Privacy and security are more than just buzz words when it comes to being online these days, and it’s not a good idea to be idle about them.

Instead of taking a wait-and-see approach, Pinnacle Funeral Service has acted decisively to help protect users who interact with its funeral home websites.

“Since the beginning of year, we’ve been upgrading the security of all our websites,” Paul Haarer, president and CEO of Pinnacle Funeral Service, said recently. “We want customers to have a seamless and secure experience whether they’re reading an obituary, looking for service details, or filling in an online form to ask a question.”

While secure websites have been a mainstay of banking and e-commerce site for years, privacy concerns having been looming for websites that transfer even minor contact information such as a name and email address.

The new websites Pinnacle has adopted encrypt the information that’s being transferred, which is a fancy way of saying that the message is scrambled and then put back together when it reaches the recipient. As a result, no prying eyes can read what’s being conveyed and act maliciously.

Additionally, Google believes this is the new normal, too. Since July 1, 2018 Google has rolled out a new policy of explicitly stating to users that a website isn’t secure.

A Secure Web is Here to Stay

“In the past, web browsers would show you a small icon of a lock, which is something you may have noticed or not,” Haarer said. “But Google now wants the transfer of all information to be completely secure for the user, and frankly we do too.”

Haarer believes that trust and confidentiality are two of the most important qualities a funeral provider needs to demonstrate, and he’s confident that customers will appreciate the extra level of privacy during their online interactions.

In fact, he’s counting on more and more visitors to engage online with funeral directors and administrative personnel.

Pinnacle Funeral Service is a progressive funeral home acquisition and management company that evaluates potential sales and supports its locations with leading business and marketing practices.

To learn more, contact Paul Haarer at (770) 674-5908 or email him directly at paul@pinnaclefunerals.com.

Finding the right balance of digital and traditional marketing is a source of confusion for many in the funeral business because digital advertising has gotten got so varied and complex.

There are many avenues to consider: search, social, and display as broad categories. But it’s not uncommon for businesses to try Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blogging, programmatic ad buying, AI and so on.

The platforms themselves also change often and, without a dedicated employee, it’s easy to burn through resources and waste time without getting results.

Moreover, outside vendors tend not to favor the small independents or simply cost too much, and IT people will give advice but it’s not their specialty. Everyone has an opinion about marketing, but when it comes to digital few are willing to recognize that they don’t know what they don’t know.

Somehow Pinnacle Funeral Service, the Atlanta-based acquisition and management company, has managed to wade through this enormous list of complications without getting discouraged.

“Our traditional advertising efforts are pretty much where they’ve always been. Awareness for sure, but also being active in our communities,” says Paul Haarer, CEO of Pinnacle Funeral Services. “The digital side needed to become a focus. It’s almost like our special forces, providing more specific strategy and support.”

Pinnacle doesn’t make it a practice to step in and take local control of the funeral homes’ outreach efforts.

Instead, staffers on the ground are trusted to know what’s happening in each community. They’re then encouraged to come up with ideas and ready their responses when an opportunity for awareness, sponsorship or even a media bargain does come up.

However, Pinnacle recently turned to a more centralized model for their digital work, realizing that one of the best ways to gain efficiency was to pull the digital pieces together and get good at the ones that hold the most promise.

“Being everywhere, trying too many things at once is almost the same as being nowhere. There’s just no impact if you’re taking on too much or not focused on the right areas,” Haarer says. Keep in mind that Haarer has managed digital advertising at an advanced level himself, so he knows how labor intensive it can be.

He insists that measurement is key and that doing things by gut just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Local staff are also encouraged to play a role in email acquisition, updating the CRM database and inviting customers to review the funeral home online. Plus, content that can be created on site is digital-marketing gold when developed and published properly.

“There are some basics that just about anyone can learn, and then there are some practices that require an advanced level of training and experience,” Haarer says. “We think we’ve found the right balance for now. If it changes, we’ll be changing right along with it.”

To learn more about Pinnacle Funeral Service and its operational advantages, contact Paul Haarer by email at paul@pinnaclefunerals.com or browse our website.

Every once in while someone comes along and changes a business in such a way that it seems obvious when looking back on it. That someone is Paul Haarer, President and CEO of Pinnacle Funeral Service in Atlanta.

Haarer takes a down-to-earth, homespun view of the funeral business and primarily connects with independent operators who are leaders in their community.

It’s not an accident, it’s essentially a talent search that reinforces what great companies have done for years: pull out the stops on behalf of their customers,” he said.

According to Haarer, the independent funeral homes often have the right touch with their communities — knowledge, experience and a history of belonging. They’re involved and there’s immense value in being able to tap those intangibles and execute in ways families deeply appreciate.

With Haarer’s leadership, Pinnacle has recognized this niche and cultivated its strengths, whereas large funeral home providers, entities that take a more corporate, top-down approach, often miss out. Independent funeral homes excel in a number of areas and it’s important to recognize this. This is why three large groups chose to join Pinnacle in 2017.

At the same time, as different generations age and require services, there’s growing agreement that the funeral business needs to be nimble and willing to adjust to new ways of doing business and shifts in culture or values.

“Different eras seem to demand different arrangements, and our role isn’t one of judgment. It’s one of accommodation.” Haarer said. “We want to give people a memorable experience that’s meaningful and fitting even as those definitions change over time.

One of the ways Pinnacle has managed this is with stylish, contemporary updates to select funeral homes that make attendees rethink their ideas of space and comfort while grieving.

Pop culture has seared a view into our minds of emotional drama, fear, and darkness,” Haarer offered. “This doesn’t hold true in practice, and we’re introducing choices – actually, customers are asking for changesthat better reflect how we live and think today.”

Managing this way looks quite different, too, Haarer insists. “It’s a conversation that begins and ends with the support of each location, reinforcing what they do best. It’s local, it’s personal. Considerations are weighed against other options and ideas, but in most cases the experts on the ground make the call on behalf of families they’re serving.

For Haarer and his intimate team at Pinnacle, the challenge and success come from finding great people.

Good people supporting good people. Caring people, dedicated people. It’s a self-fulfilling loop that gives Pinnacle members and their customers an undeniable advantage,” Haarer said. “That part of what we do doesn’t require re-inventing. It’s there from the beginning.

To learn more about Pinnacle Funeral Service and its evaluation process, contact Paul Haarer by email at paul@pinnaclefunerals.com or visit our Free Valuation page. 

Pinnacle Funeral Service had an extraordinary year in 2017, and it was a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire Pinnacle team, its partners and employees.

Together we saw opportunities and strengthened our operations considerably by making a number of key acquisitions for the Pinnacle family of funeral businesses.

In 2017, we added to our portfolio several funeral homes in Wisconsin: Phillip Funeral Homes in West Bend and Slinger, Seefeld and Fox Cities funeral homes in Oshkosh, and Kwiatkowski Funeral Home in Omro, WI. Not to mention, our grand opening of the  Schramka Funeral Home in Brookfield, WI.

Through our diligence, research and a willingness to connect with the owners of these venerable establishments, we developed strong beliefs about the future success of the brands, the locations and the staff.

However, probably the most important acquisition of the year, which capped a very busy second half, was the purchase of Countryside Funeral Homes in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. The acquisition of these four funeral home facilities during the second week of December add substantially to the Pinnacle “Midwest” footprint.

Additionally, Pinnacle has been very active in consolidating and updating our digital marketing operations with an important and trusted vendor in our sector. FrontRunner Professional has proven to be a steady partner in improving the digital side of our business. On the preneed side, we are using Homesteaders Life as our trusted and exclusive pre-arrangement partner. We continue to use the two largest American casket manufactures Batesville and Matthews-Aurora, who have been instrumental in helping us merchandise.

We are being pro-active and aggressive in making sure our brands have the kind of exposure they need to be successful in their local markets. It’s our belief that, by consolidating our digital operations and better tracking our efforts and spending, Pinnacle can add value to the brands, generate more awareness and increase revenues for all our properties and partners.

It’s our goal to be seen as an agent of continuous improvement, to adopt efficient strategies and technologies that add value, and to support our brands and their customers with unparalleled levels of service and attention.

Needless to say, we’re pleased with the many advancements Pinnacle made in 2017. We think 2018 will bear even better results with the facilities, people and processes we have put into place this past year.

We hope everyone in the Pinnacle family of businesses is proud of these developments, and we look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks and months.