Submitted by Furniture Professor
Well, here we are back at the desk answering all your questions about buying furniture. Here’s one from LB in Colorado. Wow! What a coincidence. Our last letter came from another LB in Colorado. This question has to do with how to conduct yourself in the store to assure that you get what you want at the best price possible.
LB writes: “Jerry, I’ve done all my homework and know what I want. I am going to the stores that remain on my list of possible sources, today. Can you give me any tips on how to deal with the salesperson in order to stay within my budget and still get the pieces that I want?”
Boy, can I! Start by watching the calendar. The end of the week, month or year are usually good times to shop for big ticket items. Why? You ask. Commission sales people and managers often have goals that they need to meet to get bonuses or just to hang on to their job. Every store operates differently so it is hard to know when the sales period ends but it’s a pretty safe bet that the end of the month is important to sales people and their bosses. Here is an article on the best times to buy furniture.
Did you read part 1 of this series of articles? The Furniture Shopping Guide- Get Ready
Don’t over-think this one though. Go toward the end of the week but not on the weekend. If it’s been a slow week, salespeople are more excited about seeing you than they would be on the weekend when the store is crowded. When things are a bit slow, the salesperson is more likely to ask the boss for concessions to get you to buy. The boss is more likely to say yes at these times, too, if the store allows dickering. You aren’t going to know what you can get unless you ask. If you are in one of those rare establishments that will not come off their price, find out what the cost of your total package will be including tax and delivery. A furniture store that won’t deal may have prices so good that they can’t deal. Don’t rule these stores out just because they won’t give you anything. See if the store has a price guarantee.
On the other hand, I just saw an interesting blurb online a couple of days ago. Some of the largest retailers in the country are not just matching prices but beating the competition’s prices. They are also empowering their floor staff to do some good old- fashioned haggling to get the deal written. There is an old saying in retail sales that “Be backs won’t “ (be back). This simply means that once a customer walks out the door, you will never see that person again. Even if they return to the store they may hook up with another salesperson. The moral of this story is, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or free delivery. The stores have reasons to work with you in most cases.
When you arrive at the stores you will probably be greeted by the next salesperson in the sales rotation. Here’s what you should look for in a salesperson:
- Someone who is friendly and helpful.
- A person with some experience selling furniture. It doesn’t have to be Methuselah’s grandfather but neither should it be the kid that took the job “because it’s better than flippin’ burgers, man.”
- It helps to have somebody that is intelligent enough to grasp what you are looking for and not waste your time showing you things that are of no interest to you.
- Finally, you want somebody that has, at least a rudimentary knowledge of furniture.
Think of the first ten to fifteen minutes as a job interview for the salesperson. Have some questions ready to ask that will help you decide if this person will make the grade. The easiest way to decide about working with a salesperson is to ask your questions directly and in a friendly manner. For example, “How long have you been selling furniture?” “Do you enjoy it?” “There must be a lot to learn about the product.” Here are 3 easy furnitue shopping questions that may provide you more insight.
Here comes the difficult part. If you do not feel comfortable with your salesperson, you have every right to ask for somebody else. Try this approach, “You seem very nice but I would like to work with somebody with a little more experience. I have some areas where I am going to need some extra help.” Then head to the sales desk and tell one of the managers that you are going to need an experienced salesperson. Make it clear that the person that you started with was very nice and helpful but that you need someone with more experience.
Now you know what you want, where to get it and how to set your course. What is left to do? Stay on track. Don’t rush to get this done. Make sure that all your questions are answered to your satisfaction. Take time to do more research if you feel the need.
Understand the terms of your purchase and furniture stores policies. What is the warranty? Who stands behind the warranty? If it’s the seller, you will have to deal with the store for warranty work. This is preferable to working with a manufacturer in another country or state. Are you using the financing that the store has available? What happens if you make one payment one day late? Will the interest accrue on the entire balance waiting for you to slip up? This can result in you owing hundreds of dollars in interest for a purchase that you thought would be interest free.
Have you received any price concessions? Free delivery? A free lamp? Get it in writing!
Have you done due diligence to be sure that the furniture will fit into your house and in the room where you want it? If not, you could be stuck with a cancellation fee and a delivery fee.
I know this sounds overwhelming. If you take your time and look out for yourself it will be fine. The vast majority of furniture purchases in the United States end up with everybody being happy. Just make sure that your purchase has a happy ending. Be sure to see the final article in this series.