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.

Office Furniture Trends for Millennials

office furniture trendsOffice designs change like the latest fashions. As more millennials enter the workforce, their older counterparts are evaluating the best way to manage this creative, free-thinking group. Although this adaptation can be a challenge, a study by Bentley University recently found that 74 percent of non-millennials agree that millennials offer different skills and work styles that add value to the workplace. A conducive office space is a key component to the productivity of any generation. Millennials prefer open, communicative work spaces with the latest technology integration. What office trends are attractive to this young talent? 

Create Collaborative Space

The new generation of workers prefers office space that fosters collaboration. Low-walled cubicles create a team environment. Many offices are utilizing shared work space in addition to individual desks. For example, lounge seating is a trend that offers a comfortable spot for employees to spontaneously gather their teams. Another idea becoming popular involves having unassigned tables between work spaces, again providing an area for two or more workers to collaborate. To decrease the health risks of prolonged sitting, employers are also utilizing high tables that allow workers to stand or use stools for their collaborative sessions. Even seating trends foster collaboration. Today’s young workforce likes to have mobile seating, chairs or stools that can easily move from their desks to collaborative work spaces.

Color Boosts Productivity

Bland, grey offices are a thing of the past. Color has been shown to boost productivity and improve employee mood. Experts say the five best colors that increase productivity are blue, green, white, red and yellow. Blue is specifically linked to higher productivity. Yellow improves concentration. And, green creates a relaxed environment. Consider brightly colored cubicle walling to create a productive, collaborative atmosphere for your millennials.

Let the Office Planning Group help create the perfect environment for your office. Contact us to speak with one of our office furniture professionals.


Buy Office Furniture That Keeps Everyone Happy

Are you ready to buy office furniture, but not sure if you are making the right choice for all your workers? Last week, we explored a couple of common personality types and what kind of office furniture and layout they are most likely to enjoy. Featuring a design layout with a number of different work areas is one way to give most of the people what they want most of the time. For example, a versatile facility might feature a mix of:

  • An area of open desks for collaboration and continuous communication
  • Enclosed workspaces or “pods” for tasks that require high concentration
  • Small meeting rooms or breakout areas for small teams
  • A larger meeting room for group discussions or videoconferencing
  • A work lounge for employees who prefer mobile technology

Let’s Get Granular: What Should Workstations Be Like?

The overall layout is the macro picture. At the micro level, employee workstations are often very standardized. Obviously, purchasing office furniture in bulk is the best way to get a good price. However, you can specify modern office furniture that it is highly customizable to meet a variety of needs and tastes. Regardless of personality or work style, employees do feel more engaged and valued when they have some control over their immediate work environment.

Consider selecting office furniture that allows employees to:

  • Reconfigure the layout from time to time
  • Add or remove features (tool rails work well for this)
  • Raise or lower the worksurface height
  • Use supplemental pieces like a rolling panel to create a cubicle door
  • Increase or lower the height of privacy panels
  • Adjust lighting at the desktop level

When you choose customizable, highly modular furniture, you can meet your objectives of:

  • Purchasing in bulk for cost savings
  • A uniform overall look and feel for branding
  • Good ergonomics for health and productivity
  • Promoting high levels of employee engagement

When you have the right starting place and some good advice, it’s a lot easier to buy office furniture that employees can tailor to their needs, their tasks, and their personality. At The Office Planning Group, we’re here to help you find furniture that can grow and change with your office. Contact us to schedule a space planning consultation today.

Matching Office Furniture to Employee Work Styles

employee work stylesA healthy, well-rounded company culture features a variety of people and a range of employee work styles. Row after row of identical cubicles may fail to meet the needs of everyone in an office. It’s no surprise that businesses are beginning to create more flexible and varied work landscapes to accommodate a diverse workforce and help everyone be more productive. Here are a number of ways you can use space design and office furniture selection to give everyone what they need.

Social and Collaborative

These workers prefer to be in earshot of interesting conversations so they can feel connected to office life. They thrive in an environment that is full of energy. These employees like to “talk things out” and rely heavily on input from others to do their best at work. A desking or benching system with low dividers can be an advantageous setup since it ensures close proximity to coworkers.

In offices that primarily feature cubicles, extroverts may enjoy having the freedom to work in a lounge area using mobile technology. Being untethered from a desk and able to go “where the action is” may be seen as a significant benefit. If these workers do have permanently assigned workspace, they may like to change aspects of their workstation frequently to keep from feeling bored or trapped.

Reserved and Focused

These employees are likely to be most comfortable in low-traffic areas and with workstations that feature high panels to provide a sense of privacy. In an open office environment that doesn’t feature cubicles, providing enclosed spaces where employees can retreat occasionally for greater concentration is important. They may feel protective of their workstation and have a desire to customize it to precisely match the way they work.

Introverted workers may also benefit from breakout areas for small team or one-on-one collaboration. It’s not that they want to be alone all the time, they simply need to have a choice about their level of social interaction on a daily basis. Offering greater flexibility makes these workers feel more empowered.

How do you satisfy everyone in the office?

You don’t have to hand over a catalogue and let every employee make their own selections. Next week, we’ll look at ways you can create a workspace that gives everyone what they need—and most of what they want.

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Buying New Orleans Office Furniture

pollockOf all the things you have to do when setting up your new office, the most fun and the most frustrating is buying office furniture. New Orleans clientele will be looking at everything in your office to help them decide if you are the right service or product provider, so first impressions are hugely important!

Here are four common mistakes buyers often make when purchasing office furniture:

Not having a plan before diving in: Many people buy office furniture based on impulse, but hastily deciding on what office furniture to buy could mean very unsatisfactory results in a year or two. You have to accurately assess your needs; if you need an new office chair, ask the following: Does it have wheels? Adjustable height? Ergonomic back? Padded seat? Get feedback from current employees about what their preferences are as well.

Thinking looks tell the whole story: Aesthetics are important, but comfort is number one! Your employees, guests and yourself have to be comfortable. While aesthetics make things beautiful or pleasing in appearance, ergonomics factor in productivity and comfort.

Forgetting to test drive: Your New Orleans office furniture should be tried out – take your staff with you and give everything in the store a whirl. Ask about returns or trial periods – if you are buying all of your items form one vendor, they might be willing to take back or exchange anything that doesn’t feel right after two weeks.

Not thinking ahead: If you narrow down your choices to two office chairs, one a more expensive quality chair and one a less expensive run of the mill office chair, consider the depreciation and lasting power of each. Isn’t it better to buy a $500 chair (if you can budget it in) and not have to replace it for six years than to buy a $300 dollar chair that will be worn out or broken in less than two years? Don’t forget to factor in the incidental costs such as taxes, delivery fees, freight charges, shipping and handling fees, installation or assembly fees or extra costs for a warranty.

Planning ahead can make all of the difference and keep you from committing these four office furniture faux pas.


1969 Office Systems: Louisiana TOPG Flashback Post

This week’s blog post takes a walk down memory lane to the time when The Office Planning Group was founded. We’ll take a quick look at what this era had to offer by way of office furniture and office systems. Louisiana businesses that have been around for more than 40 years may still have some of these items hanging around in their offices. That’s not surprising since many of the pieces from back then were really made to last. The year 1969 was quite an exciting time to be in the office design industry. Here’s what was going on at the time.

Cubicles Are Born

Action OfficeHerman Miller had just recently launched the initial version of the Action Office – the brain child of Bob Propst. At the time, this concept of dividing up an open office or “bullpen” with partitions to afford lower rank workers with greater privacy was quite novel. This was the very first in the family of furnishings now known as office systems. The modular, panel-based structure of these workstations is so adaptable that early models like the AO1 and Steelcase’s Series 9000 from the same time period are still manufactured today. Of course, they’ve got many more components and a few updates. But with their spacious accommodation and sleek design, they are true classics.

It’s a Mad World

pollockIf you’ve seen the office décor on the hit TV series Mad Men, you’re looking at the type of office furniture you might see in a high-end office suite in the 1960s and early 1970s. These carefully curated TV filming sets feature a mix of furnishings from the 50s and 60s with lots of iconic pieces. The desk designs were boxy and heavy on the wood and metal as you can see here. In terms of materials, things have come full circle in the last 50 years with a renewed emphasis on wood. However, today’s desks are a lot curvier than the designs from back in the day. Chairs tell the story of innovative design, luxurious materials and fine craftsmanship. Check out the Eames Time Life Executive Chair with its old four caster base (redesigned with five star base later). Another common seating option for head honchos was the Pollock executive chair with its eye-catching chrome rim. Back then, these designs were very modern. Today, they are retro yet still charming and functional nonetheless.

If you have a hankering for vintage office furniture styles, let us know. We’ll see what we can find for you. Share your memories about what office furniture and office systems Louisiana and the rest of the U.S. have enjoyed over the past 50 years in the comments!

More Executive Office Furniture New Orleans CEOs Crave

Here’s a follow up to our July 18th post about executive office furniture. New Orleans corner offices aren’t complete unless they have all the furnishings that make the space imposing and functional. Here are a few more picks that will make your office stand out:

Executive Storage Wardrobe

DMI wardrobeAre you one of those ultra-dedicated CEOs who sometimes sleep at the office? Do you just like to make sure you have a fresh shirt for days when the Louisiana heat and humidity get the best of your crisply pressed look? Maybe you like to store your personal effects somewhere other than your desk drawer? You could probably use a freestanding office wardrobe. This double-door beauty from DMI has a sunset cherry finish and European style door hinges. The eight shelves can be spaced just right for your shoes or books, or removed altogether so you can put your golf bag inside.

Xten Chair

xtenSpeaking of sports, if you are frequent visitor at Revolution Park for the NASCAR races, you might lust after an office chair that is built for those who love fast cars. The Xten by Pininfarina (the design firm behind the genius of Ferrari and Maserati) brings you the ultimate seating sculpture. This chair features flexible, breathable fabric use by Olympic athletes and Technogel cushioning that supposedly reduces seating pressure and fatigue by over 60 percent. The chair comes with a full complement of ergonomic adjustments to put you in gear for your workday.

Jet Set Desk

Here’s another design inspired by finely engineered objects. The Jumbo Jet Executive Desk from MotoArt will leave no doubt about who is the captain of your company. This C-suite special looks like the fuselage of an airplane – because it’s made of vintage airplane parts. The windows along the surface of the desk don’t give you a view from 30,000 feet, but you can have them equipped with LEDs, digital photographs or iPads for an extra techno touch. The rest of the pieces from this high-fashion office furniture design house feature many other airplane parts, so be sure to browse the whole collection.

Do you want to decorate your space with remarkable and unique executive office furniture? New Orleans-based Office Planning Group can put together a “look book” just for you.

Executive Office Furniture Louisiana VIPs Can Put in their Corner Office

Have you recently received a promotion, or are you renovating your corner office? You may decide it’s time to make a real statement with your executive office furniture. Louisiana has a rich cultural heritage, so there are lots of different styles you could choose to honor your home state. Here are a few items that you might enjoy in your office (just not all together since they don’t match!)

French Baroque Desk

french deskDo you love the French quarter? This gorgeous executive office desk is inspired by the ornate decor that graced the courts of Louis the 13th through Louis the 15th. It’s hand-crafted of solid, exotic cedar stained to a rich mahogany semi-gloss finish. The curlicue hardware is custom, hand-forged iron and the wood is finished with five coats of hand rubbed lacquer. The granite inlays in the top give this desk a luxurious surface that’s cool to the touch. It’s 100% made in America, so you can feel good about keeping master craftsmen in business.

Huntwood Executive Credenza

Executive credenzaSometimes, a well-designed storage cabinet can upstage even the most imposing executive desk. That’s the case with this elaborately detailed cherry credenza and bookcase. Crown and dentil molding, appliques, fluted columns and other architectural touches will hypnotize visitors who come to your office. Your designer will have a field day dressing this furniture up to display artwork, family photos, awards, books, and other decorations.  We think this piece is as pretty as a Louisiana debutante.

Irish Side Table

side tableLouisiana is one of the most delightful melting pots in the United States. We take in all comers and invite them to make the most of their talents. We couldn’t close this post without mentioning The Office Planning Group’s own featured artist, Liam O-Brian. He’s a Dublin transplant who has been living in New Orleans since 1985. Here, he’s made a name for himself with Celtic-inspired furniture. We think one of his custom-designed glass-topped side tables would look at home in any well-appointed executive office. Don’t you?

Stay tuned for next week’s installment where we explore even more designs for modern executive office furniture. Louisiana clients who are looking for one-stop shopping can contact TOPG to put together a whole collection of carefully hand-picked items for their office.

Breathable Office Chairs: Louisiana Summertime Seating Comfort

Do you hate the feeling of sticky vinyl or leather against your skin? How about stuffy upholstery with foam that just seems to trap heat and radiate it back to you? That line of sweat running down between your shoulder blades feels really icky – especially when you are only halfway through the workday. You know it’ll be another four or five hours before you can head home in the sweltering heat to hit the shower. You probably find yourself wishing for a more breathable office chair. Louisiana summertime temps often spike into the nineties and the humidity can be awful.

The Wings of a Butterfly

mirra 2Herman Miller’s Mirra 2 chair “meshes” a semi-open polymer veined support structure with overlying fabric for a seat back that lets your back breathe. The textile is molded against the plastic webbing rather than being glued in place. This new way of combining materials apparently increases the airflow potential and temperature comfort since the fabric can flex freely with the movement of the user. The polymer grid is even more open and airy than in the previous Mirra model, offering superior ventilation.

Soft as Steel

ThinkSteelcase’s Think chair with its 3D knit back is an obvious choice for maximum breathability. The seat back is light and flexible – you can even see through it. The back on the Think is suspended against thick cables (flexors) to provide support without adding bulk to the chair. If you really do like an upholstered back for more comfort, the Leap is a nice upgrade. This chair features a breathable textile and foam combo with a slat back to allow air to move through. It blends the best of both worlds – and you’ll probably love the adjustable lumbar support.

Nothing But Air

LimbICWant to do away with the seat back altogether? You don’t have to settle for a stool. One very odd (and expensive) alternative is the LimbIC chair from Inno-Motion. It features custom fitted carbon-fiber shells that wrap around each thigh. You sit cradled in the air with complete freedom of movement and a strong incentive to maintain good posture. We think it might be a little breezy up there, but it sure looks fun.

No matter when you decide to get more comfortable office chairs, Louisiana-based sourcing experts at The Office Planning Group are here to help.

Color My Office Furniture: Louisiana Credit Union

louisiana-federal-credit-unionWhere do you turn when your organization’s multi-hued scheme calls for dramatically colorful office furniture? Louisiana Federal Credit Union Gramercy chose The Office Planning Group to be its pigment matching mastermind. We put together a color board that made it simple for this client to coordinate all their furniture finishes. From chairs and tables to cubicles, desks and lounge furniture, every room in the building is perfectly outfitted with style and flair. We think you’ll agree that the state of this union is something to behold.

Let Your Imagination Run Wild

LFCU 2This was no simple two or three toned scheme. That’s because LFCUG is no ordinary financial institution, relying on gray, beige, and blue to give the impression of stolid history. Instead, this credit union has a logo with five colors – and they wanted each one fully represented in their office space. Check out the slideshow at the top of the page in our gallery to see the stunning effect of an entire interior done with deep, rich colors in every room. No timid white paint with an accent wall here and there. These guys went all out as a way to highlight their progressive, innovative, and highly personable organizational culture. We get the idea that money doesn’t just come to this credit union to work for customers, it comes here to play!

We Know Colors Matter

LFCU 3It might seem like making a color book is a small job. But if you ever browse the textile, laminate, veneer and paint finish options at a major office furniture manufacturer’s site, you’ll find that the wealth of choices is astonishing. Picking just one or two materials for a straightforward color scheme would take quite a bit of time. Coordinating colors and materials that match, blend with, or complement five colors is enough to blow anyone’s mind. Fortunately, our team of professional designers knows this stuff like the back of their hand. They have the eye to create a cohesive look even with so many disparate elements. We don’t consider any job too small or too complex. Let us be your go-to designers for your next rebranding effort!