Hello, and welcome back to Gracie Meets…! Do you get a shiver down your spine when you think of a funeral? Does your brain automatically jump to ghosts and zombies when someone mentions the dead? Well, I invited Mr. Robert Aultman on the show to clear out the spooky stereotypes about his job as a funeral arranger. He shares some great tips about being a funeral arranger, so go ahead and take a listen! Enjoy!
Cover Art: Kyleigh Kinsey. Instagram: @ato._.noodle
Free Stock Footage by Videezy
Gracie Solomon 00:13
Hello and welcome back to Gracie Meets…. When you think of a Funeral Arranger, what do you think of? Chances are you think of someone straight out of the Addams Family, but in reality, they’re no Wednesday Addams. To clear up the spooky stereotypes about the job. I invited Mr. Robert Altman to be on the show. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Robert Aultman 00:34
Okay. I am originally a Mississippi boy, not born and raised, but kind of an Air Force brat, born in Maryland, lived in North Carolina and settled in Mississippi until I moved to Florida. The job that I currently have is what’s called a Family Service Counselor, otherwise known as a Funeral Arranger.
Gracie Solomon 00:58
How would you explain your job to a teenager like myself?
Robert Aultman 01:02
the job is basically helping families in their greatest time of need, after a loved one has passed, or sometimes before the loved one has passed. We set and arrange funeral service, whether it be cremation or burial. We help with locating funeral plots or mausoleum niches or things like that to, you know, lay their loved one in their final resting place. We do a lot of paperwork, a lot of office duties. So we do basically kind of like a file clerk on steroids type thing.
Gracie Solomon 01:46
This seems like a really unique job. So what do you think makes it unique?
Robert Aultman 01:53
The unique thing about the job to me is there is no identical situation Every family is different. Every need is different. There’s always a basic framework to handle it, but you’ve always got to tweak it. The other aspect of it being unique is the fact that we as Family Service Counselors or Funeral Arrangers, has to be able to deal with a wide variety of people. So you meet people from all walks of life. Whether they be rich, poor, no matter what. You deal with them as if they were part of your own family. And that’s a refreshing unique way to do business.
Gracie Solomon 02:46
I see, why do you think teenagers don’t normally think of this job?
Robert Aultman 02:52
Um, probably, teenagers wouldn’t normally think of this job. I’m going to dig into a psychology frame of mind on this. Teenagers feel invulnerable at that time in their life like they have their whole life ahead of them they’re not dying anytime soon so they’re really not thinking funerals, they’re not thinking anything like that whether it be a funeral director a Funeral Arranger anything like that they really don’t think something like that as a career path. And it’s also can be a little intimidating when you think about you know how you’re handling you know, you could be handling dead bodies or helping with things like that and kids sometimes don’t think that. But as a Funeral Arranger, I don’t have to deal with any dead bodies other than being at a service for one so I don’t do the embalming.
Gracie Solomon 03:52
Did you need any like schooling or training to be able to do this or were you just able to kind of go into it?
Robert Aultman 03:58
Um, I was able to kind of go into it for the most part, however, the one thing that I have to say is I’m in a constant mode of training. We have many programs that we use to handle our day to day work tasks, such as HMIS, which is a system that handles all of our contracts, whether it be funeral or cemetery. We use a program called SalesForce that helps us organize our day and keep up with contacts when people are calling in asking about funeral services. We’re constantly being taught different ways to approach families, to help them out and to kind of convince them that into the need of doing a what’s called a premium contract, which is you know, long before you are going to die, let’s get something set in place. And a lot of people don’t see the value of that. So they teach us, like, every Tuesday and Thursday, we’re training on how to approach families to kind of show them the value in the benefit of doing a premium funeral arrangement versus at the time of death. So I’m constantly being trained. So it’s not something that you can walk into with a basic knowledge of computers and talking to people and you can do the job, but then you’re constantly being trained throughout your duration.
Gracie Solomon 05:38
I see. So how young would someone be able to start this job since they don’t really have to go to school for it?
Robert Aultman 05:45
Um, I’ve seen Family Service Counselors as young as 21. I haven’t seen any much younger than that. But one of the reasons why you do have to be 21 is you have to be able to take a test. In the state of Florida, you have to take a test for life insurance and annuities. Because you will hold a life insurance and annuities license to do your job. So the state of Florida now I don’t know about other states, but the state of Florida requires you to be 21 years old to do that because you’re entering into financial contractual obligations. And the state of Florida requires you’d be 21 to do that.
Gracie Solomon 06:35
What part of being a Funeral Arranger is the most challenging, in your opinion.
Robert Aultman 06:42
The most challenging, honestly, was taking that exam. The rest of it, from being a paramedic and being in sales, and helping families throughout in the past 12 years that I’ve you know, done in sales, the easy part was helping families cope. I enjoy that a lot. But the hardest part of the job was really taking that life insurance exam.
Gracie Solomon 07:13
Why did you want to become a Funeral Arranger, and when did you kind of know that that’s what you wanted to do?
Robert Aultman 07:19
Well, I was working as a retail sales consultant for AT&T. So I sold cell phones, did that for 12 years. And one of my customers who happen to be the Family Service Manager for the funeral home that I now work for, was one of my customers. She recruited me. She showed me a little bit about the flexibility in the schedule and the money that you could make and things like that. And that’s what allured me to doing the Family Service Counselor job was the fact that helping families and doing just being who I am, should make me a lot more money than selling cell phones.
Gracie Solomon 08:02
Cool. So how is your job changed since you first started?
Robert Aultman 08:07
Well, just, the best way to put it is COVID-19 changed everything. Originally, we would have people coming into the into the funeral home and setting up arrangements and we could go to retirement communities and set up table days and talk to people. And we had an influx of people just coming in, in and out. COVID-19 stopped that. We’ve had to go from, you know, big services, even big graveside services to no more than 10 people in and nine times out of 10 we’re doing virtual, Facebook Live streaming, funeral services. So that’s changed how we’ve done business quite a bit.
Gracie Solomon 08:54
Yeah, COVID-19 has definitely switched up a lot lately. Well, thank you so much for your time, and I really enjoyed getting to interview.
Robert Aultman 09:05
Well, my pleasure.
Gracie Solomon 09:06
Mr. Robert showed us a career that is definitely a unique one. It takes an empathetic person who can comfort people in one of their most vulnerable states, and be a shoulder to cry on. This career of being a Funeral Arranger shows that there really is a job for everyone. No matter what interests or personality you have. No normal person can put together an event as special and important as a funeral, but then again, show me a normal teenager. Thanks for listening.
Gracie Solomon 09:40
Thanks for tuning in. If you like Gracie Meets… subscribes so you can listen every time a new episode is dropped. And follow Gracie Meets… on Instagram at Grace dot Meets (@Gracie.Meets). Tune in next Saturday for an adventrous interview with a Himalayan trek leader.