It is not uncommon to be asked where I buy my furniture. Potential clients will ask me if I buy from the residential retail store on Main street. I am always taken by surprise when I hear this. It is time to educate shoppers on the process of purchasing commercial furniture. This includes all types of businesses – general business, banks, restaurants, hospitality…
I will speak for myself and how we are set up. I live in a small town in SW Colorado. We are off the beaten path. I have a factory representative that lives in my town. He has been in the business for a very long time. He attends the commercial furniture market (NeoCon) every year to keep up with trends and to scout out quality furniture lines (manufacturers) to represent and bring back to his “Dealers”. That would be me, a commercial furniture dealer. My factory rep. has a full line of manufacturers which allows me to faithfully sell his product whenever possible. Because he is local, I can use his customer service and expertise if there is ever an issue with a product. All the brands of furniture I sell offer a nice warranty which vary from lifetime, 10 year, 5 year and so on.
In the commercial furniture market, most catalogs and web-sites that provide pricing show “List price”. This is the top or retail price. When the product is “to the trade only”, there is a discount to me, the Dealer. This discount can range from 50% + off to 40%… Each manufacturer sets their specific discount structure. Many times the discount will be affected by the quantity as well.
Many of the large manufacturers and designer brands have an inflated “List price”. When a client if offered a 50 or 60% discount off of list price, they think this price cannot be beat. This client will agree to contract their business to this supplier without seeking competitive bids (possibly because they think this pricing cannot be beat).
So let me use an example. The large well-known manufacturer may offer a chair at $1000 List price. A smaller manufacturer will offer the same (quality and design) chair at $800. The dealer of the smaller manufacturer can offer you a 50% discount which will result in a lower cost to the client. So the $1000 chair would cost you $500 and the $800 chair would be $400.
We do not charge a fee for providing furniture quotes unless acting as a specifier on a project that is going out to bid. This means the specifier has no guarantee that they will be selling the furniture to the client. The specifier provides all the details for the furniture requirements including sizes, quantities, style and so forth. We also provide a floor plan showing the furniture in the space. If we have a contract for supplying the furniture on a project, it is sold at cost plus with no “fee”.
Hmmm, I hope this is making sense. Basically what I am saying is don’t be fooled into thinking this big discount being offered cannot be competed with. It would be in your best interest to allow businesses that sell smaller brands (me) to offer you a quote on your furniture package. You will probably be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
You may see the small dealer as someone who can’t compete (by mistake). You will find that you receive personalized service and get exactly what you want (need) at an excellent value. When you purchase from a local company, you will receive the attention you need for installation and follow up. No long waiting when you need a rep to come see about an issue or repair.
We sell furniture that is manufactured all over the United States and Canada. I hope this explains the industry more clearly to those of you that are in the market to purchase furniture for your facilities. Please let me know if there are more questions about this process.