Since 1991 we have fielded thousands upon thousands of customer questions, but almost every customer asks us these two:
- How much is this going to cost?
- How long is this going to take?
While we have already done our best to answer the first question, the latter question has been much more difficult to answer. Many factors influence how long it takes to order, receive and install commercial office furniture, some of which are within our control, but most of which are not.
Alas, enough excuse making. In this article, we are going to take a shot at explaining how the process of ordering office furniture works, the length of each step, as well as a total estimated timeline from first speaking with an Account Manager until your product has been delivered and installed.
How Long Does It Take to Receive Your Office Furniture?
All in all, you should expect it to take between seven and ten weeks to buy office furniture from the first conversation with an Account Manager until your furniture is fully installed.
If trying to estimate how long it will take to receive your furniture from the date you placed your order, you should budget five to seven weeks.
Let’s take a closer look at where those ranges come from and exactly how long each stage in the process should take.
What the Process of Buying Office Furniture Looks Like
The first few steps in the process of buying new office furniture rely on excellent communication and cooperation between the Account Manager and the customer.
1. Product Selection – highly variable (using one week for this article’s purposes)
The first step when purchasing office furniture is to select your furniture. It’s incredibly difficult to accurately estimate how long this step can take as it depends entirely on the complexity of your order, whether site visits are required and how clearly defined your needs are prior to engaging with an Account Manager.
For a simple order, this stage could take a mere day or two. For a large project or if multiple on-site meetings are required to get a clear grasp of your needs and determine the right solutions, this step could take a few weeks. The customer has a high degree of influence over how long this step will take.
2. Drawings – 1 to 2 days per revision
In this step your desired products and floorplan have been given to our CAD team to complete CAD drawings of the configuration which ensure that all the necessary parts are included in the order, everything will fit with your floorplan restrictions and to provide a blueprint for the installation team.
A skilled CAD team can turn around a set of revisions in one to two business days, so the primary factor determining the length of this step is how many sets of revisions or changes you request.
3. Finish Selection – 1 to 3 days
Once your furniture has been selected and your layout configured comes the fun part; picking finishes! Your Account Manager will present you with finish options for your chosen products, how long you wish to consider your options before making a final selection will be the main factor limiting the amount of time this step can take.
Some customers already have a clear vision for their desired colours, styles or materials. Others may take weeks to gather the opinion of their team. The choice is yours!
4. Quote Supplied – 1 to 2 days
After all the finishes have been selected, and the drawings finalized, it’s time for your Account Manager to prepare a quote. This typically takes one to two business days, depending on the size and complexity of the order.
5. Customer Sign Off – 1 to 3 days
The fifth step in the process appears quite simple but can occasionally delay a project. In this step, the customer must sign off on their received quote and confirm that they want to proceed with placing the order.
This step can be accelerated if all internal stakeholders who must approve the purchase have been kept up to speed with what the quote is going to look like before it lands on their desk for approval. Often this step is a mere formality that takes no more than a few hours. Other times it can stall a project for weeks. Progress through this stage is entirely in the customer’s hands.
6. Order Entry – 1 to 2 days
Once the customer has signed off on their quote and returned it to their Account Manager, a Furniture Sales Coordinator (FSC) will then process the order. The FSC will create a file in the dealer’s project management and accounting system as well as order the product from the various manufacturers.
7. Manufacturing – 4 to 5 weeks
After all the manufacturers have acknowledged the order and provided their estimated ship dates, your FSC will provide you with an update as to when they expect the product to arrive. Unfortunately, this is the step in the process where both the dealer and customer have the least control over time frames.
Most manufacturers operate on a Just-In-Time manufacturing system and do not begin building product until they have received an order. Typical manufacturing lead times are four to five weeks for standard products, but customized “special” orders can stretch out much further, and if you are ordering a designer product or furniture that is manufactured overseas you can experience lead times of as high as 12 or even 16 weeks!
One way to cut down on lead times is to order off a manufacturer’s “Quick Ship” list. Manufacturers often create a Quick Ship list of some of their most popular products with a limited selection of finishes and promise to either keep them stocked or prioritize them in manufacturing. Quick Ship lead times are usually one to two weeks, depending on the manufacturer.
8. Shipping – 1 week
The leading commercial office furniture brands sold in Canada are manufactured within North America, so it usually takes one week for your dealer to receive the product. Occasionally shipments can be delayed at border crossings but rarely will shipping issues significantly delay an order.
As with the manufacturing stage, there is often little that the customer or the dealer can do to reduce the length of this stage.
9. Delivery and Installation – 1 to 5 days
When your dealership has received all your product from the manufacturers, your FSC will provide you with an additional update letting you know that your product has arrived and that installation is being scheduled.
Typically, delivery and installation will take less than one week. However, since delivery must be coordinated with the customer, delivery could be scheduled sooner or later depending on the availability of both an installation team and the customer’s facility. Timely scheduling is depending on excellent communication and cooperation between the dealer and the final customer.
Have More Questions About Buying Furniture?
Buying new office furniture can be a significant investment of both time and money; you should feel armed with all the information you need to make the right decision for your business.
Our Office Furniture Buyer’s Guide answers all the questions our customers most frequently ask us, such as:
- How much does office furniture cost?
- How do furniture warranties work?
- How do I know I’m picking the right furniture?
- And much, much more.
Director of Marketing & Business Development