Jane Morrell and Simon Smith hadn’t previously worked in the funeral sector when they began their new funeral company in early 2000s. “We were motivated by a desire to make funerals more personal. We knew very little and there was no training open to us as new people. We were lucky, we got some help along the way from funeral directors who hired us mortuary space and helped us with bringing the dead into care. And a newly retired funeral director who liked our approach helped us. We also had the fortune of the ignorant. We had to think things through from scratch. We concentrated particularly on the client’s journey. We developed our own ways of doing things, and many of these have been successful.”
They began running courses for funeral celebrants in 2007 and funeral directors in 2009 and have now trained over 500 celebrants and a similar number in aspects of funeral directing. Simon had written and delivered courses in leadership in a previous role. “In order to meet our aim of improving the client experience training people across the country seemed a natural progression. We reckon around 50 people have set up their own new funeral businesses having trained with us. Many are women. This is the new wave of funeral directing.”
They teach 5 modules which can be done separately or as a whole under the umbrella of “Starting Your Own Funeral Business”. They cover Funeral Arranging, Managing The Funeral Process, Care Of The Body, Funeral Conducting and Business and Marketing Planning.
Being a good funeral conductor is not just about being able to dress smartly and walk well when in front of the hearse. It is about taking responsibility that all goes smoothly on the day. There are many elements that go into this.
Imagine a funeral, perhaps one with 50 people present at the crematorium. You need to direct the mourners. Perhaps most people are going into the chapel first and some family following the coffin.
You instruct the bearers (who may be family), ensure everything is good to go and that the coffin is this is carried well. You need to coordinate with the celebrant or minister taking the service. And then see the people out and the flowers to the right place afterwards.
But this can be the tip of the iceberg. You may be going by the family home on the way. There may be a special route to take and you need to assess and time it. There could be a different venue for the main service that needs looking at and setting up beforehand. There are many requirements to meet.
This course is very practical. We go out to assess a venue. We teach bearing and how to teach that to others. We look at all aspects of running the day. It will give you both knowledge and confidence.
The funeral arranger is the person who meets the family and helps them to think about all aspects of the funeral, to make sure it is right for their particular person.
This is one of the most pleasurable parts of working in funerals. It is not a box ticking exercise where you ask them questions like “Do you want a hearse? And how many limousines?”Imagine being able to sit with a family who have just been bereaved. You feel confident to ask them about what happened to the person who died.
Then you get them talking about that person. They won’t have had a chance to sit down with someone to review the life, remember good times and anecdotes, focus in on who that person really was and to express their pride in them. It is both poignant and lovely. But most importantly it helps them to spark ideas about what would make the right kind of funeral, the tone and atmosphere, how it might look, small but important details to make it truly personal. It will help them to think about how they might like to be involved.
This is the most vital part of the funeral directing role to make a funeral meaningful and personal. It is worth doing it as well as you can. We teach that. A funeral arranger from a large corporate company came on this course. She watched an interview done in this way. At the end she said “That’s just genius. I would have come away from that meeting with a completely different funeral. I can really see what a difference it makes.”
Owning and running your own funeral business is an extremely fulfilling life. The work is varied and interesting and, done well, you are providing a vital service to the bereaved families.
It’s a complex and multi faceted role. When we began in 2000 there was no training available. We learned as we went along. But you have the opportunity to begin with a wealth of knowledge which will help you to serve clients well from day 1 and give your business a significant kick-start.
We have 5 modules to help you achieve this:
The knowledge and skills you need to help your clients work out what would be the right funeral for their special person. This includes a very particular way of interviewing clients and all the things you need to be able to tell them.
Once the arrangements have been made with the client, how to bring that funeral to fruition. It includes all the backroom work, ordering, paperwork and procedures.
How to look after the person who has died in the best possible way (this course does not include embalming).
How to be in charge of the funeral on the day to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Explore and develop your market proposition and what you need to set up in terms of premises, equipment and finance.
Each course has a manual you can refer to afterwards. And we love helping if you have questions you want to discuss in the future. There is always new stuff to learn as the work is so varied.
The Green Fuse funeral course was incredibly useful and very real. If you want to start a funeral business go and do this course with Green Fuse. When we filled in our first funeral form we remembered the game we played of how to complete them. It was very good.
Ash Rao - Moksh Funerals