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You Don’t Need a Funeral Home to Have a Successful Funeral Business…This Guy Doesn’t

We have talked about Basic Funerals before and I’m probably going to tick a few of you off by talking about them again, but you better pay attention because they could be coming to your neighborhood next.

Basic Funerals allows families to arrange the way they want: online, over the phone, or in person. They are a licensed funeral provider but they don't have a stuffy funeral home. Instead they use beautiful non-funeral chapels and locations. And it is working.
Since 2009, the company has swelled from Ontario to Illinois, Colorado and California, and it doesn’t look like they plan on slowing down. What will you do to compete when they come to your town?
A Chicago newspaper published an article about Basic Funerals earlier this week and I found it to be very interesting and I think their business model is going to become much more common. They are taking a different approach and are even using that thing called social media to touch the masses. Here is a video they used on Youtube as a small example of how they have changed the normal funeral business model by simply embracing technology and thinking outside of the box.
Please click here to read this article, then comeback and share you thoughts in the comment section below.


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  • Jack Hagin

    We have been practicing this model here at Brooks Cremation & Funeral Service since we became a funeral home in 2004, prior to that the company was opened as a direct disposer establishment (doing only direct cremations.) We find that families appreciate the fact that we offer them all the choices we know are available, and let them choose what they want with NO UP-SELL EVER!

    We are located in a low rent district, have a nice building inside and we, too, will take arrangements on line, via fax, or meet the family in their home or the hospital lobby if that is what they need.

    I truly believe that THIS is the model for funeral service in the future.

    Jack Hagin
    President/Funeral Director
    Brooks Cremation & Funeral Service
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334

  • Jsledmundson

    The article from the chicago tribune is more about why being an entreprener is such a great thing. The video describes just about every funeral home i know of. Basic funerals commercial uses the tired microsoft vs apple scenario. Once you get past all that then all they have is a business model that allows them to provide services at a lower cost. As jack says below, they are already doing this and more. Competition always exists and the lesson is to be aware of it but more importantly if you are listening to what your customers and community’s needs are, the rest will fall into place.

  • funeralfuturist

    Ryan, I think that this is a good example of how funeral home owners can be entrepreneurial themselves. Just because someone has a traditional funeral home doesn’t mean that they can’t create a second, virtual presence for another business model whether it is targeting a different price point or targeting a different geographical market. We have helped a number of funeral homes create a second website and online presence to achieve this. It is a lot less expensive and a lot more efficient than opening a new store front / location. Funeral home owners can email me at [email protected] if they are interested in this strategy. One advantage about this strategy is that the entrepreneurial funeral home owner can be very nibble and edit / update their course of action as market place continues to evolve. 

    • Brian Young

      Ryan and Rob,
      We’ve also seen a growing number of businesses doing what Rob describes. In particular, mid-higher end of the market funeral homes are wanting to add eArrangement websites and either recoup lost marketshare to low-cost/non-traditional providers, or put up a “firewall” to hopefully discourage new threats from entering their market. And the numbers show it’s working, as more shoppers consider different avenues for deathcare solutions with each passing year. But what I think is wonderful about that is that families who find and choose some kind of alternative deathcare brand operated by a quality funeral home will likely still, at some point, come into contact with reasons to think about having a service, and the concept of accepting and embracing the grieving process so they can heal and get on with life.

      Brian Young

      • ryanthogmartin

        It blows me away that funeral directors are understanding the value of this online business model yet they don’t understand how social media could greatly enhance the marketing exposure for their traditional and online funeral services.

        • Brian Young

           Agreed. With so many are involved in so many community/church/ other kinds of groups, I’m not sure why it’s so difficult to take the discussions, activities, pictures, purposes, etc. being shared in all those spaces, and move them online into social spheres.”

  • MTS

    The way of the future. Better listen–and learn!

  • fluidpusher

    This appears to be no different than other “low cost discount” providers who suck the consumer in with a low price, which, as it turns out, does not include a lot of services or merchandise.  Looking at Basic Funerals website and pricing, most of the locations offered for services are for memorial services only, no casket/funeral, etc.  The rates charged for many of the locations are much higher than what my funeral home charges for use of facilities for services.  Other charges not included are hearse, embalming and preparation, and merchandise, casket, vault, etc.  When you add in all the other items, prices are comparable to the average funeral home.  Everything they offer can be had at my funeral home, with prices very close together.  Funeral homes which must compete against Basic Funerals need to make consumers aware of comparing apples to apples, because when a fair comparison is made, Basic Funerals is going to cost about the same.  

    • Robert Widdowson


      I totally agree when you say, ‘Funeral homes…need to make consumers aware…’

      In other words, they need to become myth busters!

      The funeral profession is uniquely qualified to answer the myths about funeral homes.

      I humbly suggest funeral homes do the following:

      (1) List the 25 worst myths going around about funeral homes

      (2) Create and write a blog tackling one myth per week. That gives you almost 6 months worth of material for a blog.

      (3) Give the myth a fair representation in your blog post. That way, general readers will know you are reasonable and not out simply to pick a fight. Plus, when you bust the myth, you are taking down a real problem, not a straw man.

      (4) Respond with a reasonable, fact-based answer. The best way to dispel a myth is by stating the truth. A leading psychologist on disinformation once said the most powerful antidote to a lie is the truth, clearly stated. So marshal the facts, lay them out one by one, and explain in plain English what it means. Your readers will respect the fact that you treat them as intelligent beings. Just do it in clear, short sentences and paragraphs for an easy online reading experience. 😉

      (5) Cross reference other blog posts. Let readers know about other answers you’ve given on related topics. For example, you could say something like, ‘The topic of pricing reminds me about the subject of pre-planning’ And make the word ‘pre-planning’ a hyperlink that takes the reader to your blog post on that particular topic. If you cross-reference (using hyperlinks), readers will see that you have a well-thought out view on the profession. You’re not simply ‘popping off.’ You have a big picture understanding of matters.

      (6) Keep doing the blog after you’ve exhausted the first 25 myths. Your on a roll; so, keep trucking.

      (7) Create an index of myth-busting answers so readers can do research quick and easy.

      Hop this helps.

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  • David Garvie

    I recently had the priviledge of spending some time with a class of grade twelve Creative Marketing students in Brampton, Ont.  They were a great bunch and very enthusiastic about learning more of the profession that I have come to love over the years.  As part of my overall presentation I decided to show them the Basic Funerals video and asked for their opinion of the advertisement; its content and message.  They immediately related to the concept of Mac vs PC but did not care for the overall approach that the commercial took.  It was the tone of the advertisement that did not appeal to them.  However the interesting viewpoint that came out of the discussion was that in their opinion funeral services as a whole has an image problem.  That being, if the public thinks that what Basic Funeral services has to offer is something totally new, when in essence it is not (we in funeral services know that the services being marketed by Basic Funerals is something we have been doing for years) then it means that the public does not really know what we as funeral directors do, have to offer, and even more important what is the value of the services we are providing.  Part of the problem is that our overall value system is changing today and is being challenged.  As such our profession needs to educate the public about the values of what we provide in funeral services; the value of community coming together to offer support to one another at a very difficult time, the value of having an open casket to assist with the closure of the relationship, the value of ceremoney (recognizing a life that has been lived and the value of that life to those in relationship to that person), the value of taking the time in our very busy society to recognize and acknowledge a person’s life and their contribution to society as a whole.  I think we, in our profession, have taken it for granted over the years that people have understood these values. In reality because of changing life trends these values have been forgotten.  If we don’t come together, now, and educate people as to why we do what we do and their associated values, people will simply stop having funerals…….and in many cases and places this is already happening. We know that not all traditions in our society are good and some need to be re-addressed, re-established, but we in this incredible profession known as funeral services, understand that these traditions are good ones.  Good for individuals and good for our society as a whole.  We may need to change how we present them but overall a funeral with visitation and a ceremony is a good healthy, valuable, important tradition.  I think we also need to think about the fact that a society that no longer values life, (and my friends one of the ways that we value life is by acknowledging that life with some form of concluding ceremony, an ending or rather the acceptance to the endng of that relationship) is in trouble of overall decay of that society.  Perhaps the biggest challenge that I presently see is how do we bring the various components of our current funeral services world, that being the independent family owned and operated funeral homes, the corporate funeral homes, the combination cemetery/funeral homes and now the Basic Funerals, together, laying down their differences to promote and save a profession that we all believe in and know to be good.  Is it possible for these various groups to put aside their differences, their personal agendas for the sake of preserving a wonderful profession that I have been personally proud to be a part of for almost 40 years? I passionately believe in what we provide to our communities and am very fearful that unless we take some immediate action to keep what we know to be good and healthy for our society, it will be lost. What a sad day that will be for both funeral services and for our society in general. I guess the question is who will lead the way and how do we bring all these groups together in order to make this happen?

  • Monica Vernette Gray

    There is an increase of licensed professionals stepping out on their own using similar business model and concept (including myself).  Funeral service may be the new Tupperware!  LOL but very serious. Thanks. Monica Vernette Gray

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