Cheap cremation. While attending the ICCFA last month I did not see any of the vendors of urns, retorts, training or otherwise advertise cheap cremation. However, when our team convened early this morning for our weekly after action report, the term “cheap cremation” came up twice from funeral directors. Their use of the term “cheap cremation” was from consumers that were shopping for services over the weekend. We further discussed the conversations and the results…meeting the two families this morning! Training does pay off.
While pondering the term cheap cremation, I decided to do some homework. What does this term mean? According to Merriam-Webster online: Cheap: not costing a lot of money; of low quality; not worth a lot of money; charging low prices. Cremation: to reduce (as a dead body) to ashes by burning.
I decided to conduct my own research this morning and call three different funeral service providers that offer cremation; all three are in the same competitive market within about 4 miles of each other. I asked the person answering the phone to give me a quote on cheap cremation. Here are the results:
Location 1: (cremation provider advertised online with pricing on their website): “Our complete cremation which includes taking the body into our care, the necessary paperwork, an alternative cremation container is which is required, the crematory fee and a temporary urn is $895.” The person asked me if they could email me more information or if I had any other questions. I replied no, I’m just checking around, thanked them and competed the call.
Location 2: (family owned funeral home with no prices on their website): “Has a death occurred? What type of cremation do you want?” I told them no, I just want a quote on a cheap cremation. “Our cheapest cremation is $1,575.” I asked what was included; “Picking up a body, the paperwork, an alternative container and crematory charge.” The person did not ask me anything else in sort of a strange silence, so I thanked them and ended the call.
Location 3: (publically owned, corporate funeral home no mention of price on their website): “Has a death occurred? Do you want services?” I said no, I just want a cheap cremation. “We charge $4,390 for a direct cremation.” The person went on to explain “included in the $4,390 is taking your loved one into our care, all the funeral director services including documents, a cremation container which a body is placed into the crematory and crematory fees.” I asked “I just called 2 other places near you and they charge $895 and $1,575 for the same thing, what do I get for my extra $3,000 that I would pay you?” The person answered “well, we are a full service funeral home and we provide more than just the minimum.” I replied “but I’m only asking for the minimum, why so much from your funeral home”…the person’s reply “because we do more than the other funeral homes and we have facilities, others can’t accommodate all your needs.” I replied that I only need a cheap cremation; and thanked him for his time. He then said “We have an affiliate that only charges $1,395 for a direct cremation, can I give you their number?” I then asked where the affiliate was located, “right here in <name of city>, but all they do is direct cremations.” I took the number and again thanked him for his time…and ended the call.
Wonder why a consumer is confused about cremation? A few personal observations. Location 1 and 2 at least provided me information on their respective website, but were not much on conversation or concern on the phone. Location 1 gave me information and did not care if a death occurred, but offered a follow up where location 2 did not. The most engaging was location 3, which is expected for an additional $3,000; however their follow up was referring me to another place to call and not to be bothered with my situation at their particular location. The lack of engagement from all three was astounding...AND NOBODY ASKED MY NAME!
So for your Monday morning wakeup call funeral directors and funeral home owners; shoppers are looking for cheap cremation. What is going to be your answer? Are your prices on your website? Do you randomly “secret shop” your funeral home and competitors? What training are you providing your staff about phone engagement? As a consumer, which one of the locations would you have chosen based on the information provided above? Cheap cremation is not going away and neither is the consumer that is looking online and calling to engage your staff. What’s your solution? Cheers y’all. #thefuneralcommander