We have relaunched our ‘Recommended By’ scheme for funeral directors with a radically remodelled accreditation framework designed to make it sustainable and authoritative nationwide.
As you know, we already have a limited listing of recommended funeral directors – a listing to which we have not added for some months. Why? Because of the very great difficulty of growing it sustainably. Lack of resources has restricted our ability to visit new or revisit existing recommended funeral directors. Some on the list have not been revisited for up to three years. Not good enough. That is why we have been on the verge of scrapping it altogether.
But rapidly increasing demand from both consumers and funeral directors has caused us to think again.
As we know, extremely negative perceptions of the funeral industry are widespread and intensifying. The fallout from this year’s television documentaries about Co-operative Funeralcare, Funeral Partners Limited and Dignity plc has resulted in grave reputational damage to the industry as a whole.
As a consequence, rising numbers of consumers ring and email, telling us they no longer know whom they can trust, and here at the GFG we now spend an increasing amount of time counselling and guiding them – a service we offer free of charge.
At the same time, rising numbers of funeral directors have approached us, as an independent, consumer-focussed body with an expert knowledge of the industry, asking for accreditation, anxiously (and understandably) seeking to distance themselves from inferior competitors in an increasingly crowded market.
How is the listing going to pay for itself?
Good question. Either bereaved people pay — which we are not happy about — or funeral directors pay. We’re going to charge funeral directors the rate for the job on the grounds that being listed is more than merely likely to benefit them commercially.
It’s something we have thought very hard about. Last year we appealed for voluntary donations from our listed FDs. We are very grateful to those who responded, but it wasn’t nearly enough to fund the project. The lesson we learned is that most people only really value something they pay for.
Won’t this affect the independence of the GFG?
Other independent guides, when they started to make information available online, lost their revenue from hard-copy editions of their guides, which ceased to sell, and they had to change their business model as a consequence. The Good Pub Guide is an example. From 2012 it has had to charge for inclusion, drawing accusations that it is no longer independent because it has simply become a guide to those pubs willing to pay. You may be interested in a response to this from a landlord. Do read the comments, too — here.
In the case of funeral service, FDs unwilling to pay will be those so well-known in their local areas (especially rural areas) that they won’t feel the need to. Funeral consumers in such areas do not need the Good Funeral Guide. However, in areas where consumers seek guidance and reassurance, it is perfectly proper that we serve them by enabling ourselves to accredit superb funeral directors.
The GFG will go on demonstrating its independence because its credibility depends on it. We look forward to exposing the first person to offer us any inducement. We’re not in it to make money, we’re in it to break even. Our independence is reliant on an income stream. We become dependent only when we let that corrupt our core values. Our record shows that this is the least likely thing to happen.
From time to time a funeral director will say to us, ‘But you hate all funeral directors, don’t you?’ It’s an odd thing to say to the people who delivered the first-ever industry Oscars, the Good Funeral Awards, celebrating the best people in funeral service. Of course we don’t hate all funeral directors. We talk about things as they seem to us to be, and we invite unmediated access to anyone who wants to comment. The focus of our work has always been hunting down the heroes of the funeral industry and putting them in touch with the bereaved.
That’s a win-win.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are a funeral director interested in being Recommended By The Good Funeral Guide, please click here. If you are already listed, you will need to be re-visited. Please click here.