Funeral customs around the world are interesting to observe. But, just as the customs are interesting to observe so are the challenges of those in funeral service for profit in the differing countries with differing values in funeral service. I recently read an article in Channel News Asia that you can read here.
Land is at a premium in Singapore and private enterprises have to get permission to use land for their project in competition as to what the competing needs of the land may be. Historically, funeral companies have been granted land use for three years with a lease.
Recently, the government identified four new locations for funeral homes, but all of the locations are located in industrial areas. While some in the funeral industry are happy that there will be four more locations amid the growing demand for services they are also concerned that three of the locations are not accessible by public transportation.
However, funeral directors seem to be taking a more active role. ,The Funeral Directors Association President Ang Zi Sheng suggested that it would be “excellent” if funeral parlours could be located within communities rather than industrial locations. He also suggested that it would be nice if the facilities could be guaranteed more than three years of a lease. Mr. Sheng commented, “If the lease is longer, funeral companies can recoup their capital expenditure on infrastructure. And I think infrastructure is very important to create a good environment for bereaved families to grieve. There is only so much renovation you can do on a three-year lease. This (the lease issue) doesn’t help the profession to grow.”
Another funeral director, Mr. Ziqian, is Manager of Mount Vernon Sanctuary, a conglomerate that offers all kinds of death care related businesses. He suggested that funeral companies be given a lease of 60 years so they can recoup capital expenditures on infrastructure. He commented, “I think infrastructure is very important to create a good environment for bereaved families to grieve.”
Funeral Director Daily take: William Shakespeare said something like this, “Would you leave the ills you have for those you know not of?” That quote comes to mind when I think of what our Singapore colleagues go through to provide what they believe are meaningful grief services to the families that they serve. I look at not everything been so perfect in our municipalities re zoning and the like. . . .but, how would you like to have to move your business every three years?
Space, and the competition for it, is a large issue. And this with the fact that deaths are expected to rise in Singapore to an annual rate of about 40,000 in 2040 as compared to about 21,000 today. The profession knows it is an industry with growing demand, but they can only profit if they can find the locations that will serve the business they believe they will have.