When your business is ready to invest in name brand office furnishings, you generally get directed to a local authorized dealer or showroom. This means there’s a middle man between you and the manufacturer. There are advantages to having a dealer nearby to help you with things like material and item selection and space planning. You can also rely on a good dealer for follow up services like installation and help with any warranty issues.
However, there’s also a price to pay for not buying office furniture direct from the source. Each dealer has to make a profit – and they do this by marking up the price of the goods they sell. The manufacturers rely on dealers to assist in marketing their products. Limiting the number of authorized dealers in each region keeps the competition from getting too steep and ensures pricing remains healthy for both manufacturers and dealers. The manufacturer can focus on what they do best (developing innovative, high quality office furniture). The dealers can put their energy into selling product and providing customer service. This system protects the profits of both parties – so it isn’t likely to change any time soon.
Of course, a government agency with a juicy contract to offer will have no issue cutting a deal directly with corporate headquarters. On the other hand, people who just need one or two pieces can often shop at local outlets or online for items from these manufacturers (at retail prices). For example, you can get a Steelcase Think chair at Crate and Barrel. However, most employers fall somewhere in between these two extremes. They need to outfit a small to mid-sized business and don’t have the bargaining power to buy office furniture direct from the manufacturer.
Choose a Different Middle Man
This doesn’t mean you can’t save money and still get the name brand furniture you want. Buying refurbished office furniture (complete with a warranty) lets you bypass the authorized dealer system and source deeply discounted items that have been restored to “like new” condition. You can even specify textiles and laminates just as you would from the original manufacture to create a look and feel that is customized to your workspace.