American consumers are obsessed with finding value, however, they oftentimes confuse value with price or affordability. We are bombarded with prices everywhere we turn, as quite frankly, a price is so much easier to communicate than a value. Warren Buffet defines the two by stating that “Price is what you pay and value is what you get.”
So let’s think about that. You can brew your own coffee in a pot for roughly 30 cents a cup, or you can opt for more convenience and spend more on a Keurig and pods for almost 70 cents a cup, or you can run by a coffee shop and grab a cup for around $3.00 a cup. The cup of coffee in the pot is the cheapest, but it does not provide the convenience or sense of community that many people value in a more expensive cup of coffee.
And yes, in this era of doing it yourself, you can absolutely build and stain a dining room table made from a piece of 4×8 plywood at a fraction of the cost of either buying one to put together or buying one already assembled and delivered to your door. Many people find value in choosing the last option as they simply do not have the time or tools to select the wood, measure it, cut it, sand it, and stain it and having to start over if they don’t measure correctly or use too much stain. And sanding alone is monotonous and physically exhausting.
The same can be said of value or affordable cremation. What exactly does that mean? If we look at price alone, all that says is that the price range for cremation is variable. So, does that mean that you will get the same value between the lower and higher priced cremations? Absolutely not.
Cremation can be cheap for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the Funeral Home does not own their own crematory and contracts out to a third-party cremation mill for and does not have to pay the overhead associated with running a crematory. Perhaps the Funeral Home or crematory is a cremation mill and cremated several decedents a year (bulk cremation), which begs the question of whether they have invested in sufficient refrigeration as required by law as well as to the integrity of their quality control and identification procedures. Perhaps the Funeral Home charges more for transportation, refrigeration, or weight of the decedent, which increases the final price. Perhaps the Funeral Home does not aid with the obituary, veteran’s benefits, social security, and death certificates. Perhaps it only provides cookie cutter service options or none at all.
Cremation can be priced higher for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the Funeral Home owns their own crematory and only cremates for their client families, thus ensuring the integrity of their quality control and identification procedures. Perhaps the Funeral Home invests in on-site refrigeration to comply with Texas law while also investing in training to better enable their Funeral Directors to empower the consumer and help them build a positive foundation for grief. Perhaps the Funeral Home includes additional services in its cremation price, such as transportation to and from a wider area, refrigeration, obituary writing, assisting with veteran’s benefits and death certificates, and service personalization options.
When it comes to cremation, just asking for a price will do nothing but give you a number. In order to find a Funeral Home or cremation provider that offers value, you will have to ask them what they offer for the quoted price. Too often people base their decision on price and then wind up having to learn how to file for veteran’s benefits and death certificates or publish an obituary or create service folders or tribute videos at a very emotional time in their life when they might have been better off spending more to receive professional and timely results and reduce anxiety.
So whether you are looking at coffee, dining room tables, or even cremation, it is important to understand the value of the services provided and not just the price.
Written by Jessamyn Putnam, Funeral Director at Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory, Cremation Advocates by Putnam, and Bertram Funeral Home, serving Llano, Tow, Kingsland, Buchanan Dam, Horseshoe Bay, Cottonwood Shores, Marble Falls, Meadowlakes, Granite Shoals, Highland Haven, Spicewood, Round Mountain, Johnson City, Blanco, Spicewood, Bee Caves, Lakeway, Westlake, Austin, Burnet, Bertram, Oatmeal, Liberty Hill, Smithwick, and the surrounding areas.
Join us on Thursday, August 23 from 11:30-12:30 in Suite 204 in the Market on H Building (across from the Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls) for a light lunch and a presentation by the Alzheimer’s Association on Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body. This is the first in a series of 3 virtual learning seminars on topics related to Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Please RSVP to 512-361-6241 or by visiting alz.org/texascapital as seating is limited to 30 people.
Knowledge, quality, service, personalization, legally compliant, going above and beyond, time spent with the family – these are the qualities that people take for granted that they will receive when choosing a funeral home or crematory. However, there appears to be a race to the bottom in the funeral industry that is negatively impacting the ability of funeral homes and crematories or cremation providers to meet these expectations and many families are walking away from the burial or cremation of a loved one – disappointed.
With on-line options touting cheap cremations and some funeral homes BOLDLY UNDERLINING IN ITALICIZED CAPS THAT THEY WILL PRICE MATCH, it is clear that the funeral industry incorrectly believes that the number one priority to someone shopping for a funeral home or crematory is price. And by trying to be the cheapest, many in the funeral industry have initiated a race to the bottom by cutting corners. Some families tell stories of illegal solicitation efforts, of being offered “Factory Second” urns, being rushed through their initial meeting, receiving the cremated remains of their loved one in the mail, or not being provided options for a service or help with insurance or the option to purchase death certificates, just to name a few.
The final disposition following a death is just that – final. Families only have one opportunity to have it done right. There are no do-overs. So while consumers and funeral homes have been trained to buy and sell solely on price, the race to the bottom, to be the cheapest, has the potential to leave a family bereft and unhappy with how the final disposition of their loved one has been handled.
What can you do to ensure that your expectations are met? When shopping for a funeral home, crematory, or cremation provider, look beyond the price. Ask yourself, what am I giving up by going with the cheapest option? Am I missing out on using a local business who hires locals and volunteers time and money to the community? Am I missing out on knowledge, or quality, or service? Am I using a funeral home that engages in shady or illegal practices or finds other ways to cut corners? And if a funeral home is visibly cutting corners, how might they be cutting corners with my loved one when I am not in the room? Am I missing out by using a funeral home or cremation provider that really cares and is going to take time with me and help me build a positive foundation for grief? Am I using a middleman who is going to ship my loved one hours away to be cremated?
In other words, look beyond price and ask questions about what makes a funeral home or crematory or cremation provider different and ask questions about things that are important to you.
You can no longer expect a certain level of service when contracting a funeral or cremation – the race to the bottom, to be the cheapest, has created an environment in which funeral homes and cremation providers are doing whatever they can to cut costs, doing whatever they can to provide a consumer with the cheapest funeral or cremation out there, when maybe what the consumer really wants is for their loved one’s funeral or cremation done well and done right.
A somber setting, stained glass windows, and organ music – this is typically what one expects when one walks into a funeral home. We at Cremation Advocates by Putnam understand that many of our client families do not want the traditional funeral home experience. Therefore, we offer an elegant alternative to a funeral home – a setting filled with natural light and with a view of Lake Marble Falls. Our fiber optic internet allows us to bring remote family and friends into our facilities, from the planning stage to the subsequent memorial, gathering, or celebration of life. Whether you live within Marble Falls, Burnet, Buchanan Dam, Horseshoe Bay, Bertram, Lampassas, Lakeway, Bee Caves, Spicewood, Liberty Hill, or outside of the Highland Lakes area, we are here to provide a cremation that meets the needs of our 21st century families!
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