It is expensive to start up a funeral business and, because we already have more funeral directors than we need, it’s a brave (or stupid) thing to do.

People who start from scratch and go it alone are normally passionate about what they do. Many of them once worked for one of the big groups where they reacted strongly against systems of working which prevented them from giving their customers the degree of personal service they reckoned they needed. We must backhandedly bless the Co-op, in particular, for unintentionally breeding some of our best born-again independent funeral directors.

Be aware, though, that there are some dodgy start-ups out there run by idiots or only in it for the money.

New businesses are normally one or two-person affairs. They are not usually rushed off their feet, so they have more time for you. Their premises will probably not be big and well resourced, merely adequate.

Given the oversupply of funeral directors in the UK it’s pointless to start a new business if you’re just going to do things the way they’ve always been done. Some of them do, nevertheless. Yet it is in this sector that you are also most likely to find the most intelligent, interesting, progressive undertakers, often with an un-stuffy way of going about things. Despite their relative inefficiency, the minnows normally charge no more than anyone else – sometimes less and often not enough.

One thing you can trust: the name over the door means exactly what it says.