What Does the Office Furniture Buying Process Look Like?

While the process for buying commercial office furniture isn’t always as easy as click to order, there is no reason why it should be overcomplicated.

Browse → Add to Cart → Checkout → Two-Day Delivery → (Some Assembly Required, Maybe?) → Enjoy

Because of Amazon and other online retailers, this model is what we as customers have come to expect from the buying process. And while we don’t always demand this exact speed in the B2B world, we do hope that working with vendors, such as commercial furniture dealers, will be relatively seamless and quick. 

The truth is, if a company wants to have furniture purchased and delivered to their office within a week, they can. Online retailers such as Amazon, IKEA, Office Depot, Staples, and others make this possible. However, these options sacrifice a number of things:

  • Custom design of products to meet functional and aesthetic needs
  • Commercial-grade quality (and the warranty that comes with it)
  • Huge amounts of time (searching for the right products online, assembly, and setup)
  • Access to top tier manufacturer lines, products, discounts, and bulk-pricing
  • Ongoing resource and partnership for future needs, with understanding of business needs, drivers, and workstyles

If you decide these sacrifices can’t be made for your project, working with a commercial furniture dealer is likely the right next step. In some cases without a plan, buying office furniture from a dealer can be a complex and time-consuming experience. Products are almost infinitely customizable and manufacturer lead times can take weeks or even months, but these issues don’t mean the contract furniture buying process has to be painful.

When a potential customer comes to us to buy office furniture, our goal is to communicate honestly about our process and simplify it as much as we can. It’s not as quick as Amazon Prime, but we do everything we can to set expectations up front and make sure we only start working with you if we believe we are the right partner for your project. If we are, here’s the process we will go through as we complete your project:

 

BII's Proven Process for Commercial Furniture Projects

BII's Commercial Workspace Design Process

Sample Project Timeline

This timeline is based on a typical, sample project. While the durations may change slightly due to the size, scope, and requirements for the contract furniture project, the steps will always be the same.

Initiation Phase (Discover and Guide): 1 - 2 Weeks

In the Discover and Guide phases, the collective goal is to decide whether or not we should work together and, if so, what our mutual expectations need to be for success. We always seek to deliver on what we promise, and that starts here.

We expect that our clients will bring a few details with them when they come to us with a project. Those details include an overview of their company goals, a description of their culture, and an explanation of their resources (including people, time, and money):

The Commercial Furniture Buying Process - What You Bring

With those three things in mind, we guide our clients to determine whether we are the right partner for them and how best to proceed in their project. Through brainstorming and asking the right questions, we discover the core drivers and criteria necessary to ensure your project is a success. Additionally, we produce a preliminary budget and timeline in order to align the expectations of every stakeholder on the project.

We believe the most important resource that our customers bring to the table is their time. We recognize that, in many cases, furniture selection and installation is not their primary job, so we plan to do most of the heavy lifting. However, we have found from experience that the more clients are willing to participate early on, especially in live design meetings, the quicker we can move through the first four phases of our proven process. 

Creation Phase (Create and Revise): 2 - 8 Weeks

The Create and Revise phases vary the most in duration, depending on project’s scope and size, along with the company’s needs and wants. While we design, we are beginning to translate a company’s goals into how a space needs to function as well as a company’s culture into how a space needs to look. As mentioned before, we have found that the more our clients participate, the better and quicker this translation process happens. Our live design meetings help clarify functional and aesthetic goals in real time, all while making sure we stay within the budget and timeline.

Execution Phase (Execute and Polish): 4 - 10 Weeks

Execute and Polish carry a project from order through installation. The length of this stage is largely dependent on manufacturer lead times, which are generally 4 to 6 weeks. When product is received at our warehouse, our lean process kicks in and installation can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks depending on the size of the project.

The Commercial Furniture Buying Process

This phase is really where the project takes full shape, as the goals, culture, and resources that you as the customer brought to the table, reach fruition in a functional and aesthetically pleasing space, that was designed and installed within your budget and timeline.

Progression Phase (Measure and Grow): 1 Week - Ongoing

After a project is polished, we Measure how it went and look for ways to Grow for next time. One of our core values is Kaizen, which means continuous improvement. We see ourselves as your lifelong partner in furniture, and we intend to get better with every project we complete with you. We will always be available as a resource as your goals and needs expand and change. With every project, we learn something new and are always adapting to make incremental improvements in our process. 

Tips to Help the Office Furniture Buying Process Go Smoothly

Start sooner rather than later

Though it may feel like furniture is the cherry on top for your space, the process takes longer than many people realize. The sooner you begin to think about it, the quicker the process can progress.

Pick a furniture dealer partner you like and trust

Especially on larger projects, you will spend a lot of time with the furniture dealer you choose as they design your project. Working with a team that you like and trust will greatly impact how enjoyable that process is.

Integrate your furniture dealer with the rest of your project partners

If you are moving into a new building or completing tenant improvements on an existing space, your furniture partner will benefit from being integrated into the project team, including the architect, interior designer, contractor, and real estate broker. While it may feel like furniture is disconnected from architecture and construction, schedules often overlap with furniture installation and construction subcontractors, and there are many aesthetic and functional synergies to be gained between the architecture of a space and the furnishings within it.