The loss of a loved one can be a trying time and emotional time for a family. When arranging a funeral, the first contact is typically the funeral home so that the necessary documentation can be arranged, the body can be professionally handled and the appropriate service can be coordinated. “The process can get overwhelming and we wanted to make it as simple as possible,” says Eric Vandermeersch, Founder and CEO of Basic Funerals.
Basic Funerals started out with a simple website. “We decided early that we wanted to put our focus in providing prices upfront for people to see, no hidden fees; at a time when most funeral homes wouldn’t even disclose their prices over the phone” says Vandermeersch.
Vandermeersch began his career in the funeral home industry at the early age of 14. This led him to mature quickly and helped garner valuable experience before moving to work for one of the largest corporate funeral homes in the province. “I’ve had the privilege to see a broad spectrum in this industry which has helped me create the experience to best serve families” says Vandermeersch.
As a funeral director, working with families and helping people in a time of need have always been one of the most rewarding aspects of the role for Vandermeersch – up until the part when it came to having to tell the family about the cost. “I felt that there had to be a better way,” says Vandermeersch. “By altering the business model, Basic Funerals was better able to address a need; we offer something that isn’t so much money through various service plans.”
As a licensed Ontario funeral home, Basic Funerals offers premium funeral and cremation services across the province. “We are able to accommodate many families across the province in a larger geographical area because we don’t hold our own service facilities” says Vandermeersch.
In partnership with other venues, Basic Funerals facilitates funeral services using beautiful existing locations instead of other funeral homes, since they are not a broker. “Much like in wedding planning, we hold services in existing chapels for example, and schedule them appropriately,” says Vandermeersch. “This gives a lot of options for our families.” From their conversations about a family’s loved one, Basic Funerals is better able to determine what kind service or personalized venue would best fit to remember and celebrate the life the person had.
Funeral arrangements can be made exclusively online, over the phone or in person from the client’s own home. Basic Funerals can assist with all of the steps to complete the funeral arrangements from the first call to the final disposition. Most importantly, Basic Funerals guarantees transparency when it comes to cost.
The business model proved to be successful as Basic Funerals served over 200 families in their first year; quite uncommon in the industry as even the most established funeral homes will likely serve closer to 100 families per year. Since, their inception in 2009, Basic Funerals has been a key competitor when it comes to traditional funeral services. “There was clearly a demand for our services,” says Vandermeersch. “As we developed, we built up our website to serve more families to our low cost model and also included the traditional services”.
Customized Care Offered by a Trusted Team
Everyone grieves differently and reacts differently to a loss. “The first minutes of communication are where the staff set the dial for the tone of how to best serve the family as best to their current realm of emotions,” says Vandermeersch.
While Basic Funerals is a licensed funeral home like any other in Ontario, what truly sets them apart is their staff – why they work with for the organization and how they work with people. “Our staff already has passion for serving people, so they see our organization as a vehicle for the career that they want in this industry,” says Vandermeersch. “Our families can tell how passionate they are in their jobs, beyond just offering a competitive price. It’s the experience we provide.”
Basic Funerals doesn’t just handle funeral arrangements. In the last six years, they have grown to become a leader in providing cremations and funerals across Ontario by serving well over 1,000 families every year. “The landscape of the client is really changing; people are wanting less compared to the traditional funeral services process,” says Vandermeersch. It’s a significant change we are seeing more of”. Basic Funerals set out to cater to this growing need effectively and have made it easier for families to respect the wants of their lost loved ones.
With the average funeral costing $8500, many families are choosing the simpler, cremation process. “We’ve seen about a 65% increase in this service, and an 85% increase within cities,” says Vandermeersch. With cremation being an easier process and more affordable, it makes up 99% of Basic Funerals’ business. “Our average contract is about $2200,” says Vandermeersch.
Figuring out options and pricing when planning a funeral can become an overwhelming process. Basic Funerals serves as a professional funeral home which caters to the needs of family with respect and compassion. Currently, Basic Funerals services about 100 families a month. They have a strong presence in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as Ottawa and London. “We’re focused on the market in Ontario because that’s where our roots are” says Vandermeersch. “But we are now looking forward and want to reach out to other cities and towns by making our brand known, which is key for us to grow in the future.”