GFG ‘Recommended By’ listing relaunch

Charles Cowling

 

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

 

 

 

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fleck water softener dealers phoenixFootball Manager 2018 Cd KeyColin FisherCharles CowlingSara Elliot Recent comment authors

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fleck water softener dealers phoenix
Guest

All clients are immediately given our customer help phone
number with their online receipt at the end of Examine Out.

Football Manager 2018 Cd Key
Guest

This design is steller! You certainly know how to keep a reader
amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Excellent job.
I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that,
how you presented it. Too cool!

Colin Fisher
Guest

Charles, I personally think the GFG do a brilliant job. It is a privelage to receive the Recommended stickers which helps the consumer make a choice.
I welcome inspections and any other checks the GFG want to make and I am willing to pay a membership fee to help keep this going.
Sorry Frank did not understand your response to my last post saying I agree with Poppy and my comment was constructive, I said I totally support the GFG or am I supposed to say something negative?
Keep up the good work Charles and gang

Sara Elliot
Guest
Sara Elliot

What about crowd funding? FD’s and providers of other services or products (videos, coffins etc) could surely have a voluntary £1 donation to the GFG …? I’d be happy to.

Ian
Guest
Ian

How much is it going to cost to be recommended and how is it going to be monitored?

Charles
Guest
Charles

Whoops, didn’t see your latest come in, David. There is a range of measures open to us. In the case of a FD who loses focus/loses the plot, whose conduct is not cynically negligent but bungling, there is the measure of dropping them with their co-operation (remove the badge, get yourself together, re-apply, perhaps, at a later date). In the case of a FD who cynically dupes us, we can, as an extreme sanction, denounce them on the website and send a press release to their local paper announcing the stripping of their recommendation. Don’t forget, also, that every FD’s… Read more »

Charles
Guest
Charles

We thought about it, David… and then reckoned it best to start with a single standard. It leaves room for differentiated standards in the future.

It takes considerable chutzpah/hubris/self-assurance to get a scheme like this going at all. None of us are arrogant, we-know-best people. We are gentle revolutionaries. Correction: evolutionaries.

David Holmes
Guest

By the way – even the best funeral directors cannot arrange and conduct every funeral and even the best trained have bad days. Unlike many of my competitors – I don’t think the best FD’s have fleets of new Jag’s or Merc’s. Nor do I think they necessarily have the best premises and mortuary facilities. I believe the best FD’s are those who are genuine honest people who’ll listen for as long and as often as needed – and say yes to almost anything asked. Two people recently described to me what they felt were poor funeral experiences. One family… Read more »

David Holmes
Guest

Do hotels not pay for their rosettes, star or crown schemes? They are of course ‘recommendations’ – as they confirm to consumers that a certain standard has been achieved. They are a quality control. Perhaps you could adopt a similar system? A five star FD does everything brilliantly, perhaps a four star does most things brilliantly? A one star FD doesn’t do much well at all! You get the idea. I suppose this would answer the above criticism? With the star system – once you have paid and been inspected – you get what the assessor thinks you deserve? All… Read more »

Andrew Hickson
Guest

Is the problem, perhaps, in the use of the word ‘recommended’?

Accredited? Approved? Monitored? Inspected?

Charles
Guest
Charles

Noted.

Charles
Guest
Charles

Not sure what you mean by a restrictive framework, Ian. A business model is a vehicle. The GFG stands for a particular vision and for particular values. Any funeral director who shares this vision and these values, and who wishes to seek public endorsement of this by the GFG, can now request us to come and see for ourselves that they really do – at their expense. We shall charge the price for the job. We shall not tout for business. We shall demonstrate our credibility by withholding endorsement from those who don’t, in our view, match up. If, by… Read more »

Vale
Guest
Vale

We need to scotch this notion that funeral directors can pay for a GFG recommendation. The costs attached to the new scheme are almost all associated with covering the cost of a more thorough process: the time of the person visiting the funeral director and writing up the review; reasonable traveling costs – that sort of thing. A very small proportion helps fund the listing on the site itself and the logos and marketing materials that are distributed. None of this is funded at the moment: it’s why the old scheme is unaffordable and why this new scheme might be… Read more »

Linda
Guest

Hi, I am new to the funeral business, my business partner is not, he is ex co-op and has worked for independents for the past 4 years. Here is my take on it; when I wanted to enter the industry the only people that encouraged me and were supportive were Charles GFG, like minded people I met at the national funeral exhibition ( who would sell me 1 coffin and not spit their dummy out) and Rosie from the Natural Death Centre, the ‘big boys’ asked me ‘who did I think I was!’ From the shadows I have followed the… Read more »

Ian
Guest
Ian

I’m afraid that I completely disagree. It is all very work talking about ‘business models’ as if they are restrictive frameworks, but the reality will always remain that you are asking fd’s to pay to be recommended.
Unless, of course, your list of ‘recommended funeral directors’ now becomes a simply a list of funeral directors, end of…

I think it is fairly clear that there is a big difference between paying to have an advert in a Church magazine and paying to be on a list as a ‘recommendation’.

Charles
Guest

Hi Ian Again, interesting issues you raise. The first point I want to make by way of response is that, to be sustainable, a consumer organisation has to adopt the business model which enables it to raise the money it needs to do its work. Arguably the best available model is that which enables it to pay for its activities by, both, charging consumers and/or relying on voluntary donations from them. This model is unavailable to the GFG for reasons I shall come to. (Actually, the best available model is probably one financed by philanthropy, and that’s not available to… Read more »

Ian
Guest
Ian

You guys are missing the whole point…you can’t ask people to make a financial contribution towards being recommended. To start with, nobody who is a member of either SAIF or the NAFD would be able to be recommended as it would break their codes of conduct.That may not mean a lot to some people, but there are advantages to being in one of those organisations and not many FD’s avoid both (even if it is begrudgingly). Surely it is obvious that if you start asking people to pay to be on a list, the first thing that the big boys… Read more »

Rich Martin
Guest

Charles You have something of value and something people need. You have integrity and a good heart. You have respect form those who deserve respect themselves. Too long you have crusaded without just reward, in fact without any reward. I agree with what you are proposing, I think it seems fair that those who wish to have market distinction through the recognition of the GFG should be prepared to handover a small percentage of the benefit. If a business is not sustainable it will ultimately fail, what you are asking for is not unreasonable and not compulsory and if business… Read more »

Mark Shaw
Guest

Now theres a thought- the public pay for GFG to recomend them a reputable funeral director!

Could the current listing scheme continue informally, but more committed funeral directors could pay for “advertising” or “Editorial” space as a premium listing, and would require paid for assesement?

Charles
Guest
Charles

The problem with an informal listing is that it depends too much on hearsay and not enough on verifiable evidence. We’re not bonkers about advertising of any sort, to be honest – it’d give the website a commercial look.

We’ve deliberately kept the entry-level recommendation at a rate affordable for even the newest, poorest business.

Ian
Guest
Ian

a further point in relation to Charles comments. Reviewers of fridges, cars etc such as ‘which’ magazine do not ask for payment from the products that they are recommending, nor do Trip adviser ask for cash from hotels to be on the forum…You cannot make the same comparison.

Ian
Guest
Ian

I agree that no business should run at a loss – you would be a fool to do that – but are you then saying that only funeral directors who you recommend are going to be allowed to pay to be on the list, or can anyone pay and be a ‘registered member’?
My point is that, this is not a recommendation but, in essence, commission…it’s a bit tricky from an ethical point of view. What happens if the co-op want to join?

Daniel Langdale
Guest

No business should be expected to make a loss Charles. I visit your GFG blog regularly for topical updates and comments on the ever changing face of the funeral industry. Not being a funeral director myself but working in the funeral/memorial trade, my business provides families with Video Tributes to loved ones, I find wealth relevant and insightful information on your website. I’m sure many others would agree that breaking even should be the least to expect from your business and I wish you Good luck with your new plans to accredit and monitor funeral directors, the hero’s, that deserve… Read more »

Daniel Langdale
Guest

Sorry excuse the typo “heroes”!

Quokkagirl
Guest
Quokkagirl

I’m cheered to see so much constructive comment in this thread. It is surely the only way forward for GFG. It must retain its position as consumer champion and must at all costs avoid getting caught up in the politics of the ‘trade’. To have a wide spread of external assessors will give the accreditation independence from the ‘one man band’ accusation and give the punters a chance to believe what they read knowing that the fds have been judged against the same competencies and standards.

David Holmes
Guest

It is totally understandable that you have concluded this plan is a good one Charles. The blog clearly serves a valuable purpose – but sadly costs money to run. Count me in please – send me a pack!

Mark Shaw
Guest

I agree that for a GFG recomendation / listing to have any merit, and safeguard the credibility of GFG inspections, a serious investigation into the technical ability of the firm must be done. A family could give a glowing report of one firm, without any awareness of the scope or true ability of that FD – but rather – just because they liked them.

Costs then arise, liability then creeps in.

Charles…. SAIF is advertising for an operations director type person. Apply for thsi and work from within the profession?!?!

Charles
Guest

Nice idea, Mark, but not for me, I’m afraid! In any case, we want to stand on the side of consumers. It’s for the trade bodies to keep an eye on the technical stuff, I think, and we don’t want to adopt their brief or replicate their work or stake out any of their turf. We’re not about discovering if an FD is using precisely the right chemical to clean his mortuary floor, we’re about drilling down into the ideals and rituals that lie behind the work that goes on in that mortuary. This means that we are not about… Read more »

Ian
Guest
Ian

sorry about the typo’s!

Ian
Guest
Ian

Comparing an NAFD or SAIF accreditation to a recommend from the GFG is, in my opinion, unrealistic. SAIF and the NAFD set out a very clear (if basic and limited) set of criteria for membership. This is based on a premisses inspection to set out a very basic standard, and also to ensure that several procedural steps are taken by the funeral directors. Neither organisation would recommend specific funeral directors. I cannot see how this in any way compares to a ‘recommendation’ to use specific funeral directors which as fare as I can see is based on a few minutes… Read more »

Nick Gandon
Guest

I can only extol what I personally see as being the significiant advantages of being recommended by the GFG. It is independent of any funeral business, whilst having, as an organisation, an unfettered and commendable understanding of how the trade operates. Whilst the NAFD and SAIF uphold the traditional membership of many FDs in the UK, it can be argued that they have failed to “keep up” with some of the more recent trends in funeral service. The GFG, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air when it comes to exploring and discussing new ideas and methods.… Read more »

Andrew Patey
Guest

There is a difference between paying to be listed and covering the cost of an assessment although I can see that to some this may be a very thin line. I would suggest that once a funeral firm has been identified as a ‘potential’ candidate for inclusion in the guide they are informed of this and advised that in order for their inclusion to proceed their premises and practices would need to be assessed as confirmation of the validity of their inclusion for which the payment of an appropriate fee to cover the assessors costs would be required. Nominated funeral… Read more »

gloria mundi
Guest

I guess he’s just being supportive, Frank. You know the stuff – helps people along and expresses agreement over an important matter.

Colin Fisher
Guest

Thank you Gloria, I felt a bit picked on by Frank, I was just saying I fully agree with the GFG and its policies.

Frank
Guest
Frank

Colin, Poppy may be agreeable, but please make a comment that is constructive! why comment with nothing?

Colin Fisher
Guest

Sounds good to me, I agree with Poppy.

Paul Hensby
Guest

Leaving aside your rather droll: ‘Grave reputational damage’, comments such as this by from Philip Evans are very encouraging. I think it far better that GFG continues to recommend funeral directors, even if it means charging for the recommendation, that ‘giving it all up’. You are, though, Charles, starting on a course that could be very time consuming and expensive. If, as we all wish, the GFG rapidly gains the reputation as the must have ‘kite mark’ how will you be able to visit the several thousand of FDs? How long do you spend with them? Do you and your… Read more »

Philip Evans
Guest

As a newish business, having only just entered our second year of trading, we relied on the GFG to help us and I have to admit, membership has been very advantageous. I can count at least five funerals that came via the GFG which is more than good enough for me, to warrant paying my dues for a re-listing for 2013. A worthy accreditation process does cost. There will be teething problems, there will be question, concerns and sceptics. That’s all good. That helps Charles and Co consider all pros and cons. But whatever avenue the GFG takes, I fully… Read more »

Frank
Guest
Frank

How can you recommend a Funeral Director/Service, when they/it have been trading for a short period of time? Are the big groups allowed to apply, branch by branch, individuals, or not at all? A recommendation needs a basis of excellant service provided over a period of time, but what period of time, what size of Company? A day, 1 good funeral…..

Michael Gamble
Guest

I don’t think you have any choice but to charge. Any guide worth it’s salt has to put some time and effort into giving a recommendation. No way should it be just about paying a fee and getting a mention. Time and effort cost money and somebody has to pay and it would not work if you charged the consumer. (Not yet anyway!) The acid test will be in the reviews that the GFG provide. If they are unbiased, informative and ultimately truthful then they should enhance our businesses and provide us with some good PR as well as giving… Read more »

Janice Hutton
Guest
Janice Hutton

Hi Charles, How much are you going to be charging FD’s to be recommended on the GFG. On your own admission you can’t get to see everyone yourself, which I quite understand, but who will be visiting my premises to decide if we are suitable or not, and what qualifications would they have?

Andrew Hickson
Guest

I think the difficulty, GM, is that once you start something like this, you have to keep it up. We all agree, don’t we, that self-regulating is no use whatsoever, so you have to visit every premises on a whatever-the-conditions-are basis, preferably unannounced. Can the GFG guarantee that this will happen?

I’m perhaps coming across as negative, but I don’t mean to. I would hope that, as a potential consumer/payer I am justified in asking these questions.

gloria mundi
Guest

It would surely be simple enough to date the “recommended” badges? I go to Cropredy Festival every year, but I’d not get in with last year’s wristband!
Andrew raises useful points, but in the end, despite risks or pitfalls, either it’s worth a shot or it isn’t.
And no-one is compelled to get assessed, it’s not Ofsted!

claire callender
Guest

I don’t see any other way forward, I think it is important that people are assessed or what does it mean? And assessing them costs money now all the information is online and you don’t have to buy a book to get it.

Andrew Hickson
Guest

I think Frank makes a fair point about the danger of a slippery slope, and Charles’ comment that “[the] GFG has always been a labour of love” is an important one. As soon as you start charging people for things, you become a business, which brings with it all the nasties like tax, liability, accountability and record keeping. So what was a labour of love moves up a step or two. You’d need professional indemnity insurance in case you recommended someone who turned out bad wouldn’t you? Perhaps you already have it though. There’s a danger also that you open… Read more »

Charles
Guest

All good points, Andrew, and thank you for voicing them. 1. While I am not businesslike, I now have partners who are. 2. The Recommended By logo has a shelf life of one year. A de-recommended FD would be trading on an out-of-date logo. In the case of persistent offenders and fraudulent claims, there are, as they say, avenues. 3. Some FDs won’t want to renew because they won’t feel the need to — rural undertakers well-known in their community, for example. Their clients are unlikely to consult the GFG, having no need of it (the GFG is for undecideds… Read more »

Andrew Hickson
Guest

I wouldn’t mind betting I’m not the only person who has noticed that the logo at the top of this blog post is undated and therefore has an infinite shelf life …

Charles
Guest

I did think about that! But it’s a photoshop job — anyone could do it. And we all know of people who have used the NAFD logo without warrant… Scoundrels is scoundrels — but they’ll receive no confirmation from the website, nor their own page on it with a full review. And we can always add a blacklist to the site, I suppose, (speaking off the top of my head, never a clever thing to do).

gloria mundi
Guest

I think it’s reasonable, Frank, to point out the difference between a commission and a one-off fee for an assessment, and also to point out that as far as I understand it, it won’t be a “one-man band.” As for the difference between the GFG and the other bunch of initials, well presumably the difference will emerge when people look at how the thing is done, what is looked at for assessment by the GFG, how the assessments are written up, i.e. the detail. So maybe your opening burst of irony is a little ahead of the starter’s gun!

Frank
Guest
Frank

Yep, sound like a great plan. A one man band starts to take a commission off Funeral Directors, then we will get recommended by who? slippery slope….there would be no difference between you, the N.A.F.D or S.A.I.F. I am considering a society called the T.R.G.F.G. no admin fee, recommended by family’s! Watch this space!

Colin Fisher
Guest

With your attitude Frank I think you should be recommending the Co Op and Dignity. I think the GFG is great for the consumer and the funeral director I would pay anything to be recognised for my Customer service

Evelyn
Guest

Sounds like a good plan. Hunt the Heroes…

Poppy Mardall
Guest

Sounds completely fair to me. The GFG does a great job – long may it last.