With the death rate in the UK reaching a tipping point and numbers of deaths expected soon to begin rising by 20% over the next 20 years, it is the innovative approach to bereavement of one Cardiff based funeral service that is taking the industry by storm! Gareth Coles, the Director of Coles Funeral Directors, tells us his vision for the sector and what has led to Coles Funeral Directors recently becoming an award winning service for the second time!
Hi Gareth, you started in the funeral industry young, How long have you been established?
I purchased Coles Funeral Directors when I was just 26, about nine years ago. Although the business already existed, it turned over a minimal amount of funerals each year and looked nothing like the business it is today.
Some may say that the funeral industry would be a strange choice for a young man just starting out in life. How did you become interested in funeral services?
I started driving funeral limousines as a side job at 18 when I was at college studying for my A Levels. Learning the business quickly, I could see that the execution of a well conducted funeral takes precision and being a perfectionist, detail is my strong point.
We know that you have recently won your second award, so what makes you different from other funeral homes?
Historically funeral homes have very outdated interiors with dark, sombre unwelcoming decor and the service is predominately a male dominated industry.
We have put a lot into the interior design of our premises in order to offer a light, elegant, comfortable environment for our customers to visit and have their loved ones rest. I am someone who is very much affected by my surroundings and I fully understand the need for calming colours, soft lighting and comfortable furnishings.
As a reputable Funeral Service, we are part of the NAFD (National Association of Funeral Directors) as well as SAIF (Society of Allied Independent Funeral Directors) to which we are governed by a strict code of conduct and we have committed ourselves to providing a better standard of service and ethics, which not all Funeral services adhere to.
So Congratulations on your recent award – Funeral Planner of the Year! What does it mean to you, to be an award winning service?
Obviously as a business we are over the moon to be an award winning service, as it is recognition of our hard work and commitment to industry standards. However, it is the testimonials and thank you cards we receive from our customers every day that is the true recognition of our hard work.
As a funeral director, how important is customer satisfaction to you?
Our company is built on reputation and we pride ourselves in the fact we have seen growth of over five times that of when we started.
What many people don’t realise is that most of the remaining funeral homes in Cardiff are owned by the big conglomerates such as the Co-Op and Dignity. As a local independent Funeral Service our aim is to provide a much more personal standard of service, that these big organisations are just not able to compete with.
Our Mission statement is ‘Serving people with respect and professionalism’ and it is this service that we are committed to delivering, every day to all of our customers.
How do you cope being around so much grief / how do you manage to separate your work from your home life?
Every day I am surrounded by grieving families and this can be very emotionally draining. I am not only the face of the business, meeting with families and directing funeral, but I also manage all staff and the business as a whole. My wife also has a high pressure job and we have a young baby so life is certainly challenging. The key to success I feel is ‘work life balance’! A good holiday also helps!
What business plans do you have for the future?
We are at a very exciting transitional stage of our business and have a strategic business plan in place for the next five years with extensive growth plans.
My aim is to grow the business and open further funeral homes using the same successful business principles.
Watch this space!
If you would like to enquire about a pre-paid funeral plan with Coles Funeral Directors, then please call 029 20797 516 or visit their website at www.colesfuneraldirectors.co.uk