Examining our path to success

words: Sean Martin

As I look forward to the forthcoming Funeral Planner of the Year awards event in London, I’ve been reflecting on the last few years and the path our company has taken to become a 2017 nominee and help us to enjoy success.


When it comes down to it, it’s all about creating a successful partnership. In the dictionary, in business terms, a partnership is defined as “an arrangement in which two or more individuals share the profits and liabilities of a business venture”. This definitely sums up our company’s relationship with Neil Hodgson, our Golden Charter Regional Sales Manager.

As a company, we’ve accepted that pre-need is now and should be an intrinsic part of our business offer. If you think about it, how many other businesses do you know where you can safeguard or ring-fence your future market and associated income by being proactive now?

However, there is a problem: being proactive invariably means giving up one’s time to focus on a specific task. In a world that is ever changing and demanding – the funeral industry isn’t immune – we can very soon find ourselves becoming, to coin a phrase, ‘busy fools’.

Having identified that pre-need is essential to safeguarding our future success, over the last two years we started to engage further with Golden Charter in terms of marketing.

We wanted to create awareness that, as well as being synonymous with funerals in our area, we could also be pre-eminent in providing advice and support on pre-paid funeral plans too. However, the burden of responsibility to enlighten the public didn’t just weigh firmly on our shoulders, as we are fortunate to have a very positive and strong relationship with our Regional Sales Manager. The partnership we have formed with Neil has undeniably helped to forge the success we now enjoy today.


So, you may ask, what has Neil done that has impacted so much on our business? As well as his professionalism, it’s the fact that he has challenged us to do more and facilitated activities for us so we can still get on with the ‘day job’. He has also made us see that the traditional default position of funeral directors – waiting for clients to come to us rather than us being proactive and following up on business opportunities – meant we were losing out in today’s competitive world. So, for us, that mentality had to change… and it did.


The proof of that change is that over the course of the last two years our business has moved from selling one plan for every seven funerals we conduct to now more closely to one plan for every two funerals we undertake.

Yes, in the case of some areas of marketing, particularly on leaflet drops, we’ve had to take a leap of faith, but these have proven to pay dividends. They have not only generated plan enquiries and subsequent sales, but have also promoted our name in the local area to a population that nowadays has become much more transient.

I would implore any funeral director who has resisted an approach from their Regional Sales or Business Development Manager to try something new – what have you got to lose? Well, quite a lot actually, namely your future market share!

As we have all seen lately, the Co-op movement is not backwards in coming forwards when it comes to marketing (we’ve all seen the steamroller advert) and it’s irrefutable that marketing has helped increase their market share of late. I would add that, although we receive financial support towards various marketing activities as SAIFCharter members, via Golden Charter, that we have also, unlike previous years, now allocated our own funds towards different marketing initiatives. These funds having, in some cases, simply been realigned from traditional forms of media that now, due to the advent of more web-based advertising, simply don’t work for us anymore.


So, my advice would be that if you want to safeguard your future market, don’t just sit back and think that Golden Charter will do it all for you, contact your local Golden Charter Sales Manager and just try one new thing that you’ve never done before. You never know, it might work and, in 12 months’ time, your business might be walking away with the accolade of Funeral Planner of the Year. Even if you don’t win, you’ve still taken a major step to guarantee that your business goes from strength to strength.

Remember, as Albert Einstein once said: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.”

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