As Valparaiso’s oldest privately-owned funeral establishment, Bartholomew Funeral Home has spent decade after decade serving the community since 1892. Not only are the customers they provide for coming to them at what is likely the hardest point in their lives, but many people are also facing barriers that exist in funeral care that can make their job as providers especially sensitive.
Business Manager Kyle Newhard has seen first-hand how these barriers can create a lack of trust in funeral service providers. In an effort to clear the misconceptions and offer full transparency to the community, Newhard is here to explain some of the hesitancies that families experience following the death of a loved one as they search for the right funeral provider and services for them.
“One of the largest hesitancies is that people just don’t know much about the industry. This results in people not knowing what products and services are available and what might best suit their needs,” Newhard said. “Another hesitancy is that many people think funeral homes are predatory and are trying to take advantage of them, and this may have happened in the past, but that was few and far between.”
Although not all situations of death in the family allow for this, Newhard noted that a good way to avoid any confusion or hesitancy is to be prepared for what kind of service your family member wants. By knowing the details of how they would like their funeral service to be, you can avoid a lot of stress and feel more secure in your decisions when the situation presents itself.
Thankfully, the team members at Bartholomew are quick to address these concerns with understanding, empathy, and knowledge-based, expert information to soothe your worries.
“The biggest thing we try to do is educate people, to make sure that they understand all their options and make sure that they are comfortable with their decisions, regardless of the type of service or merchandise chosen,” Newhard said.
Newhard sees himself as one with the family members who walk through Bartholomew’s doors. The experience they are going through is the same as the experiences of others following the death of a family member or friend. This is the perspective that team members like Newhard like to have when approaching situations with customers who seem apprehensive.
“Making sure that families understand that we empathize with them is important. Everyone who works here has lost a close friend or family member, so we understand what they are going through,” Newhard said. “Our shared experience of loss, plus our almost 100 years of combined experience with our directors, Michael Newhard, Charles Harris, Michael Kelly, and Sally Szumski makes it so that we can appropriately help people in their time of need.”
In addition to walking hand-in-hand through the process with their customers, the staff members at Bartholomew also strive to use patience in their work. By taking time with those they serve, they are able to ensure that everything is handled properly and given the grace it deserves during such a sensitive time.
Newhard also noted that team members like himself do not treat their work as just another job. Their service requires high-quality, detail-oriented thinking that prioritizes their customers each step of the way. For example, if someone has an extra request that is not included in its normal funeral services, Bartholomew first attempts to use the resources they have on hand to make it possible, rather than instantly saying no.
“The main thing we try and do is communicate to family and friends that our emphasis is on our service to you at what may be the most difficult point of your life,” said Newhard. “People appreciate us treating them like family. We know that we are all in this together, and we follow the golden rule of treating others how you would like to be treated. We are family-run and want to make sure that our clients are happy and satisfied with whatever arrangements or services necessary.”
It is this realization, knowing that their work is to be treated as the sensitive subject that it is, and seeing those who trust them with their loved one’s care as part of their family, that allows Bartholomew staff members to maintain an excellent history of customer satisfaction by easing concerns and removing barriers to quality care.
In terms of regulations, Bartholomew has a handful of procedures that they follow to ensure that standards are being met for each family. The General Price List (GPL), a Federal Trade Commission-mandated list of all their services and their prices, is an item that is used at Bartholomew to protect consumers in this industry.
“Before a funeral home begins discussing any financial business, we are required to notify you of the GPL,” Newhard said. “We are also required to keep on-hand a list of all our caskets and outer burial vaults that are available so that the consumer can see and compare prices for merchandise. Other companies in the death care industry, such as cemeteries, are not required to provide lists such as these, even if they sell the same products. We provide full transparency as to what families are purchasing, and we feel that really protects them in their decision-making process.”
Not only does Bartholomew have processes in place to ensure that your needs are met while still keeping you protected, but its team also provides a safe space to ask questions and emphasizes that there is no such thing as a bad question; each of your concerns or misunderstandings are valid, and Bartholomew is here to address them.
“The number one
piece of advice is to ask if you have questions,” Newhard said. “If you do not
understand something about a product or service, we are more than happy to
explain it to you. Even if you aren’t using our funeral home and you have a
question or concern about another business in the industry, we are more than
happy to help you and clear things up.”
To learn more about the excellence in care Bartholomew Funeral Home has provided since 1892, visit https://www.bartholomewnewhard.com for more information.