James Dunn of Funeralbooker tells Funeral Service Times a little bit about his growth with the company and what it can offer funeral directors.
Tell us a little bit about the business:
Funeralbooker.com is a new website that connects funeral professionals with at-need customers. It’s a straightforward way for families to find and contact a funeral director in their area, all within just a few minutes and from the comfort of their home. The site was born out of a realisation that increasingly people are going online to search for local funeral directors and often they only end up seeing the digital marketing and online advertising of the large chains. They aren’t able to easily appreciate who the local funeral directors are and, importantly, who’s behind the name above the door.
For the funeral director, we provide a way to easily reach a whole new set of customers that they might not usually be able to serve. We ask them to actively put their services and their prices on our site. Before we launched, people who searched online would typically end up with the larger chain companies, and we can compete against that, increasing visibility for the smaller, independent funeral directors. It provides a risk free way for independents to reach out and gain new customers from an online service. For funeral directors it’s also free to sign up, there is no monthly fee. The only payment we receive is a commission if a customer purchases with them. If they never receive any customers, it doesn’t cost a penny and they haven’t lost a thing. Hundreds of funeral directors across the UK are already actively using the site and we would really like to bring more onboard.
What is your role within the company?
I am one of the three founders and I am the main face of the company to our funeral directors. My key role is speaking to them and explaining what funeralbooker is and how it can benefit their business for the long term. I have a small team of graduate interns who also speak with funeral directors, whether that be on the phone or going to meet them in person. Another part of my role involves feeding back requests from our funeral directors for new features for the website such as the recent addition of online memorials.
How did you reach your current role?
My original degree is in Aerospace Engineering. Shortly after leaving university I worked in engineering and then in a bank for their corporate finance division. Ian approached me with the idea for funeralbooker and asked if I’d like to be a part of it. I thought it was a great idea and could see the potential in the business. Most people at my age haven’t arranged a funeral and I was really surprised that this type of website didn’t already exist. I left my day job, started the business and it’s been fantastic ever since.
How do you think recent issues with funeral poverty will affect the business?
The recent media coverage reinforces that the public are clamouring for a service like funeralbooker. People really want to be able to understand transparent pricing and service quality before they approach a funeral director and we help the funeral directors provide that online. It’s clear that the public and media mood is really supportive of a service such as ours and it’s great to see that so many independent funeral directors have recognised the powerful partnership that we can build together.
Is there any advice that you would give to someone looking to enter the funeral industry?
If you are coming from outside the funeral world, like I did, I would advise talking to everyone you can, no matter what business that person is in, whether it’s a charity, a supplier or a funeral director.
Everyone will be able to give you different experience, opinions and knowledge about the industry. Not every funeral director decides that funeralbooker is right for them but they all have good ideas and suggestions which can help us. Death and dying is such a broad topic, you will speak to two different people who have completely differing opinions on the same subject.
What does the future hold for you and the company?
The future involves a lot of hard work. In the next couple of months we will be starting a national PR campaign to raise awareness of funeralbooker. This is to make sure as many members of the general public are aware of us that can be. Our team will continue to approach funeral directors to help get them on board and we hope to have almost half of independents on the website by the end of the year. In terms of the website, we have our own development team who are always working on exciting additions and improvements. Our plan is to keep building really useful features like crowd funding so families and friends can donate to funeral costs.
For more information visit funeralbooker