Welcome to the SAIF President’s new blog

July 28, 2016   //   1 Comment

blogThis is the first of what I hope will become an ongoing feature of our SAIF website. Hopefully at least someone out there will find it interesting, at times thought provoking, and you never know, even enlightening. Following my recent introduction to the world of Twitter, I have become more aware of the constant barrage of criticism which is levied at Funeral Directors on a daily basis. I have to admit that I hadn’t realised just how many individuals, groups and companies seem to have jumped on the bandwagon, and just how fast it seems to be rolling.

This has got me to thinking, firstly is there any justification in the accusations of extortionate pricing and the lack of transparency in our industry.  Secondly, if there is, what we need to do as Funeral Directors to ensure that the wagon is well and truly derailed, so that it can never get back on the track in the future!  Since many of us signed up to the Fair Funerals Pledge a few months back, they have renewed the criteria to include transparency by asking Funeral Directors to include their prices on company websites. This is something I have done since I opened my own family business back in the year 2000. This proved to be a very sound business decision. There is an ever increasing number of people whose first thought is to use the internet for information. I know for a fact that many families have chosen to use my company to look after their loved one’s funeral, purely because we were open and up front about our costs on our website.

The criticisms also made me wonder, are there companies charging far too much for their services, and if so why? Is it simply because they can! Some of the charges being touted, I struggle to understand or indeed believe. Initially my thoughts were that exaggerated figures may be being touted by companies with a vested interest in funeral costs being excessive. While there may be an element of truth in this, it is however evident that some Funeral Directors have taken advantage of the publicised high prices to increase their own costs. I wonder if this is part of the reason that many are yet to put their prices online. There is no logical reason to keep this information hidden, unless of course there is something worth hiding! I don’t believe for one moment that any of our membership would feel that they can take advantage of the bereaved if they don’t know what the charges are in the first place. So perhaps there is concern that competitors will see prices online and undercut their neighbouring businesses. Let’s be realistic, every competitor is well aware of each other’s prices already. Competition is healthy, both for the Funeral Director and the consumer.

If standards need to be improved to compete against lower pricing, then so be it. We should all strive to be the best in our field, and if we do then there will be no grounds for future criticism of standards or pricing. Ask yourself, if every Funeral Director in the country, had their prices online, how would this effect you? Would it make you change your pricing policy? In my opinion, (and I am well aware there are many will disagree with me) it should make no difference whatsoever. It should be the quality of your service which differentiates you from your competitors. I have never taken any notice of competitors’ pricing, and subsequently my costs may be viewed as too low, however I simply work on the traditional business method of profit over expense, and believe wholeheartedly that what I charge is fair both to me and my clients.

I may never be a rich man, but my conscience will always be clear! Which is more important to you?

Paul Allcock

 

This blog reflects the view of the author.

‘Blog’ image created by NY – http://nyphotographic.com/License: Creative Commons 3 – CC BY-SA 3.0

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