SAIF technology survey

“Things have been working fine for the past 140 years.”

How often have we said, or heard, something similar in our own workplace? ‘If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ is a motto for many, but just because something isn’t broken, does that mean it can’t be improved upon?

In March this year, SAIF set up a working group to look into how members utilise technology in their workplaces, in their interactions with their clients and in their marketing. The aim being to bring best-practice guidance and help to those members who want it.

Our first action was to survey the membership, asking about current and planned uses of the technology available.

With responses to that survey from over 110 members (thank you all), we gained an insight into where you are now, and where you’re going. We think we can also see where some of us may be missing opportunities to expand our reach to our communities and clients. We focused on certain key areas of technology use, such as software used in managing the day-to-day business, communication technology, online marketing and social media, other online presence, use of the Golden Charter portal and future planning.


Nearly half of you told us that you thought your business could benefit from using more technology, with many planning to implement online obituaries, online marketing plans and social media in the next year, and nearly two thirds believe that more training on technology would be a benefit to you and help you achieve that.

Just over a third of you said that you don’t use any form of software in managing your funerals. Of those who don’t use software, unsurprisingly, pen and paper were the majority’s favourite! This was true also for managing and scheduling staff, where the paper diary is still king.

About two thirds either haven’t migrated to a cost-saving VoIP phone system or aren’t sure what they’re using, but a quarter wanted more information about the options available. A massive 89% of you reported that email correspondence with your clients has increased in recent years, with only 1% saying that you don’t use email.

With the exception of a handful, everyone surveyed had a website, with many choosing to supplement it with services such as Google AdWords, to help drive more potential clients towards their site. However, less are using social media, with only 65% using Facebook or other services. 78% of those using social media have had a positive experience, and only a couple had anything other than minor issues.

The majority of you are now using online obituary services, whether it be a dedicated site such as or simply the local newspaper’s website, with a little over 10% not using anything. And over half are using some form of comparison site, with most preferring the offering from Golden Charter, over chargeable services.

Over 80% of respondents are using to access your plan details and get marketing materials. Obviously Golden Charter would like that to be nearer 100%, so if you’re not using it already, why not speak with your area representative and see if it is something you could benefit from?

So where do we go from here?

The quote at the top of this article – “Things have been working fine for the past 140 years” – was taken from one of the survey responses. But does it tell the whole story? 140 years ago, we didn’t have motorised hearses, electric lightbulbs or telephones in our offices. When should we decide that technology has reached its zenith? If we choose to stop adopting modern innovations now, do we risk being left behind while our competitors roll ever onwards?

Many of us are successfully utilising technology to drive our businesses forward. But there is more that we can all do to help drive down our running costs, increase awareness of our services and keep our fair share of the market. Do you have more than one branch and still pay for phone calls between them? Perhaps look at VoIP. Not using social media because (to quote another survey response) “it’s not appropriate for funeral directors”? Dignity and the Co-op (and that local firm down the road with the grandson who is a whiz on his smartphone) are already talking to your potential clients on Facebook!

We want to help all members adopt the best technology out there to help you bring your personal service to everyone in your community, in a way that is relevant to them and accessible to you. So we’re producing case studies on the best currently in use, good examples of utilising social media and stories about experiences of introducing new technology into businesses. We’re also looking to bring best practice guides training and awareness events on these subjects and more for you and your teams. Let’s all look forward to the next 140 years!

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