Competition & Market Authority’s Interim Report updateDecember 19, 2018 // No Comments
Dear SAIF Members,
Last week we informed you about the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) Interim Report that was published.
The report was written primarily from an economic perspective, about the pricing data. The positive of that view is it considers the needs of the consumer, the weakness of a purely economic outlook is that it fails to understand the unique consumer journey that a client embarks on when contracting a funeral director and was weak on understanding bespoke funeral wishes of the deceased and their next of kin, plus the hours of excellent caring professionalism that goes on behind the scenes for the funeral service.
The SAIF National Executive Committee met on Wednesday 5th December where this was the primary agenda for discussion.
The next step is that we are forming a Task Group to address the issues that the CMA has raised and how we can constructively engage the questions and challenges raised. What is clear to us at SAIF is that we are very intent about ensuring the client is informed about choice, level of service and pricing. We will continue to be therefor members of our communities at their time of need.
We have contacted the CMA and a delegation from SAIF will be meeting with them before Christmas to address the Interim Report and clarifying the matters raised.
We continue to recommend members’ put their prices online and the SAIF Task Group will be providing guidelines in the new year for a standard template. In the meantime, for those who have websites, we recommend the price of a simple funeral service and your full funeral service be uploaded for starters.
Be assured that customers chose funeral directors on the basis of quality and service, not just price. Ensure the ‘about us’ section of your website is descriptive to your values, personnel, history and community engagement. Who you are and what you stand for!
The news of the CMA Interim Report is that over 60% of the at-need market is held by independent funeral directors and the report provided reassuring data that Independents continue to provide the most competitive value to the consumer as well as bespoke high value. Independents see their work as a vocation, rather than simply driven by shareholder profit, we are firms driven by service to the bereaved at fair prices.
We would encourage members to write to the CMA setting out your position about how you protect the client, how you explain the pricing structure and what quality of service looks like.
The funeral is truly a unique service and cannot be understood simply as a product that can be commoditised, that quality for care of the deceased requires significant ongoing investment, training of staff as well as care of the next of kin throughout an intense emotive time, and independent funeral directors remain client centred and provide increasing services including aftercare such as bereavement care through SAIF Care as well as bereavement groups. The length of time from the time of death to the funeral service has doubled over the last ten years and this also has cost implications. As the Inspector of Funeral Directors in Scotland says, ‘it costs to provide quality of service’.
More will follow from SAIF over the next month or so.
Be encouraged that SAIF independent funeral directors are providing outstanding service with fair pricing to their families. We say, continue to lead the sector, continue to be client centred and continue to excel with caring professionalism!
The SAIF Team