Commercial Butterfly Farmers Working With Funeral Directors
Butterfly farmers need to be aware of the terrific opportunity to work with professional wedding coordinators and their national trade associations, a very large trade group that will utilize butterflies on a regular basis. Professional funeral directors are wonderful clients for commercial butterfly farmers.
Since the dates the butterflies will be needed are not predictable for funerals, as they are with weddings and special events planned way ahead of time, butterfly farmers must have some “extra livestock” worked into weekly inventories to accommodate these last-minute orders. The best thing to do is to plan to have extra dozens of Monarchs or Painted Lady butterflies figured into your weekly production schedules. Painted Lady butterflies are the easiest species to have plenty on hand for such events!
Butterfly farmers can start working locally with the funeral homes in their immediate area. This is a good way to get started. Funeral directors and managers are always looking for added benefits to their service packages. Some will add on butterfly releases as part of one certain service package they offer. Some funeral directors will offer a graveside or memorial butterfly release as a separate item for their clients.
It’s very easy to promote the release idea to a funeral director, even to those that have never seen or heard of a butterfly release! Make an appointment with a funeral director and take two dozen or more butterflies either in a mass release box or in individual envelopes. If you will be releasing from individual envelopes, pack two butterflies in every envelope, and bring friends with you or ask the funeral director if some of the staff can be present. Demonstrate the release, if at all possible – especially if the director has never seen a release! Of course, the butterflies sell themselves. You can also bring a copy of the IBBA’s CD on butterfly releases and play that at the meeting, with, or instead of, the live butterfly release demonstration.
Explain to the funeral director that your service is very simple. When the funeral director calls you to deliver butterflies, you arrive with the butterflies pre-packaged and ready to release, the morning of the service with the butterflies packed in an insulated box with a polar pack (if needed, according to weather conditions). You can tell the funeral director that you will set up a meeting with him and several of his staff members to demonstrate how to store the butterflies, unpack them ahead of time to warm up if necessary, how to hand the butterflies out, how to explain to attendees to handle the boxes gently, and how to coordinate the reading of the poem and releasing of the butterflies. The funeral director must understand that you are going to make it foolproof – that he won’t have to worry about one of his clients being upset because things weren’t done properly. You must convey to the funeral home director that you will train his staff, that the butterfly release is simple and that when it is well done his clients will be thrilled and grateful for being able to have the butterflies at the funeral.
When you first meet with the funeral director, bring him/her a stand-up, clear photo holder that props up, with a photo of a beautiful butterfly release (use one of your own photos or one from the IBBA website, but not one from a wedding scene) and make sure there is some text at the bottom that says “Butterflies – A Spiritual Release” or something similar. The funeral director can place this on a desk, a shelf in the office or near the urns and other service items they offer their clients. People are drawn to the incredible sweetness of butterflies and their spiritual connection to releasing their loved one’s spirit, or releasing their grief and sorrow.
You can leave a set of poems with the funeral director, so that when the families are making their funeral arrangements, they can select from a number of beautiful poems or stories to read right before the release. You may want to make a nice 3-ring binder for the funeral director, for the different poems that can be chosen. Use a 3-ring binder with a clear cover on it so that you can slip in a photo of a butterfly release for the cover of the binder.
On one page in the binder, you can staple or affix an example of your release envelope, personalized with the deceased person’s name, date of birth and death, and sample text that the family might want to add onto the envelope. For an added fee, you can offer to print out personalized release envelopes that the family can save.
The poem or song that is chosen for the release at the graveside can also be printed out for the funeral attendees so that each has a copy to take home, and these can also be personalized with the name of the deceased and other personal information at the top or bottom of the poem page. This is another added fee item that you can offer to the funeral home director. These special pages can be passed out just before the release, when the butterflies are passed around.
If the funeral home has a website, offer to assist the funeral director in adding a butterfly release page to their website. You can even bring a CD to your meeting and show the funeral director the beautiful graphics and some sample pages they could choose from, to add to their website! You can also offer to give them some butterfly graphics or .jpg photos (digital files) that they can have on hand to put onto the family’s funeral service program if they wish.
Butterfly farmers can also seek to fill orders from nearby cities (driving to deliver the butterflies) OR check national listings for funeral directors on the internet, in funeral director trade association membership listings.
Each delivery of butterflies that you make will be accompanied by a set of instructions so that anyone at the funeral home will know what to do. The funeral home will probably designate a staff member to be the butterfly handler. Of course, it’s very simple…. The mass release box is opened at the graveside, or just outside of the chapel doors. Or, the individual release boxes are handed out and released all at once. A song can be sung at the time of release, or a poem read just before releasing the butterflies.
The butterflies can be passed out to the funeral attendees and then released after the appointed person reads the chosen poem, or after the chosen song has been sung. The guests can keep the release boxes and/or the personalized poem sheet.
The sequence of events is pretty simple. You get a call from the funeral home with the date of the service and get the details including the name of the deceased, and what the family wishes to order (how many dozen butterflies, mass release box or individual release envelopes, personalized envelopes, personalized poem sheet, and when to deliver the order to the funeral home).
The funeral home will want to keep a pretty basket on hand to use to pass out the individual release boxes. If they wish to use a Sinamay mass release box, or an accordion release box, you will need to go later and pick up the box to take home and reuse.
You deliver the butterflies in the mass release container, or in individual release envelopes to pass out using the basket they keep on hand.
Most funeral homes will pay upon delivery, or you can set them up on a monthly billing.
One other option for service is, if the funeral director does not wish to offer butterflies as part of their services or does not wish to be directly involved (in between the butterfly farmer and the family) then often they will allow you to simply leave the clear, stand-up frame with the pretty butterfly release photo and a stack of your business cards next to it, for their customers to contact you directly about purchasing and releasing butterflies.