Three Beautiful things:
Clematis recovering from frost bite
Connecting with an old friend: Dirt by Donna
Cheeseburger, fries and thick banana shake.
Points of consternation:
Cats wrecking my flower beds
It’s a good life!
Doug at Funeralwire has a good article regarding the “old guard” in the funeral home industry, his observations:
“Seven years ago, while attending the Baltimore convention of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), I remember chatting with one of the nation’s top business advisors to funeral homes about how the profession had changed. This seasoned professional believes that many funeral-home owners have stumbled into something of a disconnect with their communities, due in large part to the difficult changes reshaping the industry, such as the rising cremation rate and declining profit margins. Some long-time owners, this adviser contends, have actually grown angry at their families for increasingly choosing cremation or other, less lucrative service options.
“I was skeptical back in 2000 when I first heard this theory … but since then, I have interviewed a dozen or two owners in their 60s and 70s who brazenly articulated this sort of anger toward the changing consumer – i.e., toward their own families. One can only hope that such attitudes will become more rare as funeral homes continue to transfer to the next generation of ownership.”
Of course, there are some consumers who just can’t be satisfied – whether it’s at a restaurant, car dealership or funeral home. A large percentage of the families aren’t chronic complainers. For many of them, just lodging a complaint makes it that much harder to come to terms with a recent loss; they wouldn’t do it unless they felt strongly that their family had been mistreated or their concerns ignored.
We’ve observed this anger with funeral directors in our area, and most do fall into the 60-70 year old age range. They are angry because many of the cremation families are wealthy, but don’t want to spend money on a “funeral”. They are angry because the church is so involved in the planning process. They are angry at the “un-churched” and seemingly lack of respect for the body and ceremony.
There are a couple of exceptions in this market with “progressive” funeral directors who are embracing the families wishes and rolling with the changes. Most of these funeral homes report a cremation rate of 30% and growing. Compared to CA, FL, and CO, that’s a small percentage. However, if a third of my business is coming from a certain segment and continues to increase, I pay attention.
And now a word from the Funeral Consumer Alliance:
“I hear many of the same complaints….and they come in daily. No, I’m not accusing the majority of the business of behaving in the ways you described in your article, but there are more complaints than anyone in the industry wants to admit. Indeed, they might not even hear about them – but FCA does. Some of the most common:
1. No GPL (general price list) given (23 years after the Funeral Rule went into effect).
2. Family pushed to buy a package, sometimes to the point of being lied to and told they had no choice (a common complaint from SCI customers, but it happens with indies, too).
3. Slippery pre-need salesmanship – “If you don’t buy your grave today, prices are doubling in three weeks” (another common corporate common-on).
4. Raising prices on services when the funeral home finds out the family is buying an outside casket (another Funeral Rule violation). Again, hats off to those funeral directors who wouldn’t dream of doing these things. I’m proud to know many of them. But it ain’t just 1 percent who are the bad apples, no matter how hard the associations want to argue that point. Until the percentage is that low, all of funeral service will suffer a black eye, deserved or not.
One important piece of advice I think you missed: Act within the law. Know the Funeral Rule. Know your state statutes. Training staff on handling complaints is good advice, but it’s closing the barn door after the horse is gone. The best cure is prevention.
Executive Director Funeral Consumers Alliance