Because of the stubborn refusal of all but a small number of undertakers to post their prices online, there’s a commercial opportunity for an entrepreneur who can offer a useful price+value comparison service for bereaved people.
First out of the blocks was FuneralChoice which offers its service free to undertakers and consumers and depends on mystery shopping to source prices, a labour-intensive, never-ending process. Undertakers are listed whether they want to be or not. Coverage now looks pretty good. The site is quick and clear. Clients can’t leave feedback, but the site records GFG and NDC recommendations. How does the site make money? By offering a freemium service: “… we are asking funeral directors if they want to pay a subscription in return for adding additional details for their profile and tailoring their profile to their catchment area.”
New kid on the block is FuneralBooker. It’s free to consumers but – here’s the catch – FuneralBooker charges undertakers a percentage of each funeral referred by the site. It’s a calculated risk: undertakers must ask themselves if they can survive without it. While they make up their minds, coverage is at present less than optimal. Value is determined by customer feedback. The site offers slightly more functionality than FuneralChoice. It’s lean, intuitive and fast, a nice piece of work.
Both sites are run by decent, intelligent people.
Whether or not one or both will thrive is a tough one to call. What we do know is that the profits of funerals are not large, undertakers are unwilling to share them with third parties and they disdain interlopers who seek to make a few bob out of them. What we also know is that consumers are more price conscious than ever and looking for value. Price tells a consumer next to nothing about service values, but it’s a useful starting point.
The case for displaying prices on websites just got even stronger.