In time of test, family is best

December 18, 2020   //   No Comments

SAIF thanks Paul Allcock for this blog. Paul is Past President, Government Liaison rep and long-standing member of the Executive Committee.

The primary concern for many businesses at this time is their viability in an ever-changing world. But for funeral directors, perhaps any threats are not from a tragic virus, but from the many external factors trying to influence decision making for both funeral directors and the public alike.

I am always surprised that there often appears to be a feeling of insecurity within many funeral directing businesses. Concerns that if they don’t follow certain trends that somehow they may be left in the wilderness! There has been much discussion and promotion within the media and I have seen many and varied new influencers enter the market in recent years. Each with big ideas and all claiming to have the answers in securing the future of my business.

But like many new businesses, they are often looking at ways to make immediate returns, often for shareholders, rather than looking at any long-term success. In contrast to this, the majority of funeral services have been trading for tens, if not hundreds of years. It is vital therefore that each of us stands up for what is right for our individual businesses, as well as for the greater good of our clients. We mustn’t let ourselves be dictated to.

But make decisions based on personal experience and good judgement. I know that there is nobody who knows what is good for my business better than me, especially if they try to convince me that they do. Funeral directors must trust in their values of quality and care and as we approach Christmas at the end of such a difficult year for everyone, my thoughts turn to what really matters in our lives. For me it is family, both personally, but also my family is the most important element of my business.

Approximately 10 years ago I was invited to speak at a seminar for family businesses. I was due to speak in the afternoon and sat through a number of lectures in the morning from individuals from some of the larger family businesses in my region. There seemed almost without exception to be a theme of successful businesses but failing families. It was evident that there had been a falling out between previously close family members for the supposed good of the business. And the priority always seemed to be that all was well because the business was successful at that time.

The notes I had made were deposited into the dustbin over lunch and I spoke in the afternoon from my heart about the importance of family relationships, and the fact that if my business was likely to split my family, that it would be the business that would be disposed of for the good of my family, rather than the other way around! Is success in business the be all and end all, or is happiness and peace of mind? I know which side I fall on!

For me happiness and peace of mind is the perfect structure for a successful business. Interestingly two thirds of those large family businesses are no longer in existence 10 years on; in my mind showing further evidence of the value of family in business. It is the same within SAIF, where I see our membership as one big family. We are able to call on each other for practical help and we can speak to experienced individuals who are always ready to offer guidance and support when we need it.

And I for one, would not want to break my relationship with my fellow family members for the sake of pacifying outside sources who feel that they can influence our decision making. A family and any business is always stronger when it sticks together, through thick and thin, to achieve the most appropriate outcome for the good of all. In these changing times it is more vital than it ever has been, that we stick together and move forward together in exactly the way that SAIF was created to do.

It is the same within SAIF, where I see our membership as one big family.

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