When can I have it? This is one of the most asked questions that we get. Sometimes it’s the most difficult to answer. Officenter lives in the world of “contract furniture”. This basically means that we don’t keep furniture in stock. We place individual orders with our manufacturers on behalf of our customers. This obviously creates a lead time that runs counter to our brave new world of instant answers and next day delivery. While many manufacturers have a “quick ship” program available (more about this later), it will typically take at least a month for a standard transaction to be delivered after it’s ordered. The wait is worth it in almost every circumstance. Here’s why.
1. It will almost always save the customer money. First, there are a wide range of options for almost every product that we sell. Each option has its own cost. By matching these options with your real needs, we can achieve optimal pricing for you. Secondly, manufacturers usually extend their best discounting on orders that are not expedited. In fact, many will add a significant surcharge for orders that are fast tracked. Dealers like Officenter will normally pass the additional discounting through to the customer and add the quick ship surcharge. Additionally, outlets for “next day” deliveries will often have very high delivery charges that will really pump up the price.
2. You get what you want. Minimal planning will not only get you great pricing, but also get you the best product solution for you. As mentioned above, there are a lot of options available with todays office furniture. You dont need to settle for an off-the-shelf solution. You will most likely be living with your product selection for a long time. You might as well get what you need. Take something simple like seating fabric as an example. Most “stock” items available over the internet, from “big box” stores and most quick ship programs allow you to choose your fabric as long as it is boring black, dull gray, blah blue, or vintage burgundy. You may not need a “wild” fabric pattern, but a little design and color will give your office a professional look. In almost every case these are also the lowest end fabrics that have the shortest life, which leads us to our next point…
3. You get the quality you deserve. Virtually every contract manufacturer that we deal with manufactures to standards established by BIFMA (Business Interior Furniture Manufacturers Assoc). BIFMA establishes testing standards for construction, safety, usage and longevity. Many of the available “next day” solutions are Pacific Rim imports that don’t adhere to these manufacturing standards. A good way to measure quality is to pay attention to an often overlooked feature, the warranty. Every quality product will have a 10 year to lifetime warranty on the physical structure of the product, with 5 years on fabric. This is typical of products that pass BIFMA standards. Lower end products usually come with 1 to 5 year warranties on their products.
4. You can be Green. Many businesses and public entities have recognized the many advantages to buying from an environmentally conscious perspective. Contract furniture manufacturers were quick to recognize this and brought products to market that answered these needs. In most cases these options need to be chosen, or “built in” to the product. Again, many of the “next day” solutions are far from environmentally friendly products since they’re made in countries that are environmental disasters.
5. You get the service you deserve. Contract dealers like us will include; delivery, assembly and inside installation and some design services with our sale. This will also include Project Management for larger installations. This bundle of services is a huge advantage for you as the customer and can be a significant cost savings. When buying quick solutions evaluate the whole package. A lot of furniture is not shippable by package services like FedEx or UPS. In some cases your “delivery included” or “delivery charges” means that a common carrier (tractor-trailer) shows up at your door. Your job then begins. You’ll need to get it off the truck, into your office, assembled and installed. Contract dealers do this for you. We even remove the trash created by the packing materials.
6. Your workspace will be more efficient and ergonomically correct. In addition to getting the product features that you want, a little advance planning will allow us to work with you to get you a workspace that fits your needs and will be ergonomically friendly. Contract manufacturers have a wide range of standard furniture components and customized “specials” in their product mix. Combining them (sometimes creatively) will give you the optimal configuration for your workflow through the office as well as efficient individual workspaces. Even manufacturers with the most aggressive quick ship programs will not make all of their components available on quick ship, just the most common ones. It also follows that good design creates good ergonomics. If a workspace is designed well, we can “design out” ergonomic pitfalls like over-reaching, stooping and lifting in addition to creating optimal sitting positions. When you’re buying commercial furniture, you’ll be literally “living with it” for several years.
Frankly, you will also be making a financial investment that can be significant. Taking time to follow a planning process that includes; product evaluation, space planning and allowances for manufacturing time and installation will always pay off. We also realize that “perfect world” settings don’t exist. That’s why they’re called “perfect”. It may be unreasonable to allow adequate time for a particular project, or even the purchase of an individual item. Quick ship programs were mentioned throughout this blog. They are becoming more prevalent, more aggressive and easier to use. They are getting better. You now have more products included; more fabric and option selections and they almost always deliver as promised. However, they are not a cure all solution. In most cases, you can cut the lead time down to about two weeks so it will help you out considerable, but may not completely solve your time crunch. It will always be a more expensive solution, usually 5-10% higher than standard lead times. You will have more product selections available than in the past, but these are still limited. In the end, you might be paying more for a solution that may not be exactly what you need, but is workable. If you have the luxury of time, use it to your advantage. Planning a commercial furniture purchase has a variety of tangible, cost effective payoffs. It’s worth the wait.