COMMERCIAL OFFICE FURNITURE 101: A Buyer's Guide for Facility & Procurement Managers

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What you need to know before you begin the furniture-buying process.

Buying new office furniture is not an easy process. It requires due diligence, research, numerous conversations with multiple end-users and vendors, and, most importantly, a substantial amount of time. It’s almost like buying a car.  How much effort and time do you put into purchasing a car?  Of all the cars available in the market, which one is best for you?  What is the intended purpose of the car? What benefits and features are most important? How much are you prepared and/or willing to spend? It’s relatively the same for buying office furniture. Although the product itself and the need for it may differ, the buying process and line of questioning are very similar.

Although it may seem enticing to complete a quick Google search and order the product online, perhaps even at bulk discounting, doing so often results in a disservice to your company, employees and yourself that is more costly in the end. There’s an old saying: “Good, cheap and fast…pick two.”  Good and cheap are not fast, good and fast are not cheap, and rarely is cheap and fast good. With the commoditization of products and diluted deliverables within the commercial office furniture industry, the old term “you get what you pay for” applies now more than ever before. However, in most instances, it’s about value as opposed to price. Although attaining the best product for the best overall value is typically the end goal, the definition of value is completely dependent upon one’s individual perspective and unique circumstances.

Below are a few necessary points and questions that one should ask or at least seriously consider before diving into the furniture-buying abyss.

The desired result.

What do you wish to accomplish? What is the intent and/or purpose of the furniture for which you plan to purchase? What benefits and features are most important? What type of office environment do you wish to demonstrate?

In most cases, new office furniture can become quite the nemesis, and the need for it is a necessary evil. However, savvy buyers have learned that this necessary evil can now be a means to an end, with one of the following goals in mind:

·         attract & retain top talent

·         cultivate synergy & teamwork through collaboration

·         increase efficiency & productivity

·         promote health & wellness

·         produce a “wow factor” for clients & visitors

·         rebranding

Whether you are looking to accomplish one of these goals within the workplace or a combination of thereof, careful consideration of the above-mentioned questions will provide you with the information necessary to list and prioritize what’s most important. Once you’ve listed and prioritized your end-result goals, you’re almost ready to begin the due diligence process and research manufacturers and product offerings that meet those goals.

The budget.

What is your budget? How much are you prepared and/or willing to spend? What is the desired lifespan and when do you expect to replace it? What is the ROI?

Now that you have a clear understanding of what you intend to accomplish, you need to establish a budget that will accommodate, substantiate and support your end-result goals. Otherwise, you’re leaving yourself completely open to “sticker shock” and potentially being unnecessarily upsold. The budget is an extremely critical and necessary component to complete prior to approaching an office furniture dealer and engaging in discussions regarding actual product lines. The commercial office furniture industry is currently saturated with numerous manufacturers and product offerings, so the idea is to utilize the desired result and the budget to filter and narrow down the available options into a feasible amount for which an informed decision can then be made. Otherwise, the options may be countless and overwhelming.

With a scale that ranges between $10 per square foot (low-end) and $30 per square foot (high-end), there’s a broad range of in-between. Once you’ve established a budget, even if preliminary, a good commercial office furniture dealer will assist you with cost-effective solutions that meet both your budget and expectations.

Facility Solutions Plus is a client-centered, full-service commercial office furniture dealership and service provider that specializes in meeting needs, solving problems and enhancing the total office environment through customized, cost-effective workspace solutions…and more.