By Julia Rosen,  Bart DeVries and Megumi Kimura Sandoval


Furniture and equipment (F&E)— from classroom desks, chairs, to specialized lab equipment— play an important role in the students’ experience. Proper planning and design of F&E create innovative and interactive learning environments that ultimately lead to the success of students and in staff retention. For Facility Managers, finding and purchasing the right F&E is critical as it’s the final element in turning the project vision into a reality.

Although F&E are major components of the space and the programming of Higher Education Institutions, their planning and procurement are often left late into the life of a project, living no margin for error. F&E planning and procurement can come with a lot of hidden costs and time delays which can have a serious impact on project budgets and milestones.

Here are 4 tips to “buy better” for SIF projects with short timelines that will help you come in on budget and on time.

Buy from one Manufacturer

Contract with as few manufacturers as possible. When purchasing chairs from one manufacturer, tables from another and lockers/filing from a third, you may get the specific products you were looking for, but you miss out on the opportunity to earn high-volume discounts. The more you buy from a single manufacturer, the steeper the discount you can expect on products as well as savings on delivery and installation costs.

Work with a Furniture Dealership

If you are unable to get all your furniture solutions from one manufacturer, work with a furniture dealership. Furniture dealerships partner with multiple manufacturers to provide greater product selection in a one-stop shop. Using a dealer also allows you to consolidate delivery and installation on your project. Lastly, working with a dealer means only one main contact for the various manufacturers you may have in your project when it comes to servicing products and warranties.

Take advantage of Quick Ship Programs

If you are working on a project where getting the furniture on time trumps all else, Quick Ship Programs can be your ally. Most manufacturers offer this kind of program where selected products in pre-selected finishes are available for quick shipment and are delivered 50-75% faster than average shipping times. Some manufacturers have better Quick Ship Programs than others and may offer a greater selection of product and finishes, as well as quicker lead time, so remember to do your research first.

Buy Local

The distance from where you purchased your F&E to the location of your project can have a significant impact on your project schedule and budget. Manufacturers close to your site may deliver product within 10 days from order receipt. Buying local products will also reduce delivery costs, potentially saving duty and exchange rate fees.

It’s all about Getting It Right while saving time and money!

Time and Money Infographic

The key to success for your SIF project is to get it right the first time. Planning for furniture and equipment early as well as understanding multiple procurement strategies will help ensure your project is completed on time and on budget.

The right furniture and equipment not only adds to the functionality of space, it also enhances the students and staffs’ lives. Incorporating these “buy better” strategies into your purchasing practices will ensure your new furniture meets all key objectives with an “A” grade!

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