Modern Office Furniture for Growing Businesses
A Quick Poll
Have you experienced any of these challenges?
Why Is It So Difficult to Find Quality, Modern Office Furniture?
Things are changing in so many ways all at once that it's actually hard to keep up. Here are some of the major changes that have made it difficult for small businesses to find a quality place to buy top-notch, great looking office furniture from quality retailers:
- Whereas small businesses used to buy furniture either from catalogs or from centralized suppliers, those entities have in most cases either gone belly up or no longer work with businesses they deem too small (i.e. not profitable enough for them).
- Things have changed from a physical/stock set up, where furniture is sold by physical stores and stocked in house, to an online set up, where "showrooms" are virtual and you have to find someone you can trust who can tell you about the quality of items. You can no longer rub your hands across desks or sit in chairs to assess the quality; you must ask a professional who knows about the different manufacturers, and has inspected the furniture himself or herself. You used to be able to trust yourself or a well-known catalog; now you must figure out who to trust.
- Many times the best indicator of the quality of an item is the price tag, so generally companies are just finding conference tables and desks and bookcases that are higher end (i.e. more expensive) and buying those, still without any real knowledge about the quality of the pieces they are buying.
- When browsing through online catalogs at different websites, buyers must often browse through either every other conceivable type of product (like at Amazon, which sells literally everything) or at least every other furniture type on furniture sites. It becomes very difficult to cull through all of this "extra" to get to what you want. What is more, often these catalogs are stuffed with thousands of ugly, worthless products with a few decent, quality products in the midst. So buyers end up spending ridiculous amounts of time trying to find something quality in the midst of the jungle of junk.
- Finally, finding a human to talk to in the midst of all these challenges can be extremely difficult, and often when you do find a person to ask questions to, they are in a call center somewhere and speak shaky English. Or even if they speak great English, they are not really familiar with any furniture-related issues and do not have the slightest idea how to answer your questions.
Am I hitting on any frustrations out there? Do I hear any "Amens"?
How Do You Find Quality Office Furniture for Your Business?!?
There are a few steps you can take to confront these challenges. Here are five helpful steps I recommend you follow:
- Through browsing through a catalog or a few catalogs, determine what type of furniture you want. Do you want ultra-modern? More traditional? A transitional style in between? What pieces of furniture do you need for your offices, and what are your space constraints? Perhaps most importantly, what is the level of quality you are looking for? Are you looking for premium, high end furniture, or are you okay with more middle of the road quality? Once you have the answers to these questions, you will be much more equipped to choose furniture.
- Find someone you can trust that will listen to your needs and attempt to answer all of your questions. Really everything in this article hinges on this. The second step could have been a few different things: find a quality manufacturer you like, find a site with options you like (or a store you want to buy from), or determine your price point. But sifting through hundreds of manufacturers when you aren't even in the industry to determine who is good and who is bad is near impossible. And who cares if you like the site or the store or the price point if you are going to receive terrible service, or the wrong products! Finding someone you can trust is huge. (I'll help you with that later).
- Once you have found someone you trust, ask for some recommendations on manufacturers, or confirm with them that the pieces you like are by quality manufacturers. The quality of the manufacturer is key. Just because you get a good price on something, you are not going to care if the manufacturer is of a poor quality because it won't last, or it will look shoddy.
- Ask if the person helping you has seen the pieces you want in person, and if so, what they thought. This seems unimportant and so subjective, but if your point person has any knowledge to share that might impact your decision, you should know.
- Decide what site you are going to buy from (probably the site of the person helping you in most cases), and seek a discount. Many people feel that retail charges are non-negotiable, but buying furniture is similar to buying a car. There is a certain cost the dealer has to get the car on his or her lot. So there is a margin he or she is working with when selling a car. If they got the car for $15,000, paying $15,500 is probably appropriate so they are making a profit. But paying $20,000 is not cool! It's similar with furniture. Retailers get them for a certain price, and must pay freight costs to ship them to you. If you ask, they will probably tell you their total cost or something close to it, and what margin they are working with. Certainly they should make some money for the work they are doing for you, but you might be surprised by how willing they are to give you several hundred dollars off if you tell them your budget is tight. At least you can ask! If you trust them, you can trust they are being truthful with you. What other options do you have?
Like I said in this article, I would rather pay a bit more from a quality company than pay rock bottom prices from a shoddy or absent retailer. Every day of the week I would!
You Know Bad Customer Service When You See It
So What Stores? Who to Trust?
I've been in the business of outfitting offices and designing spaces for a while, and have worked with over 30 different online retailers who sell furniture. I've been around the block... I have found one retailer of office furniture that stands head and shoulders above the rest. It is OfficeDesk.com.
I am not sure whether Kevin is the owner or just the manager of customer service there, but he is my contact and he is fantastic. He has always worked with me on price, he always tells me clear answers to my questions about pieces or manufacturers (he actually knows the furniture well and goes to furniture shows to inspect the quality himself), and comes through with world class customer service. I am gushing now, but it's true. I HIGHLY recommend you work with him. The site is fantastic and sells excellent products, and he told me the other day they remove manufacturers from the site regularly if it turns out their customers do not like them.
If you need office furniture for your business, whether it's small, large, growing, etc., I could not recommend OfficeDesk.com more strongly. They have great modern desks, chairs, conference tables, etc.
If you don't trust me (and why would you?), here are some other stores that have provided me with good customer service as well:
But again I'll say, Kevin and his team sort of have the market on the top customer service in the industry, and a great site & products as well. I'm paying it forward to OfficeDesk.com for all the great service! Go test out what I'm saying!