This week’s Business Focus is with Amanda Dalby of Dalby Funeral Directors.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
After gaining my Diploma in Funeral Directing, and then working for a large funeral company, I felt that I could offer a more personal service by setting up on my own, which allowed a little more time for families when they’ve lost a loved one, and in a more modern funeral parlour than people are generally used to.
What is your business motto?
To treat everyone with respect, and stand for nothing less than the best.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
To have a clear vision of what it is that you want to achieve; and keep that vision as the focal point to how you develop your business. Also, to never put anything off until tomorrow what you can do today.
What was the biggest challenge you faced starting your business?
I think with any new business, the challenge is how to attract new customers. The funeral industry tends to be very traditional and well established – it’s also a sensitive one. Families place a lot of trust in their chosen funeral director, so it’s a huge decision for them to make. The challenge was how to steer those families our way. Being a lady undertaker has definitely helped in this area, as I think that families have liked my soft approach. Now that my son has joined me, we also have the appeal of being a small, independent, family business too.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
Being my own boss, and being in control of the direction in which the company goes. Having a well-deserved day off is also a bonus. I took very few holidays in my first seven years of business, but now I can have holidays when I choose!
What do you enjoy least about being self-employed?
There is a lot more pressure being self employed. It’s my name above the door, and ultimately the reputation of the company lies with me. Doing the accounts is my least favourite part of the job, I’m more of a ‘people person’ than a ‘number cruncher’. My son, Michael, helps out a lot on this side of the business, thankfully.
Which business figure do you most admire and why?
The late Anita Roddick is very inspirational to me. She showed great bravery, especially by opening her first ever store in between two funeral directors, and naming it The Body Shop! The funeral directors were not impressed. Her stores have a strong brand image, to this day, which shows that good marketing is one of the keys to great success in business.
What achievement in your career are you most proud of?
Renovating my premises. It was such an unsightly old pub (the former Falcon Inn at Salterhebble) when I bought it, but I am so proud of how it looks now. Not only is it a good-looking and practical building, I really feel that it has helped to improve the whole look of the area, and I am told that it is a welcoming and relaxing space.
Where do you see your business going in the next five years?
We are currently operating at a level that I am happy with, but there is always room for improvement. So I will continue to ensure that the quality of service that we give is of the highest standard, and always look to improve where possible. There may also be scope for expansion, especially with the Pre-Payment Planning side of the business, as more and more people are making financial plans for their futures, and relieving the burden of funeral costs from their families.
If you could invent one new product, what would it be?
A mobile phone that doesn’t ring or beep at an inappropriate moment. I have lost count of the number of times that this has happened during a funeral service, at a crematorium service, or even in church. It could be called the ‘Funeral Sensor’.
If you could work for one company, who would it be and why?
I am a real Francophile, so I would love to work for a French undertakers on La Cote D’Azur, and improve my French! I usually take a holiday in Cannes every year – so I’ll be on the look-out when I’m next there.