We talk to hundreds of people every month that draw the proverbial “short straw” and are now tasked with buying furniture for their healthcare, education, hospitality or recreation facility despite having no real buying experience.
- Many small to mid-sized facilities do not hire professional buyers. Instead, they assign the task to a member of the administrative team who often feels completely overwhelmed by the prospect of selecting furniture and / or mattresses for their facility. Buying furniture can be stressful not just because of the abundance of choices but also because the results of the buying decision will be prominently on display for all (including the boss) to see.
If you find yourself in the position of furniture buyer today or in the future, note some simple and practical advice from those who have been there before you:
- Select a Contract Furniture Seller. While buying from your local furniture retailer can be tempting, few retailers are prepared to consider the needs of facilities whose furniture will receive high use, suffer many spills, and may even be subject to body fluid issues. Contract furniture sellers on the other hand have experience with a variety of facility types and can recommend appropriate solutions for your facility. For a good comparison on contract vs. Retail go to:
- Buy Contract Vs. Retail: 15 Reasons Group Homes Should!
- Specialized furniture and fabrics are often priced comparably to standard pieces and offer specific solutions for your staffs’, clients’, and customers’ needs. The results will be more functional and lasting furnishings that you will be proud to have chosen.
- Know Your Budget. Imagine selecting the perfect furnishings for your facility only to have your purchase request denied because the cost exceeds the furniture budget. If you know your budget in advance you can shop with confidence and pick the right furniture for your needs and budget. If you have selected a reputable contract furniture seller to work with, you should feel confident sharing your budget requirements in advance. Doing so will help your design consultant guide you to the best furniture solutions given your needs while staying within your budget.
- Get Educated. You may learn that furniture designed specifically for healthcare, education, hospitality, and recreation environments comes with some industry-specific terminology. Don’t get overwhelmed. The world-wide web is loaded with information on fabrics, foam, frame construction, and everything else you may need to know about your purchase. It may be worthwhile to consult with trained buyers or facility managers at other local facilities. A conversation with your local Fire Marshal may also be advisable as many facilities are expected to comply with local furniture and mattress flammability requirements. Most importantly, a quality contract furniture seller should have an expert staff who can answer all of your questions.
Illustration by Kath Walker Illustration