Here’s how much it costs to buy a funeral parlour franchise like Doves or Martin’s in South Africa


  • Death is big business in South Africa – with the funeral services industry estimated to be worth around R7.5 billion.
  • There are thousands of small, private funeral operators.
  • But the easiest way to make money from funerals is to buy a franchise – and there are at least three big local players who’ll sell you one.
  • Here’s how much it costs to buy a funeral services franchise in South Africa.

South Africa has a thriving funeral services industry, and there are roughly 70,000 active undertakers and some 15,000 operational funeral parlours in the country.

As Covid-19 demonstrated, undertakers and funeral parlours play critical roles in South African society – but they’re also attractive business opportunities. Who Owns Whom estimates that the funeral services industry in South Africa now generates between R7.5bn and R10bn each year. It’s also a highly fragmented industry – the dominant players serve just 4% of the domestic market.

It’s unclear how many of these funeral services businesses are privately owned, run in-house by prominent players, or available to purchase as franchises. But there are some funeral businesses in South Africa, like Doves, Martin’s, and Sonja Smith Funeral Group, which are open to new applications.

Here’s how much it’ll cost to open your own funeral parlour business in South Africa in 2021.


Doves has been operating since the late 1800s and is currently one of South Africa’s largest funeral directing companies. The group runs a network of more than 160 branches across all provinces, which offer a wide range of funeral services, from burials to embalming.

Many of their branches are franchisee-run, and they’re currently taking new applications from interested businesspeople who are hardworking, have good interpersonal skills, and are “enthusiastic self-starters”, among other characteristics.

Doves charges an initial franchise fee of approximately R150,000 (excluding VAT), which includes operation manuals, initial training, site selection assistance, and branding.

Depending on the site, franchisees will need to commit to a total investment of between R950,000 and R2.9 million. This amount includes branding, shop fittings, equipment, furniture, and opening stock.

Martin’s Funerals

Martin’s Funerals has grown from a small body cooling facility on a farm in Randfontein to a network they claim now consists of some 160 funeral services businesses located throughout the country.

The business expanded further with the introduction of funeral services franchises, and they’re looking to take on new franchisees interested in starting their own business in the industry. They’re looking for new franchisees in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, and the Free State.

Martin’s Funerals charges an initial franchise fee of approximately R100,000. Setting up a store will cost a minimum of R527,000, depending on its size and location. After that, franchisees must pay royalties of 10% for marketing and management.

Sonja Smith Elite Funeral Group

Sonja Smith Elite Funeral Group started in 2006 and currently has a network of 10 branches, located mainly in Gauteng. The business offers families a one-stop funeral business, from cremations and burials, to personalised funeral services.

Many of the group’s branches are now franchisee-run, and they’re looking to expand in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the North West, and Limpopo. They’re looking for people prepared to work hard, have common senses, and a high moral standard, among other characteristics.

The group will assist franchisees in finding a relevant site for the business, training, advice on layout, and guidelines for the initial stock orders, among other tasks critical in setting up a business in the funeral industry.

Sonja Smith Elite Funeral Group charges an initial franchise fee of R300,000 (excluding VAT). They estimate the total investment to be between R600,000 and R1 million, which includes equipment, decor, furniture, vehicle modification, and showroom stock.

Source: Business Insider South Africa –

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