What’s in a hearse?

Charles Cowling

100 Black Glossy

 

All cats famously look the same in the dark. All hearses look the same whatever the light conditions.

What a thing to say!

Undertakers, we know we sometimes get up your noses and you probably think we do it for sport. Mostly we don’t. In the matter of the above outrageous statement, we assure you it’s true. Trust us. We are industry outsiders. We speak for the people. We are the people.

We know what auto-lust consumes you as you finger your Binz catalogues. We know how you bask in the envy of your fellow undertakers. We know you believe your vehicles to be an inextricable constituent of your identity. We see the photos on your websites of your glossy flocks fanned out behind you. You believe they warble siren songs to funeral shoppers. We worry about the repayment charges you have to pass on to said shoppers.

When bereaved people climb aboard, where do you think their thoughts lie? Hmnn? There should your focus be also. So long as it’s big, black and shiny, that’ll do, thanks. 

To be fair, the only way to test this would be to conduct a survey. We haven’t done that. Nor in the interest of market research, have you. Is your case for shelling out all that money as strong as you think it is?

Actually, in the case of AW Lymn, in Nottingham, it may be. Lymn’s has a fleet of Rolls Royces. Rolls Royces are the epitome of stateliness, very distinctive. 

Someone who has done a survey is the blogger at The Other Side of Funerals in Sydney, Australia. Over there, funeral directors go to great lengths to customise their hearses so that they embody their identity:

For example, WNBulls bought their chrome bars (used on the roof and inside the back) from overseas so nobody else in Sydney could possibly have similar bars.  Then when they sold an older hearse they deliberately sold it out of state.  Despite the fact that it was an older design for the company.  Another example is of how Elite Funerals have a patent on the design of the roof for their hearse.  So again, nobody else will have a hearse like it.

The results of the survey make for fascinating and illuminating reading:

Those who never work(ed) in the industry were unable to recognise any hearse correctly.  Yet for those who work(ed) in the industry this category had the highest correct recognition.

We urge you to pop over to The Other Side of Funerals and have a look. It’s as thorough a piece of research as you will ever see, a really excellent piece of work.

There are three posts. Read the first here, the second here and the third here

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Lee BengoughGregory Michael Taylorandrew plumeLindaEdward Cutler Recent comment authors

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Lee Bengough
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Lee Bengough

Like The New Binz Hearse Superior UK Are Selling, Very Stylish. Wouldn’t mind having a go at one of those 3 litre turbo diesel.

Gregory Michael Taylor
Guest

Another good talking point, Im all for it, Andrew agree with you ref the Merc how different would that look and with a touch of class thrown in. Poppys in London (and the outskirts) use a vehicle that represents this very subject, and the good lady has recently updated there website,I like the fact her prices are clear and understanding, I have taken the bold move and put my prices in my shop window, The touch paper has just been lit and im sure ill get some comments on here, but not everyone feels they are comfortable in asking for… Read more »

Linda
Guest

I cant’ bear the traditional black hearse and limo! at the National Funeral exhibition I asked why they were all the same and why couldn’t some one design something more modern! No one could give me a valid reason, lets see if anyone has anything different this year. I hope that if I am ever lucky enough to be able to buy a fleet I can find something far more interesting!

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

….with you entirely here Linda

there are the silver alternatives of course

my preference would be for the burgundy/brown colour livery that were infrequently seen on Merc’s a few years back, classy imo

regards

andrew

Edward Cutler
Guest

I think vehicles are very important. We have just purchased our own fleet of Jaguar Vehicles, and feel we made the right choice. We previously hired all of our vehicles from a well known carriage master, who provided us with brand new, extremely clean Jaguar Vehicles with smart drivers etc. We opened in 2009, carried out 78 funerals in our first year, but last year carried out 250 funerals so decided on the back of that to invest in a fleet. Most of our competition run Jaguars by either owning or hiring them. We did consider Mercedes to differentiate ourselves,… Read more »

andrew plume
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andrew plume

Charles said……………..

“……We see the photos on your websites of your glossy flocks fanned out behind you……..”

aaah yes…………….as in:-

http://www.williamsfunerals.com/fleet.php ; and

http://www.cravens-funerals.com/funeral-car-merseyside.html

regards

andrew

Charles Cowling
Guest

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comfortable, Andrew.

Love the charcoal, Nick. And the famous former occupants link. FDs ought to market this, offering the hearse that bore the remains of a famous rocker, movie star, politician, scientist…

I wonder, Ru, if your used motor is imbued with sufficient Dignity and Reverence.

Susan Morris
Guest

What glorious Sunday afternoon reading. Thank you

Nick Gandon
Guest

I seem to recall a number of comments relating to the hearse used at the funeral of princess Di. Some comments at the time intimated that the hearse was old and rusty, and one police motorcyclist was quoted as saying that he feared that it wouldn’t last the journey. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand that the Daimler concerned was one of Leverton’s fleet. It was a perfectly roadworthy vehicle, which I believe was professionally resprayed especially for the occasion. Apart from the obvious worries of Daimlers of that vintage (press the starter button and hope to hell… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

A truly thorough survey, Charles. Style and function are often inseparable. Attention to detail is a good thing but what become company obsessions behind the scenes don’t need to be shared with their public. We don’t need to watch the chef to appreciate a well thought-out dish. Too much emphasis on the hearse can also give off the impression that surface considerations are deemed more important than, say, caring human service. If I’m booking an Addision Lee cab to the airport, I expect it to be clean and comfortable but this would be negated if the driver was surly. An… Read more »

Ru Callender
Guest

Our car, Volvo 940, not hearse is always the oldest in the congregation. Claire says our autobiography will be called, “It’s not about the car.”

Andrew Hickson
Guest

There are a few of us undertakers who don’t have hearse envy. There are even a few of us who LOL at (and I quote from the website of a funeral director firm not far from me, complete with random capital letters and spelling mistakes): “Monday the 24th September saw T L Cobbold take delivery of its brand new fleet of Mercedes vehicles. 2 E class hearses and 2 six seater Limousines replace our previous vehicles which in themselves were only 5 years old. The Mercedes name is Synonymous with quality and these new vehicles certainly live up to that… Read more »

andrew plume
Guest
andrew plume

aah yes Andrew the usual promotional blurb from the house of Lodge Bros they’re big in this on their websire and at the same time displaying all of their good works for the local communities dah de dah etc etc a strong Indy, Lodge certainly are but they too seem awash with Area Management etc etc and all of the bells and whstles which come with it, whereas as you rightly state, none of that baggage comes with your business why, why, why, large Indy’s such as Lodge cannot display their prices on their website is a mystery to me?… Read more »