Your organization might offer (or have considered) a concierge service to help employees buy gifts, run errands and plan parties. The newest player in that field can help them plan funerals.
The funeral concierge is the latest service provider to tap employers that want to add benefits that differentiate them from the competition or make their employees’ lives—and afterlives—a bit more convenient.
“It’s something employers can do to show how valuable their employees and their families are, by saying, ‘Let us help you with this,’” says Mark Duffey, president of Houston-based Everest, which bills itself as “the first nationwide funeral planning and concierge service. “It’s a very high value add-on in the mind of the employee.”
Indeed, at 60,000-employee EDS, a technology services company, 1,000 workers have called the service since it was introduced as anin February.
Most have questions about funerals for aunts or grandparents who aren’t covered by the service, which will take charge of arranging a memorial service or funeral for an employee, a spouse or an employee’s child. Some employees want to plan their own services in advance.
Everest counselors negotiate discounts from funeral homes—a big deal in a business in which competitors in the same ZIP code sometimes charge fees that can vary by as much as 300%, Duffey says.
“People think all funerals cost the same, primarily because people don’t shop around and they don’t compare prices,” he notes. “They usually wait until it’s too late.”
Everest keeps a database of prices from funeral homes nationwide that employees can tap.
A 24-hour call center helps with questions about where to buy a headstone, how to get a death certificate for an insurance claim and other “lingering issues,” Duffey says. The company also can arrange everything from invitations to catering for memorial services.
The cost to the employer: $1 per employee per year.