75 Years of Experience?



Experience versus Longevity – An Important Issue?

Shoobridge Funeral Services established in its own right in 1993 and truly, a local, family independent funeral director or, undertakers, has been part of the local community for twenty five years or, at least, involved in the funeral profession since 1989.

In this time, numerous comments have been voiced regarding longevity (or its opposite), and profitability through recession and harder times.
What is displayed on the ‘outside’ is rarely a true depiction and, as a trade or business, to be effective, stay ‘in the market’ and continually support distressed families is not only hard but has a toll that is not present in ‘normal’ businesses. Dealing sincerely with empathy, belief and commitment is demanding. Add to this the fight behind the scenes to remain prominent to every individual family and formulate a trouble-free occurrence on the day with so many factors involved is, challenging – picture the duck on the water, the legs are paddling 19 to the dozen whilst the surface remains calm and ripple free!

Add to this the fast pace of life, the job-sharing of doctors and church staff, the demands of funeral celebrants, caterers, gravediggers apart from the logistics of physically running a small business – Health and Safety at Works Act, Risk Assessment, Manual Handling legislation and policies, First Aid provision, Information Technology, Advertising, Website maintenance and you will have an insight into the life of a funeral company.

National companies will have these same issues of course but with the diversity of income and branch numbers, they have departments for IT, for Risk Management, for Advertising etc..

People naturally appreciate the ‘job’ of a wedding planner: bringing ALL those logistics to a smooth operation on the day is, tremendously hard to achieve but, we trust the arranger and mostly, the success is apparent.

Arranging a funeral has slightly different logistics; none-the-less, the challenges are ever-present and, frustrating – if only everybody did their job efficiently, life would be so much simpler!

If you wish to buy a house, you go to a solicitor; if you have tax returns and expenses to produce for HM Revenue and Excise, you go to an accountant; divorce? A specialist, after all, these are not everyday occurrences and ‘we’ don’t have the expertise to deal with them despite the presence of the internet. Likewise, the best people to help you deal with death are your local independent funeral directors. Independent, why?

The independent funeral director is likely to be ‘in the business’ for different reasons: through family history and establishment or because of a fundamental belief in helping people at difficult times – it is NOT seen as a job. True, careers exist and are pursued from early ages – by a few so, what of tradition?
In marketing through the years, as with most things, changes are visible. Advertising locally in the newspaper has all but disappeared – there are fewer newspapers!
Church magazine and Church Diary advertising? How many of the younger generation go to church or, with their family to church? Funeral celebrants are gaining popularity daily; taking services for ‘doubters,’ non-believers or those who just ‘don’t know’ seems to be coming the ‘norm.’
Unlike the church diary, there is no register of celebrants posted through our letter boxes; knowledge is held by the funeral director or available on ‘his’ website.

Marketing ploys, I have observed regularly. Shoobridge Funeral Services respects long, established (competitor) businesses. Amusing though are the methods: when I started out as an independent funeral director, I wanted so much to write, “Established in 1949!” Well, I was! Debatably, I suppose you could state. ‘Manufactured in 1948 (a parental decision of course!)’ but gaining twenty five years seemed so far-off.
I have noticed that longer established funeral companies have often stated, ‘75 years of experience (or, combined experience).’ It’s a wonder I have never seen, ‘1,356 years of experience!’ like it makes any difference.
Impressing the public was the, name-of-the-game I suppose or was it? Impressing ‘other’ funeral companies could have had its place too.

With myself, Penny and my son Paul, we could insert pretty much any figure we like; ‘Trading Standards’ are hardly going to take issue with us and after all, how do you define a ‘lack of experience?’

Then again, there is or are, the public. What interest of theirs are our silly feuds? That we supply an efficient, reputable (check the testimonials), service at a time of need is not only expected, but hopefully, a certainty after all, we are receiving quite a price for our expertise and professionalism, not quite as much as lawyers or doctors but, a fair chunk of change!

Longevity is a factor; experience, a modern approach the ability to keep up with the times? Fundamental. I could tell you that my son Paul has recently completed his professional qualifications in funeral directing; I could tell you he gained top marks in the country? These facts are true but, you, the public, the client, don’t need to know that; you need our attention and confirmation that no stone will be left unturned in our effort to provide adequately and abundantly the services you now need.

Experience from the past is totally different to that which is expected today. When I started  twenty five years ago, the approach was casual, not the service, that was always adequate; today’s transient lifestyles demand a different approach, 75 years of experience has its place but its relevancy? Not so much.



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