Guest post by David Holmes
As the global recession took hold in 2008, families arranging funerals started cutting back on cost. First to face the chop (forgive the pun) was the lovely black limousine. And why not, they are but frippery, very non-essential, so why pay around £200 to hire one when you can easily do without? These days all families have cars don’t they, so getting to the Church or crem on time is very straightforward.
As 2008 gave way to 2009, I made the tough (traditional FD’s love their cars) decision to do away with our own lim as the majority of clients just didn’t want to hire it, opting instead for ‘meet-at’ funerals at lower cost.
Believe it or not, a new Jaguar or Mercedes limousine now costs up to £135,000 to buy; the trade journal Ads implore ‘£30,000 down and just £1,500 per month in easy payments’. Wow! Then there’s the uniformed driver, insurance, fuel, tax, maintenance and garaging to pay for. We spend hours cleaning the damn things too. Running a limousine is an expensive business, and frankly only the large busy ‘cluster of branches’ FD’s can really make them pay – because they can pack their diary with jobs and with luck, get the same limousine out on up to 10 funerals a week. Do the maths, 10 x £200 makes the investment very worthwhile.
At the same time as our lim was cut, my telephone mystery shopping of competitors informed me that when telephone quoting for funerals, they had suddenly started offering a ‘free limousine’ – astonishing generosity eh? When challenged, they told me that if I, (potential client) didn’t want one, they couldn’t reduce the funeral cost, so I may as well use it. So much for client choice. If you thought big funeral directors were welded to their take it or leave it mindless package funerals, you’d be right. They need to get the maximum return on their investment and make the diary work.
Thankfully for many, the recession seems to be petering out. More clients are hiring limousines again. Rejoice! So, I have just bought a beautiful Jaguar lim to follow our Jaguar hearse and I think clients should definitely hire it. Not just because if I fail to keep up with the hefty payments, ours will be repossessed, but because I think our clients really benefit from having a lim. Who knows how you’ll feel on the day of a funeral? Will you really feel up to driving your own car, will you fret about timekeeping, getting lost or separated from the hearse, and will you be able to park easily on arrival? Carrying up to seven people, you also get to sit with the people you love most – there’s a sense of we’re all in this together. You can comfort one another, laugh, reassure and remember the person up front, and when it’s all over, you can be transported in temperature controlled luxury to the venue of your choice, all for £200, divided by 7 people = £28 each, at £14 each way, surely it’s the best bargain on any funeral director’s price list?
Of course with Holmes & Family funeral directors, you can abandon the whole cortege thing completely and use a smart closed van hearse at a fraction of the hearse and one price. Best of all, no-one will gawp at you traversing the High Street in those long back cars that can make you and yours look like extras in an episode of the Sopranos!