Community champs

Your Choice Funerals

Helping people make the best choices for their budget is paramount for Your Choice Funerals – Chris Sample tells us why it’s working for everyone…

“I used to be employed by a bigger undertaker in the area and the whole process was all about upselling, which I think is wrong. I saw how much profit was in the business and knew how much more affordable funerals could be, so I started Your Choice, with the aim of offering much lower-cost funerals.

Your Choice entered the market in 2014/15 and now has four branches in South Shields, North Shields, Hebburn and Whitley Bay, and I’m pleased to say the business has grown year on year.

We offer two direct cremation options at our local South Tyneside Crematorium. It does a reduced fee before 8.30am, so we can offer a simple cremation with no family attending, or the family can choose a date and time to do the service themselves, play some music.

Our area is a working class area. People here haven’t got loads of money, but take pride in what they do for their loved ones.

We put our funerals into packages – that allows people to choose whether or not they add on extra elements. We find that seven out of 10 people who enquire about a direct cremation go on to upgrade to a traditional funeral. But it’s always their choice, we never push, we keep it light.

Ours is a family business – I’m the owner, my dad Graham and twin brother Tom and I organise all of the funerals and services, and my mother-in-law Deborah, stepmum Marie and wife Carly run the individual shops.

We try to make the whole process more approachable – people can look in the window and see everything on offer. We have bright shops, with everything clearly listed in the window – there are no gloomy blinds with everything hidden.

The feedback has been really good. People are really pleased and tell us it’s been so much easier for them to navigate – and there are no hidden extras.

Winning Regional and National awards two years running at the Funeral Planner of the Year awards has been great for us, too, and we find they really helped boost the business and they help us promote the funeral plans.

We’re not too pushy with our marketing, though. We have our leaflets, and we’ll sit and chat to people about them, but we always tell people to go shop around – we know we have the best prices in the area, so if people like us, they’ll return. When they do come back, people have confidence in us.

We basically just want to be transparent from the bottom up to the horse-drawn carriage. Nothing’s hidden, it’s all on show and that’s what is so helpful for people.”

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