Shopping for office furniture can be a confusing process for a small business owner. Having never shopped for office furniture, many people will either go to big office supply stores or to the first office furniture store in the phone book. This can lead to two common mistakes. Either a business owner will buy disposable office that will not serve the business’s needs, or will spend too much on furniture that is more than the business needs (like buying a BMW, when you’re need a pickup truck). These mistakes cost the business time, efficiency and money in using and replacing inadequate furniture, as well as valuable capital that could be used to grow the business.
The first step in successfully outfitting a new office, or upgrading an existing office space is assessing the needs and budget for the space. This is a relatively simple process: just ask yourself how many people are working in the space, what will those people be doing, and how much are you willing to spend in order to create an efficient working space.
Here is an example of how this can work. Your business is moving into a larger warehouse/office space and you need to provide workspace for two workers responsible for shipping and receiving. First determine how much workspace is needed. Will they be doing most of their work on a computer or is most of the work paperwork? The more paperwork an employee is doing the more workspace and file space they will require. If the employee is primarily working on a computer they will need adequate wire management.
Warehouses and backrooms are great places to save money on furniture. A new and used office furniture store can provide a commercial quality steel desk for $99 that will last for 50 years, and a two drawer vertical file cabinet to match for $49. You have now spent under $300 on two workstations and can use your remaining budget for quality chairs. A good used chair can be purchased for $59 or a new ergonomic task chair can be purchased for around $200.
By saving money in the less seen areas such as warehouses and backrooms, you are able to spend more money portraying a successful image in the most visible places such as reception and conference areas.
After you have asked yourself these questions and assessed the needs and budget for the space, the next step is choosing a vendor. In choosing an office furniture vendor there are several important factors to consider. Is the vendor able to provide both new and used solutions for your office furniture? Do they offer refurbishing? Does the vendor deal with cubicles, chairs, files and casegoods? What is their reputation? Can they show you past projects and provide references? How well do the salespeople know the furniture? What brands of furniture does this vendor carry? Do they offer their own delivery and installation services? Will they be able to provide you the furniture in your time frame?
A vendor that provides both new and used solutions will be able to offer you money saving options on all types of office furniture. Buying a new cubicle can cost anywhere from two to five thousand dollars and take five weeks to arrive. A used cubicle will typically cost anywhere from four hundred to a thousand dollars and be installed in a week. A vendor that provides refurbishing can spruce up used products by reupholstering, painting, or creating new work surfaces. By using a vendor that sells chairs, files, cubicles and case goods you can not only leverage your buying power, but also have one vendor responsible for all of your furniture. This creates less finger pointing and problems coordinating.
The reputation of the vendor and the ability to deal with a someone you trust is one of the most important factors in the decision making process. Sometimes a company can save a few dollars by going with a vendor who doesn’t have a showroom or is brokering furniture. However, if an issue arises it is important to have a vendor that will stand behind their work and protect their reputation.