Funeral directors as social entrepreneurs

Charles 20 Comments
Charles

 

 

Bryan and Catherine Powell, founders of Powell and Family Funeral Directors and Powell and Family Direct, are hosting an open meeting for all funeral directors interested in remodelling their business as a social enterprise. It’s called Social Enterprise For Funeral Directors, and it’s being held on Saturday 19 May, 11am til 3pm in their Droitwich office at 15 North Street, WR9 8JB. Book your place by ringing 01905 827 767 or email bryan.powell@powellandfamily.co.uk.

 

We think…

The team at the GFG has been following Powell and Family with interest. Here’s a dynamic new business run by a husband and wife team who possess impressive business savvy combined with a love of what they do. They’re the real deal, we’ve no doubt about that. 

We’re also fans of the social enterprise model for funeral businesses, as we outline on our sister site, CommunityFunerals.org.uk – here. We like the social enterprise model because of its potential to offer better service to the bereaved. We also like it because we think it the ideal vehicle for idealistic, forward-looking funeral directors. 

For such funeral directors, re-branding as a social enterprise sends out a signal all their clients want to hear. It gives these funeral directors a massive competitive advantage because it enables them to set themselves visibly apart from their  rivals. 

The Community Interest Company – CIC – model offers particular and perhaps unexpected benefits. For example, FDs retain control of their business and pay themselves what they think they deserve. Sure, they can’t sell up at any time – but they can arrange an advantageous handover. 

Those funeral businesses which re-brand as social enterprises will have opportunities to work together, on a joint venture basis, while at the same time preserving their independence and individual character. This is new and unexplored territory. 

We at the GFG thank Bryan and Catherine Powell for inviting us to the meeting on Saturday. We’ll be there – as detached observers, needless to say. We don’t do business, we do scrutiny. 

We hear that an ITV camera crew is going to be there too. They want to film cutting-edge funeral directors for an upcoming programme. We rather think they’ll be coming to exactly the right place. 


 

 

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Ru Callender
10 years ago

We would love to attend, but just not possible for us. I wish we had a little more notice about this, we could have shared our tips on how to operate as a not enough profit business.

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

Nobody does it better.

Ru Callender
10 years ago

Turns out, we will. Plans have been changed, we will be there!

David Holmes
10 years ago

I would love to attend..

but sadly will be in the South of France! (cheap weekend at a friends house)

Do it again soon please! I will definitely come.

Jenny Uzzell
10 years ago

We too are interested in finding out more, but have an engagement this weekend that we can’t get out of. Please keep us in the loop!

David Holmes
10 years ago

I am involved with something non funeral. We went the CIC route but stumbled. Someone had to underwrite any potential losses.

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

Thanks for that, David. Very good point.

David Holmes
10 years ago

It was me! We tried to get help from local authority, business link, SEEDA (South East England Development Agency. Eventually it became clear that getting a venture underwritten is almost impossible. Now my venture has been running for a few years, we are discussing trying again.

As a fairly low paid funeral director (yes, they do exist) I see the CIC model as a way of taking on my big business competitors and winning. My clients would certainly benefit. As a not for profit venture, I think we could get a lot more work. Selfishly, I might even earn more!

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

There is unquestionably a competitive advantage for a CIC. I would argue also for greater community engagement with the ‘business’ of death and bereavement. There’s a healthy symbiosis there.

Simon irons
Simon irons
10 years ago

This sounds like an interesting idea and am guessing that the Powell Family will be investing the many 100’s of £1000’s of pounds they got when they sold their previous business to one of big bad boys……… No social conscious when they pocketed that wad of cash…….. Real Deal……. You are having a laugh Charles

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

Simon, we can always depend on you for a bracing point of view and we appreciate that. You serve the vital purpose of preventing this blog from becoming cosy. I think you are harsh on this occasion. But you raise an important issue. Can the social enterprise model be hijacked by less than scrupulous funeral directors? Will we have lots of wolves prowling around in sheep’s clothing? My response would be that the disciplines of the market are likely to be very much more rigorous in the case of a CIC. I say that in the light of the disparity… Read more »

Jenny Uzzell
10 years ago

Another concern I have, to be honest, is the idea of the liability for a funeral director who is co-ordinating a group of volunteers. Now you can be as careful as you like with screening processes, but lets just suppose a ‘bad egg’ gets through the process and steals from someone they are supposed to be helping in some way. Does any liability fall on the fd? If not, at the very least your reputation is badly damaged. Perhaps it would be worth raising this at Saturday’s meeting and seeing where the discussion goes? On a related note, I cannot… Read more »

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

Very good point, well made, Jenny. As the http://www.communityfunerals.org.uk site makes clear, screening is vital. Important not to dwell too darkly on problems. It’s not as if schools worry about this with their governors.

But it’s important to identify the problems, so thank you.

I gather Norfolk Funerals have got rather busy. Wayne has promised to catch up as soon as he can catch his breath.

Jenny Uzzell
10 years ago

Oh, indeed. Best also not to ignore them altogether as that way to can plan around them. School governors, remember, have very little contact with kids, parents or people in general. I’m not trying to pour cold water…just make sure that everything has been properly considered 🙂

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

Quite so, Jenny, and it is greatly appreciated.

Maggie Brinklow
10 years ago

I must agree with Simon on this. I notice that Powell Direct advertise their full FD business on the bottom of their Direct Service webpage – what a great marketing ploy – draw you in with the CIC but hey, you’re looking for something a little bit more than a simple service, well it just so happens they also own a traditional FDs! Also, have to say I would not be happy with arranging all the details by phone, with only one face-to-face visit (probably with a random member of staff) to collect signatures and clothing. Sorry, no, it just… Read more »

Mark Shaw
10 years ago

sounds interesting – bit far to travel. What is actually involved?

Anne Beckett-Allen
10 years ago

I think I would have found this very interesting. However, I shall (hopefully) be climbing Ben Nevis Saturday, as part of the three peaks in 24 hours challenge, but in any case, would have needed more notice to sort out the children. Keen to learn more though

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

Anne, good luck! It’s a gruelling business you have let yourself in for.

We’ll let you know how it goes.

andrew plume
andrew plume
10 years ago

Simon irons said… “This sounds like an interesting idea and am guessing that the Powell Family will be investing the many 100′s of £1000′s of pounds they got when they sold their previous business to one of big bad boys……… No social conscious when they pocketed that wad of cash…….. Real Deal……. You are having a laugh Charles” I’m looking at this from a different angle Yes, Brian walked away with oodles of cash, thankyou LM Funerals (who then turned a decent business into one with a dreadfully low per annum body count) and Brian is now doing his bit… Read more »