Australia’s largest funeral provider has today told shareholders that things are looking up in 2019. Yes, death numbers are on the rise!
Yay, the flu! Yay, a cold winter!
In a performance update to the Australian stock exchange, Invocare, says “the soft market conditions had started to improve, with the number of deaths beginning to revert to the long-term trend”.
What’s the long-term trend? This chart taken from today’s presentation to shareholders shows it clearly. Look at the solid orange line. They were last year’s deaths. The dotted line is the five-year average which is what Invocare shareholders will be pleased to know is returning. More deaths = more revenue.
Invocare (IVC) owns many, many, many funeral businesses, cemeteries and crematoria across Australia, Singapore and New Zealand. The best-known funeral brands are owned by this huge company – Simplicity Funerals, White Lady, Guardian. Here’s a list but this is growing all the time. Here are the company’s most recent acquisitions. You’ll note many of these were small town, family businesses:
What does this tell us?
Invocare’s statement to the ASX and its presentation to its shareholders tells us there’s money in funerals. BIG MONEY. While Invocare’s profits were down last year because of fewer deaths (damn that warm winter!) and some business acquisitions and renovations, the company made more than $41 MILLION profit. These are the highlights provided to shareholders today:
Be prepared. Do your homework now.
Funeral directors have a very important job. They provide a great service to us when we’re at our most vulnerable, when we’re confused and when we’re grieving. No-one can deny the significance of their role.
But funerals are big business too. Do your homework, be prepared, shop around. Perhaps even visit your local funeral director and ask questions before you need their services. Get to know them. Get to know what services they provide and for what cost. Understand what services you need and don’t need. Demand transparency. For example, do you really need the funeral director to print the order of proceedings for $250? I’m pretty sure one of your family can whip it up on their laptop and print 50 copies at home for $30.
With a little knowledge and understanding, when the time does finally come, you and your loved ones will be prepared and the process of organising a funeral (and paying for it!) won’t be so confronting.
Tell your family what you want
Give permission for your family to buy a cheap coffin and spend the money they save on a holiday or lots of booze for the wake. Let them know you don’t want a big fuss. Or tell them that you do! It’s your funeral. Have it your way. The key is simply communication.
Books like The Bottom Drawer Book: an after death action plan can help with this conversation. It’s a colourful and informative workbook that lets you write down what kind of a funeral you want, if you want to be cremated or buried, what music you’d like played, whether you want the church involved, and even what you’d like to wear at your own funeral. (Personally, I will come back and haunt anyone who buries me wearing heels!)