The funeral industry accounts for at least $20 billion in annual economic activity in the U.S., with average traditional funeral costs hovering at $8,000 to $10,000. But worrying about pricing structures is the last thing you want to do when dealing with the loss of a loved one. Funeralocity is a third-party comparison marketplace that reduces the burden by helping you select the best funeral home at a price within your budget.
The startup also empowers funeral directors with their Funeralocity Excellence Program. Funeral homes signed up for the program get highlighted and agree to adhere to the highest ethical standards and remain compliant with local and state laws. A five percent discount is available for consumers who pick one of the 40+ homes in the program.
Backed by the Future Factory, a NY-based startup management enterprise, Funeralocity is launching in Atlanta as its first market and has 200+ funeral homes on its marketplace already. CEO Ed Michael Reggie talks more about how Funeralocity’s marketplace can bring you peace of mind and how it will impact a largely untouched-by-tech industry.
Funding or bootstrapped?
Funeralocity is backed by Future Factory, a privately-held company that I founded and which starts and manages companies. Future Factory brings management, capital and ideas together to invest in, grow and run smart businesses.
What’s your pitch?
Funeralocity provides a third-party comparison website for funeral homes to make it easier for families to select a funeral home when they need to make funeral arrangements. Our goal is to be the trusted online resource that provides important information and simplifies the process of comparing and evaluating funeral and cremation options.
How’d you get the idea for it?
In 2014, an employee from a Future Factory spin-off company reached out to me about the challenges she had in making funeral arrangements for a loved one. She said it was difficult for her get funeral home pricing and to understand what was being offered. In short, the process was horrible. Since we have significant experience in startups at Future Factory, I started to discuss how we might address the problem with Greg, our chief technology officer.
After reviewing the marketplace, we realized that no company had delivered an online solution that simplified process for consumers and also engaged funeral directors to ensure that we understood the unique needs of the marketplace.
What problem are you solving?
Thankfully, people only plan one or two funerals in their lifetime. But that also means they don’t know what services are offered and they don’t understand pricing. So, it wasn’t surprising that nearly 79 percent of Americans in a 2016 Harris Survey Poll commissioned for Funeralocity said they wanted the ability to compare prices for funeral homes online and 88 percent surveyed say the funeral industry should do a better job of making their prices transparent and easy to find.
Why is it important to provide a service like Funeralocity to help consumers deal with particulars following the death of a loved one?
People who are grieving feel vulnerable and uncertain about what to do when trying to select a funeral or cremation service provider. We’re trying to address the uncertainty and pressures surrounding purchasing funeral arrangements by providing a way to compare funeral home prices, services, ratings and reviews. This way, families can feel confident that they are making an informed decision and selecting the best funeral home to meet their needs.
We’ve simplified the search process, but also made it easy for consumers to begin the planning process. Consumers can select a funeral home on the site and ask to be contacted to make funeral arrangements.
Please describe the market/industry impact, both on the customer side and the funeral director side.
The funeral industry is a $21 billion marketplace, which has by and large failed to leverage technology to improve its online consumer offerings. This despite the fact that consumers are accustomed to shopping online for most other products and services and relying on ratings and reviews to make purchase decisions.
Online marketplaces have revolutionized how we’ve shopped for everything from electronics to toothpaste and planned for trips and events such as weddings. We are there to help consumers select a funeral home, by providing them a dynamic online marketplace where they can view their options and make informed decisions. At the same time, we’re helping funeral directors by providing them an opportunity to reach consumers where they are – online – and generate more business.
It is inevitable that more purchase decisions related to funeral arrangements will be made online. We plan to evolve Funeralocity to meet the full range of funeral service needs. Despite these changes, we believe that funeral directors will remain central to helping families plan funeral services.
What’s the Funeralocity excellence program?
Funeral directors can apply to participate in the Funeralocity Excellence Program to generate more business for their funeral homes. Funeralocity evaluates applicants to ensure they are in compliance with all state and local laws to ensure they uphold the highest ethical standards. Once accepted into the program, funeral directors can enhance the listing for their funeral home on Funeralocity.com. Funeralocity Excellence Program members have their funeral homes highlighted on the site and consumers are incentivized to make funeral arrangements with an on the spot rebate.
The site is free for consumers to use and there is no fee for funeral homes to be listed on the site. Funeralocity Excellence Program participants pay a fee for every Funeralocity referred family that results in purchased funeral services through the site. A portion of that fee is then rebated back to the family to reduce overall funeral costs.
Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?
Our goal is to be the trusted resource for pricing and comparing burial or cremation funeral services. Unlike other sites, our only focus is providing funeral service prices, information, ratings and reviews to help consumers compare and select a funeral home or cremation service provider. In addition to delivering an easy-to-use platform, we’re ensuring that we have robust information to offer people the broadest array of funeral and cremation service providers. We pride ourselves on deep relationships with funeral directors to understand their unique needs.
Why did you choose Atlanta as your first market?
We launched the website in Atlanta because of the unique demographics in the metro area. Across generations, many families have traditionally relied on one funeral home for all their needs. That habit is fading due to increased population mobility in metro areas and because many families no longer have close connections to their local communities.
This is especially true in Metro Atlanta, the capital of the Southeast and still one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., as a majority of area residents were not born or raised in the areas they currently live.