The Good Funeral Guide Blog

The labourer is worthy his/her hire

Friday, 5 November 2010

While I was well out of it last week on my guano-spattered rock set in a silver sea, the militant wing of this blog’s readership did a number on Lovingly Managed. It seems to have ended in either mutual exasperation or bewilderment. Probably a bit of both. Heavy breathing, for sure.

Perhaps the greatest dialectical damage was wrought by Rupert with a deadly weapon requisitioned from the Marxists. He epitomised the views of the anti-LovinglyManaged camp when he accused LM of commodification. Commodification, let me remind you, is taking something commonly offered for nothing and charging for it – helping blind people cross the road, for example. Gloriamundi echoed this: I think there’s a need for objective, up-to-date low-cost or free advice and information on how to proceed when someone dies, before FDs, Lovingly Managed, or people like me, get anywhere near the bereaved. A service not a business.

To all appearances this was a battle between altruism and avarice. But I’m not so sure that it was. I think that the three businesslike, intelligent and vocation-driven women behind Lovingly Managed could be earning a heck of a lot more doing something that brings them much less satisfaction.

One thing I am pretty certain of, though, is that altruism isn’t necessarily the force for good that it may, dare I say, self-righteously reckon itself to be.

There is a widespread, kindly belief in the funeral industry that bereaved are too easily exploited and must be considered exempt from market forces. This prompts two questions:

What then is a fair rate for the job?

What is the effect of low pay on levels of service?

The upside of things as they are is that the industry attracts a great many damn fine people who value service to fellow men and women way above the slavering pursuit of fast-moving consumer goods.

The downside is that it also attracts well-meaning do-gooders of questionable value but unjustifiably high self-worth.

And while some bereaved people need to be treated incredibly carefully and kindly, others do not, because they can look after themselves. While we’re about it, let’s not underestimate the responsibility that the bereaved have for themselves, because that’s a responsibility no one else can shoulder.

Kindness isn’t always as kind as it looks. The bereaved must not be patronised, infantilised or kept helpless by those whose apparent altruism masks dark neediness and other baleful if not barking psychological issues. Definitively not among these is any member of the militant wing of the GFG commentariat.

Vocation will always be a more valuable qualification in this industry than greed. For all that, nice guys famously don’t win ball games and they’re not winning this one. It is the greedy undertakers who are winning the battle for market share with their aggressive selling of financial products, funeral plans and their latest magic trick, the standardised quirky, individualised funeral. It’s called commoditisation and its outcome ought to be falling prices – but things are rarely economically orthodox in the death business.

As things stand, I am not aware of florists, printers or caterers pulling their punches financially with the bereaved. Undertakers do just about all right in a market depressed both by many punters’ low expectations of a funeral and also by an oversupply of undertakers. I am aware of many undertakers who could charge more, but don’t. I’m not going into grief counselling because I know almost nothing about it.

It’s secular celebrants I worry about. Financial rewards in this sector are terribly low for those who put in the time and care a good funeral needs. And of all jobs in the funeral industry, this one calls for especially high levels of a range of qualities which include emotional intelligence, literacy and performance skills – a rare combination.

Those who possess these qualifications can work for good money in the real world. Some, like Gloriamundi, are happy to work as a celebrant for the prevailing low rate for reasons which he/she gives over at her/his blog. Some are able to fund their habit with another income stream – a pension, often. This is a job you need to be able to afford to do if you’re going to do it properly.

Which is why many potential celebrants calculate the hourly rate, find they’d be better off at B & Q, then go do something else. Lost to the cause.

Up in Leeds OneLife Ceremonies, a mother and daughter team, have just launched their new website. I like these two a lot, they have energy, intelligence and spirit – they’re a cut above. They are looking to make a living out of celebrancy of all sorts, and why not? We need them. Having costed things carefully and not avariciously they have arrived at a fee for a funeral of a perfectly fair £275. Are they going to get any work at that rate? You tell me.

So here’s my proposition. Those celebrants who are presently undervaluing themselves financially are devaluing celebrancy by deterring good people from entering. By doing so they are leaving the door open for those of lower calibre who race about doing too far many funerals for their own good or anybody else’s. This is the inexorable Law of the Lowest Common Denominator.

Like any industry, the death industry only works well if people get paid properly.

24 comments on “The labourer is worthy his/her hire

  1. Thursday 11th November 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Dally, we are, well, honoured to see you over here. Thank you!

  2. Thursday 11th November 2010 at 8:09 pm

    This is a strange experience for me. To see all the thoughts we have been arguing for 30 years start up again!

  3. Wednesday 10th November 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I’m really not sure that your comments regarding FD’s are valid in this case. In my area, my local Humanist Celebrant costs £150 which is more expensive than the Religious Ministers Fee of £120 but not as expensive at the Civil Funeral Celebrant which is £195. I don’t push a family to have a religious service because of the cost of the humanist guy, in fact the cost isn’t really an issue they can have whichever celebrant they want.

    As with my own business, the best marketing tool you have is yourselves, sadly trying to explain to a family when you are arranging the funeral the value of a fantastic celebrant is very very difficult, but if they have seen you in action it’s a different matter.

    My most difficult task in relation to the funeral service a family have is in convincing them that it can be a good day, not a bad one. We need to change perception and we can only do that funeral by funeral.

    Never underestimate how the service you give reflects on the service I give. One of the best ways for my business to acquire goodwill is to recommend a good celebrant and if that celebrant charges £275 then so be it.

  4. Kathryn Edwards

    Wednesday 10th November 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Re priests: there’s a category error concerning costs and prices here. Surely what the (e.g.) C of E charges is a facility fee rather than a fee for the work, which is frequently discharged by a someone in a stipended role? Those of us who operate ‘free-range’ have no premises and no underpinning stipend.

    Re healthy ration of funeralling: personally I wouldn’t want to do more than one a week. That’s a function of the intensity of my engagement in my particular modus operandi. Some celebrants do what I think of as ‘celebrant lite’, and therefore could perhaps discharge more per week on account of the reduced psychic burden? An interesting discussion.

  5. Wednesday 10th November 2010 at 11:21 am

    My apologies, Maria. Thank you for clarifying that.

  6. Wednesday 10th November 2010 at 11:19 am

    Ah, actually my prophesy about the IoCF training was based on evidence of past behaviour and nowt to do wi bad blood (tho many moons ago I, in genuine innocence, called IoCC to enquire about possibility of me doing their Registrar training – why not!? – and was greeted with snorts of derision). In fact, the IoCC/CF have strong links with some Registry offices who use them to do Namings and Vow Renewals and also recommend them for civil funerals, so it’s not a huge leap to training in-house co-op celebrants, is it?

  7. Tuesday 9th November 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Quite so, GM. Country undertakers really are members of their communities and have their own manors or ‘ends’. In urban districts anonymity tends also to go with greater competition and attendant paranoia.

    As to warring celebrants, perhaps I was momentarily guilty of uncharacteristic provocativeness. But there’s not a lot of good blood between the IoCF and the AOIC – viz OneLife’s stinging crit above.

    Jolly clever, the religious ministers, hanging on to their market share by keeping the price of a funeral ceremony so low. Whether a real funeral or a nice-noise funeral, they do a pretty good job, it has to be said. And they have that easy, natural authority which in a secular celeb would be reckoned patronising or impertinent. As a breed, I like em, the best of them. Cultivated, humane, thoughtful, wise. Gently humorous. Good company. Too often characterised by the worst.

  8. gloriamundi

    Tuesday 9th November 2010 at 8:28 pm

    The church may not charge for funerals, Paul, but the vicar/minister/priest certainly does.
    Charles, I think you might be exaggerating a little, no doubt to call forth comments from people like me! (And I fall for it every time.) I don’t find much in the way of fear loathing and backbiting between my immediate colleagues and other secular celebrants, though I do find an institutional attitude of competition in the BHA itself – we “should” be getting a higher proportion of funerals given the % of people who don’t follow a religion, etc. A waste of time and effort. What matters is, as others have been saying, the right sort of ritual for the family concerned, not the organisation to which they belong.

    But I do agree that it would be a very dangerous full-time job for all concerned (families and celebrants), and my “rationing” would be a maximum average of one per week (which would mean some weeks with two, some with none, of course.)

    Rupert, maybe you are keeping control of it because you know that you are giving families what they want, and you know how to do that. If so, good.

    Much comment on FDs seems to assume they are anonymous tradespeople working in cities or large towns, whereas round ‘ere they are often very much part of the local community, and people go to them because they know them. It would be difficult to mount a revolution against their assumptions and practices, and apart from despair, I have not heard any practical suggestions as to how to change things – other of course than Rupert and Claire’s setting up a complete business and working it up to where they want it, which is a big step, to put it mildly…

  9. Tuesday 9th November 2010 at 4:29 pm

    A most interesting blog and comments which I’ve followed with interest. Quite coincidentally a CoE minister contributed a piece for My Last Song which repudiates the ‘God-lite’ approach. He finished by saying that his church doesn’t charge for funerals to show their ‘sympathy and love’. http://www.mylastsong.com/advice/15113/113/107/funerals/christian-funerals/solving-the-funeral-dilemma. I’ve blogged on the piece http://blog.mylastsong.com/2010/11/08/christian-funerals-uncompromised-by-secular-content-and-family-participation/

  10. Tuesday 9th November 2010 at 3:17 pm

    We don’t charge anything to take the service, and don’t take anything off if we don’t. Weirdly arbitary, as of course it takes many many more hours to do it than not. Not entirely sure why it is like this, took us ten years of doing it to spot it at all. Does mean that we keep it in house, useful for a control freaky couple like ourselves, and also means we keep our costs down, but I agree with Belinda, Kathryn et all, everything else means diddly squat if the ceremony isn’t up to scratch. Well done you Belinda.

  11. Tuesday 9th November 2010 at 12:58 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Charles Cowling, Maria & Laurra Nalty. Maria & Laurra Nalty said: Why celebrants aren't charging enough and why One Life Ceremonies are leading the way in changing ceremony fees forever! http://ow.ly/35Fu8 […]

  12. Tuesday 9th November 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I’m afraid I despair of a change of emphasis any time soon now that celebrants have emulated the undertakers and descended into inter-species rivalry characterised by fear, loathing and all manner of unseemly, squabbling backbitery. This is not the behaviour of beautiful minds.

    It’s not a full time job, that’s the first thing. It’s emotionally unhealthy to do nothing else. I don’t know that nothing but undertaking is emotionally healthy, either – it was better when they were builders and joiners, too.

    All codes of conduct should prescribe no more than 2 funerals a week. Or should that be 1?

  13. gloriamundi

    Tuesday 9th November 2010 at 12:04 am

    This has been really valuable. So: how do ritualists (nice one)get round the FDs and lead the whole thing? As Jonathan says, easier to hold forth about it than to do something about it. Ritualists at present are unlikely to form a common front because they are too anxious about “the competition.” i.e. retired clergy vs BHA vs Civil Celebrants, etc. Practical, tactical suggestions needed, in order to lead slowly to a major change of emphasis.

  14. Monday 8th November 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Good for you, Belinda, and thank you for joining us. As you quite rightly say, ‘FD’s need to realise the ceremony is the public face of their company.’ So come on, FDs! Is there a sense of tail wagging dog where celebrancy is concerned? Of course there is.

    Yes, Kathryn,yes. There is more to this job than drudgery. And when you say ‘The more of us ritualists who can muster a shop-front, the more readily we can rebalance the conversation!’ well, again, yes, it’s the only sense I can see.

  15. Kathryn Edwards

    Monday 8th November 2010 at 10:40 pm

    I have walked away from this issue. But the engagement of treasured colleagues here entices me back towards it.

    It is clear to me that the ‘psychic environment’ of the ritual is the most important thing. Taking that idea for testing to a Sartre-style extreme, I’d say that one really could do something more significant at a bus-stop with the right attitude than in some gleaming hall with just a focus on the material trappings.

    But yes, the whole thing IS currently configured the wrong way round. Instead of the bereaved being invited to consider the appropriate ritual, they are focused on the coffin and the cars. The more of us ritualists who can muster a shop-front, the more readily we can rebalance the conversation!

    My cosmology leaves me exposed in matters of reward for the ritualist. In the fantasy of ‘village’, the shaman is self-interestedly fed by the community, and the granular quid-pro-quo – how long, how much, how far – need not arise. Indeed, a ritual is priceless, so how much sense does it make to fret about whether we should charge £150 or £250? Yet we must eat.

    I am reluctant to focus on ‘diseases of the rich’, but I wonder whether there is useful market-making from positioning a good (properly rewarded) ritual as an aspirational thing? And thus slowly wean the focus away from coffins. I had the thought-experiment of proposing to charge clients a ritual fee that would be identical with whatever they had paid for the coffin, but concluded it would be mindbendingly challenging for people with too much on their minds. And also arbitrary.

    Not long ago I undertook to do a funeral for a friend’s father. For once, I counted the hours involved. Over a week, and including some messy travel, it totalled about forty, many of which were at strange times of day. On that occasion my role encompassed not only ritualist but also diplomat and mediator, as apparently irreconcilable philosophical and cultural positions needed to be accommodated. That would cost a grand a day in the corporate world.

    I notice that, hanging out as I have (in the past) with a modern metropolitan FD, the funerals we have worked on have very rarely involved the soft demise of a much-loved granny in uncomplicated circumstances. Gritty life has thrown up all manner of challenging scenarios: murders, family meltdowns, unexamined lives void of any notion of how to conceive of a funeral. So do we charge by the yard, the horror, the number of songs?

    How can a client get any sense of the value being proposed at the point at which the deal is struck? And when does that realisation ever kick in?

    I think a fee in the range of £750 to £1,000 might be appropriate.

    Back to you guys.

  16. Monday 8th November 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Mmm, tomorrow I raise my fee to £275. I currently charge £200 and in ten years I have never had anyone choose not to use me as a Celebrant because of how much I charge. For some reason I have not been brave enough to up my fees but after reading the above inspiring comments I’m going to do it. I have found if I do not charge enough for my time I begin to resent the family I’m supporting which is totally unfair on them.
    FD’s need to realise the ceremony is the public face of their company, if it’s good it directly impacts on them. Every person sitting in the pews is a new customer.

    Who’s going to join me?

  17. Monday 8th November 2010 at 5:24 pm

    This is an interesting post and one close to my heart as I contemplate whether or not to increase my fees next year.

    There are so many factors – for example, my home town is dominated by two retired clergy who will do any type of ceremony from high church to god-lite and, in some cases, “god very lite” and will do so for the standard clergy fee (which is cheaper than my current rate). The local civil celebrants, on the other hand, charge more than I do, and have recently been recruiting, suggesting that they are expecting to take more ceremonies.

    And what of travel costs etc? Some celebrants charge a fee plus travel, whereas I try to work for a fixed fee (I think this is easier for the FDs and enables them to quote accurately when discussing arrangements with families). So then there is a “swings and roundabouts” equation, as some families I can walk to, others take me 3/4 hour to drive to.

    I’m just about to build my business model – please excuse me while I lick my finger and stick it in the air….

    I agree with Jonathan that raising our profile is a very slow business – we are fighting battles for those who follow. But please let us keep fighting, rather than follow Maria’s nightmare scenario.

  18. Monday 8th November 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Jonathan, this blog incorporates an experimental algorithm which can spot a particularly brilliant comment. When it does it then repeats the comment for special emphasis. Yours is the first to be singled out for such distinction. Thank you for going to the time and trouble to compose such a thoughtful and cogent comment.

    Interesting points here. Invidious as a 2-tier pricing system would be, it’s observable that most funerals fall into one of two camps: those where the clients wish to do no more than go through the motions and want the celebrant to do no more than make a nice noise; and those who want a real funeral. The first need one visit, the second two (at least). At the moment we operate on a swings-and-roundabouts philosophy. Probably no way round that. Or is there?

    Your observation, Jonathan, about builders and architects is apt. Families probably get to know their celebrant far better than their FD, and reckon him or her more valuable. The dynamics of the relationship between FD and celebrant are interesting. FDs reckon celebrants work for them. I deplore the way so many celebrants see it this way, too. In terms of influence they have sold themselves short. They have done little or nothing to change the way we do things by settling for working with things as they are. They might have campaigned against crem time slots, for example — all sorts of things.

    The fact remains that the climax of the funeral arrangement process is the ceremony, and from that most FDs are absent round the back having a fag or talking football. Says it all.

    Who should be taking their orders from whom? I think we’re past that. The FDs won. I don’t know that many of them have a clue what celebrants do – how would they? A good celebrant is one who answers their phone after the first ring. Priority: the crem booking.

    Were celebrants to pose a threat to FDs, or were FDs to come to understand how much value a good celebrant adds to their service, there is no doubt that FDs would move to enslave them by directly contracting them. Maria’s nightmare is a distinct possibility.

    It’s all rather gloomy.

  19. Monday 8th November 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I hope that last wasn’t a portent of doom!

  20. Monday 8th November 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Now, that would be a solution…just persuade the Church to triple their fee…ah, but then the crem cowboys would still undercut everyone else!

    This is a subject that needs addressing and, thank you, Charles for bringing it into the public arena. In case you’re wondering, we do get very few FDs offering us to families at £275 (though, there are plenty who would certainly use us if we were £100 cheaper). As Charles says, we have (a degree of) ‘energy, intelligence and spirit’ and we see our pricing as a small step forward, if nothing else because it’s bringing the FDs we come into contact with a glimmer of a world where choice can extend beyond coffin finishes and Menu A or B for the funeral tea.

    One day celebrancy will be a recognised profession in which skilled celebrants can command reasonable fees OR the IoCF will train in-house celebrants for the Co-op etc. thereby eradicating the need for FDs to have any dealings with the likes of us.

  21. Saturday 6th November 2010 at 11:24 pm

    That blog really resonates with me and sentiment DVDs and other products too. I think fair play to onelife – you are right it’s a good price.
    I have set a client right in the past when she complained not just about the cost of one of our DVDs but went on to complain about the cost of her celebrant I was mystified… she was spending thousands and thosands on a shitty coffin and complained about the £150 for the celebrant and £175 for a DVD Grrrr!!!

    I have been told 2 years running by my business link adviser to put my prices up and but ive still not braved the leap!

  22. Jonathan

    Saturday 6th November 2010 at 9:05 pm

    PS: I like your new blog supplier, Charles – he evidently thinks I’m worth repeating!

  23. Jonathan

    Saturday 6th November 2010 at 8:57 pm

    A hike to £275 would put my hourly rate up from £9.50 to an almost equally risible £15.00. I’d pay someone as good as me at least £30 an hour, but that would commit me to £555 for my celebrant – almost as much as the cremation.

    But even £275 is an un-dreamable-of-able amount for a secular celebrant as things stand. Why? I’d be surprised if the Church couldn’t get away with trebling THEIR fee overnight. Many funeral directors would just grumble, then shrug and pass the cost on – the vicar’s widely perceived to be as much a standard requirement as is the coffin. And if you think about it, that’s all we’d need to be able to put our fees up accordingly – perhaps we should talk to the Church!

    One thing keeping our fee down is our own helpless dependency on funeral directors, who are the ones who ignorantly decide the appropriate cost limits. I hold myself as accountable for that as the rest of us – shame on me, and I’m working on that one, but the marketplace is as attractive to me as the battlefield.

    This makes FDs, in their privileged position as sole providers of death products and services, the ones who decide for the family who’s going to conduct the funeral. It also makes them the chief ones who promote us to our own clients, which they do pathetically badly if at all because they just have their own favourites they keep using willy-nilly. Lucky for us if it’s us, not if not; we can do our best to persuade some of them, but it’s not very noble, and not a business plan by any standards, not even mine.

    Our fee has actually risen, with our profile – that is, at a glacial pace – so our profile’s what we need to be raising first, by appealing to the public directly and getting the message over about who’s in charge of a funeral, and what you get for your money, from whom and for what reason. We also need to put the funeral directors’ role into perspective as the tradesmen they are (nod to Charles for that one). You wouldn’t ask your builder which architect he recommends; quite the reverse, if anything.

    This leads us further back, to the bottom line: people don’t think about death before death. By then, they’re ready to be led anywhere as long as it’s behind someone telling them where to go, and they’ve got the leaflet from the hospital or somewhere saying the first thing they must do is employ a funeral director – no, ‘THE’ funeral director – without delay.

    Charles rightly points out that people’s expectations of a funeral are low, but it’s us (or is it we? Charles, I have some idea you used to be an English teacher) who are gradually changing that, as people see us in action; so it’s us who have to take control, and thereby raise prices with expectations. So far only one client has actually voiced his opinion that I don’t charge enough for what I do, but I suspect many would agree, only it’s too late by then because it’s the dastardly old funeral directors who’ve got all the power. Are we, the celebrant community, prepared to leave things like this?

    Funeral directors got where they are, presumably, by their own efforts over time, supported by the complacency of a death-denying public. One thing we’re doing is confirming funerals as worthwhile rituals that confirm death, and it’s those who expect something better than the miserable norm who will support us, and pay us, and to whom we should be appealing.

    How to actually bypass the traditional route and appeal to these people, before or at their time of need, is not so straightforward as it is to pontificate about it at such length; but I trust I’m not alone in this way of thinking, and between us we can do what organic food suppliers did over time, by coming out of the cupboard under the stairs to transform our expensive product from some obscure exception to the most desirable choice.

    A hike to £275 would put my hourly rate up from £9.50 to an almost equally risible £15.00. I’d pay someone as good as me at least £30 an hour, but that would commit me to £555 for my celebrant – almost as much as the cremation.

    But even £275 is an un-dreamable-of-able amount for a secular celebrant as things stand. Why? I’d be surprised if the Church couldn’t get away with trebling THEIR fee overnight. Many funeral directors would just grumble, then shrug and pass the cost on – the vicar’s widely perceived to be as much a standard requirement as is the coffin. And if you think about it, that’s all we’d need to be able to put our fees up accordingly – perhaps we should talk to the Church!

    One thing keeping our fee down is our own helpless dependency on funeral directors, who are the ones who ignorantly decide the appropriate cost limits. I hold myself as accountable for that as the rest of us – shame on me, and I’m working on that one, but the marketplace is as attractive to me as the battlefield.

    This makes FDs, in their privileged position as sole providers of death products and services, the ones who decide for the family who’s going to conduct the funeral. It also makes them the chief ones who promote us to our own clients, which they do pathetically badly if at all because they just have their own favourites they keep using willy-nilly. Lucky for us if it’s us, not if not; we can do our best to persuade some of them, but it’s not very noble, and not a business plan by any standards, not even mine.

    Our fee has actually risen, with our profile – that is, at a glacial pace – so our profile’s what we need to be raising first, by appealing to the public directly and getting the message over about who’s in charge of a funeral, and what you get for your money, from whom and for what reason. We also need to put the funeral directors’ role into perspective as the tradesmen they are (nod to Charles for that one). You wouldn’t ask your builder which architect he recommends; quite the reverse, if anything.

    This leads us further back, to the bottom line: people don’t think about death before death. By then, they’re ready to be led anywhere as long as it’s behind someone telling them where to go, and they’ve got the leaflet from the hospital or somewhere saying the first thing they must do is employ a funeral director – no, ‘THE’ funeral director – without delay.

    Charles rightly points out that people’s expectations of a funeral are low, but it’s us (or is it we? Charles, I have some idea you used to be an English teacher) who are gradually changing that, as people see us in action; so it’s us who have to take control, and thereby raise prices with expectations. So far only one client has actually voiced his opinion that I don’t charge enough for what I do, but I suspect many would agree, only it’s too late by then because it’s the dastardly old funeral directors who’ve got all the power. Are we, the celebrant community, prepared to leave things like this?

    Funeral directors got where they are, presumably, by their own efforts over time, supported by the complacency of a death-denying public. One thing we’re doing is confirming funerals as worthwhile rituals that confirm death, and it’s those who expect something better than the miserable norm who will support us, and pay us, and to whom we should be appealing.

    How to actually bypass the traditional route and appeal to these people, before or at their time of need, is not so straightforward as it is to pontificate about it at such length; but I trust I’m not alone in this way of thinking, and between us we can do what organic food suppliers did over time, by coming out of the cupboard under the stairs to transform our expensive product from some obscure exception to the most desirable choice.

  24. gloriamundi

    Saturday 6th November 2010 at 11:39 am

    You excel yourself, Charles – the limestone isle bringeth forth wisdom, verily. Many, many thanks for a lot of thoughts.

    Interestingly, £275 is about the figure a couple of BHA celebrants came up with recently as a realistic fee compared with other services and with the total cost of a funeral.

    There’s the proper level of debate and consideration around altruism/income needs, quality/pricing etc, then there’s the grubby business of tactics – if we raise our prices will . . .etc.

    Maybe it’s a matter of raising expectations amongst the public. If we charged more, maybe they would expect more and get more.

    But for some people, a funeral seems to be something to be got through with as little fuss and distress as possible, and maybe such people would not want more than what they are getting now. So – a two-tier service? First and standard class? Not a nice idea…

    But your proposition seems to me both interesting and problematical. If “we” (i.e. the self-anointedly virtuous)raise our fees, surely that might actually encourage more celebrants to whizz round doing too many ineffective funerals because they would?might? get more calls from FDs?

    The economics side of my brain, never large, is now exhausted. Except for this: as you say, I’m happy enough to work for the current fee level, provided that by doing so I’m not encouraging low expectations and too many funerals for one person. It feels to me as though round here that’s not the case at present. although if I get much busier something will have to change.

    Your point about the disadvantages of apparent kindness and of seeking to protect people who neither need nor want protecting is central to how we should do things.

    H’m. I shall think on’t…

  25. Friday 5th November 2010 at 8:30 pm

    The greedy ones ruin it for the idealistic ones In The USA- whether Funeral Director or Celebrant.

    Funeral professionals deserve more than a living wage because of the service they provide. Here in the USA Traditional and low cost providers are taking a bi hit due to the economy and past greed.

    Your Funeral Guy- Low cost funeral advocate

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