Hello, my name is Matthew Barber, Chief Operating Officer at Funeral Partners.
Apart from a break of a few years, I’ve been in the funeral business since the age of 17 and loved every moment of it. I see the biggest part of my role as looking after the people ensuring that we give people the right support so that they can look after their clients as well as possible and so that they can continue delivering the service they always have done, despite some things changing.
So as we acquire businesses, clearly some of the administration changes and our job is to make that journey as smooth as possible, make sure that they can continue to do the job that they’re there to do which ultimately is to look after our families. Within Funeral Partners, we feel it’s important that we do our bit to support the funeral profession as much as we can through particularly the NFD, and in my particular case, the London Association of Funeral Directors, which I’m a member of, on the executive of, and was president of a couple of years back.
We think that that’s important because we can work better together to try to deal with things like compliance around CMA, for example. And it’s key for us as a larger player in the funeral business to add our voice to that. I think as I talk to potential vendors, the message I often get is that we all enjoy working within the funeral profession, but vendors do see the challenges around some compliance and regulations so we’ve had the CMA order, we have the FCA activity this year.
I think many people wonder, will that be the end or will there be more to come? And if there is then all of that compliance and regulation does pose a day-to-day issue that might distract us from looking after our clients and that potentially is when vendors choose to join Funeral Partners in order that we can look after those parts of the business.
So once a business joins funeral partners, the key is for us to allow that vendor and their colleagues to continue looking after families in the best way possible. And to allow that we have a central department looking after fleet, looking after property repairs, looking after compliance, we have our own HR department, Payroll department, Marketing, as well as of course Funeral Plans and Finance.
So within those, we manage to ensure that the former owner can concentrate on looking after families and not being distracted by some of that administrative burden.
I love working with the former owners and their teams to work out how best they can fulfil what they want to deliver to their local communities within funeral partners, we can’t underestimate the importance of their presence, and we want to make sure that that continues, but in a way that suits them and their lifestyle and perhaps wherever they are in their career and their journey in terms of what involvement they’d like going forward.
Whatever the vendor’s role within funeral partners happens to be we’d like them to be able to come back in the front door of that business in one year, five years, 10 years, and still feel part of it and still feel proud of the fact that their name or their family name is above the front door and that in the community. They’re still seen as part of that business and proud to be seen as part of that business.
Something that we put a great deal of time and effort into is making sure that we can invest in the business we’re buying in such a way that gives it the best opportunity to continue prospering. So within property and within fleet and within IT, we fund the acquisition sufficiently well that we can put that kind of investment in to ensure that those parts of the business are bought up to the right standard.
We don’t trade under a single name of funeral partners. We trade under the different individual brands that we’ve purchased and that exists locally and our marketing department are really happy working with you as a vendor to ensure that we have that local feel, even under funeral partners ownership.
One of the things that we like about Funeral Partners and want to try and keep protecting is that we are actually quite a small organization in the sense that the central departments are not huge and therefore you get to know people and you can go straight to decision-makers without very much delay, we do realise how important it is to allow decision making at a local level and wherever we buy a business and we bring in our own processes, we know that the legacy and the history of that local business that has built up over many, many years has to be protected and we don’t want to change that. So we listen very carefully to what it is that those local communities are expecting and we protect that as much as we possibly can going forward
Selling your business is a big decision. It’s a huge step to take. And why I find vendors choose Funeral Partners is that they realise they have on an ongoing basis, more influence over the future of that business than they might have expected.
Phillip Tomlins, former owner and Business Consultant explains how he made the decision to join funeral partners and how the process has worked for Merstow Green Funeral Home.