by Christopher K. M. Leach
Office furniture. Where to start? New furniture. Used furniture. Custom furniture. What about your existing furniture? So many options to choose from. So many products and manufacturers to evaluate. How do you compare apples-to-apples? Or, get the best product to meet your company needs?
Good questions. With any of the above, you shouldn’t feel like you are compromising quality or craftsmanship. Having a range of products to evaluate when you start down the office furniture path will help you and your company to get the most bang for your buck. I often refer to this as the “Good. Better. Best.” path.
Let’s review some of the options:
New furniture. Bright and shiny. Fresh out of the box. Lifetime warranty. Lots of finish choices. Available for future orders. Pretty dealer showrooms. The options are seemingly endless. The key is consistent and complementary finishes as you cross manufacturers and product lines. Lead time is another important factor. (Note that most manufacturers have strong “green” stories to share.)
Used furniture. Very attractive in today’s economy. Price conscious. Very “green” as a recycled product. No extended lead times to deliver/install. As-is finishes. Limited warranty. Things to consider: Will the product still be available down the road when you are ready to expand or reconfigure? Is there enough used product available for your project?
Custom furniture. People hear custom and they immediately think expensive. Custom doesn’t have to be expensive. Furniture that meets an out-of-the box need or office environment can fall into this category. Some off-the-shelf products can be customized to fit a unique space.
With just a few keystrokes on Google, you will find more office furniture options than you can shake a stick at. Don’t make the mistake of searching for the perfect price point without considering the total project requirements. You’ll end up spending more money trying to make a bad decision work. Keep the big picture in mind. You can search options from websites that end in “list” or big-box stores all day long, but be prepared to evaluate them thoroughly. Are you prepared to handle/manage the product you might purchase from these websites?
Most importantly, don’t forget to take into account your existing office furnishings. There can be significant savings found by incorporating the product you own into the new office you want.
My personal philosophy is that you always get your way, if you have more than one way. You can mix new, used and custom commercial furnishings and maintain design integrity. At the end of the day, your office furniture options should allow for you to “dial-it-up” or “dial-it-down,” depending on company needs (and most often budget) without compromising the overall aesthetic.
I believe in a “Yes, and” approach. “Yes, you can have an incredible whatever-it-is-you-want, and be cost conscious and save money on the overall project.” “Yes, and” should never feel like a compromise.
The key to heading down the right path – whether that be new, used or custom office furniture, or re-using the furniture that you own – is to communicate with your office furniture professional. Tell him or her what you want, what you really, really want. (My apologies to the Spice Girls.)
An office furniture professional will be able to pull together a range of products and options to help in your review. He or she will take into account your current office environment and the future office you’d like to evolve into. The critical point here is that anyone you engage with to work with you on your office space should offer you more than furniture. This person should be able to offer space planning/programming services, design services, installation services, move management services and help with liquidating or disposing of your excess furniture. From concept to completion, he or she should be a resource for your project.
Time is money. Money is time. Working with a furniture professional who can package a complete solution for your company will increase your return on investment. Ask your professional how the different options complement each other or could be used together in future moves or office reconfigurations. Know your options.
At Contract Furnishings, Inc., we’ve worked hard to put together the right mix of products for your office furniture needs. You have options. We have resources. Let us be of service.
Contract Furnishings, Inc. is a small veteran-owned and certified SBA HUBZone business.