The “Man in the Van” reprised
I’m guessing the funeral home entrepreneur “Man in the Van” has been around for going on 50 years. My idea of the “Man in the Van” or mobile funeral home operator, is that individual funeral director business operator who operates without a permanent venue. In essence, they take calls over the internet or the phone and make arrangements with families in the survivors’ homes. Any services are conducted in public venues such as churches or cemeteries.
They generally use trade embalmers to prepare and casket the deceased or use a trade cremation specialist for their cremation call cases. The general marketing philosophy is two-fold — that the service is very personal and that the services are less costly because of the savings with a lack of large real estate and buildings.
This niche of funeral directing has been around a long time. . . although I don’t seem to see brands catching much market share in any markets. . . .and I just don’t seem to see them operating much anymore.
However, just the other day I was made aware of a North Carolina company called Into our Care Innovative Funeral Services. You can see their web-site here. And, while they fit the business model of the “Man in the Van”, the company takes it one step further with their personalized van that is large enough for an open casket.
Their package pricing page on their website lists Direct Cremation in a range from $800 with a consumer provided alternative container to from $1700 with a casket purchased from the company. They also show fees of $2,000 for a traditional funeral service which includes embalming and from $2500 for what they call a “Contemporary Funeral Service” and includes cremation after a traditional service.
The company also offers what they call the “Embrace the Life they Live Package” which is available for $500 and seems to offer their “Specialty Funeral Coach” for a two-hour visitation at a “home, park, lake, garden, or similar venue”. In essence, it appears to be a mobile visitation, or “Destination” funeral service, at a location that might have been near and dear to the deceased.
Funeral Director Daily take: I love entrepreneurs. . .I’ve started several companies and had ideas for others. The excitement of creating that product of value that others will purchase is a goal that has been around since commercial enterprises started. The website for Into Our Care Innovative Funeral Services shows obituaries of those who have used their services as well as testimonials of those who were pleased with the outcomes. . .so we know that there is a market for this business.
“Destination” weddings are growing and growing in market share every day. . . will the same happen with funerals?
The question may be. . . “How big a market is there” and “can that market be profitable”? We are seeing, over and over again, new niche businesses in death care trying to capitalize on the coming change in death care attitudes. I’m guessing some will prove to have staying power and some will be ideas that just don’t excite the masses enough to be profitable.
I think as death care moves forward, we will see more niches that people can choose for human disposition options as well as innovative ways to celebrate lives. And, I think, over time, a lower and lower percentage of deaths will be using traditional mortuaries as we move forward. . . . .although some of these niche choices may survive, I think it is still be too early to know which death care niche businesses can be profitable and scalable.
More news from the world of Death Care:
- Second plea in U.S. funeral home scheme to sell body parts. Reuters
- 25 years of Houston’s National Museum of Funeral History’s Bizarrely Fascinating Exhibits. Houston Press (TX)
- Coroner takes to task Ohio man accused of running a fake funeral business. Video story and print article. WBNS Channel 10 CBS – Columbus. (OH)
- Township board in Dakota County approves Muslim cemetery request. Minneapolis Star Tribune (MN)
- “Stories at the Cemetery” brings some of Anchorage’s vibrant history to life. Video story and print article. KTUU Anchorage (AK)
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