Our Philosophy

We Never Stop Working For You.

Everything we do —

every product and service that we create and every partnership we develop — respects the deceased, builds the trust of families and communities, and reinforces the integrity of the funeral profession.


FrontRunner is committed to growing our network of caring professionals to introduce consumers to firms that understand and care, and have the solutions to help respect their right to choice.

Our technology is specifically designed to change the way families and communities interact with and choose funeral care providers. FrontRunner can equip all funeral professionals, regardless of budgets, with innovative products, services and online strategies.


FrontRunner Professional is a family-owned and operated company led by Kevin Montroy, a 40-year licensed funeral director. His experience, insights, and understanding are the driving forces behind the technology solutions specifically tailored to funeral service.


 

Corporate Responsibility

At FrontRunner we pride ourselves on always remembering our roots and never forgetting the importance of helping others. FrontRunner donates heavily each year to worthy causes that help those in need, as well as helping fund the ongoing betterment of our profession. Our new FrontRunner Financing and Market Relief programs further reinforces our understanding of how changes in the market are affecting funeral homes and we will continue to do our part to ensure that they have affordable access to the technology that they will need to effectively compete.

Corporate Responsibility

At FrontRunner we pride ourselves on always remembering our roots and never forgetting the importance of helping others. FrontRunner donates heavily each year to worthy causes that help those in need, as well as helping fund the ongoing betterment of our profession. Our new FrontRunner Financing and Market Relief programs further reinforces our understanding of how changes in the market are affecting funeral homes and we will continue to do our part to ensure that they have affordable access to the technology that they will need to effectively compete.

Technology Center

We are pleased to announce our crowning achievement for not only FrontRunner as a company, but for our valued clients as well. This new facility represents FrontRunner's dedication and commitment to helping the future of funeral service and to rapidly growing out the advanced solutions funeral professionals will need to successfully compete with the new market challenges we face.

Technology Center

We are pleased to announce our crowning achievement for not only FrontRunner as a company, but for our valued clients as well. This new facility represents FrontRunner's dedication and commitment to helping the future of funeral service and to rapidly growing out the advanced solutions funeral professionals will need to successfully compete with the new market challenges we face.


 

 

Training & Workshop Center

FrontRunner is proud to be the professions first technology provider that has invested heavily in the future of funeral service through the acquisition of their new Technology Center, which will feature an advanced training and workshop center that can accommodate up to 50 participants. A full schedule of events, guest speakers and strategic sessions will assist FrontRunner clients to ensure they are always ahead of the curve and on the cutting edge of technology and marketing initiatives. Innovations

Innovations

FrontRunner has consistently been the leader in innovations since 1994. In today's highly competitive market we see a lot of our innovations being copied by others. For many, their ability to innovate is based purely on their ability to mimic other's innovations. We are fortunate to continue to attract progressive funeral homes that understand the power of real innovation that comes from a disciplined, visionary approach and choose FrontRunner for all they have done and continue to do.

Training & Workshop Center

FrontRunner is proud to be the professions first technology provider that has invested heavily in the future of funeral service through the acquisition of their new Technology Center, which will feature an advanced training and workshop center that can accommodate up to 50 participants. A full schedule of events, guest speakers and strategic sessions will assist FrontRunner clients to ensure they are always ahead of the curve and on the cutting edge of technology and marketing initiatives. Innovations

Innovations

FrontRunner has consistently been the leader in innovations since 1994. In today's highly competitive market we see a lot of our innovations being copied by others. For many, their ability to innovate is based purely on their ability to mimic other's innovations. We are fortunate to continue to attract progressive funeral homes that understand the power of real innovation that comes from a disciplined, visionary approach and choose FrontRunner for all they have done and continue to do.


Our Team

FrontRunner: Who We Are

Our History

Since 1994, our company has focused on developing innovative solutions that respect the deceased, build the trust of families and communities, and reinforce the integrity of the funeral profession. These guiding principles continue to be the foundation for every decision we make. We operate the old fashioned way; one client at a time through trusted, proven technology.

Coming from a background of a small family-owned funeral home, we quickly realized all of the greatness that could come out of the advent of the internet for funeral service, while at the same time, all of the strife it could cause to funeral homes who did not understand its pitfalls. Since 1994, our company has focused on developing innovative solutions that respect the deceased, build the trust of families and communities, and reinforce the integrity of the funeral profession. These guiding principles continue to be the foundation for every decision we make. We operate the old fashioned way; one client at a time through trusted, proven technology and a deep, profound respect for the challenges they face.

Today, 7 out of the 8 family members still proudly work at FrontRunner and along with our 20 other dedicate staff, we all work around the clock to help our clients grow their business.




 

Happy Halloween From Our Team!




  • Kevin Montroy

    Kevin
    Montroy

    Founder/CEO
    Jason Truesdell

    Jason
    Truesdell

    President
    Stephanie Montroy

    Stephanie
    Montroy

    VP of Customer Relations
    Ashley Montroy

    Ashley
    Montroy

    Marketing Director
    Jules Green

    Jules
    Green

    Product Specialist
    Jason Scott

    Jason
    Scott

    Creative Director
    Kris Frenette

    Kris
    Frenette

    Chief Technology Officer
  • Sean Sweeney

    Sean
    Sweeney

    Senior Strategic Developer
    Scott Stoness

    Scott
    Stoness

    Strategic Developer
    Sara Gard

    Sara
    Gard

    Strategic Developer
    Mike Charlebois

    Mike
    Charlebois

    Graphic Designer
    Katie Kortschaga

    Katie
    Kortschaga

    Graphic Designer
  • Cathrine Colasimone

    Catherine
    Colasimone

    Solutions Specialist
    Mark Miatello

    Mark
    Miatello

    Success Coach
    John Lo Faso

    John
    Lo Faso

    Success Coach
    Erin Truesdell

    Erin
    Truesdell

    Success Coach
    Robyn Ketner

    Robyn
    Ketner

    Success Coach
    Mary Beaton

    Mary
    Beaton

    Software Training
  • Kathy Frenette

    Kathy
    Frenette

    Quality Assurance Specialist
    Josh Shannon

    Josh
    Shannon

    SEO Specialist
    Lindsey Foster

    Lindsey
    Foster

    Marketing & Content
    Kim Stacey

    Kim
    Stacey

    Creative Writer
    Mark Pieczonka

    Mark
    Pieczonka

    Technology Analyst

Happy Halloween From Our Team!


Kevin Montroy

Kevin
Montroy

Founder/CEO
Jason Truesdell

Jason
Truesdell

President
Stephanie Montroy

Stephanie
Montroy

VP of Customer Relations
Ashley Montroy

Ashley
Montroy

Marketing Director
Jules Green

Jules
Green

Product Specialist
Jason Scott

Jason
Scott

Creative Director
Kris Frenette

Kris
Frenette

Chief Technology Officer
Sean Sweeney

Sean
Sweeney

Senior Strategic Developer
Scott Stoness

Scott
Stoness

Strategic Developer
Sara Gard

Sara
Gard

Strategic Developer
Mike Charlebois

Mike
Charlebois

Graphic Designer
Katie Kortschaga

Katie
Kortschaga

Graphic Designer
Cathrine Colasimone

Catherine
Colasimone

Solutions Specialist
Mark Miatello

Mark
Miatello

Success Coach
John Lo Faso

John
Lo Faso

Success Coach
Erin Truesdell

Erin
Truesdell

Success Coach
Robyn Ketner

Robyn
Ketner

Success Coach
Mary Beaton

Mary
Beaton

Software Training
Kathy Frenette

Kathy
Frenette

Quality Assurance Specialist
Josh Shannon

Josh
Shannon

SEO Specialist
Lindsey Foster

Lindsey
Foster

Marketing & Content
Kim Stacey

Kim
Stacey

Creative Writer
Mark Pieczonka

Mark
Pieczonka

Technology Analyst

Highly-Experienced Programmers

Our programmers are dedicated to developing the newest, most advanced funeral service technology solutions. Their coding and testing knowledge and experience ensures the technology achieves high standards of innovation and operational excellence.

Exceptional Designers

Our design team offers a wide range of talents and styles. Each appreciates how design influences consumer behavior and the need to retain a high level of professionalism. Our designers do an excellent job incorporating the expectations of our clients and the families they serve.

Radical Technical Support

Our support team speaks to any user about any issue to determine the problem and help resolve it. They can translate highly technical information to clients who may have little or no expertise and simply want a solution without any further complications.

Knowledgeable Content & Copywriters

Our writers are well-equipped to develop content that educates and engages audiences, one word at a time. Their education and funeral service experience fully supports clients as they build and enhance relationships with families and communities.

Extraordinary Account Managers and Sales Reps

Our account managers and sales reps are dedicated to your firm's success. They are enthusiastic and take their responsibilities very seriously always going a step further than expected to support their clients.

Highly-Experienced Programmers

Our programmers are dedicated to developing the newest, most advanced funeral service technology solutions. Their coding and testing knowledge and experience ensures the technology achieves high standards of innovation and operational excellence.

Exceptional Designers

Our design team offers a wide range of talents and styles. Each appreciates how design influences consumer behavior and the need to retain a high level of professionalism. Our designers do an excellent job incorporating the expectations of our clients and the families they serve.

Radical Technical Support

Our support team speaks to any user about any issue to determine the problem and help resolve it. They can translate highly technical information to clients who may have little or no expertise and simply want a solution without any further complications.

Content & Copywriters

Our writers are well-equipped to develop content that educates and engages audiences, one word at a time. Their education and funeral service experience fully supports clients as they build and enhance relationships with families and communities.

Account Managers and Sales Reps

Our account managers and sales reps are dedicated to your firm's success. They are enthusiastic and take their responsibilities very seriously always going a step further than expected to support their clients.


Community News Events

  • FrontRunner made a $50,000 donation to the Funeral Service Foundation at this years NFDA Conventionin Nashville TN.

    The Funeral Service Foundation helps to fund projects and programs that support all of funeral service by building meaningful relationships in the community and solidifying an enduring impact on professionalism and the betterment of our profession.

    "The effective use of technology and the information highway will be critical in helping to reinforce and solidify the value of the funeral in the eyes of today's society. The heritage of our great profession will depend on it and we at FrontRunner want to help lead the way. I encourage other technology companies to show their strong support to the efforts of the Foundation because together we will make a profound difference, says Kevin Montroy CEO / Founder of FrontRunner Professional.

    FrontRunner is the leading funeral technology supplier to the funeral profession. To learn more about FrontRunner, visit them online at www.FrontRunner360.com


    FrontRunner today announced that it is continuing their abundance of new releases at this year's NFDA Show with the release of its new Celebration of Life — Arrangement Aide™ Module.

    The new module is web-based, mobile optimized and completely integrates within the new Pulse Business System™. The tasteful, family-friendly interface allows the funeral director or the family to choose a step-by-step question based method or move to the mobile-optimized quick data entry screen which instantly writes to your Pulse Business System platform. It enables funeral homes to provide a consistent arrangement flow with every funeral director and the system automatically morphs to a personalized presentation as information is provided by the family. The system can pull in merchandise options to create a full arrangement with completed contract.

    A private password can be provided to the family in an at-need or pre-need situation to use to fill out vital information in the Arrangement Aide™ remotely. Families can receive helpful guidance, information, and scheduling reminders of what is happening in real-time over the course of the funeral, including notification of condolences and tributes, actionable to-do lists and prompts to select stationery pieces, quantities and place their order before the first visitation.

    "We were very careful to choose the right architecture for this important and helpful solution. Web based was critical to its success to allow real time data flow. The "buzz" by some software companies is to create app's that need to be downloaded from the Apple Store or Android Play Store. Those who visit these app stores looking at these apps quickly see the mere 2-3 downloads of these apps, reinforcing they do more for marketing hype than any real value to the funeral home or the families they serve", says Jason Truesdell, President of FrontRunner Professional.

    We invite you to first look at any app that is on the market, and then have a look at FrontRunner's solutions. We believe you, like thousands of other funeral professionals will agree, that there is nothing else like FrontRunner's calibre of technology and visionary approach.

    "At FrontRunner we remain committed to watching out for the funeral profession when it comes to technology and maintaining leadership in developing real-life technology solutions that truly help funeral homes and are embraced by the families and communities they serve" adds Truesdell. For more information on the new Celebration of Life Arrangement Aide™ Module, speak to one of our sales or success coaches at 1-866-748-3625.


    FrontRunner Professional awarded prestigious Innovation Award at 2014 National Funeral Director's Association Convention

    October 20, 2014 - For immediate release:
    FrontRunner Professional is the proud recipient of the 2014 National Funeral Director's Association (NFDA) Convention Innovation Award. The company was recognized at the National Funeral Directors Association Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The NFDA is the world's largest professional funeral directors organization that focuses on maintaining the high standards and betterment within funeral service through education, collaboration, and consumer advocacy.



    NFDA President, Robert Bates and FrontRunner CEO/Founder, Kevin Montroy NFDA President, Robert Bates and FrontRunner CEO/Founder, Kevin Montroy

    Honored for its 'Total Business Solution', FrontRunner's new Pulse Business System is an advanced web-based business software that provides funeral professionals with an all- encompassing, integrated, single-data entry system that includes a website, Memorial DVD Generator, Print-on-Demand Stationery solution, forms and contract generation, HR performance, and full management and accounting capabilities. This complete software solution is unlike anything on the market and provides outstanding efficiency and control to any sized business.


    "This is a tremendous honor to be selected by NFDA and the funeral profession at large for this award," says Kevin Montroy, FrontRunner CEO and Founder. "It makes me extremely proud to see all of the hard work and efforts of everyone on our team be acknowledged. I accepted this award on behalf of my family, our amazing staff, their supportive spouses and family, NFDA for its vision and commitment to helping to constantly improve on funeral service, and last but not least, our valued clients, who without their ongoing loyalty and support, this award would not have been possible. The recognition by NFDA through this award aligns with our own vision of creating a higher standard with technology products and solutions that help raise the bar for funeral professionals in the eyes of the families and communities they serve."


    FrontRunner is a leading technology provider to funeral professionals in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia. FrontRunner continues to lead with innovative solutions to help funeral professionals more effectively manage, market, and grow their businesses.


    FrontRunner Releases New Mobile Manager Version 3.0

    July 17, 2014 - For immediate release:
    FrontRunner announced today the release of the latest version of its Mobile Management system. The new release improves clients' access to their systems from any handheld mobile phone or tablet.


    Whether controlled on a smaller cell phone screen or a larger screen such as an iPad or tablet, the Mobile Manager uses responsive technology that auto-adjusts its sizing to be highly functional on any sized device.


    FrontRunner continues to receive rave reviews about the Mobile Manager 1.0 and 2.0 releases. This latest version of the Mobile Case Management System takes the advanced solutions to a whole new level. Some of the features in the new Mobile Manager 3.0 include the ability to add new deceased records, edit existing records, create and modify obituaries, view today's service schedule, access a rolodex of business contacts, submit support requests, access past death records through an easy-to-use search function, view system announcements, and much more. Best of all, the new Mobile Manager 3.0 will be included with every Total Business Solution package, empowering funeral professionals with the most advanced and robust solution on the market.


    "Mobile Manager 3.0 sets the stage for the upcoming release of our new 'Pulse Business System'," explains Jason Truesdell, FrontRunner President. "This new system will forever change the way funeral professionals look at management software solutions. A game-changing, single data entry system, that empowers clients with managing and monitoring all of their arrangements, website management, cremation business systems, social media, marketing, and real time analytics. All of this will be accessed from the Mobile Manager 3.0 platform."


    FrontRunner understands the changing business dynamics of today's funeral directors. It is more important than ever to maintain an instant connectivity with your business, even when you're not in the office. More importantly, the new Mobile Manager 3.0 will allow clients to take a much needed break while providing the peace of mind that their ability to monitor their day-to-day business is right at their fingertips.


    "We encourage funeral professionals to look at all of the solutions on the market and then take a look at Frontrunner," cites Kevin Montroy, FrontRunner Founder and CEO. "We think you, like thousands of other professionals, will agree that there is nothing else like FrontRunner solutions. And, with FrontRunner's new flexible financing options, there has never been a better time to get the solution your firm needs."


    See More...

    FrontRunner announces new $1.6 million dollar Technology & Training Center

    July 11, 2014 - For immediate release:
    FrontRunner announced that it has acquired a new 6,500 square foot, $1.6-million dollar facility that will house the new Technology and Training Center. The center represents Frontrunner's ongoing commitment to set a higher standard, and provides all the tools and resources to help clients truly excel in today's market.


    The new state-of-the-art facility will feature a robust schedule of weekly training sessions, advanced strategic marketing presentations, mastering Photoshop workshops, and other key topics designed to help clients grow their businesses. Each new solution sold will now include a full-day of training at the center at no cost, significantly increasing the value of the software. Existing clients can also attend for refresher trainings and to learn how to maximize all the features their systems include. "With all of our new solutions and business systems that are guaranteed to increase market share, the timing of the new Technology and Training Center is more critical to our clients' success than ever," says Ashley Montroy, FrontRunner Marketing Director. "FrontRunner has always had all the solutions and services to truly be the only technology partner firms will ever need. The addition of the new Technology and Training Center now sets the bar even higher."


    The facility will showcase all FrontRunner products and feature the new Wyland Tribute Art Gallery that will be open to visitors from around the world. The center is nestled in Kingston, Ontario, Canada's historic waterfront community making visits as memorable as they are educational. The adjoining Delta Hotel will act as FrontRunner's corporate accommodations partner, making everything conveniently located. And, with Kingston's downtown bustling with great theater, events, restaurants, bars, and nightspots, visitors will want to extend their stays.


    "FrontRunner will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year and the new facility marks a crowning achievement in our evolutionary path. We have been providing innovative solutions, underpinned by integrity and professionalism since 1994," explains Kevin Montroy, FrontRunner CEO and Founder. "While other technology firms allow themselves to be bought and sold, FrontRunner continues to be a family owned company remaining true to our clients and our profession since 1994." "The future will continue to bring new challenges to funeral professionals. With those challenges will come great opportunity for those who align themselves with a strategically focused technology partner that does more than just peddle websites or management software," adds Montroy.

    Exclusive Line of TributeArt by Wyland Available to Families through Select FrontRunner Clients

    April 3, 2014 - For immediate release:
    TributeArt is pleased to introduce the exclusive line of bronze tribute art sculptures by Wyland. These exceptional pieces will be marketed exclusively across North America through select FrontRunner clients.


    Not only are these sculptures treasured collectibles by world renowned Artist of the Seas, Wyland, they have been handcrafted to allow for suitable housing of cremated remains, flower petals or other mementos. There are four (4) different sculptures available in full and miniature versions.


    Through a unique sales initiative, select FrontRunner clients will receive credit for every sculpture sold within their area, whether through their website or from consumers purchasing through the main TributeArt.com site.


    TributeArt represents a higher standard for funeral firms and their families while adding a new level of profitability. This new program will be a game changer for select FrontRunner client firms who will be aligned with more than 500,000 collectors of Wyland fine art. TributeArt creates the ability to fulfill orders, even on pre-arrangement contracts, given the quality and beauty of bronze collectible sculptures that any family would be proud to display.


    "I have been working with Wyland and his team for over a year now to bring together this highly anticipated and exciting offering," says Kevin Montroy, TributeArt founder and FrontRunner CEO. "In my opinion, consumers are not telling funeral service they don't have money. For many, they simply no longer see the value in spending a large amount of money on a casket that will be either cremated or buried in the ground, never to be seen again." TributeArt is just one more example of how FrontRunner is doing more to help clients grow their businesses.


    "In all of my experience in funeral service, I have never seen this level of quality and focus on a product that will impact so many funeral professionals," explains Chris Farmer, TributeArt Partner. "TributeArt truly sets a new standard of quality and will change consumers' perception of what urns should look like by instilling the concept of Art of Remembrance."


    The first of the bronze TributeArt sculptures will be unveiled at the ICCFA Convention next week in Las Vegas.


    FrontRunner Professional: providing innovative solutions, underpinned by integrity and professionalism, since 1994.

    FrontRunner's New Technology to Ensure Funeral Professionals' Right to Choose

    April 1, 2014 - For immediate release:
    FrontRunner will begin development of a new feature in its management system designed to stop funeral homes from being held hostage by funeral home management software vendors. Morph will allow a user to switch the FrontRunner management interface to mimic the look and feel of their existing management software. Gone will be the nonsense tactics, leaving funeral professionals with the freedom to work in a new technology system that incorporates their management data and eliminates the need for staff to learn a new management program.


    FrontRunner prides itself on always looking out for funeral professionals and creating a higher standard for all. It pioneered the concept of management and website integration to create higher efficiencies. FrontRunner then developed a connector kit to seamlessly hook up to any management system on the market so clients would never feel forced to use its management software.


    "Clients have a right to choose the best system to meet their needs, which is why I am appalled at the stories we hear from our clients whose existing management vendors refuse to hook up FrontRunner websites with their software," explains Kevin Montroy, FrontRunner CEO and Founder. "Some of our new clients are also put through pure hell when they try to retrieve their data from these companies. This is a travesty for funeral professionals and we will be working with the legal community to rid funeral service of these unsavory practices."


    Montroy adds that there are a few, blatantly unprofessional companies out there causing problems for funeral professionals. Their management software will be the focus of the first interface developments. FrontRunner will continue to add new interfaces in Morph for any management software vendor that denies its clients their right to choose the website of their choice.


    Since the acquisition of Halcyon Software, FrontRunner's management system is being hailed as the best new management software on the market. It is the only true, completely integrated solution in existence. Best of all, it is very affordable and free of support fees.

    FrontRunner Professional's New SEO Team Helps Clients Achieve Online Success

    February 25, 2014 - For immediate release:
    As part of FrontRunner's efforts to provide clients with everything they require from a Technology Partner, an in-house, certified Search Engine Optimization (SEO) team is now in place to offer an extensive range of services. The specialists will focus on boosting website traffic and increasing the online visibility of our clients' websites.


    "The development of our SEO team is in response to the frustration expressed by our clients who have spent significant sums of money with other SEO companies that have not been able to produce significant results," explains Ashley Montroy, FrontRunner Customer Relations & Marketing Director. "As our clients' website provider, we know the system like the back of our hands. We also understand the funeral industry since death care professionals are our only clients."


    This new and affordable program develops coherent optimization strategies that involve a careful blend of technical expertise and content production. Clients can choose from one of our monthly SEO Maintenance Packages to generate maximum benefits. Our SEO team, made up of strategists, programmers and content writers will drive client websites toward the top of the search engines.


    "Our certified SEO specialists understand what online visitors are searching for and the words they enter in the top search engines to find the information they need," explains Ashley. "Each strategy we develop for every client will focus on that knowledge as well as community-specific details to ensure online visitors searching for information are easily linked to our clients' websites on the major search engines."


    FrontRunner Professional is the leading technology provider for funeral professionals offering fully integrated solutions including the most advanced websites, DVD solutions, memorial tribute sites, marketing, webcasting, management solutions, and so much more. The new SEO team is just another way FrontRunner is working to raise the bar of online business systems and processes for their clients.

  • Be Smart about Social Media

    POSTED BY FRONTRUNNER PROFESSIONAL ON MARCH 19, 2014

    The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, which has been studying online adults' social networking site use since 2005, found that last year, 73 percent of adults that are online are using social networking sites. Like it or not, your customers — and your employees — are using social media, probably on a daily basis. It's crucial, then, that you consider implementing a social media policy for your funeral home.

    At first, banning social media use at work might seem like the easiest solution, but Kelly Baltzell, CEO of Beyond Indigo Funerals, which builds websites and offers marketing solutions, thinks this creates an "us-versus-them" scenario, rather than encouraging employees to use their common sense. "Everyone wants to be trusted," she said. "Use that angle rather than being authoritative. Ditch the fear, and embrace new ideas." Besides, she added, "People are not going to stop using it. They're just going to go to the bathroom and text. If you try to squash it, they're going to use it anyway."

    Managers might be afraid that if employees are given the green light to use social media at work, they will just sit on Facebook or play games all day, but Baltzell pointed out that's now how people use social media. "Lots of businesses get authoritative because they don't know about social media," she explained. "I would encourage managers to educate themselves about the power of social media."

    Prohibiting employees from using social media during work hours may actually be a disservice to your customers. "Most consumers and customers have become accustomed to receiving customer service real-time on Twitter, Facebook and such. The consumers at large are not only comfortable with this kind of interaction with a company, they also expect it," said Mayra Ruiz-McPherson, founder of Ruiz-McPherson Communications, a marketing and public relations firm. "If you shut that off completely, it's almost like you're blocking the natural opportunities that may present organically to connect with families, loved ones, vendors, etc., who, with or without you, are already out there."

    Using social media at work — as long as it's done properly — has its advantages. "Fresh, relevant and timely information on social media can make a social strategy work very well, and allow staff to contribute to social sites during work hours opens a lot of really great doors," said Ashley Montroy, marketing and social media manager for FrontRunner Professional.

    Since a blanket ban on social media use is probably not in the best interest of your funeral home, employees or customers, it's important to establish a concrete social media policy for employees, and to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that your funeral home does not need one.

    "It is so important for funeral homes to develop a social media policy, because with the Internet, it is not just about what a funeral home's social media accounts are talking about," Montroy said. "Anyone, anywhere can talk about the business they work for. A social media policy empowers employees while keeping them accountable. A policy also helps a business stay on track with its targeted business goals and puts a plan in place when something does happen online."

    Ruiz-McPherson has some recommendations when it comes to establishing a social media policy. "This is not a policy about how often you need to clean out the fridge. This policy requires that legal counsel review it," she said. "Once you have defined internally what works for you, for the company brand, it absolutely needs to be reviewed by legal counsel."

    Baltzell agrees that consulting with a lawyer is crucial. Beyond Indigo Funerals has a social media policy funeral homes can purchase and use either in full or as a template, and a lawyer specializing in employment law has reviewed it. "I would always highly recommend that a funeral home consult with an employee lawyer," Baltzell said, even if managers were to use an already-established policy, such as Beyond Indigo's, as a template. "If the policy is not written correctly, and it isn't done right, if there's a huge employee transgression, the funeral home may not have any legal basis to terminate the employee," she said. "Then if they do fire the employee, the employee can sue. It's an important thing to have, but it should be done correctly."

    Although a solid social media policy needs to be legally binding, it shouldn't have to read like a law book, according to Ryan Thogmartin, founder and CEO of DISRUPT Media, a social media agency. "A social media policy should be easy to understand," he said. "It needs to be designed to address what you want employees to do on social media. It needs to empower, not restrict."

    An ideal social media policy should outline what an employer expects from his or her employees online. "At the end of the day, you cannot control what your staff does online per-se, but you can outline the rules for being employed by the funeral home in terms of online interaction," Montroy said. The policy should encourage funeral home staff to participate while including information about using common sense, and when and how they can use social media from the funeral home, she added.

    The policy should also cover how the funeral home should be portrayed online. "There should be a very clear definition of how you discuss or engage your brand on the Internet, and that should go across all platforms," Baltzell said. Hot-button topics such as religion or politics should not be discussed.

    When it comes to personal social media use, Thogmartin suggests creating a separate document he calls "Rules of the Road," because the word "policy" sounds too restrictive and an employer can't legally limit a person's right to free speech. "A 'Rules of the Road' document is more along the lines of common sense guidelines," he explained. For example, suggest that if the employee wouldn't do something at work, then he or she should probably not do it online.

    Baltzell suggests explaining to employees how negative criticism or complaining about a job on the Internet can have an impact not just on the funeral home but on the surrounding community. "A funeral home is part of the fabric of a community, so discuss how that affects the funeral home as part of the community. It's best to explain why versus saying, 'Just don't do it.' Talk about how this sort of thing can ripple across the community, especially in smaller towns," she said. "What employers don't want to do is get an employee who had a bad day at work go on their own Facebook page and gripe about work, because that hurts their brand. There's a place to vent. We understand everyone has a bad day at work, but let's discuss where to have those conversations and how to express that."

    Social media policies should also address how to handle negative commentary coming from consumers. "It should cover protocol and procedures, how to respond to those negative reviews, because those are the first that aggravate or really concern business owners," Ruiz-McPherson said. "Once you get past that particular scenario, there's also compliments, customer service inquiries that have to be governed and managed, as well as how your funeral home is engaging with these families and vendors, and how that data is being consumed or collected by staff and how you're following through." In other words, policies should cover, start to finish, any engagement that may occur on branded social media channels, and how one should proceed in any scenario.

    While having a social media policy in writing is important, Ruiz-McPherson believes managers need to do more. "How many times have employees come and gone with an organization and not cracked open an employee handbook?" she asked. "Your policy is there, but you can't assume the employees are reading it." She suggests holding quarterly or semiannual training. This is also helpful, as social media is always evolving. "It's essential to keep up with the trends and factors that impact change." It also presents the opportunity for organizations to refine and adjust social media policies accordingly. "Employees will have feedback and questions. This will be a living, breathing document that will need refinement and tweaking over time," Ruiz-McPherson said.

    If your funeral home doesn't have a social media policy in place, you might want to consider putting one together soon. "With funeral homes, the social matter is delicate and emotional," Ruiz-McPherson pointed out. "It's important to have a policy in place. As an employer or business owner, you cannot assume employees will always know how to act or behave under certain conditions. To avoid assumptions, potential misunderstandings and commentary that would not be considered, under a company's brand, appropriate or suitable, policies are necessary to help define that framework."

    Technology Roundtable for the Funeral Professional

    POSTED BY FRONTRUNNER PROFESSIONAL ON MARCH 17, 2014

    There's no question businesses — including funeral homes — are operating in a rapidly changing technological environment. What worked five years ago is now considered antiquated and not in tune with the times. But how do funeral professionals determine the right time to upgrade, what technology tools best fit their business model and how to protect themselves from security breaches? We turn to three industry leaders: Wes Johnson, president and CEO of Continental Computer Inc.; Kevin Montroy, founder and CEO of FrontRunner Professional; and Kimberly Simons, vice president of SRS Computing, to get the answers.

    When is the right time for a firm to upgrade its system?

    Johnson: There should be no time constraints when considering an upgrade. Though this often conflicts with readily available capital and depreciation considerations, time alone is not a relevant part of the decision process. The ongoing evolving need of the organization to accomplish its goals within its existing constraints is key. Is the current system meeting requirements? Will it next week? Does it give me a competitive advantage? We must ask ourselves: Do I have the ability to make a change, even if change is needed?

    Montroy: This could be answered a number of different ways, depending on what the user defines as its "system." To some it may mean its computer, to others it may mean its management software, website technology and the list goes on.

    A management system often does as much today as it did 15 years ago, so there is little new here. Most firms find the learning curve when implementing new technology to be challenging and time consuming. Often the time it takes getting the staff to buy in and then actually start using it makes a change scary to think about. If you are looking to upgrade in this area, it had better be a major advancement.

    I really think more of the key is the opportunity to get beyond dealing with eight different pieces of software and look to find one that can handle all of the firm's needs. This saves a tremendous amount of time and saves the firm money since it does not have to pay for multiple software, multiple support contracts and multiple upgrades.

    For employees, the familiarity of the user interface across all applications creates less stress and uncertainty and provides a smoother path for future upgrades.

    Simons: The right time to upgrade is when your software doesn't meet your needs at a high level of efficiency. Internally, we re-evaluate our systems annually, but that doesn't mean replace. It simply means examine your processes, understand what advancements have been made in the past year and decide if there isn't a more profitable way you should be operating. We have a research and development team that continuously works to ensure our product offers the most progressive technology available. These features are designed to enhance our software as building blocks.

    We build on the platform that Microsoft Windows is built on. Since 2008, we no longer have to do major overhauls on the program because we use a programming language that has allowed us to be scalable.

    How can a firm determine whether it needs to upgrade its machines or software?

    Johnson: Simple: Does it do what I need? Caution needs to be exercised here as maybe the current solution does provide the answer; the user just does not like the answer, or does not know how to find the answer with the current system. If this is the case an upgrade does nothing to solve a perceived problem, as the problem was not the system, but the user's ability to maximize existing resources. Then again, maybe an upgrade is needed. Evaluate with competency.

    Montroy: As the cost of computers continues to fall and the portability of computers and tablets increases, there is really no reason why a funeral home today would be operating with five-year-old computers.

    Today, a family will be more inclined to want to meet in the comfort of their own home with family around them to make arrangements than sitting at the funeral home. This new reality means that the funeral home needs to be where their families want them to be, not where the funeral home wants the family to be. And the more portable we are, the more advantageous the Internet and Web-based software will be to the funeral director.

    In this rapidly changing market, there is no better time than today to develop a strategic technology plan that encompasses everything you need to successfully run your business. If you're not, your competitor is.

    Simons: It primarily depends on the speed of the computer. Typically, hardware may need to be upgraded after three years. A firm should consider cycling the computer down to another employee when speed begins to affect efficiency. An employee who uses computers most heavily should have the more powerful machine. This said, in the PC world, the minimum Windows operating system should be Windows 7. Anyone using Windows XP is out of date.

    How important is a website to a firm's overall technology plan?

    Johnson: If the website is interactive with the back door technology, constant monitoring is required. I feel an attractive site that accurately represents the organization is better left alone. If the organization is evolving so should the site.

    Montroy: Unfortunately, far too many firms have been programmed to believe that the Internet only means having a website. They completely lose sight of the reality that being successful online involves much more than a website. They need a comprehensive online strategy if they are truly going to be effective and succeed.

    Today there is a new onslaught of "free websites" and obit posting schemes. The majority of them rarely do anything more than redirect millions of dollars in online revenue from the funeral home. Funeral homes' lack of understanding make them particularly vulnerable to these schemes. Others only see a website as a commercialized way to make money and turn off families who end up going elsewhere to find answers to questions.

    A website today is a responsibility — to your families and your communities. It is a living, breathing entity that requires constant nurturing. It is not a commodity that should be tossed around from company to company offering you savings of $10 per month or a "free toaster" if you'll switch. Find a technology partner that can help you with everything you need to ensure your success.

    Once you have the right Web strategy, it is always wise to keep your site fresh and content current. Some new technology providers offer the ability to completely switch out your website in seconds with the click of a mouse or set the change by date and time. This is much more sophisticated than simply switching out a background graphic. A great example of this is the transitions theme that allows your website to change automatically with the seasons.

    There is an ongoing debate about keeping sensitive information on a cloud or secure server. What do you believe is the best choice for funeral professionals?

    Johnson: Do not place sensitive material in the cloud. It is often good to allow access to some information through the cloud, but sensitive information should be on a secure server. If huge corporations and government agencies with virtually unlimited assets can't protect sensitive data, what would lead us to believe an organization with constraints and limited capabilities can? As the keeper of sensitive information the organization is responsible for all security. If it is jeopardized, it can't be blamed on someone else. The thieves may have taken it, but you gave them permission.

    Montroy: The sophistication and advanced firewall protection offered through Internet-based servers (clouds) far surpasses anything that a funeral home can provide in-house on its servers. In fact, if a firm is still running on an internal server, there is a good chance it is being sold a bill of goods. So from that perspective, yes, Internet-based servers and software offer the most secure infrastructure.

    The real answer, however, is much deeper. Today a number of older, antiquated management software programs still require the program to run on PC-based computers. In an effort to "sound" updated, many companies are trying to confuse funeral homes by saying that they operate in the "cloud." Frankly, it is really only their heads that are in the clouds. The reality is, the data still exist on the PC computer, and by requiring a connection out to the Internet the data become even more vulnerable. Most modern software today runs completely on the Internet as Web based software. This solution opens the funeral home up to the proper platform to truly grow as a "business system" and truly excel in today's market.

    Simons: We appreciate that different types of clients have different goals, which is why we offer both. A single location funeral home that never needs to work from home and runs nightly backups might not need a clouded database. Otherwise, the cloud is the networking choice. It eliminates the need for a virtual private network, which creates expensive networking. From a backup perspective, we've found that many of our clients who have a server don't know if they backup nightly and probably don't.

    From a security prospective, SRS' cloud offers far more security because of what we've instituted. We require strong passwords, and we encrypt social security numbers and credit cards. Our clients don't have a remote desktop interface to the server but most server clients do. If you give an employee an interface to the server, you open the data to them. With the cloud, an employee can't create a backup; therefore, they can't take a copy of the database home. If they have a server, they more easily could.

    Computer hackers continue to make headlines... how can funeral professionals best protect themselves?

    Johnson: Train your staff. There is no firewall, cloud system or virus software package that can protect you if your staff is careless with their password selection and whom they share it with.

    Montroy: Funeral homes cannot effectively run their businesses in today's market without being connected with the Internet. Unfortunately any computer that is connected to the outside via the Internet or phone line will always be susceptible to being hacked.

    There are a few things funeral homes can do to protect themselves. The first is to make sure their computers are equipped with up-to-date security software that is set to automatically run through the night and constantly check for updates. The next thing the funeral home can do is only visit websites that are trusted (many security software programs will automatically identify websites with a trusted icon.)

    From there, we strongly recommend moving away from PC-based software that resides on your computer. The degrees of security/layers of firewall protection and other forms of protection have most of the major software vendors like Microsoft, Adobe etc., moving to a complete Web-based solution where the software and data reside. And the delivery of software under this model makes it highly affordable and very secure.

    Simons: First, consider a cloud solution. With SRS' cloud solution, social security numbers and credit cards are encrypted, which is what most hackers want. Additionally, we've secured our cloud with several layers of protection. We have built four levels of defense. Most clients with servers will have possibly one level if they know what they are doing. Limit your exposure by determining what computer you want your data on. This is your initial layer of security versus a browser-based system. Recent hacks have occurred because someone leaves their computer open at a public place.

    If you were to offer a Technology 101 course for funeral professionals, what topics would you cover?

    Johnson: Self-improvement, creativity and goal development — as long as the person has a level of creativity combined with some intelligence and the desire to be the best at what they do. Mastery of these topics would eliminate advanced classes.

    Montroy: There is no shortage of technology companies that will stand up and tell you everything they want you to hear to get you to buy their solution. Today there are literally hundreds of technology companies preying on the funeral profession, with new ones popping up weekly. Many are driven by a belief that funeral homes have more money than God and not a clue about what they really need.

    One of our most effective presentations starts by first helping funeral professionals learn how to avoid the pitfalls when considering technology. By understanding what can go wrong, it allows them to be more vigilant and prepared to cut through the hype when the technology salespeople come knockin' — and they will come knockin'.

    Simons: How technology helps you become more efficient, organized and profitable. Utilizing mobile devices such as an iPad or smartphones can do this to quickly assist with a first call. It also allows you to search your database for preneed and at-need cases and view upcoming services. Tools we offer in SRS' products flow tasks automatically to your email when a case is entered. These tasks organize your day and your staff.

Supporting A Network.

Built for Funeral Professionals.

Experience the beauty and ease of a FrontRunner solution. Provide your families and your communities with the services they deserve and set your firm apart from the rest. We continue to research all technologies to find the ones that are the right fit for our profession.