Company Takes the Funeral Industry Head-On

December 12, 2010
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imageUne Belle Vie Memorial Urns, an online cremation urn store, announced today that they are fighting to change the high prices caused by several channels of distributers in the funeral industry by doing business differently.

According to company president, Melody Jamali, a primary contributing factor for the high markup in the industry is the number of middlemen involved in the ordering process. Une Belle Vie?s solution is simple: the company doesn?t use distributors, rather it buys directly from vendors and artisans to better manage the price and keep costs low for the consumer.

It is commonly known that there are two industries that regularly and quite nonchalantly take advantage of people during highly emotional times: the wedding industry and the funeral industry.

While brides and grooms might find their champion in another corner, one Denver-based company is taking the funeral industry to task in an attempt to make it as transparent, straightforward and affordable as possible so that grieving families aren?t overcharged.

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The funeral industry generates about $15 billion in revenue per year with the top five companies in the nation all netting over $500 million. Although this is a necessary industry, the costs are not based on high-priced items but on distribution channels and middlemen that significantly mark up prices, oftentimes by as much as 100% percent.

Last month, the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) released the national average cost of a funeral for 2009. The average cost was set at $6,560, for services such as embalming and body prep, transport, average metal casket and facilities. This cost, which increased by over 16 percent in the last five years, is missing one key number–funeral plots, which can range from $400 to $10,000, depending on location.

Melody and her husband Mike, like many others, have experienced the high costs associated with the passing of a loved one first hand. In 2009 (prior to starting Une Belle Vie), their 21-year-old son passed away suddenly and they were pressured into buying a very basic metal urn for $325. After launching their business, they learned the original price of the urn was a mere fraction of what they paid.

?I have been in the retail industry for 20 years. That is how I knew that going directly to the source and skipping the distributor would be a better and less expensive option for us to take,? said Melody Jamali. ?Not only do we not have to pay the marked up price to the distributor, but we don?t mark it up much from there. That lets us charge up to 25% less for the exact same pieces others sell in the industry. We choose to pass the savings on to the consumer.?

But for small companies, skipping the distributor isn?t always easy. Foreign retailers are not tied to the same patents and trademarks laws that are standard in the U.S. These situations are met with pricey lawsuits and lost inventory.

?The funeral industry is hard on small companies who try to make a difference by keeping their prices low,? said Jamali. ?It is a very competitive market and we do everything we can to keep our prices low, even if that means taking a different route than the others.?

CDFuneralNews

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