Many of Us Know That Panicked Moment When the Wants of a Furniture Buying Project Exceed the Project Budget.The realization that some well-planned part of the project has to be dropped or altered can be hugely disappointing.
So what strategies can you put in your negotiating arsenal to help bridge the gap between the budget and the needs of your facility?
Here are some industry best practices that will allow you to save money while maintaining the integrity of your furniture buying project:Questions for contract Furniture
- Know what you cannot live without. Typically furniture projects have certain specific guidelines like “must provide sleep and storage accommodations for 40 adults.” If you know that you need to sleep people then obviously beds are a non-negotiable, but perhaps you can live with four drawer chests instead of six drawer chests. Going into a project knowing which elements are negotiable (and which aren’t) makes altering items to stay within budget much easier.
- Know what quality standards you need. It is easy to be lured into thinking you are getting more for less when you find a great deal. But quality is important when it comes to furniture and often low cost = low quality. There are lots of ways manufacturers can keep prices down by cutting corners that result in substandard furniture. Ask your vendor about construction and specifications. Even a novice buyer can recognize quality manufacturing elements like thickness of wood, the way the joints are secured and general construction of components. If you want to get 3 – 5 years out of furniture, quality is critical. Inexpensive, imported furniture often looks good but cannot stand up to heavy, contract use. Instead of settling for low quality, look for opportunities to save dollars on wood tops instead of laminate, standard finishes instead of custom, basic fabrics instead of fashion-forward, modest designs instead of boutique styling, etc.
- Be willing to talk about bottom-line budget. While this is contrary to old-school negotiating techniques, it can actually be to your benefit to lay out the scope of your project along with the dollars you have to spend. A worthy contract furniture supplier will be able to guide you to options within your price range. As with almost any commodity you have choices of good, better and best furniture. You may describe wanting the Cadillac of lounge furniture when you may have more of a Ford budget. Letting your contract furniture provider know your budget up front may save you frustration of bids that exceed your budget or products that are too high-end for your needs.
- Ask about alternatives. Many times furniture buying is a visual process and you may start a conversation with your furniture rep based on a picture of a piece of furniture. Your rep may price exactly that piece based on your interest but it could be totally out of the budget due to fabric or specialized styling. It pays to ask about ways to get the same look for less by choosing less expensive fabric patterns or more modest styling. But, if you abandon the conversation after hearing a price that was higher than you expected you may be passing up an opportunity to work with a quality company who does not fully understand your furniture needs or budgetary restrictions.
Balancing functionality, style and price is not easy.