I attended the funeral wake of my friend's mother-in-law yesterday.
During the conversation, she talked about all the nitty gritty details about preparing for the funerals. Having helped out in my grandmother and uncle funerals previously, I had some experiences about some areas one needs to take note of.
Luckily for her, her family members know of people in the funeral business. So they did not have to scramble around looking for one that they can trust.
In distress time like this, any small convenience makes a lot of difference. The bereaved family is not in a state of mind to think clearly nor do they have the luxury of time to do so. They are already feeling devastated from losing their loved one. Yet there are thousands and one things to take care of and they need to be taken care of immediately without delay.
Basically there will be one funeral company that takes care of everything. From coordinating the setup of the tentage, seats and tables, portable toilet, all the thing needed for the funerals like peanuts, sweets, drinks and chiller, food for prayer, booking of time slot for the cremation, etc. As what my friend said, it's like a wedding coordinator. So this is a funeral coordinator.
I was sharing how the charging system goes. Every table and chair is calculated on a per piece per day rental basis, if I'm not wrong. So the more table and chairs you have, the more you pay, even if they are not used.
My friend said the funeral company even provides empty bento set boxes at $5 for 10 pieces, which are meant for visitors' use for meals. Of course, her family is smart enough to go buy paper plates from the supermarket nearby, which costs only a fraction of the price.
Because these funeral companies are providing stuff at a convenience (so you do not have to go around buying them), their prices are often a few hundred percents higher than retail prices. For family members of the bereaved, they probably do not mind paying for the convenience as well.
Of course, this gives some of these companies an opportunity to charge exorbitantly high prices. Firstly, the bereaved family members are already not in the state to think clearly. Because the funeral is the last thing they can do for their loved ones, they can be easily convinced by unscrupulous businesses to buy or use things that are not necessary or required by taking advantage of their emotions.
Secondly, there is no basis for comparison. You do not know what is the prices charged between company A and company B. And there is no time for comparison. Even for someone who has been personally involved in a funeral previously, it's difficult to compare because the last one could happened years ago. If it happened recently, it can only serves as a gauge provided one use the same service provider.
So there's a saying that these companies often do a lot of charity because they are making money out of the dead.
Lastly, the chances that one will engage the same company is so slim. It's more like first come first served. Whichever company comes along gets the business. A family will probably engage one and not use it again for the next tens of years. Referral is basically non-existent as nobody wants to keep in touch with such businesses, unless it's from friends or relatives. So it's kind of like once-in-a -lifetime sale. I couldn't remember the company we engaged for my grandma's funeral and do not know if it's the same one for my uncle.
Moreover, you cannot change the service provider halfway through the funeral, even if you find out that you've been overcharged. It's too much of a hassle unless the company screwed up big time.
In all my observations of funeral companies, most of them know what they are doing. But none ever made me feel that they cared.
In fact, if you look around, many businesses operating in other industries are also similar.
How will you operate your business differently?