

1. Be Patient. Seniors need to know who you are before they care about the intangible service that you provide. Let them get to know you and topic you are an expert in before telling them about your product or service.

2. Develop a client contract strategy. Ed writes, “All clients are not created equal.” You don’t have to try to keep in contact with everyone you serve; some clients will want/need more contact with you than others. And that’s ok.

3. Make your best offers to your best clients. If someone refers you to a friend and you go chase down that friend and forget about who sent you, you really haven’t gained anything.

4. Become a browser for your clients. Take the time to put together a few helpful links on your website to reinforce your knowledge as an advisor.

5. Make sure your marketing materials are senior-friendly. Always use a 12 point font or larger. Make sure photos are appropriate. Don’t portray seniors as old and feeble.

6. Use plain language; go the extra mile in your communication. There’s a lot here. We’ll have a Part II blog on this one next week.

7. Beware of the 3 biggest myths of marketing to seniors. People are living longer but in poorer health. When people reach a certain age, they stop buying. Seniors aren’t very particular about whom they do business with.

8. Create an award. Honor a senior for their work within the community.

9. Volunteer. Being visual within the community equals commitment to the community.

These aren’t applicable for all end of life services, funeral homes are obviously not going to “make their best offers” to families who have suffered multiple losses. But most of these can be tactfully adapted one way or another to your client base. For more information on Ed Pittock and the Society for Certified Senior Advisors, visit

Tips on Saving Gas -- And Your Gas Money

Here in Denver, we are paying over $4 a gallon now, so I thought I would share a few tips of saving gas that were recently forwarded to me. I know a lot of you are paying even more. And while this may be off-topic for this blog, it’s a situation that is affecting us all -- metaphorically, we’re all dying at the pump these days...

I have heard a lot of these before but never knew the reasons behind them. I adapted this list from an unnamed worker for Kinder Morgan Pipeline in San Jose, CA.

• Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold.
Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline, when it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening....your gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the
temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products plays an important role.

A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business. But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.

• When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode. If you look you will see
that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. In slow mode you should be pumping on low speed, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some other liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you're getting less worth for your money.

• One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY. The reason is, the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves a zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation. Unlike service stations, here where I work, every truck that we load is temperature compensated so that every gallon is actually the exact amount.

• Another reminder, if there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up--most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.

• Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:
‣ Sunoco
‣ Conoco
‣ Sinclair
‣ BP/Phillips
‣ Hess

All of this information is available from the Department of Energy as each is required to state where they get their oil and how much they are importing.

Funerals -- A Consumer Guide

The last blog in our series about free government brochures is Funerals: A Consumer Guide. However, the catch with this brochure is… it’s a dollar. Not a high price by any means but the Federal Trade Commission wrote it and evidently they want a dollar for every copy sold!

I think that the FTC has done a fair job regulating the funeral industry in this country, and don’t really have a beef with their federal laws, after all, I’m a consumer too.

However, this is the only brochure I’ve reviewed for you that I really don’t like and wouldn’t recommend. It reads like it was written by a very angry person that doesn’t like funeral service. I realize that sometimes unfortunate situations may occur surrounding the events of a funeral; but 99.9% of the funeral directors in this country are upstanding members of their community and are working very hard to serve their families in their time of need.

The language in the brochure is a little scary at times, and makes it sound like it’s not a matter of “if” something goes wrong, but rather “when” something goes wrong. Providing information without bias to an industry or those serving in it is what should be done. It is a disservice to the public to make them feel like they are going to get ripped off before they even meet their local funeral director.

Here’s an example from the brochure of what I mean: “So it’s in the seller’s best interest to start out by showing you higher-end models. If you haven’t seen some of the lower priced models on the price list, ask to see them- but don’t be surprised if they’re not prominently displayed, or displayed at all.” It is not in the best interest of the funeral director to sell a casket to a family that the family can’t afford, have a receivable on the book for a year, and eventually have to take a loss because they could never collect. A smart funeral director will sell a casket to a family that serves the family’s needs, is affordable to them, and the funeral director doesn’t have to carry a receivable on.

Here’s another example in the context of speaking about the funeral director, “They make take advantage of the clients through inflated prices, overcharges, double charges or unnecessary services. “ There are bad apples in every industry and funeral service is no different. But it’s in very poor taste for the FTC to make the consumer feel bad about decisions they haven’t even made yet. And, oh yeah, who was it that wanted the dollar for this brochure? That’s right, the FTC.