Submitted by Furniture Professor
You’ve laid the groundwork and you know what you want and what home furnishings you can afford. It is time to head out to the furniture store.
- What should you expect when you arrive?
- What should you look for in a salesperson?
- What red flags should you be on the lookout for?
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Here are my thoughts after three decades in the furniture industry.
You want the buying experience to be a pleasant one. You want to walk out of the store feeling confident that you bought the right item from the right store. You don’t want to ruin all your hard work preparing for the purchase.
When you arrive at the store of your choice listen to the way in which you are greeted. If the salesperson greets you with, “Hi! How are you today? Is there anything that I can help you find?” Give that sales person the answer that they should be expecting, “No, we’re just looking.” And continue walking. The correct question should have been, “Hi! How are you doing today? What room are you shopping for today?” If you aren’t shopping for furniture, what are doing in a furniture store?
A good salesperson is not going to pressure you. She or he is there to help you make the correct choice for you. If you answer their questions honestly, they will narrow down the choices for you and guide you through the furniture buying process. The sales people that don’t start almost immediately to determine what you want and what you need will wait for you to figure out what to buy and then write the order.
I once worked for a large regional furniture retailer. The policy at his stores was that they had an open floor. If a customer was not with a salesperson, any sales person could help them. There was also a rule that sales people were not allowed to “stack” customers or work with more than one customer at a time. There were two groups of sales people at this store, the successful ones and all the others. Of the successful salespeople, there were also two groups, the cheaters that broke all the rules to get the sale and the sales people that everyone else thought were cheating. I learned an important lesson at this store. That lesson was that the absolute most successful furniture salespeople were hard working, intelligent, motivated and usually self educated in the art of selling.
The cheaters often worked harder at cheating than the best sales people worked at doing their job correctly and professionally. If the person that greets you looks and acts like a professional, they probably are. If the person appears somewhat unkempt and acts as if they don’t really care about you, they probably don’t. It’s your money seek out someone that can actually make the buying something pleasurable instead of a tedious exhausting chore.
You now have your sales consultant. Your part of the process is to tell them what you want, what you can spend and all the information that relates to those two items. This would include maximum and minimum sizes, style preferences and color choices.
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Now that you have found what you were hoping to find when you came to the store, it is time to make some overtures regarding price concessions. Do not wait to do this until it is time to pay the cashier. By that time it is usually too late. Most stores have built in room to give on the prices. Here are some things to keep in mind, though. There isn’t much room in furniture that is already marked down. Furniture markups are not usually as outrageous as your brother-in-law the diamond representative has told you. If you can get the store to take a little off the price, throw in a lamp or give you free delivery, you have probably done a good job of negotiating for furniture. If you are in a store that already has the lowest prices that you were able to find, it could be that they don’t have any room to dicker. Many furniture retailers will give you a price guarantee.
Running a business in today’s world is not cheap. The retailer has to make enough to pay the sales people, rent, truck purchases, utilities, insurance, and delivery people. Not to mention taxes and advertising. Do you want trained, competent professionals to bring your new furniture to your house? You’ll have to pay them more than minimum wage. So, if you can’t get anything thrown in but the price you are paying for your furniture is fair, let the store make some money.
I feel strongly that most people should pay for furniture delivery most of the time when buying home furnishings. Have you ever been on one end of a two hundred and fifty pound piece of furniture? You have? Have you gained a little weight and aged a little since you lifted that furniture? Can you keep the piece off the floor while going around a corner and down the stairs? Come on. You’re going to spend two thousand dollars on some nice furniture and skimp on delivery?
Let the pros do it. If the damage your house or your furniture it’s on the store to make things right. Remember to take pictures of the damage, get the names of the delivery people and have them call the problem in before they leave. Try to get a resolution before the truck pulls down the street. Any reputable store will stand behind their product and their employees. These problems are fairly rare but they do happen. If everything goes just peachy, make sure that you give the guys a good tip. The probably are well paid but they aren’t getting rich. If they have been extra attentive and done everything properly, let them know that you appreciate the job that they did.
Have a great shopping experience and enjoy your new furniture.