The Good Funeral Guide Blog

The public’s right to be right

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Ask them and they’ll tell you. What do clients want?

Choice.

Funeral directors have got the message. They’re doing the lip-service. How do they stand on delivery?

Not terribly well, most of them, and for sound business reasons. As soon as you start to unbundle funerals and let clients source their own merchandise and service providers, it’s not just your margins that wilt, it’s your whole raison d’être. Undertakers assert their indispensability by creating dependency in clients and providers. Thrall is all. I’ve blogged about this before. I don’t want to bore you.

But I am happy to bore you about celebrants again. They’re important. And the recent arrival of the brilliant funeralcelebrants.org.uk website ought to, both, enable them to achieve the emancipation they deserve and also require them to compete. How’s it doing?

The good news is that it’s filling up fast. The British Humanist Association has bought into it bigtime. So has the InterFaith Ministry. The Association of Independent Celebrants’ members clearly know a good thing when they see it: a number of them have bought premium listings. But I can see no member of the Institute of Civil Celebrants. Why on earth not?

Most entries are too terse to be descriptive. I could find no photos or YouTube videos. So: little evidence of competition yet—but it’s early days.

The funeralcelebrants website empowers consumers. It enables them to choose the celebrant best suited to them. It will, therefore, prevail.

But it takes three to tango. The public needs to know about this resource. Funeral directors must start telling them about it (because good celebrants make funeral directors look good).

And celebrants, you’ve simply got to stop sucking up to funeral directors and behaving like supplicants. If you really are serious about consumer choice you will, when any funeral director rings and asks you to do a funeral, respond with this question: “Did the family choose me or have you assigned me?” You will refuse to be assigned. To make this work you’ll need to establish solidarity with other celebrants in your area.

If you really think you’re any good you will relish competition because it brings out the best in you. What’s more, you will enjoy a warmer welcome and a far more fruitful working relationship with a family which has actively chosen you.

You think you’ve got a choice between, in Milton’s words, “bondage with ease” and “strenuous liberty”? You haven’t. The market will decide, and it always plumps for strenuous liberty.

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