Advice from Furniture Frank
How do you choose an ergonomic chair?
The term “ergonomic” is probably the most over used, misunderstood term used in the office furniture industry. Any chair that has various functions is ergonomic. Some chairs are much more “ergonomic” than others. The defining factors of a true “ergonomic” chair are the amount of adjustments a chair has. The type, quality or thickness of the seating and back foam are key. After continued use, low end “ergonomic” chair foam will flatten out dramatically and not have any give, making it very uncomfortable and cutting off circulation. Back angle and back height adjustments, along with cushioned adjustable arms that go up and down, in and out, help with many back issues. A forward knee tilt, to position the user in the proper keyboarding position and a seat depth adjustment are true ergonomic features. There are many alternatives available at price points all over the map. In general, you get what you pay for in an ergonomic chair. Imported chairs are great on price but getting replacement parts can be a major problem when needed. If you purchase an imported chair, it is best to purchase it through a recognized domestic office furniture manufacturer that imports the chairs. Almost all domestic office furniture manufacturers import products today to strengthen and enhance the overall product line. A Professional Sales Consultant at an authorized dealer can assist in helping to purchase the appropriate ergonomic chair.
How do you differentiate one office chair from another?
In the 20+ years I have been selling office furniture I have seen significant changes in the product offered. When I first started the business in 1988, almost everything in the mid-market was made in Canada, primarily due to the low value of the Canadian dollar. Chairs were predominately chrome based and wood frame chairs were very expensive. As the Canadian dollar has gained in strength, the competitive advantage disappeared. At that time, seeing an opportunity, many imported chair products flooded the marketplace. The initial models were low price and low quality. Many dealers offered them as a low price alternative but had very bad experiences due to a lack of consistent quality. With time, the quality improved dramatically and the imports had a distinct competitive advantage. Domestic manufacturers continued to lose ground until they started to align themselves with foreign manufacturers. Today, most major domestic manufacturers of office furniture either have factories in foreign countries, primarily China, and have an integral part in developing new products and also controlling the quality. The biggest downside of this is the lack of color choices. Due to high inventory costs, most imported products are only available in either one or a few colors. To get a wide array of color choices in a timely manner, the consumer must buy from a domestic or Canadian manufacturer and pay more. Also, non-stock chairs are made to order and can take weeks for delivery. The office furniture industry does have an organization that sets standards for chairs…..ANSI/BIFMA. If a chair is ANSI/BIFMA approved, regardless of the country of origin, it meets industry standards as a commercial grade product. This is very important in a standard business environment. Since most Home Offices do not get the hard use as an office environment, the ANSI/BIFMA label is not as critical.
How to anticipate an office furniture delivery?
One of the most critical components of the office furniture purchase process is the delivery of the merchandise. It is most important that consumer’s not assume that the dealer knows everything about the physical delivery. Most e-commerce dealers and traditional office furniture dealers do not include inside delivery and/or inside delivery and set up in their price. Items ordered from e-commerce dealers are curbside or loading dock delivery. What this means is that the trucker/delivery person is only required, unless informed otherwise, to bring the product to the tail of the truck. It is the consumers responsibility to take the product from there. In many cases, a liftgate is required to bring the product down to street level if there is no loading dock. Liftgates are an additional charge and must be ordered prior to the delivery since most trucks do not have a liftgate. Trucking companies will bring the product inside the door, but no further, for an additional charge provided there are no steps. If inside delivery and setup are required, the dealer of record will get a furniture installation company to complete that task for an additional charge. This service needs to be ordered when the product is ordered and typically takes a little longer since the product is first shipped to the authorized installer. Installers must know in advance if there are any significant delivery issues such as steps or delivery restrictions, most likely delivery times, as well as any union or non-union factors and any insurance requirements. Most modern office buildings have loading docks and elevators. However, certain products, like large conference tables, cannot fit into an elevator and must be stair carried up if at all possible. Older buildings can sometimes be much more difficult for deliveries due to smaller elevators and narrower doors. You can never give your office furniture dealer enough info when it comes to the delivery. It is highly recommended that the consumer work closely with the dealer representative to alleviate any potential delivery problems.
How to deal with furniture that is damaged when delivered?
Office furniture due to its nature and method of delivery sometimes arrives damaged. There are a number of steps that consumers can take to minimize any problems. In general, it is advantageous to inspect the product received when it is delivered. If the box or carton shows signs of problems, immediately inspect the product. Sometimes it is difficult to see all of the damage. In case like this, it is imperative to mark the truckers bill of lading with notations that the box was damaged, this helps in solving any problems or issues. After the problem is noted and the trucker leaves, it is important to thoroughly inspect the product and report the problems or damage to the dealer of record. Sending the dealer digital pictures via e-mail is a tremendous time saver for problem solving. In general, it is always advantageous to accept the product being delivered. However, if product appears to be significantly damaged, refusal of the delivery is recommended. Notify the dealer immediately of this action so that the replacement process can be expedited. Also, it is important that product be inspected thoroughly in a timely fashion to insure that a freight claim can be filed in a timely fashion. Most truckers only allow up to 10 days to report concealed damage. After the allotted time to report damage, most damage claims will be refused.
How to get product serviced?
Like any other product available today, sometimes things break and office furniture is no different. By working with and purchasing your office furniture from an authorized office furniture dealer, the consumer has a better chance of easily getting problems resolved. Most dealers will only service what they sell. Super stores are know for very low prices but there reputation for service after the sale pares in comparison to someone who only sells office furniture. Office furniture dealers work directly with their manufacturers and by knowing exactly what model you bought and the manufacturer, getting parts is much easier. We get phone calls consistently from individuals that got a “great deal” at a superstore but no service when a problem arises. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to get parts for products that you are not aware of since parts are not universal. We as a dealership are able to backtrack through our records to find the appropriate parts needed for a specific product. In many cases, the parts are under factory warranty and there is little or no charge. In the event that the dealer you purchased the product from is no longer in existence, it is then recommended that you go directly to the manufacturer for assistance. By keeping your Sales Receipt, the manufacturer can most likely help in solving the problem.
How to pick an office furniture dealer?
When purchasing office furniture, it is highly recommended to work with an established company that specializes in office furniture. Many office products dealers do machines, supplies and furniture. Not that they cannot assist, but in general, dealers that are office furniture specific are better suited due to their broad knowledge and expertise. An established dealer can usually be very price competitive and also be best suited to provide solutions. Most office furniture dealers align themselves with key manufacturers, ones that will be around if problems develop. Ask the prospective dealer for a list of references and check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any issues. Most dealers offer free space planning, a tremendous tool in laying out an office. Experienced Sales Consultants can provide significant guidance in getting through the office furniture matrix.
How to plan a conference room?
There are three areas in a company that make a distinct impression: Reception Area, Conference Room and CEO/President’s office. The conference room can make a statement about the company in many ways. There are many alternatives available for fitting out a conference room. By working with an authorized office furniture dealer, the purchasing process can be simplified dramatically. The three key factors in determining how to fit out a conference room are: budget, style preference and room size. Conference room fit outs can take up a big part of the overall office furniture budget. In general laminate product is less expensive than wood veneer. Laminate may lack the beauty of wood veneer but it is a much more durable product plus it is easier to maintain and keep clean. The size of the room is critical in terms of the size of the table to put in the room. Over or under estimating the size of the appropriate conference table is a common mistake. The size of the table is the rule of thumb on how many people it will accommodate. A 6’ table will comfortably accommodate 6 people, 8’ for 8, 10’ for 10, etc. Most tables 8’ long or more are generally 42” or 48” wide. Other things that go into a conference room that are critical in determining the appropriate table size are a Wall Conference Board and Storage/Serving Credenza. Without a Wall Conference Board, it is best to allow approximately 3’ at each end and on both sides for chairs and traffic flow. A chair by itself takes up approximately 2 sf. With a Wall Conference Board and/or Storage Credenza, an additional 3’ at the Wall Conference Board is recommended. Once you determine the appropriate size, the next question to be answered is styling. There is no right or wrong in terms of style, it is a personal taste issue. The three main styles are contemporary, transitional and traditional. Due to trim and hardware, traditional in general is the most expensive option. The seating chosen should be consistent with the style of table and can be in either leather or fabric. The other decision in terms of seating is whether or not to have wheels or a sled base. The trend today tends to be more conference seating with a 5 star base and wheels. The downside of chairs with wheels or casters on a 5 star base, is that the height of the chair is typically adjusted by a pneumatic gas cylinder. Chair seats that are adjusted too high can bang into the conference table top and nick it up or cause serious damage. Sled base chairs, typically less expensive than swivel chairs with casters, are less prone to damage since the height is not adjustable. Another factor to explore today when planning a conference room is computer/data/electric capability. Many manufacturers today offer ready to go Power Modules for data and phone capability.