The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Are you a Funeral Director or a Fleet Manager?

Wednesday, 29 October 2014



Guest post by James Hardcastle

You cannot be both and nor should you have to be. Communities look to you, as a trusted funeral director, to be supporting them in their time of need whilst planning the unique good-bye for their loved one and not fretting about another problem with your fleet.

Do the BBC run their own canteen? No – they get a catering company in whose core business is just that – catering. The reason they do this is because it’s more cost effective, it’s easier for them and it frees them up to concentrate on their core business and ultimately produces a more professional product at the end.

Recent research conducted by The Carriage Master demonstrated the average cost of running a typical five year old Hearse and one totals an eye-watering £8,018 per annum. Whilst a hearse is used on nearly 100% of all funerals, did you know that an accompanying limousine is often only supplied for 60% of those funerals?

For the average Funeral Director doing less than 56 funerals year, it makes no commercial sense to run your own processional fleet and simply wipes profit straight from your bottom-line. If you’re wanting to run a shiny limousine then the figure is closer to 70 funerals a year – and that’s before you’ve bought the things in the first place.

These are just the raw commercials. What these commercials will not tell you is the hassle-factor and the management time spent dealing with your fleet – the cleaning, administration, legislative and logistical costs are unquantifiable. There’s also the risk associated with running a fleet for hire and reward, which is essentially what you’re doing. If your maintenance plans, service records and driver records are not in tip-top condition, and something goes wrong, then you face, at best, adverse publicity, potential fines and in the very worst cases, a lengthy prison sentence.

So this begs the question, why are most Funeral Directors still hanging on to the well-worn comfort blanket of running their own processional fleet?

It’s the fear of the unknown. Until recently the carriage hire industry had no strategic vision, cause or leadership. What it had was a friendly funeral director in close proximity who hired or a ‘man with cars’ who would see if he could fit you in – but you’d have to rush the mourners through as they had somewhere to be.

This is why The Carriage Master now leads the way within the industry – it provides a cost-effective, tried and trusted proposition to funeral directors who relish the chance to think differently, reduce their business complexity and protect the bottom-line whilst ultimately freeing them to do what they’re good at – funeral directing.

Should you go out and sell your fleet tomorrow? Absolutely not. What you should be doing is thinking strategically, understanding the available options and planning for what successful business growth could look like with some outsourced help from the market leader in Funeral Vehicle Hire.


James Hardcastle is the Managing Director of The Carriage Master. The Carriage Master continues to revolutionise the way in which vehicle hire is delivered to the funeral profession. Their one vehicle, one funeral, one day policy combined with their ‘Always Available’ commitment ensures they are able of offer the largest single rental fleet in the UK.
(T) 0845 450 1884

9 comments on “Are you a Funeral Director or a Fleet Manager?

  1. Thursday 30th October 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Here we go again.

  2. Michael Gamble

    Thursday 30th October 2014 at 8:25 pm

    William, I notice your website and the very nice photo of a fleet of Mercedes vehicles. May I ask where you got the photo and did you seek the owners permission? The reason I ask is that they belong to a very good friend of mine and we used to hire those very vehicles from him until we bought our own hearse (and the limo is in our yard awaiting our use tomorrow)

    • Friday 31st October 2014 at 9:12 am

      Michael –

      I hope you are well.

      I tried to reply directly but there are no contact details.

      Our Website work, including imagery, were initially outsourced and we have always been assured (in writing) of the validity of images and content. Now that we have our own, internal team, we police image rights ourselves in accordance with strict laws and regulations.

      Should you have any serious queries then I would suggest you contact our website team in the first instance and obtain external advice.

      Thank you for your time and vigilance in this matter

  3. Thursday 30th October 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Not too dissimilar to our service where our members can not only lease vehicles for themselves but advertise theirs for FREE during quite or holiday periods and keep income coming in. – Maybe worth calling me next time Lucy 🙂

    • Friday 31st October 2014 at 10:07 am

      Details have been taken and will certainly keep it in mind next time!

    • Friday 31st October 2014 at 10:10 am

      Actually, scrap that. Just had a look for a hearse within 15 miles of me and there are no records found…..I guess I will stick to my tried and test suppliers when I need them.

  4. Thursday 30th October 2014 at 12:52 pm

    I couldn’t afford to by a fleet of cars when I opened and I can’t see me investing in them in the future.
    I have carried out more funerals where clients wanted me to use my VW Passat to transport someone because they didn’t want a hearse. I am glad I saved myself an unfathomable amount of money by not buying a hearse!

    That said, there are times I need one. My local carriage master is never available and doesn’t want to rent out their cars to “someone new” in case they upset their existing clients.

    When I really needed a hearse, I called every independent funeral director I could find a number for and eventually got through to one funeral director who was not only happy to help, but was also willing to make this a long standing arrangement.
    I get the cars I need and they have their cars earning money and their bearers are happy to be out working….everyone wins.

  5. Quokkagirl

    Thursday 30th October 2014 at 5:23 am

    It makes sense to me to hire if an fd has a small, independent fds turnover, Larger companies will of course need their own fleets and their own fleet managers…and do so in most cases. But how small undertakers manage to run their own fleets of cars is beyond me. The (as you say) eye-watering figures for running these monster vehicles have to be funded for from somewhere – their clients naturally.

  6. Wednesday 29th October 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I guess it depends on the availability of a good well turned out local hire service. And of course as FD’s we all like our eon individual style and image.

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