As the new year comes storming out of the blocks, so does the Good Funeral Guide, cheeks flushed by a few days in its rocky, island holiday home. So too does Reaper G, of course, for this is his busy time of the year. No seasonal best wishes for you, you pale loiterer. But to all readers of this blog, may I extend my best wishes for a terrific year of unalloyed happiness and uninterrupted success. Go forth and gather it in.
To start us off, here’s a guest post from David Barrington, a funeral director in Liverpool. His beef is with the high prices charged by the big funeral chains. Thank you, David.
As an independent funeral director I take pride in the fact that I offer a caring and personal service at what I hope is a fair price. My firm is not the cheapest in my area but it is also far and away not the most expensive; that particular honour goes to the larger companies. And that is the subject of this post. Why in the funeral business does the opposite happen to other sectors of the economy?
In most areas the general rule of thumb is that if you are a very large company you can use economies of scale to ensure that your charges are lower than your competitors’.
So hypothetically if a company did let’s say 10,000 funerals a year, then you would pretty much imagine that they would have the buying power to keep their costs down.
Why then do the two large companies near to me offer a simple funeral service for over £500 more than I can? That is for a no frills service as specified by the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) Code of practice. Once you start adding in extras like limousines, better coffins, etc, the gap grows astonishingly.
But what is more astonishing is that families go back to them without getting other quotes to see how much other funeral directors are or what sort of service they offer in comparison. One of the main aims of the bigger companies is to reduce the market share of the independent sector. If they succeed in this then there will be no incentive to keep prices down.
Now, bearing that in mind if you went into a funeral directors to make funeral arrangements and told the arranger you were looking for quotes from other funeral directors. If that arranger then told you to go to the other funeral directors and get a written estimate from them and they would match the new price or alternatively go £50 lower, how would you feel?
How can a company take that much off their price without compromising the quality of service provided? Would you feel you were getting a better deal or would you ask how they can manage to cut the price by that much and still provide the same quality of service? And what of the families who don’t shop around?
Is it really acceptable in a caring profession to ask a family who is in a vulnerable and emotional state to go shopping round funeral companies? Wouldn’t it be better to be able to justify the price you charge and stick to it?
We are not selling washing machines or televisions, we are offering a service that celebrates a person’s life. It is so important that the funeral director you choose empathises with you, offers you choice in the service that you want and a fair price.
A happy and healthy new year to you all.