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Family owned funeral homes

Family-owned funeral homes compared to corporate-owned

Funeral homes play a crucial role in our lives by providing support during our most challenging moments. When it comes to choosing one, consider whether it’s best to choose family owned funeral homes or corporate owned. In New Hampshire, where tradition and community values run deep, this distinction carries significant weight.

Understanding the funeral industry landscape

Before looking at the benefits of family owned funeral homes, here’s a glance at the funeral industry’s current landscape in the United States:

  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau Economic Census (2012 ), the funeral industry generates $16.323 billion in revenue, with funeral homes and funeral services accounting for $13.004 billion, and cemeteries and crematories contributing $3.319 billion.
  • The funeral industry employs approximately 141,002 people, who collectively earn $4.7 billion in wages, with 108,385 working in funeral homes and funeral services, and 32,617 in cemeteries and crematories.
  • You may find it surprising that less than 80% of funeral homes in the U.S. are privately owned by families, individuals or small chains.
  • Even more surprising is that more than 20% of all funeral homes in the country are owned by large corporations. Corporate entities, some of which are publicly traded, own multiple funeral homes, cemeteries, crematories and even insurance providers.

Why does funeral home ownership matter?

You might wonder whether ownership truly matters when it comes to funeral services. After all, as long as the service is professional and compassionate, why should the ownership be a concern? The answer lies in the personal touch and responsiveness that family owned funeral homes can provide.

In family-owned funeral homes, the owner is often actively involved in daily operations, including making funeral arrangements and attending services. In contrast, resolving issues with corporate-owned funeral homes can be a protracted process, with decision-makers often inaccessible.

Nationally, about 23% of funeral homes are owned by large chains, sometimes referred to as the “Walmarts of funeral service.”

In New Hampshire, corporate-owned firms represent about 22% of the approximately 65 funeral homes (some funeral homes have multiple locations, but there are 65 firms total in the state).

Dealing with a family owned funeral home, especially during such a personal and emotional time, ensures a level of trust and community connection that can be challenging to replicate in corporate owned settings.

The impact on local communities

The presence of family owned funeral homes in local communities carries significant benefits:

Local ownership: Family owned funeral homes are independently operated and not beholden to shareholders or corporate mandates. Their primary focus is providing the best service to their communities.

Legacy of trust: Many family owned funeral homes have been serving their communities for generations, establishing a legacy of trust and reliability.

Community involvement: Staff members of family owned funeral homes are often involved in their communities, both personally and professionally, thus fostering a sense of trust and familiarity.

Contributions to the local economy: These businesses contribute to the local economy by providing jobs and supporting local businesses.

Cultural sensitivity: Family-owned funeral homes are well-versed in local customs and understand the unique expectations of their clients.

The choice for integrity and compassion

Recently, the funeral industry has faced scrutiny for unethical practices at some corporate-owned establishments. These issues include exhumations without family notification, mishandling information, high-pressure sales tactics and even double-selling plots at various cemeteries.

With corporate owned funeral homes, when challenges arise, families must consult with a location manager, then a regional manager, then up to the corporate level. 

Often, a funeral’s cost is higher at publicly-owned homes compared to privately owned. Corporate funeral homes must answer to stockholders, share value and dividends.

Some funeral homes are private equity firms that are looking to make as much profit out of the business as possible. They’re not investing into the business or the community. 

One of the largest corporate players in the industry, Service Corporation International (SCI), faced significant complaints related to their cemeteries. SCI doesn’t belong to the state association, and is not actively involved within its communities.

In contrast, family owned funeral homes prioritize customer needs over profit and aim to provide the highest level of service with compassion and integrity.

Non-family owned funeral homes in NH

Our research shows that these are the non-family owned funeral homes in the state: 

  • Bennett in Concord
  • McHugh in Manchester
  • Tasker in Dover
  • Mayhew in Plymouth and Meredith
  • Foley in Keene
  • Fletcher in Keene
  • Bailey in Lancaster
  • Zis-Sweeney and St. Laurent in Nashua
  • Grondin in Rochester
  • Smart Memorial Home in Franklin
  • Thibault-Neun and Paquette-Neun in Franklin and Northfield
  • Advantage Funeral & Cremation in Nashua
  • Bernier in Somersworth
  • J Verne Wood in Portsmouth

The Phaneuf difference

In New Hampshire, Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium stands as an exemplar of a family-owned funeral home with a longstanding commitment to the community.

For four generations, the Phaneuf family has owned and operated their funeral homes, making them one of the oldest continually-owned family funeral homes in the state. Their dedication extends to supporting local charities and nonprofit organizations, which reinforces their strong community ties.

In a world where large corporate entities often dominate various industries, including funeral services, the choice between family-owned and corporate-owned funeral homes remains crucial. In New Hampshire, the tradition of community, trust and personal connection runs deep, making family-owned funeral homes like Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium a natural choice for those seeking compassionate and community-oriented funeral services.

When it comes to your loved one’s final farewell, choosing a family-owned funeral home ensures that your needs, emotions and traditions are respected and honored.

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