Counting the cost

Charles Cowling



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.





5 thoughts on “Counting the cost

  1. Charles Cowling
    Charles Cowling

    Ah, I think you put your finger on it, Jonathan. There’s price, and there’s value.

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling
    Jonathan Taylor

    It’s too perfunctory to be a genuine service. Cheaper isn’t always better, and you can’t take a funeral back to the shop for a replacement.

    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling

    Ah it’s good to see the captain back on the bridge

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    Jo Loveridge

    I agree with Maggie above. It is unfortunately a little bit ‘one size fits all’ and doesn’t give a true reflection of real prices. Also it’s very easy to make yourself look as if you are offering a cheaper funeral, only to add extras on later…. Then the more genuine outfits are at a disadvantage if there is a focus on price.

    I also spoke to them and mentioned that I find that for someone who has no idea what they need or want – it’s asking for too many decisions which could lead people to panic somewhat. There are no explanations or descriptions to help people make those decisions…..

    May I take this opportunity to say how deeply sad I am that this wonderful guide will soon be lost to us all. I know just how hard you have all worked to keep it going and it must have been a very difficult decision to make…. I would like to thank you for providing us all with so much knowledge and information and fascinating discussions that have contributed to changing this industry forever. On a more personal basis, as a Funeral Director, I have drawn inspiration and confidence from you to do what I feel is right instead of blindly following the trend, and also an endless source of information and I’m extremely grateful to you for empowering me in that way. I hope and pray that perhaps at a future date this cause will be resurrected and will continue to pave the way to bringing about real changes. I cannot bear to think that I will no longer be able to refer back to this valuable source of material but would like to wish you all, particularly Charles all the very best for the future………….

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling

    These site promise much but, sadly, don’t give the true picture. We spoke with Nick at Funeral Choice and had our prices listed on their site (for a free trial). Unfortunately we soon realised that the prices listed by the site are not ‘like for like’ and subsequently asked to have our details removed. We voiced our concerns with Nick who promised to look into how the site lists the prices. Having looked today at the site, it seems as though nothing has changed.

    Charles Cowling

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