Last week I learned about, what I might classify as extraordinary and possibly trend setting – if one can say that about funeral establishments – new funeral home that opened recently in London. The business named “Exit Here” was conceived by British restauranteer Oliver Peyton and his business partner, Barry Pritchard, a third generation funeral director and a board member of the UK’s National Association of Funeral Directors.
You can read an article from Citylab on the business here.
Exit Here is a full service provider of funerals and mortuary services. They advertise they serve everything from traditional funerals to other possibilities. They are not a discounter and according to Peyton costs for services at Exit Here will run “a tiny bit above mid-market” for a traditional funeral. Peyton also states, “If you want a cheap funeral, you’re not going to come to us. But, we’re definitely not out of reach”.
What Peyton believes will set Exit Here apart are choice, fashion, and service. Choice, in that client families can go outside the norm and search for the meaning and emotional attachments in what may appeal to an increasingly secularized Great Britain. Fashion, in that the funeral homes are designed different than any traditional funeral home you would have used before, and service, in that Peyton points to his success in the restaurant business and speaks to the fact that the funeral business is also about hospitality. . . and taking care of people.
Open one month, Exit Here has done four funeral services. According to the article, Peyton did not believe that they would do one funeral prior to Christmas. It may be wishful thinking, but the owners are thinking about expansion and they have already received inquiries about franchising opportunities.
Funeral Director Daily take: I suggest that you click on the above link and read the article. For this career funeral director who has heard a lot of ideas. . .this idea seems right on target when you look at the changing dynamics of society.
Peyton’s ideas seem somewhat visionary. He seems to understand what people need and want before they realize it. And now he is providing an outlet for them to gravitate to. He talks about Great Britain having a single prevailing model of death care. . .one that is very traditional in commemorating life and ritualizing mortality. He basically says, the same old, same old doesn’t suit him. I think many may feel that way.
He also understands that funeral homes, like restaurants, largely serve local neighborhoods and communities. In my opinion, that is something that large scale low-cost cremation operators who serve wide areas may eventually find out when it comes to memorialization.
What is really interesting about this concept — and it is really not a new concept — just what appears to be the knowledge of what people of today want. . . choice, fashion, and service. . . is that the owners did not set out to “shake up or disrupt” an industry. It appears that they just said, “What do people want”? . . . and, oddly enough, maybe they found it. . . time will tell.
Again, it will not be for everybody. It won’t be for the very low-cost alternatives. . . but for those that want to tell their story. . . maybe this is the option.
I’ve been around long enough to see trends move into societal shifts. I’ve seen wired phones move to wireless, I’ve seen hard copy newspapers move to on-line, and I have seen neighborhood pubs disappear into the craft beer craze.
Maybe low-cost cremation won’t win. Maybe traditional funeral homes will win. . . . but with a different traditional style.