There has been a trend in recent years of corporations purchasing funeral homes, lots of funeral homes, a practice called consolidation. It happens all the time with banks, grocery stores, and other local businesses, you may have noticed it at one of your favorite shops. The event tends to be well publicized and promoted by the new owners, with promises that will supposedly benefit customers.
With a funeral home, you might not notice that ownership has changed - unless you ask, “Who owns this funeral home?” Staff may change, prices may increase, and the character of the business will likely be very different, yet you would hardly know. Again, we encourage you to look closely and ask questions.
How could you not notice? Because outwardly, the changes are subtle. The business name usually remains the same. The former owner may continue working for the new business. Often, the funeral home does not acknowledge the change of ownership in its advertising. The new owner, or corporation, recognizes the importance of familiarity, and the value to families of local funeral homes that have a long history in the community. In other words, you want a funeral home with a reputation you know and trust. When asked, people indicated there was only a 2% chance that they would choose a funeral home owned by a national corporation, over a locally owned funeral home, according to Worthlin Worldwide.
We have been serving the families of the East Bay, and honoring and celebrating your family and friend’s life events since 1863. Most locally owned funeral homes are like ours, and have been a part of their home communities for generations. Over the years, we come to know the customs, traditions, and values that are meaningful to our families. Often, a funeral home has been a valuable community member, contributing time, money and resources that help improve the quality of life for families, friends, and neighbors.
When corporations take over, the funeral home’s responsibility shifts from the families being served, to the shareholders. Independent funeral homes have long relationships with their communities. They are dedicated to the families they serve and depend upon them for their livelihood and the continued success of their business. The funeral home is experienced in meeting families’ needs when special circumstances arise, without having to seek permission from executives at a faraway headquarters. In other words, a locally owned funeral home has the flexibility and willingness to respond creatively to your family’s particular needs. For 150 years, our focus has been our families, and our first responsibility is always to you.
People often assume that corporations can offer lower prices for goods and services but this is not necessarily the case. There are published accounts of corporate funeral home chains charging more for services when compared with locally owned independent funeral homes within the same community. When it comes to pricing, we are transparent, respectful of your wishes, and do not try to upsell your choices.
As a consumer protection, an increasing number of states now require funeral homes to disclose the name of the company or individual that owns it. We strongly recommend that you ask who owns the funeral home, if you are at all uncertain. The answer may surprise you.
The U.S. and Canada have enacted regulations that govern the funeral industry, although these regulations can vary. In some states and provinces, Licensing Boards, usually comprised of funeral directors and consumer advocates, have been created to regulate funeral homes. The Board is usually under the supervision of an Attorney General, Banking Commission or Department of Health.
The U.S. federal government also regulates the funeral industry. In 1984, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) adopted the Funeral Rule to ensure that consumers are given information about funerals and funeral costs before finalizing any arrangements. The Funeral Rule requires that consumers receive specific information prior to any discussion about funeral arrangements. Consumers must be informed about which services they can and cannot be required to purchase, along with details about embalming, cremation and caskets. The FTC provides many safeguards for you with its Funeral Rule. Four important safeguards are:
At Mountain View Cemetery, we honor the Funeral Rule. We would provide these protections to our families no matter what because we believe it is the right thing to do. Our Golden Rule is to provide you with the guidance and information you need to make the best decisions for your family. We abide by these standards so that we may better serve you, our families.