The business was started in 2007 by Philip Tomlins and his colleague Susan Morton and quickly became the predominant funeral directing business serving communities in the Vale of Evesham and the North Cotswolds.
Merstow Green Funeral Home brings vast experience to the Funeral Partners family with a focus on reliable service and bereavement support.
Business Principal Philip Tomlins has served the local community since 1987, Funeral Director Carol Phillips joined the business in 2012 with Senior Funeral Director Kevin Bowen joined three years later in 2015.
“Our decision to sell the business wasn’t an easy one to make, but having worked in the profession since leaving school, nearly 40 years ago I felt that I would like more time to pursue other interests, travel more and spend more time with my family.” – Philip Tomlins
The success of Merstow Green Funeral Home was in no small part due to the dedication and professionalism of the staff and Philip was reassured by Funeral Partners reputation for honesty and integrity which mirrored his own standards.
Philip admits that at the time, he and Susan did not know that much about Funeral Partners but having known Sam Kershaw for a number of years, Philip knew him to be a man of integrity. Philip contacted Sam and an agreement in principal was made for Funeral Partners to purchase Merstow Green Funeral Home.
Philip said: “Funeral Partners ethos of showing respect to bereaved families and putting bereaved families interests above all else particularly resonated with us.”
Philip was honest in his assessment of the acquisition process which is an important factor for those considering selling their business, a timeline that most owners don’t anticipate.
He said: “The process from agreeing the terms to the eventual sale taking place was to be honest more protracted and onerous than we had anticipated, taking about 12 months in total.”
This is particularly relevant feedback and a point to note for potential vendors. Anyone considering selling to Funeral Partners should consider their solicitor selection to ensure the process is managed by a company who have the experience and knowledge to support the vendor through this type of transaction. There is of course a lot of information required to complete a sale of a business which is to be expected. Funeral Partners can recommend a solicitor to work on your behalf and will also provide a contribution if using one of those solicitors as this makes the whole process quicker and less onerous.
A year on and things continue to go from strength to strength, with the team feeling truly part of the Funeral Partners family.
Philip said: “There has been no need for us to worry about anything. We have been advised what is happening and the team feel involved. In fact, I’d say we feel even more of a team now. We felt we’d lose our identity in Funeral Partners but somehow we feel even more strong. I feel like Funeral Partners listens and doesn’t tell. Changes have been made sensitively.”
He said: “Post-acquisition, there were new processes and office and mortuary processes implemented, and these processes were carefully explained to us. Essentially however the business remains the same, we continue to conduct funerals in the same way as we always have and the company traditions remain unchanged.”
The funeral home was already of a high standard so didn’t require any refurbishment but there were some small changes Funeral Partners made which benefitted the staff team such as replacing the fridge and providing new uniform options.
The team have benefitted from an upgraded private ambulance which will better serve their needs and subject to planning permission, a new garage will be erected in the near future, all of which was welcomed to maintain our standards and would not have been possible without the Funeral Partners investment. Other areas of support have focused on compliance with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Philip receives on-going support from an experienced management team and wider support from other departments such as HR and marketing. The funeral home is also able to utilise the partnership Funeral Partners has with The National Bereavement Service to signpost families for bereavement support.
Funeral Partners has invested in marketing activities which have never been done before at Merstow Green Funeral Home, processes have been put into place which have helped the business grow such as the use of Google My business, and Pay Per Click, a modern branded personalised website with a live chat facility, local press and client reflective comments survey.
Having the support of a larger network has proven to be beneficial in new ways as the funeral sector navigates the introduction of Funeral Plan Regulation with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Order. Funeral Partners senior management have been able to provide detailed advice and guidance to ensure compliance is achieved across the business network.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, weekly communications outlining current legislation and internal policies and procedures was sent out as well as posters and supplies of Personal Protective Equipment as and when necessary.
Philip said: “My decision to sell my business to Funeral Partners is the best business decision that I have made; and to anyone potentially thinking of doing the same, I would heartily recommend that they speak to Funeral Partners first.”
He said: “I continue to do that which I am best at – arranging and conducting funerals, but now I don’t have the pressure of running a business, I’m not on call anymore and I sleep more soundly.”
Watch the video to hear what Philip Tomlins has to say in his own words.