President’s October Post

October 9, 2013   //   No Comments

Most of us have, hopefully, enjoyed the summer break and have returned refreshed and ready for the winter ahead. A fairly hectic schedule seems to be in the offing having recently attended the National Association of Memorial Masons annual banquet in Crewe, a place which itself might not sound terribly exciting, but I can assure you that the surroundings of Crewe Hall are magnificent and well worth a visit, (and they do turn out ‘Bentleys’ there)! Ivan Ash has done a spell of two years as President, which is pretty unusual and is now ready for his successor, Yvonne is ready and anxious to take up the mantle. As funeral directors we rely a great deal on members of this kindred association to ensure our reputations are maintained and it is comforting to know that these traditions skills are in safe and responsible hands.

The ICCM Annual Banquet takes place in Lincolnshire next Tuesday, Andrew Smith’s open day in Macclesfield on the following Saturday is followed the same day by the CFSMA Annual Banquet in Cumbernauld, the BIFD AGM takes place later in the month as does SAIF Kent/Sussex Regional Meeting and the opening of a new office for Justin Burgess, so the car will take a bit of a hammering in the next few weeks.

The Essex Regional Meeting was extremely well attended at the County Cricket Ground in Chelmsford on 11st September, with a particularly illuminating and informative address from HM Coroner’s Service Manager for Essex outlining in considerable detail, the new removal tendering process, which we hope will prove to be fair with zero and negative tenders being deemed to be unacceptable – about time too !

The Devon meeting on 18th September in Tiverton was so popular that we were unable to accommodate a couple of late applicants. Chris Howe spoke to us in an entertaining fashion of some of his many unusual experiences as a Civil Celebrant and a good evening was had by all and I should record that a record amount was raised for this year’s charities in our little ‘guess the mileage’ competition.

SAIF’s Special General Meeting on 11th September duly approved the small increase in subscriptions for 2014 and I would like to remind all SAIFCharter members that an EGM will be held in London later in the year to submit a number of important changes to the Constitution for members’ approval. You will receive notification as soon as final details are available.

The prospect of Local Authority trading has once again reared its ugly head with at least one, so far, attempting to offer memorials to the public coupled with vague threats about entry in to funeral service also appearing on the scene. The kindred associations whose members it might affect are determined to act in unison to snuff out this potentially unfair competition and joint discussions have already been held to decide the way forward.

Price matching is a topic that is becoming more prevalent as I travel the county, and whilst I am not aware that it breaches any code of practice, if you are confronted with a request to beat somebody else’s quote I can’t stress the importance that the clients understands exactly what he is being quoted for, so that a true comparison can be obtained. We can all, when presented with a competitors quote say, “oh yes, we’ll do that £xx cheaper” but we need to recognise where this is going to lead the profession in years ahead if the practice is perpetuated. Profits will be denuded and previously high standards will, inevitably, fall as investments in staff, premises, vehicles etc is curtailed. I am certainly not advocating high prices, but fair charges which truly reflect the value of the service provided should be the order of the day.

Finally, the autumnal weather, at least here in Wigan in the North West, has been exceptionally kind and the glorious colours are just starting to appear. Let’s hope this is a foretaste of a kind winter and I look forward to meeting many of you in the hectic month that lies ahead.