The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Death with Dignity plc

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

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Dignity has just published its results for the 52 week period ending 25 December 2015. You can study them here.

Headline figures for readers of this blog are:

Profit per funeral: £1045 – a margin of almost 42%.   This was in spite of the fact that: “Approximately 24 per cent of the funerals performed in the year (2014: 23 per cent) had previously been prearranged. This proportion is anticipated to continue to increase over time. Whilst these funerals represent substantially lower average revenue per funeral, their incremental nature means they are a positive contributor to the Group’s performance.”

Profit per cremation: £600 – a margin of nearly 63%

Our thanks to our number-cruncher for doing the math. The figures above are calculated by dividing underlying operating profit by the number of funerals/cremations carried out. The GFG team congratulates Dignity plc on what appears to be another robust performance.

 

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11 comments on “Death with Dignity plc

  1. Jonathan Taylor

    Sunday 6th March 2016 at 8:48 pm

    I’m sick of this term ‘funeral consumer’. A funeral is a ritual put together by grieving (or not) relatives. That may be with or without the help of someone who can give them something they can consume (at a cost or not), incidentally; but the ritual belongs only to them. It cannot be bought, sold, consumed or presumed… but it can, and often is, supplanted with an inferior substitute under the willing noses of its rightful proprietors, who are lost at sea and glad of any old passing flotsam to float it all away for them for any price.

    Every funeral is a home funeral – even when those at home choose to pay someone else to do it all for them, that’s their instruction as the owners. To refer to a family grieving ritual for someone they may have loved all their lives as a consumer non-durable is an insult to the humanity of those who can no longer claim the title ‘human’.

    • Monday 7th March 2016 at 11:11 am

      Agree to a point and yes, it’s a horrible-sounding term. But inasmuch as a grieving families more often than not choose to trade with undertakers by purchasing goods and services from them, and that this activity is subject to consumer protection laws, then, technically, any decision to shop makes bereaved people consumers – up to a point. If there is value in the term, I think it is in reminding bereaved people that the normal rules of commerce are not suspended just because somebody has died; that they should subject traders in funerary goods and services to the same scrutiny they apply when purchasing all other goods and services – and not just run up a white flag, as so many do. This is because things are as they are. Were these services to be provided on a philanthropic basis, or were the state to intervene, that would of course change the landscape completely. In my view, and subject to revision at a moment’s notice of course.

  2. Friday 4th March 2016 at 10:10 am

    Interesting, Fran. Dignity is all about clever accounting. And in this case, marking its own homework (and awarding itself a gold star, of course). A useful consumer response is informed by comparable experiences – experiences of other undertakers. The value of client reviews in this area is therefore problematic and arguably uninformative, most clients having nothing else to go on and also being entirely ignorant of the quality of care provided behind the scenes for their dead person.

    By what means might it be possible to derive informed feedback from consumers in this area? Does anyone out there feel inspired to blog about this?

    • Sunday 6th March 2016 at 3:37 pm

      We recently served a family who had lost a son. It was a challenging time, but they were delighted with every aspect of our work and wrote to tell us so afterwards. Several weeks later, they called to say they had another family funeral in a nearby town, this time someone had chose a Dignity branch. My family member said the experience was generally felt not a good one and when she responded by pointing out the Holmes’ might have given them a better experience, was told ‘ah yes, but we paid over £1,000 more than they charge – and in life, don’t you usually get what you pay for?

      Time to significantly increase our prices? (I jest)

  3. Fran Hall

    Friday 4th March 2016 at 8:40 am

    Just a bit more ‘math’ Charles – after wading through the 29 pages of figures I note that Dignity PLC don’t specify exactly what percentage of their satisfied clients returned their surveys to come up with the quoted 98%+ and 99%+ satisfaction ratings, stating only that ‘in the last five years we have received over 161,000 responses’.

    A quick shimmy through the reports for the last five years shows a total of 332,600 funerals carried out by the Group, so there were 171,600 non responders.

    Knowing how slick the operation is at sending out client surveys complete with pre-paid envelopes to return them in, I am surprised so many ‘clients’ (aka bereaved families) didn’t put pen to paper to show their appreciation.

  4. Thursday 3rd March 2016 at 6:47 pm

    I’m sure your good wishes will greatly gladden one and all at the Dignity Lubyanka, David. They’ve been waiting with bated breath.

    Interestingly, their client surveys show a 90+% approval rating. You could also say that this shows that, because people so infrequently buy a funeral, and because they do so with such low expectations, they don’t know what they missed. It’s not all that difficult to get high scores from funeral shoppers – even those who have paid what many would regard as being well over the odds.

    • Jonathan Taylor

      Friday 4th March 2016 at 5:45 am

      Don’t forget Claire Rayner’s term ‘secret disappointment’, Charles, as expressed in the Funeralcare survey of way back… the notion that the 90+% who tick the yes box to the question; ‘were you satisfied or completely satisfied’, go on to tick the yes boxes that ask; ‘were there improvements you would have liked?’ People not only buy funerals very infrequently, they also understand you can’t take them back for a refund so, if they feel let down, they fell as if they’ve let down the dead person and they simply can’t bear that thought. So they tell themselves (and their retail funeral outlet) that they were completely happy with paying over the odds for a shitty product that left them feeling ripped off.

      • Friday 4th March 2016 at 10:28 am

        Completely agree, Jonathan. Make the best of it, put it behind you. Do people then go on to identify ways in which it could have been so much better, or do they just tell themselves that all funerals are shitty, what do you expect – and leave it at that?

  5. Thursday 3rd March 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Congratulations Dignity, a very impressive performance, the Director’s and shareholders will of course be delighted.

    As for the bereaved who chipped in, hopefully they too will have been impressed by the service Dignity provided for them and their loved-ones 🙂

  6. Charles Cowling

    Thursday 3rd March 2016 at 4:04 pm

    I like to keep you on your toes, Andrew. The GFG blog is full of hidden irritants!

  7. Andrew Rush

    Thursday 3rd March 2016 at 1:48 pm

    “Math”?

    Honestly Charles, I expect better from you!

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