Is change a threat or an opportunity?

09/06/2021   //   No Comments

SAIF thanks Paul Allcock for his words. Paul is SAIF’s government liaison rep, a past president and long-standing member of the Executive Committee.

As we reach the middle of 2021 and the workload for funeral directors appears to continue to ease, finally after 18 months of strain and stress, I’m sure I’m not alone in my thoughts turning to the future. It is the first opportunity for many of us to review ourselves, our businesses and where we stand with all the changes happening in the funeral service industry.

I have frequently spoken of the anxiety which many of my fellow funeral directors have with regard to the new regulations due to be implemented following the market investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). I have also stated that in my opinion, if a business is managed appropriately, with the intention to offer the best care to both client and the deceased that there should be little to be concerned of.

The whole point of the CMA’s investigation was to prevent inappropriate business practices and unfair pricing of services. Well, I make no apology for my stance, and if a business has to change its pricing structure or improve its facilities to be able to offer the best care of the deceased then surely that has to be a good thing.

SAIF, as the trade association for independent funeral directors, acts on behalf of businesses from very small single branch companies doing a handful of funerals each year to the substantial multi branched companies carrying out funerals in the thousands. There have been concerns from each end of this scale, sometimes with similar concerns to each other, but more often than not it does vary, often depending on the facilities available on site.

Some of the larger companies are concerned about the added workload of having to send regular financial reports to the CMA, while some of the smaller companies are concerned that they may have to improve their facilities or maybe even share or hire a facility at added expense to avoid conflict with any new inspectorate. There are a number of areas of concern, all completely understandable, and I do have sympathy with those who may have to change a number of things in their business to comply with new regulations.

But we have to understand that it is impossible in business today to stand still and carry on the way we always have, simply because that’s the way we’ve always done it. If any business thinks that they can do so and survive, then I fear their survival time may be short. But if you view the changes afoot to be a huge opportunity to perhaps identify weaknesses and improve your business and the service you offer to the public, then I believe in the words of Julian of Norwich that “all will be well”.

It is undoubtedly a mindset that has to change for many of us. It is also difficult to be positive after the past 18 months that we have all endured. But one thing that all members of SAIF should be aware of is that SAIF is there to support you. Be that through the SAIF Business Centre or simply by the support of friendly members either locally or on a national scale. Independent funeral directors are undoubtedly stronger when they work together for the good of themselves, their business and their clients.

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