May 3, 2023
If the concept of live streaming or recording a funeral service was foreign to you, that likely changed when the pandemic brought in-person attendance to a halt in 2020. For Carlton Stevens Jr., Operations Manager and Mortician at Stevens Funeral Home in Wilson, North Carolina, he watched as funeral services that typically welcomed 500 to 600 people were limited to just ten.
This was devastating for his funeral home and the community.
“In the funeral industry, and especially in African-American culture, funerals are very widely attended,” Carlton said. “It’s the end all be all. During the pandemic, people were scared to come.”
Carlton needed to find a way for guests to attend the service remotely. With over two decades working in the funeral industry and a masters in business administration, he knew it was a question of how.
Now, three years later, Stevens Funeral Home livestreams and records a funeral service every other day using live streaming platform, MemoryShare. It’s no longer a temporary solution because of the pandemic—it’s part of what makes Stevens Funeral Home stand out from competition and bring value to families.
Here’s how live streaming has brought business to Stevens Funeral Home, and why Carlton calls it ‘liquid gold.’
As soon as Carlton recognized the need for live streaming, the first stage was product research. When he looked around for solutions he saw competitors using Facebook Live and Zoom. Both failed to meet his expectations.
“I was watching people using Facebook Live, but I quickly saw that it was no good,” Carlton said. A few reasons:
“You could be scrolling Facebook, and bam, you have your loved one’s funeral pop up,” Carlton said. Facebook Live was not an option for Stevens Funeral Home.
Another option was the video platform Zoom. Unlike Facebook Live, anyone who has a Zoom link is able to watch the service. However, this platform is not intended for live streaming events—and while Stevens Funeral Home started with this tool, they quickly ran into issues.
“We were doing Zoom and it just wasn't working because I could have three or four services at the same time on the same day. And with the same account, you can't Zoom two or three different funerals at once,” Carlton said. “So that was a problem.”
Frustrated but not discouraged, Carlton called up his website provider, CFS.
“Look, I need help with live streaming and recording,” he said. “What can you do?”
They said, “We’ve got the perfect person for you.”
This is how Carlton first got in touch with MemoryShare, a live streaming and recording platform built specifically for funeral professionals.
As soon as Carlton connected with the MemoryShare team, he saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Stevens Funeral Home was looking for a live streaming solution with three key features:
At MemoryShare, he found all this and more.
“Now, families don’t have to worry about Facebook accounts. It works, and it’s easy to use,” Carlton said. “It’s the best, I’m telling you. It’s liquid gold.”
After a brief onboarding session, Carlton got started right away. He called the process “seamless”—all that was required was a smartphone or iPad, downloading the MemoryShare app, and pressing ‘record.’ Within the week, Stevens Funeral Home was live streaming.
It wasn’t long before Carlton noticed the positive impact it had for his business.
“MemoryShare works, and it’s easy to use. I’m telling you—It’s liquid gold.” — Carlton Stevens Jr., Operations Manager and Mortician at Stevens Funeral Home
During the pandemic restrictions, live streaming was the only way loved ones could attend a service remotely. Carlton even had attendees watching the service from the parking lot of the funeral home—the closest they could get to attending in person.
Now, live streaming and recording has become more than a pandemic-related service. It’s become an expectation that loved ones who can’t make it due to weather, finances, or other reasons, can still experience the ceremony. Recording the service brings value to the families, and to the business.
In fact, after starting to offer live streaming in December of 2020, Carlton saw their calls boost from 20-41.
“As far as we know, we're the only funeral home that is doing live streaming,” he said. “Now, it’s widely known that, if you want your funeral to be recorded, you need to go to Stevens.”
Carlton has seen live streaming impact their business in three core ways:
When Stevens funeral home was first founded, they were up against legacy competition that had the majority of business in the community. They knew that in order to stand out, they had to be different.
It’s why they have a full-time choir and band on staff. And it’s why Carlton said yes to live streaming with zero hesitation.
“We continuously ask ourselves, ‘What more can we do?’” Carlton said. “When we started, no other funeral home had a choir. We have a full band, bass guitar, lead guitar, keyboard and drums. Now, we’re streaming so people anywhere in the United States or beyond can get online and service if they can’t be there. We do everything we possibly can for our families.”
Finding these ways to go the extra mile propelled Stevens Funeral Home ahead of competition. To date, they’ve live streamed over 604 services with MemoryShare.
Live streaming gives funeral homes access to a global audience. Whereas before people could only attend the service in-person, with live streaming and recording, loved ones are able to experience a Stevens Funeral Home service from wherever they are.
“Because of MemoryShare, more people are seeing what we do—people who wouldn’t see it without live streaming,” Carlton said.
From a business perspective, the brand awareness that this provides is well-worth the investment in the service. While some funeral professionals may be hesitant about adding the cost of live streaming, Carlton compares this to the other investments funeral directors make in embalming fluids, caskets, and limousines.
“We pay top dollar for everything else,” he said. “With one record button, I can have hundreds of people watch the service.”
In addition, having te recording accessible online boosts your website SEO traffic. People who are researching funeral homes are more likely to come across your funeral home online. They’ll also be able to see that you offer live streaming, which can be the tipping point for choosing your business over a competitor.
“This is a money-making event. You’re investing a little bit, and you’re getting a lot,” Carlton said. “If you’re doing at least one funeral home a month, you can afford this.”
“If you are doing at least one funeral a month, you can afford this.” — Carlton Stevens Jr., Operations Manager and Mortician at Stevens Funeral Home
If a family comes to you with a request, the last thing you want to say is “No.” At Stevens Funeral Home, Carlton and his team work hard to create an experience that anticipates families needs and goes above-and-beyond.
Live streaming is an offering that takes them from good to great.
“When families come to us, they ask, ‘You’re going to stream ours, right?’” Carlton said. “Before I’ve even offered it, they know that we can get it done. It’s the cherry on top of a well-oiled machine.”
In particular, families are impressed that the funeral recording remains part of the obituary. If anyone misses the live stream, or if families want to go back and rewatch the service—on their loved ones death anniversary, for example—they can easily do so.
“One of the main questions I get is, ‘How long will it be available?’” Carlton said. “With MemoryShare I can tell them, ‘Forever, as long as we’re open.’ They get so excited to hear that.”
These above-and-beyond moments make a lasting impression on the families who choose Stevens Funeral Home. It’s why folks like Reggie leave reviews like this:
“Carlton, thank you for your service man. You were exactly what our family needed. You made the whole process seem so easy. We all thought it was going to be much harder. Thank you brother. Thank you to the entire staff of Stevens Funeral Home”
It’s no secret that funeral directors have a lot on their plate. You are not only business owners, you’re event planners, accountants, customer service reps, embalmers, salespeople, marketers. Videographers is not a title anyone wants to add to the list—and often, the thought of setting up live streaming and recording is already overwhelming.
Carlton’s advice to other directors thinking about live streaming is to look at the “how.”
“It’s easy to find a way not to do something, but you should never look at the glass as half empty. Look at the glass half full. Ask, ‘How can I make this work?’” Carlton said.
Carlton knew there could be a simple way to offer live streaming. He found that at MemoryShare. By adding less than three minutes to the workflow, they are able to offer a service that wows families and brings in more business.
Most importantly, it helps more grieving friends and family attend the service—no matter their location or situation.
“Maybe someone isn’t able to come because they can’t afford a flight. Does that mean that they shouldn't be able to be a part of the service?” he said. “By recording the funeral, all you have to do is go on your phone and you can watch the service. Now, everyone can attend. It's a game changer.”
Discover how you can increase your call volume and help more families—get set up with MemoryShare in 5 minutes or less. Click here to learn more.
To find out how livestreaming can add value to your families and your business, take the first step and reach out to MemoryShare today (with the form below!).