The new life of funeral homes

If there is one business that we will all be customers of, it is funeral services. However, culturally, it is a complicated business, viewed by many with superstition since talking about death can attract it, they believe. But this sector with so many clients, more than death, has attracted many private equity funds because of its profitability. It seems that some light is shining on the darker side of this business, the abusive behaviors. And with it new business opportunities for entrepreneurs.

This pandemic brought to the surface one of our deepest fears, death, and with it became visible several scandals of funeral homes. Cases in New York where there were corpses in trucks outside the agencies, coffins that were replaced at cremations and then resold, among many other macabre stories. It is a sensitive moment, for those ordering a funeral, when they can be convinced that spending less is a sign of lack of respect for the deceased. A unique purchase at a time of emotional pain, when people do not do the research they would normally do to purchase a service of this value (which exceeds 1000 euros on average, but can reach more than 10 thousand). Many agencies only send the values already at the time of charging. The information available is confusing and the process is complicated, both at the ceremony and at the bureaucratic level. All this makes the industry prone to abuse and not justified the expected digital transformation.

Funeral parlors, with a very low level of digitalization and services that do not suit the new generations, who prefer to search for suppliers on Google and have a site or application where to choose and make decisions, were for a long time the only option. But several companies internationally have identified this issue and are trying to improve the process and humanize the sector. These startups, which are already growing in size (and funds), are inspired by the experiences of Amazon or Uber to simplify the process. And the services go beyond from price comparisons, wills, digital death management (what to do with passwords, social networks, contracted services, etc.) to thanatology. The latter together with support groups in social networks can play a key role in the grieving process. Despite being one of the most traumatic moments in many people’s lives, few still seek professional or outside psychological help. These new companies (called funeral tech) by developing platform models that link the various current providers, are bringing transparency, and creating ease to the market. And while many large companies have no interest in this simplification, for obvious reasons, small funeral homes have a unique opportunity to gain size with quality and a competitive level of service. They can present their products to a larger audience, have e-commerce sites, create a better customer relationship, and sell services in advance. Why not plan for something inevitable now and save the family the trouble and cost?

Anyone who decides to upgrade and adapt services to the real needs of customers has a great opportunity in the funeral industry and all satellite sectors. This transformation is already unstoppable and if all goes well it will make the bereavement process less difficult for many people.

David Bernardo
David Bernardo
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