Services & Maintenance: The Right Fit

By Matt Nuding
Published in the June 2012 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Purchasing office furniture for an organization is a hefty decision for any facility manager (fm) to make. There are many factors to consider—the most important one typically being the budget. More and more, fms are discovering the value of choosing pre-owned office furniture. This approach can present significant cost savings compared to buying new without compromising quality or selection. In many instances, fms obtain a higher quality product than purchasing new at the same price.

While there is a distinct financial advantage to buying pre-owned office furniture, there are several other important factors to consider. The first and possibly most important decision lies in the fm’s choice of the furniture dealer, and the following guidelines can help customers to make an informed decision.

Research the products, selection, and capability of the dealer. In seeking out pre-owned office furniture, there are a couple of points fms should consider when selecting the dealer. Fms should learn the scale of the dealer’s capabilities. Is the dealer capable of handling the entire scope of the office furniture order? Is the staff knowledgeable about all of the products and services? Does the dealer have the ability to provide new furniture and blend it with the pre-owned? The dealer should act as a one stop shop for all office furniture needs.

Customer testimonials and warranties. One of the quickest ways to figure out dealer credibility is through its customer testimonials. Are there numerous recommendations? Fms should also be sure to ask about warranty information. Does the dealer stand behind its products? These two components help fms to determine the type of reputation a dealer has.

Pictures, descriptions, and measurements. The age-old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is also very true when dealing with pre-owned office furniture. In perusing photos of inventories, fms should look carefully at the condition of the products and evaluate how the dealer describes the condition. Many dealers will also confirm the dimensions of the furniture to help make sure each piece will fit where it will be placed.

Visit the dealer’s facility. Visiting the facility allows an fm to see the scope of the operation and provides a chance to meet the staff. Once there, the fm can view the different product selections firsthand and discuss the scope of the project. Fms who are unable to make a visit should find out if there are videos available highlighting the facility and services.

Services offered. Furnishing an office space involves many considerations. How many people must fit into the space? What is the most efficient space plan? How does the furniture need to function? Will someone help with the design? When must it be installed by? An office furniture dealer should be able to support the fm throughout the entire process with services such as space planning and design, complete project management, and office furniture liquidation services.

Many dealers offer complimentary space planning and design services. Through this service, fms can determine the optimal layout of the office furniture, ensuring the necessary number of people will fit in the space. An fm can also work with the designer to achieve a desired look. Many dealers can provide renderings to depict the space visually; this helps remove some of the guesswork.

Once the furniture is selected and the layout is determined, the dealer’s project management team can take over. Project managers ensure the process goes smoothly by remaining in constant contact with the fm, and they can coordinate all the details through completion.

Other Side Of The Table: Unloading Existing Furniture

When fms want to dispose of their existing furniture, they can also work with a pre-owned office furniture dealer. These firms are often also purchasers.

Allow sufficient time. Furniture will need to be evaluated, disassembled, and removed. Proper time management ensures the maximum value of the assets by giving the liquidation firm the time to find the best secondary buyers.

Choose the right professional. A furniture liquidator understands removal details—how long it will take, how much it will cost, how to work with the facilities team, how to ensure leased space is ready to turn back on time (if applicable), and how to maximize furniture value.

A detailed inventory. Many fms assume preparing a line by line inventory will enhance value. However, a reputable liquidator will want to perform its own evaluation in a walk-through, and this will be part of its proposal.

Storage versus liquidation. Often overlooked with storage are the costs (removal, labor, transportation, unloading, damages, reloading, and installation). Moving costs are borne by the liquidator with no ongoing storage costs.

The whole is worth more than the sum of its parts. Fms considering liquidating their furniture should allow the entire inventory to be evaluated in order to maximize their final return.

Hire a wholesaler instead of a broker.
Many brokers will not commit to remove furniture until it is sold. A wholesale liquidator will commit in the proposal to purchase, incur labor costs, and remove furniture within a specified time.

Fms who follows these guidelines should be able to make more informed decisions for their next purchase or liquidation. With an abundance of solutions available, asking the right questions can make all the difference.

Nuding is a marketing associate at EthoSource, a pre-owned office furniture dealer located outside of Philadelphia, PA.