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