5 Reasons To NEVER Post Your Prices Online
In October, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it is considering amending the Funeral Rule to require funeral service providers to post prices online. Within hours, deathcare professionals across the country were assaulted with headlines like, “Funeral homes could soon have to post prices online” and “Federal government looks to strengthen funeral service prices disclosure rule.”
Post your casket, embalming, and transport prices online? What is the FTC thinking? After all, the existing Funeral Rule has been in place and virtually untouched since 1984. The FTC’s own staff review found that today less than 25% of the funeral homes they surveyed posted their entire price list online and more than 60% had no price information at all on their websites.
There are plenty of reasons the FTC should just leave well enough alone, right? Here are five of the best reasons you should be terrified that this legislation will be approved.
1. You might be perceived as transparent
“Transparency” is a big buzzword in business these days. Folks seem to want to know everything that goes on behind the curtain. They think that companies should be open, honest, and forthright in all aspects of operations because consumers deserve to know your firm’s values, internal processes, sourcing, and … pricing! Forbes says that transparency builds trust in a brand, which can boost sales and increase employee retention. In fact, one study found that 94% of consumers would be loyal to a transparent brand. If that’s true, then posting the prices of funeral products and services online could lead to more sales, employee longevity, and families who are loyal to your funeral home. Who wants that?
2. Phones and cars are still around
How hard is it to stop by your funeral home or pick up the phone and ask about your prices? Consumers have done this for decades with absolutely no issues, and they’re quite accustomed to that practice. Your phone number is still in the phone book, on deli menus, and in the church bulletin, so it’s right at their fingertips. And, sure, drop-ins aren’t ideal, but there should be someplace in the building and someone who’s available to sit down with a family and share the price list with them. No prob, Bob.
3. People might see that your prices are different from your competitor’s
You’ve heard that Joe Blow & Sons charges less for a direct cremation than you do. (They haven’t posted their prices online, so you plan to confirm their costs one day by calling them or stopping by when you get around to it.) What would happen, though, if one of your legacy families price shops online and finds out that Blow is cheaper? Why, you’d lose that business to Blow! After all, those families are only interested in saving a few bucks. They don’t care about the quality of services they’ve received from you as you’ve handled their family members’ funerals in the past.
4. Posting prices online is hard
First they say you need a website, then they say you need social media profiles. Now they say you have to put prices online. Who are “they” anyway? Probably the same people who tell you that 93% of U.S. adults of all ages, education levels, and income use the internet and 82% of people have at least one social media profile. They might even be the people who say that 80% of the population shops online, or that nearly 57% prefer to shop this way. Well, obviously those people have never had to add a page or a paragraph of text to a website. That would mean placing a call to the company that built your website, sending them your price list, and paying them for your time. So. Much. Effort.
5. You’ve never had to do this before
Nobody likes change. Change is uncomfortable. Doing the same thing year after year without making changes is how you make people feel at ease. It’s tradition — and everyone loves traditional, never-changing business practices. You prefer doing things the way your grandfather and his grandfather did things. They didn’t need the internet or a price list to serve families when your funeral home opened in the early 1900s, so why do you need it now? People probably freaked out when your ancestors had to replace hitching posts with a parking lot, or when someone decided that cremation was a good idea. Posting prices would be just as jarring, so why rock the boat?
These are just five of the plethora of reasons posting prices online is a crazy idea. Even so, it’s an idea that’s gaining traction with the Federal Trade Commission and is likely to develop into a requirement. It’s probably best to be prepared. If it makes you feel any better, deathcare isn’t alone in this particular situation.
As of January 1, 2021, hospitals operating in the United States are required to post online the prices of the items and services they offer in a downloadable format as well as in a “consumer-friendly” display. The so-called Hospital Price Transparency Rule hasn’t been well-received by hospitals, and several surveys have found that a large percentage are still non-compliant, despite the threat of hefty non-compliance penalties.
If deathcare can learn anything from hospitals, it’s that change is inevitable, and resistance to a governmental dictate could be futile — and potentially expensive. Who knows … posting prices online might actually be a good thing. We’ll just have to wait and see.