4 Ways to Vet Your Office Furniture Supplier

vetting furniture supplierYou wouldn’t just go to any furniture dealer and buy the first things you see on sale to furnish your dream house. The office that you make your livelihood in should warrant the same careful planning, research, and respect as your living arrangements would when it comes to the office furnishings you use. Just like the furnishings in your home, your office furniture and its style and quality represent you, define you, and empower you with its capabilities. Here are 4 vetting techniques that will make sure that you choose the right office furniture retailer, which best fits your needs, at the best price.

1. Compare Quality & Service

Rather than focus everything on price when purchasing office furniture, make sure to take into account quality as well. Getting the lowest price means nothing if it includes the lowest quality. The next step to cover after quality and price is service. Without covering all three of these important items in a purchase, one can’t really say with absolute certainty that they truly received a good deal. Don’t sell yourself short, and certainly don’t let the retailer to do so either. You deserve the best quality at the best price, and of course also the best service available. This is the point of vetting. Also make sure that you check out:

  • How innovative, modern, and efficient is the furniture offered.
  • Does their company appear to be happy to go above and beyond, in order to make your company happy?
  • Did the company try to inform you about changing trends?
  • How competent did their sales staff seem?
  • Check on references. Don’t be afraid to ask what major company’s buy from the retailer. Most companies will have a “Contact Us” page on their emails. Ask them about how satisfied they were with the company, explaining your situation. PR will most likely ensure a reply.

2. Compare Complaint Rates Between Companies.

Bad service is one thing, but when making a big purchase such as office furniture, bad service after a sale can turn into an absolute mental and financial nightmare. This is why you have to vet a potential office furniture retailer first, because after making the purchase, it is usually way too late to turn back and find a more competent purveyor. The best way to find out about a company’s track record is by using your local Better Business Bureau and the World-Wide-Web. Check out customer reviews. Just google a company’s name and all its dirty or clean laundry will pop up for all to see. Other things you should compare are:

  • Make a plus and minus list counting thumbs up or thumbs down ratings that were posted in customer review pages. Online type “yellow pages,” normally post customer reviews under the listings.
  • If there were complaints, how responsive or non-responsive to them was the company.
  • Were there any complaints about the vendor not meeting the shipping dates?
  • Make sure that the retailer can handle your firm’s requirements.
  • And always carefully check the furniture retailer’s policies, processes, and financing procedures before committing to a deal.

3. Compare Companies & Catalogs

One simple and basic trick to vetting a furniture company is to collect furniture catalogs and compare competitor’s prices and selections. If the company has a local showroom, do the items match the descriptions that were listed in the catalogue? This is a good way to also look at payment methods, length that the business has been in business, and the basic setup of the store compared to how they represent themselves on paper or in advertisements. On major purchases make sure to arrange a conversation with the manager, they have the power to make the best deals, give bigger discounts, and hand out perks like free shipping. Also:

  • Make a list of any items that were misrepresented, and then ask about them rather than confront; mistakes happen and it could just be a misunderstanding or misprint.
  • Find out if the company is “Green Friendly.” For some people this is very important. For others, it should be. If a company uses ethical standards when it comes to the environment, and their part in reducing their business’s carbon footprint on the planet, then they most likely also adhere to ethical business practices with their customers.

4. Compare Delivery Methods

Companies prefer different shipping methods that are usually meant to fit their needs first, and yours second. On large purchases, it is not unheard of to request a different shipper than is offered from the furniture warehouse. Sometimes it is necessary due to a certain shipper’s restriction or district routes that aren’t covered. If in-store delivery service is offered, don’t just take it automatically. Remember that their employee overhead on in-house movers covers full time payrolls, wage taxes, employee benefits, truck upkeep and insurance. All these costs are automatically passed onto the consumer. That’s why it is smart to do the math first, and if the delivery charges seem too extreme, rent a truck and hire temporary labor instead, and then pick up the furniture yourself. Make sure to:

  • Make sure to get adequate insurance on shipping.
  • Make sure the company sends the proper documentation and listed invoices.
  • Make sure to get your price breaks, perks, and discounts when buying and shipping quantity furniture purchases before closing the deal.

These four vetting techniques listed above are the most simple, easily enacted, and most efficient ways to ensure that you always get the best deal possible when dealing with office furniture outlets. Follow each one thoroughly and your office will be a shining representation of your pride in your business, your work, and your workplace.

10 Point Checklist When Buying Office Furniture

checklistWhen looking for office furniture, it doesn’t matter whether you’re starting a new business, remodeling or spiffing up the look of a current office, or setting up that perfect home office. There are so many important aspects to finding the right furniture, at the best price, that it is not a task that should be left to chance. Using a checklist is a time tested and established tool for making sure that all of your bases are covered, before undertaking such a major decision.

1. Know your needs: Knowing your needs is paramount to knowing what to buy. Make detailed floorplans, measure small spaces to make sure the furniture you buy will fit. This way there will be no unnecessary purchases. Consult your employees about their needs as well, you may not be able to accommodate all their requests, but by accommodating some, you will help lift morale and let them know that their input matters.

2. Know your budget: Make goals and then stick to them. By creating a concrete spending plan, metaphorically written in stone, one can factor in the essentials first, and then after calculating what finances are left over, they can then start creating that wish list. Make sure to try to always negotiate on price, the worst a salesman can do is say no. Always research items online first, that way you know exactly what the going price is for a given furniture item.

3. Know your options: There are situations where “lightly used” furniture may work where public view is uncommon. Breakrooms take a beating, as do lunch break areas. It is far more financially feasible to replace used, than it is to replace new bought furniture. Refurbished furniture is also very economical. Refurbished furniture is very lightly used furniture which has been cleaned, and in some cases refinished with new coverings, and also has had worn or broken components replaced. This gives refurbished a “Like New” appearance. Remanufactured furniture has been taken another step further than refurbished, by being stripped down to its basic framework, and then totally built back up to a virtually “new” like standard.

4. Know what a bargain is: Everybody wants a bargain, but keep in mind the old adage of: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Buying from 0% down warehouses with pushy salesmen in cheap suits is not the way to purchase office furniture. Zero down means that all sorts of finance charges, outrageous interest fees, and monthly “processing” charges have already been factored into their overly marked up product. It is best to get a good deal on quality furniture that is durable enough to stand up to years of use, and occasional abuse, than that seemingly “Great Deal” on cheap furniture that will start to fall apart after only a year.

5. Know what’s new and trending: The reason some models of office furniture are popular or trending, normally has to do with a happy customer base. Read up on new trends on office furniture items on the internet. Check out websites that have other customer reviews on products. It is best to find out about problems other purchasers have had with a product, than to find out yourself the hard way from experience. Modern technology and better understandings of workplace ergonomics has opened up some remarkably versatile, health and production oriented office products.

6. Find a balance between comfort and efficiency: Remember that comfort enhances an employee’s morale, reduces anxiety, and helps to minimize the risks of workplace ailments due to prolonged sitting, standing, bending, and typing. But also remember that too much comfort in the workplace also causes complacency, lost focus, and daydreaming. Choose furniture that is a happy medium between comfort, and that edge of un-comfortability that keeps the body on its toes, and the mind knowing that it’s in work mode, rather than leisure time.

7. Find a working office style that works: We are not going to get into the ongoing debate over traditional cubicle packed offices, verses open-spaced ones. Or whether standup desks are more productive than standard old-school teacher style desks. But the facts of the modern office are that people swear by both, and the merits therein that one has something that the other doesn’t. Decide which style is right for your type of business.

8. Find easily replaceable pieces: The worst thing that can happen after buying a set of matching office furniture, is to have a piece break, or need to add onto a set, and then not be able to find a matching one. Make sure ahead of time that the furniture you are buying can be easily replaced with the same style, color, and model. This usually means purchasing through larger retailers, or directly from the manufacturers.

9. Find the right retailer: Use caution when dealing with unknown or potentially disreputable furniture retailers. Once again check online at scam buster type websites that check out a business’s trust-ability ratings, and of course, use the good old fashioned Better Business Bureau. It is always better to be cautiously safe when buying office furniture, than financially sorry later. There is a plethora of reputable, well known major players in the industry, who are waiting to help you with your furniture needs.

10. Find the best delivery system: It is nice when free delivery is offered on a big purchase, but sometimes, that just doesn’t happen. Delivery charges by the store can sometimes turn out to be a downright rip-off. In these situations it is much cheaper to just rent a moving truck, and ask a few friends or employees to pick it up for you at the retailer. If the furniture needs to be shipped, make sure to check your price options by shopping around for the most economical shipping company first, before just taking what is offered by the seller.