National Funeral Planner of the Year 2020
What does it take to be a multiple award winner? We catch up with 28-year-old Chris Sample to find out what makes his North East business Your Choice Funerals so special.
Congratulations Chris – you must be delighted with this, your second National Funeral Planner of the Year title!
“Yes, we are, it’s fantastic. This year, of course, has been a bit different so unfortunately there wasn’t the usual ceremony which is usually so nice to have. Still, when the letter arrived at the office my wife Carly and I were so chuffed and shared the news with all of the family who run the funeral homes with us. That’s my Dad, Graham, my mother-in-law, Deborah, and my stepmum, Marie. It’s for all of us.”
What made you want to get into funeral directing?
“I was 16 when I decided I wanted to be a funeral director. I did work experience and loved it, but I couldn’t get a job in a funeral home until a couple of years later. The work behind the scenes and the feeling of helping people is what drew me to the profession. That’s what I still love.”
How have all of your Funeral Planner of the Year awards helped you promote your business in the local community?
“It’s been hugely beneficial. We display the awards and certificates in the windows and inside the homes. We’re a lot more affordable than anyone else in our area and the awards help prove we are doing the right thing, so people trust that our services are up to excellent standards, despite the fact they cost less.”
Has COVID-19 affected Your Choice?
“We’ve been at a steady rate all the way through. We had a dip in July and August, but winter 2019 has really carried all the way through and that level shows no sign of easing. Funeral plan sales have suffered, mainly because people are being savvy with their money because they’ve lost jobs or are financially supporting their families.”
Where do you advertise your services?
“All four of our funeral homes are on corner plots – the first one was a happy accident and then I realised it gave us a huge advantage as we had two large windows to advertise on. We’re also listed on localfuneral.co.uk, and the Funeral Choice comparison website and we promote our success and services in the local press and on Facebook. The Facebook activity is beneficial as, along with Golden Charter, we offer advice and details of what we can help families with. Every month there’s a different way to engage with families.”
What advice would you give to award hopefuls for 2020/21?
“Be honest and upfront about your prices and don’t be pushy. We always let people go away and have a think. In fact, I encourage them to go and see what other funeral directors are doing and they often can’t believe the difference in prices, so they come back to us. It’s all about honesty.”