Dealing with something as precious and complicated as death is no small feat, and choosing the right funeral director to help say goodbye to your loved one is no different. It’s a decision that often comes down to trust. Long gone are the days when communities just had the choice of the local funeral director who supplied the entire area with their decades of experience and service. These days, chains co-exist next to independent family-run businesses, making the choice a little bit harder.
Brand awareness can often lead people to a name that they trust and see advertised frequently. After all, time is short and emotions run high during the funeral planning process and in depth research is not always something we have capacity for. In these situations, families are far more likely to opt for a name they are aware of rather than spend time searching for someone seemingly unknown.
However, the likelihood is that we all want the same thing; a trustworthy service at an affordable price, run by people who appreciate the sensitive nature of the job that they do. There are plenty of reasons why choosing local and independent might be more beneficial for your family, despite the extra effort it could take to find your perfect match.
Funeral Directors: A Brief History
These days, the traditional concept of a funeral director does not look the same as it did many years ago. Funeral homes were usually services that were provided by families who passed the knowledge and tradition down through the generations. They were a real part of the community, as opposed to simply an unknown business. However, as with the old fashioned butcher, baker and candlestick maker, the local traditions become a novelty rather than the norm.
Traditionally, funeral directors have also been heavily associated with craftsmanship and skill. They would often be responsible for making bespoke coffins, headstones and trusted to do so. Ultimately, they were the people who would deliver a loved one to their final resting place.
As with many other types of services, the role of a funeral director has changed significantly. Rather than being the trusted custodians of our departed loved ones that are known to everyone, they have become a service like any other – still important, of course, but one which can be “shopped around” for as opposed to a part of the community.
With thousands of funeral directors to choose from and the ability to search far outside of your local area to do so, independent funeral directors are almost like a window into what the profession was for many years and still is to many people around the country.
Can You Save Money With Independent Funeral Directors
Some families may choose a funeral director based on their fantastic services, whereas others have no other choice but to shop based on one factor alone: price. With the cost of funerals on the rise, it is no surprise that many people consider cost to be their number one priority, even if this means looking further afield. However, what many people may not be aware of is that independent funeral directors can often save you significant amounts of money.
Independent funeral directors are often dedicated to their local communities and are able to structure their business plan in a way that allows them to not place such a strong emphasis on huge profit margins, unlike larger chains. Their prices, as a result, are able to be far more flexible and suit different kinds of customers. Even if your local funeral director is not necessarily always the cheapest option on paper, it is more than likely that you will be able to create a bespoke set of services to suit your budget, rather than be forced to choose from a set of pre-existing packages.
Their lack of reliance on CEOs, regional managers and any other external authority means that they are usually able to hold complete control over their pricing systems and alter their cost structure as and when they feel it is necessary. These pricing structures are often also extremely transparent, with websites often detailing the exact services that are being paid for without costly overheads. Even necessary extra fees for services such as burials, are almost always disclosed beforehand.
And of course, independent funeral directors offer the added financial benefit of being supported by prepaid funeral plan services such as Golden Charter. These services are life changing for many families who may not be able to afford the full price of a funeral. Of course, funeral plans require a certain amount of forethought, but knowing that they are supported by hundreds of independent funeral homes is a weight off the minds of those who have chosen to finance their funerals in this way.
Closeness to Local Communities
One of the greatest advantages of working with independent funeral directors is their long standing relationships and deep understanding of the local area, services and businesses. Many funeral homes are family run, similar to the traditional funeral directors from years ago and have been established in their communities for decades. This means they can often negotiate good deals on products and services and help make funerals even more affordable for their customers.
These relationships also allow independent funeral directors to keep in touch with tradition and support local businesses, giving back to the community. This mixture of traditional and modern is what so many people love about working with these kinds of funeral homes. The personal and thorough knowledge of a particular area simply cannot be recreated in an environment that is not rooted so deeply in the area which they serve.
And of course, it’s that service and relationship with the local community that allows independent funeral directors to become truly devoted to the people who live there. Relationships that are forged between funeral directors and clients, as well as between the funeral home and local businesses, are extremely important to the way they are run. These are people that you will often see and speak to long after the funeral is over, whether it’s bumping into them at the post office or choosing to use their services again years later.
Independent Funeral Directors & The Personal Touch
If there is one concept that could sum up the meaning behind an independent funeral director, it would be ‘people first’. With little to no opportunity for advertising or marketing, these establishments are often just growing through word of mouth or local social media. That is a testament to many of these homs prioritising their clients and their needs above everything else.
Staff members are usually trained in order to be able to deal with and comfort their clients in these difficult circumstances. Even if they are not trained in the sense of being able to deal with mental health issues, they are always there to listen and treat the other person as a human being and an individual. The care and attention you get from an independent funeral director is not something that is easily replaced by a large chain or group.
Their independent business model allows these funeral homes to go above and beyond for their clients, whether it’s providing touching gestures to help alleviate pain, to sit and listen over a cup of tea, or even offering free services. This sort of personal touch is essential and central to everything that they stand for and wish to preserve.
Ultimately, independent funeral directors are there to create an environment that prioritises a human connection, an empathetic and kind approach as well as generally affordable prices that are free from costly overheads. They are a window into our past, whilst still learning to adapt to the changing needs of the funeral industry and most importantly, they are here for you.
We are a family-led business offering funeral services in Essex since 1958.