When we opened as an independent funeral service we wanted to follow a simple core ethic. To offer exceptional service and care to our community at an affordable cost. To us, giving exceptional care also means keeping the costs affordable.
You will see our advertising states affordable funeral costs and no restrictions. That's great but what does it mean and aren't all funeral cost roughly the same?
The simple answer is no.
According to research conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority, when choosing a funeral director most families consider:
Reputation (either through recommendation or used before)
Quality of service and care
Perception of cost
You will notice that cost is on there but only as a perception. The truth of the matter is that very few people will research how much a funeral will cost and even less will actually compare funeral service providers cost and service levels.
Only 14% of people organising a funeral compare more than one funeral director and only 4% search for a funeral director on the internet. Only 6% and 5% of people respectively consider that the prices or range of funeral options on offer were important factors in their choice of funeral director. According the the Competition & Markets Authority, Funeral Market Study Interim Report 29.11.2018
Can comparing costs really make that much difference?
Yes £780 for example......
For a standard funeral choice of a full service at Torquay Crematorium with a following limousine there is a difference of £850 between two different funeral companies in Torbay. That is priced on a like for like basis and the information is freely available for families to see online.
This is what we mean by perceived cost. The more expensive funeral company is a well known National Chain and the less expensive one is a local independent funeral director.
We only want a simple service so what is the difference?
Many companies will offer a Simple, Essential, Basic or similar package. These are lower cost options that have all the basic elements people expect for a funeral with only the essential services included. To understand these packages you need to know how the cost of a funeral is made up.
A funeral cost is made up from the following components:
Third Party Fees (or disbursements). These fees are charged by third parties such as crematorium, doctor, minister etc.
Funeral Director Fee (or professional fees)
Additional Products and services (flowers, orders of service, memorial items etc.)
Third Party Fees
Third Party Fees are the same whichever funeral service you use. For a Simple Service at Torquay Crematorium in 2021 the standard fees across all funeral companies would be:
Crematorium Fee - £995
Doctors Fee (if applicable) - £82
Minister Fee (Standard for 2021) -£199
Total Third Party Fees - £1276
Additional Products and Services
For ease we will assume that there will be no additional services or products included in this example.
Funeral Director Fee (Professional Services) or packages
This is what is usually included in the professional fees for a funeral director. A simple Funeral Package is likely to also include a basic coffin.
Professional help and guidance from the funeral director or arranger
Completion and administration of paperwork
Day of the funeral including funeral director, professional bearers and vehicle to convey the coffin.
Bringing a loved one into care and daily care
Visiting in a chapel of rest (although some times may be restricted with a simple package)
A basic coffin (usually included in these funeral packages)
If you see an advert for Simple Funeral Package from £1895 (for example) this is the Package fee, not the entire cost, you will need to add the third party fees and any additional products and/or services to give you the total cost. Packages usually include the funeral director fees with a basic coffin included. The adverts will state plus or not including Third Party Fees after the package price.
That said some funeral companies will show an all inclusive price example and will clearly state that on their adverts.
For example we always advertise an example service at Torquay Crematorium
from £3196 this includes:
Our Professional Fees
Choice of coffin from our Heathfield Range
Worst case third party fees for a fully attended funeral service at Torquay Crematorium (any third party fees that are not required such as doctors fees will be removed from the final invoice).
Itemised Pricing Structure or Simple Package Funeral which is the better value?
Itemised Pricing Structure
We use this method of pricing. We charge one core professional fee that never changes. A family can then add any product or service they wish and they only pay for what they add. The total fee is built during the arrangement and the family can see what the costs are as they go.
The reason we do not offer packages is so that our professional fee remains the same no matter what our families choose. We feel this is the best way for us to give the very best price to our families. Our core professional fee is currently £1650
Our fees look like this:
Third Party Fees - £1276
Our Professional Fees -£1645
Heathfield Range Coffin choice - £275
Total - £3196
Simple Funeral Package Structure
A Simple Funeral Package is lower cost funeral option with only the essential services and elements for a funeral included. A basic coffin is also usually included in the package. You pay for the Simple Funeral Package fees plus any third party cost giving you the total.
The problem is a reduced service for a lower cost means the standard Professional Service Fee for that company is usually higher and they have had to reduce and restrict the included services to offer the package at a reduced cost. The restrictions means that families have to adhere to these restrictions and cannot add any additional products or services or they have to pay the higher professional fee rate.
An example of this would be if the family wanted a simple service at Torquay Crematorium using a National Chain (Simple) Package for example:
Third Party Fees - £1276
Package Price -£1895
Total - £3171
If however that family had relatives that wanted to attend the funeral and they could only arrive on a certain day, they would need to choose the date and time of the funeral service. Family choice of date and time of the funeral is not allowed in the simple package and it is to be chosen by the funeral service provider. This means the family cannot adhere to this restriction so they cannot use the simple package. The costs would now look like this:
Third Party fees - £1276
Funeral Director Fees - £2250
Coffin (no longer included) start from - £450
Total - £3976
This means just to choose the date and time of the funeral has cost that family an extra £805 as they cannot use the Simple Package.
With itemised pricing we do not apply restrictions so our total cost would remain unchanged at £3196. This means a difference in cost between our pricing and the National Chain of £780 simply to choose a date.
That example would be the same for families who want:
To know it will be a hearse that is used on the day
To have the service held at popular times of day or Mondays or Fridays etc.
Their loved one to be carried into the service by professional bearers not on a wheeled bier or the family having to provide family bearers
Choice of coffin other than the basic coffin
Have flowers or order of services arranged and ordered for them
A full team of ceremonial bearers
The coffin to be driven on a chosen route to the service
To add a family car or limousine and only pay the cost of the limousine.
These are just some examples of the limitations of packages. Everything you see on the list above is included in our fees as we do not have restrictions. The only thing that would incur a cost is the limousine of which we would add the limousine cost of £180 bringing our cost to £3376 as opposed to the National Chain where the limousine would be an additional £250 bringing their costs to £4226, £850 more expensive than us as a local independent.
The point is please research service, testimonials, cost and restrictions.
Every family has the right to exceptional care at affordable prices. The taboo around discussing funerals and the fact that grieving families have to make decisions very quickly at a time when they are at their most vulnerable means we have an even higher duty of care to them at their time of need.