Diamond deal at the NFE

Alan Jose

SAIF partners with cremation experts to help members compete

With nearly a fifth of all funerals now direct cremation, SAIF is concerned that some independent funeral firms are losing market share to national providers of unattended services.

Research by SAIF Digital and Golden Charter goes some way to confirming these fears, as around three quarters of people surveyed didn’t think small businesses offered direct cremation.

We also found that the public are unclear in their understanding of funeral definitions. For example, some people were confusing direct funerals with simple services.

To help independents confront this unhealthy trend, SAIF has forged the Diamond Partnership with Westerleigh Group and its sub-brand Distinct Cremations to provide members with a range of unattended funeral wholesale price options.

The Diamond Partnership gives small firms the tools and credentials they need to offer competitive unattended services and educate the public about what various funeral options entail. In short, it enables your independent business to have ‘skin in the game’ in a fast-changing market.

SAIF will be promoting this industry-shaping partnership at the National Funeral Exhibition (NFE) in June. On the Friday (10 June) and Saturday (11 June), the SAIF stand will welcome two cremation experts, who will be on hand to answer questions and describe the funeral director and client journeys under the Partnership.

These are Alan Jose, Westerleigh Group ambassador, and Steve Wallis, managing director of Distinct Cremations.

Alan will be familiar to many SAIF members for his long-standing work in the funeral world. He has been President of the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities and is a Fellow of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management.

A highly experienced crematoria specialist, Alan has worked in both the public and private sectors, spending 24 years at Durham Crematorium.

Commenting on the NFE, Alan said he was looking forward to talking to SAIF members about the Diamond Partnership. “What we’re seeing in funeral trends is a growing appetite for bereaved families to have greater control over the process. More people are opting for simple or unattended services and arranging a life celebration after the disposal.

“The funeral profession has an important role to play in this shifting landscape and independent funeral directors working in partnership with Westerleigh Group are well placed to meet modern client needs. I’ll be helping visitors to the SAIF stand understand how this will directly benefit their business,” he said.

Steve Wallis, who joined Westerleigh Group in early 2021, has more than 25 years’ experience in the funeral sector. Steve spent a large part of his career with Dignity, where he ran the funeral plan business and held the role of commercial director.

An expert in marketing, digital, customer services, pricing and operations, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Data and Marketing.

Steve will be able to advise visitors to the SAIF stand about how to make the most of the funeral price options as part of a modern service portfolio.

“Many of today’s consumers are led by the choices presented to them on the internet and in the mass media. This explains why national providers, with generous marketing budgets, are increasing market share,” he said.

“But it’s not inevitable that big business will dominate. Small, independent firms are uniquely placed to be leaders in all types of funerals, thanks to their reputation for personal service and care and position in their local communities. With the right support and strategy in place, we can help SME funeral firms thrive.”

SAIF is in Hall 2 on stand 287. Both members and non-members are invited to come along and talk to SAIF’s friendly team. Steve and Alan will be at the SAIF stand between 1pm and 3pm on 10th and 11th June.

Further details about the Diamond Partnership can be found on the SAIF website here.

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