Key issues faced by Funeral Directors

Aileen Boyle

By Aileen Boyle, Managing Director of Braemar Finance

Funeral Directors in Ireland and the UK face many similar challenges yet can also differ on key issues. In this article I look at the views and thoughts of small to medium sized firms (SMEs) on a range of topics on both sides of the Irish Sea, which are obtained from our recent detailed survey of businesses in the professions sector.

Access to funding and appetite for investment

Nearly two thirds of Ireland Funeral Directors are finding it a challenge to access the funding they need to invest in their businesses, despite 75% planning to actively seek finance for business investment in the next 12 months (UK = 62%).

Only 13% in Ireland indicated that it’s ‘becoming easier’ and 25% saying they have never had a problem.

Q: Thinking about access to funding, is it….

 

Region

Funeral

A major challenge

Ireland

38%

 

UK

25%

A minor challenge

Ireland

25%

 

UK

48%

Becoming easier

Ireland

13%

 

UK

10%

Never had a problem

Ireland

25%

 

UK

14%

Don't know

Ireland

0%

 

UK

3%

Economic outlook

Funeral businesses in Ireland are best described as ‘cautiously optimistic’ about their prospects for the coming 12 months, with 38% feeling that while the worst is behind us, it will be a slow path to recovery; a further 38% feel that the economy could yet decline.

This contrasts strongly with the UK, where four out 10 firms in the funeral sector are confident about the steady recovery of the economy.

Looking at expected performance, 25% are hoping to expand, with 50% expecting to ‘stay the same’; another 25% will be scaling down their operations.

Q: How do you expect your business to perform over the next 12 months?

 

 

Funeral

Expand

Ireland

25%

 

UK

36%

Stay the same

Ireland

50%

 

UK

61%

Contract

Ireland

25%

 

UK

3%

Close down

Ireland

0%

 

UK

0%

Business priorities

Managing debt is the highest priority for 38% of Funeral Directors in the Ireland (UK = 25%), which is the highest of all professions. ‘Achieving growth’ comes second followed by ‘standing still’.

It’s clear businesses in the funeral sector currently have different priorities, with expansion ambitions relegated in favour of more practical considerations.

Q: What is your main business priority at the moment?

 

Region

Dental

Veterinary

Optical

Funeral

Legal

Accountancy

Pharmacy

Medical

Achieving growth

Ireland

48%

23%

56%

25%

37%

41%

36%

33%

 

UK

38%

26%

18%

21%

30%

32%

27%

24%

Paying down debts

Ireland

11%

15%

22%

38%

16%

23%

21%

12%

 

UK

23%

30%

4%

25%

24%

26%

27%

16%

Standing still

Ireland

15%

0

11%

25%

21%

18%

21%

9%

 

UK

10%

17%

22%

18%

16%

21%

20%

21%

Developing products/services

Ireland

4%

31%

11%

0

16%

13%

7%

21%

 

UK

13%

13%

18%

11%

15%

12%

16%

13%

Investing in staff

Ireland

7%

23%

0

12%

5%

2%

0

15%

 

UK

3%

4%

400%

11%

14%

7%

0%

22%

Investing in equipment / assets

Ireland

15%

8%

0

0

5%

2%

14%

9%

 

UK

12%

9%

0%

14%

2%

2%

9%

3%

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