In our recent blog ‘Independent Funeral Homes Grow Market Share’ [28 December 2018], we discussed why a more informed consumer, an increase in funeral shopping and the rise of modern, creative funeral directors has resulted in a shift in funeral volumes to smaller independent funeral homes.
What are independent funeral directors?
Independent funeral directors are privately-owned businesses run by small teams, rather than those managed by large corporate chains. They’re usually family-run businesses that pride themselves on their quality of customer service, and many have been in business for generations.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between an independent funeral director and a large national chain, especially if you’re not familiar with the funeral industry.
Yet, who owns the funeral home can entirely change the experience of arranging a funeral, from what you can expect to pay right up to the quality of the funeral itself.
How are independent funeral directors different to corporate funeral brands?
They’re small, locally run businesses. Independent funeral homes are often run by families, and (being part of a smaller, close-knit team) even unrelated staff tend to become honorary family members.
Their focus is on service. Independent funeral directors are usually prepared to go that bit further to help a family in need because they are not constrained by profit-driven targets set by management and shareholders. They are more focused on looking after families during a difficult time.
They have close community links. Independent funeral homes will also know the area they operate in have close links with the community. Most independent funeral homes are already deeply invested in the community, often getting involved in fundraising for local charities.
What are the benefits of choosing an independent funeral director?
1) Price. Independents tend to be more reasonably priced. Independents are able to give you a better price because they make a smaller margins on the funeral compared with the large corporations and have fewer overheads.
2) Continuity of service. It is common practice for staff of multiple brands to swap ties, scarves and magnets on the side of hearses in between funerals to represent the brand to which you made the ‘first call’. If you choose an independent funeral director, you can generally trust that the person who helped you at the start of the funeral planning process will also be there to support you at the funeral itself, rather than a stranger.
3) Flexibility. Because independent funeral directors manage their own time, they can spend more time trying to understand your requirements and are often more flexible.
4) Experience. Independent funeral directors often have years and years of experience, and a history in the community that can make it easier for them to arrange even unusual requests.
5) Ongoing bereavement support. Some independents offer ongoing support after the funeral, and include this in their own professional service fees. Many hold free annual memorial services around the end of the year to support all the families they’ve served and commemorate their loved ones.
How can you tell if a funeral director is independent?
Don’t be deceived by a family name above the door – it does not necessarily mean they are independent.
Often, large funeral chains will use family names on their signs, because they know customers will be more inclined to trust them, and they often use the reputation of the family name. It is quite common for corporations to operate under old family names and not change the look of the premises after the funeral home changes hands.
So, how can you tell?
1) Look for a brand name. One good way to tell if a funeral director is independent is to look for a brand name, such as InvoCare, in the bottom corner of the funeral home sign and at the bottom or top of paperwork.
2) Visit eziFunerals. If a funeral director is signed up to eziFunerals, they’re independent. We do not list corporate brands on our site.
3) Check their website and funeral home. If they are an independent funeral director, it may be prominently displayed on their website or their funeral home.
4) Ask. You should also be able to find if your funeral director is independent when you visit the funeral home. If you’re unsure, just ask!
eziFunerals is a supports individuals and families cope with end of life decisions, death and funerals. We are an independent, Australian-owned and operated company, and are not a subsidiary of any other corporation. We are not part of any other funeral company. Founded by consumers frustrated by how difficult it was to get independent information, eziFunerals supports consumers plan a funeral, compare prices and select the right funeral director anywhere, anytime.