reception furniture buying guideContents

Introduction

Designing a welcoming reception area

Why your receptionist might just be your most important employee

Questions to ask before shopping for reception furniture

Choosing reception furniture

Types of reception furniture

General best practices when buying reception furniture

Further information

 

Introduction

The reception area is the public face of your business; whether you’re inviting customers, clients or drop-ins from the public, you’ll want to create a reception area that is warm, inviting and represents your brand and culture.

Choosing the right pieces of furniture for a reception area can be tricky; there are a lot of separate pieces to consider, such as your reception desk, chairs, tables and even coat stands and newspaper racks. The sheet volume of furniture out there can make it a little bewildering at times and, if you’re starting from scratch, you might not even know where to begin.

That’s where our buying guide comes in handy. Following this guide and we’ll help you to work out what kind of reception area you want to create, as well as narrow down the many choices available to you, until you can select the perfect combination of pieces.

We’ll give you the low-down on why reception areas are so important and also provide an article on why your receptionist just might be your most important employee.

The bulk of the guide comes next. We’ll offer you a series of questions to ask before you start shopping; the answers to these will give you a list of requirements, which will play an important part in helping you to select your furniture.

Then we’ll help you to choose the right reception furniture, covering factors like material, shape and storage. We’ll move onto describing the types of reception furniture available, referencing our comprehensive range of pieces and describing the advantages of each.

Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start shopping, but it’s worth protecting yourself and your purchases, especially if you’re buying online. Our best practice guide will help you to get the best products from a reputable supplier, and give you advice on how to spot untrustworthy or dangerous websites.

By working your way through this guide, you’ll have all the information you need to make solid decisions about your reception furniture. You’ll work out your requirements, narrow down your choices and be able to select top quality products at great value for money from the best suppliers.

Designing a welcoming reception area

First impressions count and your reception area is the most public-facing part of your office. Whether it’s clients or customers you’re inviting in, you need to make that first impression count. People will make up their minds right away about you and your business, the minute they step into your reception.

Cluttered, low-lit, poorly designed receptions, with old, dog-eared magazines and newspapers and fraying upholstery on the chairs will make it look like you don’t value your company’s appearance, or the experience you offer to your visitors.

Hack the reception area to give you visitors the best possible impression of your business and you’ll find that meetings go more smoothly, deals are done and sales completed. If you’re in any doubt about the effectiveness of your reception area, it’s time to make a change. Whether you’re going to spruce it up or go for a complete overhaul, follow our advice on making your reception the warmest, most welcoming part of your office.

Layout

The first thing to consider is the layout of your reception area. You’ll want visitors to have a comfortable space to either relax or work while they wait. They should feel like the space is warm but not cluttered, and should have a good degree of visibility of both the reception area and the door through which their contact will appear to welcome them (someone calling your name from behind you is usually startling; that’s not a good way to start a meeting!).

Make sure that furniture is far enough away from the front door that there’s no draught, and group couches and chairs together so that groups of visitors can work together and not feel separated. It’s always a good idea to have reading material available; 5 or 10 minutes waiting on someone can feel like an age if you don’t have anything to occupy you, but with some interesting reading material, whether company literature or relevant newspapers and magazine, that time will fly by.

Design

Think about practicality in terms of your design; make sure you have appropriate runner rugs in front of the door so that visitors won’t track in rain and mud and you won’t have to constantly make sure the reception area is mopped. Consider supplying coat stands and umbrella holders near the doorway too; this will be helpful for your visitors and of practical importance to you too, keeping the area safe and clean and preventing accidents.

Branding

Your brand is the most visible aspect of your company and your reception area is the most visible physical space. Make one do the same work as the other by designing your reception area in such a way that you make the most of your logo and branding.

There are a number of ways to achieve this; you could either kit out the reception area in the same colours as your corporate identity or, if those colours don’t lend themselves well to a waiting area, use posters or other marketing materials on the wall.

You could literally incorporate your logo into the room by scaling it up significantly and painting it on the walls, perhaps in a slightly abstract way that only comes together as a visitor walks through the room; that “a-ha!” moment can be a positive experience that sticks in their minds. A simpler method is to have the logo carved onto the front of the reception desk. Alternatively, you could project your logo across the room, or have a wall of TVs that display your company’s advertising.

This is a room that people will spend some time in; make it work for you by allowing it to tell your company’s story through your branding.

Atmosphere

Think of the worst doctor or dentist’s waiting room you’ve been in; it was probably cold, clinical and uncomfortable, with inadequate seating and nothing to distract you from thinking about your impending appointment.

Now imagine yourself as one of your customers arriving to your office. They’ll have had similar experiences to yours, sitting for long periods in badly designed waiting rooms. You don’t want them to have that experience when they arrive at your office, right? Think about what kind of atmosphere you do want them to experience.

Make sure seating is comfortable (although perhaps not too comfortable; we’ll cover this aspect later on), that the temperature is pleasant, that there is enough visual material to occupy the eye, and that they are greeted properly on arrival.

If they’re arriving for an important meeting, or if you’re trying to close a deal or make a sale, the atmosphere of your reception area can put guests in the right frame of mind to ensure a positive outcome.

Space

Space and storage go hand in hand; you can’t have one without the other. You need to ensure that visitors have plenty of space around the chairs and tables, but the one part of the reception area that will attract clutter is the desk.

It looks unprofessional to walk up to a reception desk covered with clutter and piles of paperwork, so that you have to strain to find the receptionist behind it all. Equally, boxes of equipment and files, or trailing cables, all gives the look of a company that doesn’t care too much about the impression it gives.

Make sure you provide adequate storage for your receptionist to store everything away out of sight, but so that it’s still accessible for them. Check the area a couple of times a day to ensure that any litter or clutter is removed and chairs and tables are squared up neatly.

Traffic

Design your reception area in such a way that visitors are guided appropriately through the space. You want to make it clear how they enter, how they leave and what they do in between. Of course, it’s crucial that they are welcomed on arrival, but in reality, there will be many times when a visitor arrives and your receptionist is dealing with someone else or is on a phone call.

Make sure visitors have the space to flow around the area without bottlenecking and that it’s clear where they should sit while they wait. Some subtle signage can help but you can actually achieve all this just by carefully positioning all your furniture.

Extras

There are some additional aspects to your reception area that aren’t dependent on furniture or design. These little touches can transform the area from a staid holding room to a warm and friendly hug of a room.

Make sure receptionists are trained to greet everyone arriving there with a smile. Offer sweets or branded stationery as something to remember your company; everyone likes getting something for free. Consider displaying wall art that is either soothing or energising, depending on your company culture and image.

Add some natural lighting where possible and some real plants to let a bit of nature in and make the area feel inviting.

Finally

There are one or two things that everyone forgets in a reception area, but which are absolutely crucial. The first is accessibility; if your office and reception area are not accessible by disabled people, particularly wheelchair users, then you’re not only giving a fundamentally bad impression of your business, you could also be breaking the law.

Signage is also important; not general signage though. Instead, we’re talking about regulatory signage. This include clearly displaying fire exits and muster points and any other regulatory signage that applies. You probably already have this in place in your main office, but it should be included in the reception area too; visitors won’t know what to do in the event of a fire or other emergency, and clear signage will help.

 

Why your receptionist might just be your most important employee

Receptionists get short shrift in the workplace; they’re often seen as being fairly low down the ladder and yet have to shoulder a large amount of responsibility, not least of which is being the literal face of your organisation.

As the first person that most visitors will encounter, either face-to-face or on the phone, your receptionist is crucial to the impression you give of your business and that role should be recognised. Here are some of the main reasons why you should reconsider just how important your receptionist is to the company.

1 – First impressions count

When people visit your company or call up, the first (and often only) person they encounter will be the receptionist. They will make their initial judgements of your business based on their experience with that employee. If you never receive complaints following first encounters then it’s worth recognising that you probably have an excellent receptionist.

Conversely, if you receive reports of problems following first encounters, it could be time for some training or discipline to ensure that your receptionist knows just how important their role is.

2 – They probably do more than you think

It’s rare these days to find a receptionist whose only task is to greet visitors. Instead, it’s likely they handle a large number of tasks, including tricky admin work, all the while having to maintain composure and a friendly attitude as they’re interrupted every two minutes by visitors or callers.

3 – They probably know more than you think

In many workplaces, the receptionist is the key hub of all knowledge. We’re not kidding; they probably know how to order water for the cooler, change the printer toner, book lunch, diarise for employees (including yourself) and interact with people across the business.

They probably know more about what’s going on in each department than you and you’d probably find that things would run a lot less smooth without them!

4 – They need excellent organisational skills

If your receptionist is doing their job right, they’re freeing up time for everyone else to get on with their work. They act as gatekeepers, fielding calls and visitors and not only directing them to the right people, but also shielding employees from time wasters. They are also often called upon to help staff find important documents, contact details and other information, as well as keeping people right with regards to their diaries.

5 – You probably don’t realise they’re also excellent communicators

Receptionists don’t just have to deal with people all day; they have to deal with all kinds of people all day. From other company directors to contractors and irate customers, they have to turn on a dime and make sure that they not only listen properly but react sensitively to every interaction that they have.

Trust us: if they didn’t do this, you’d know about it. They can remain calm under pressure, fielding calls while they answer emails, carry out paperwork and greet visitors with a smile.

The key attributes of an excellent receptionist

If you don’t already have a fantastic receptionist but you’re recruiting for one, it’s important to get the right person, for all the reasons we’ve already outlined. If you’re not sure what you should be looking for, these are the top traits that every receptionist should have.

1 – Skilled communicator

Receptionists must have excellent verbal and written communication skills. Whether they’re conducting a conversation in person, over the phone or via email, they need to be able to handle problems, customer service requests and direct visitors to the right people, all while listening correctly and sympathetically and doing so with an engaging and friendly manner.

2 – Interpersonal skills

Good communication is a given for a receptionist, but they also need to have above-average interpersonal skills. As the visible hub of many businesses, they must be able to be likely, collaborative and have the ability to transcend office politics. They’ll deal with people from all levels and departments of the business, as well as many external partners, clients and customers, so likeability and professionalism are a must.

3 – Multitasker

Receptionists have always had to multitask, but in an age where staff numbers have been cut back to the quick, theirs is often the first role required to take on extra administrative tasks. This means that they not only need to multitask; they need to juggle, in a way that few others in the business do. They must have excellent concentration levels and the ability to slip back into that half-composed email after fielding a difficult call (usually they’ll do both at the same time).

4 – Can-do attitude

Receptionists are the kind of staff who just need to problem solve. Often there’s no one else to turn to for help; instead, they’re the one that others reply upon to sort out problems. That means they’re the kind of individual who will work out how to fix the printer, order consumables, sort out minor IT problems and more.

They’ll tend to do this without being requested to; it will make their job easier in the long run if they just know how to do it themselves, but that information will be priceless to everyone else. Make sure you bring someone onboard who has a problem-solving, curious nature and who will constantly learn more as they go.

 

Questions to ask before shopping for reception furniture

Before you embark on a search for your reception furniture, it’s important that you have a good idea of your needs and requirements. This will help you to narrow down your choices, making the search much easier, and will go a long way to ensuring that you get the best possible furniture for your needs.

Work through the following questions, jotting down your answers. The results should give you a fairly strong idea of the kind of furniture you need.

What kind of furniture do I need in the reception area?

Starting with the broadest possible questions, what is your instinct regarding the various furniture you need? This might change as you answer more questions and browse products, but for the average reception area, you’ll at least need seating and a desk.

You might also want tables, but you could even consider additional furniture like coat stands or newspaper racks. Think carefully about how you want visitors to use the area.

How much space do I have?

Measuring your space in advance will significantly help you to choose the right furniture. Draw a rough plan and measure the space, including where you expect various pieces to go. Make sure you leave plenty of room for movement in, out and through the space.

Who will be using the furniture? How will it be used?

The furniture you choose can guide how people use the space. For example, you might have a reception area in a busy office that you want people to use for very short periods of time. You’ll want the furniture to be comfortable, but not so much that they’re willing to sit there for long periods of time.

Conversely, you might have a waiting area where you expect visitors to be waiting for longer. So that they don’t become frustrated with long waiting times, you’ll want plush furniture that makes them feel welcome and comfortable.

Choosing the right furniture is your way of telling visitors how to use the space, so think carefully about this.

How long will it last?

Depending on your budget and the type of furniture you buy, its lifespan will vary. If you have a reception area that is only occasionally used, you don’t need to splash out on heavy duty furniture. However, if your reception area is used all day, every day, then you might want to spend a bit more for more durable pieces that won’t need replacing as often.

What materials?

We’ll look at material styles in more detail in the following section, but for now, just have a think about the material types you might go for in relation to the previous questions. Do you want durability over looks? Is aesthetic the most important consideration? Do you want a warm, welcoming feel that encourages people to spend time in the area, or are you instead opting for something a bit more clinical that suggests short waiting times?

The material you choose can have an impact on all of the above; for example, wood tends to be warmer and more inviting, while metal is colder and more clinical. In between these two, fabric comes in a range of colour options which could allow you to have even more control over the “feel” of the room.

What is the most suitable style?

Reception furniture comes in a variety of styles, which we’ll look at in more detail. For now, though, consider whether you’re looking for traditional, classic pieces, functional budget options or modern, contemporary designs. This will tie into the feel of the room, the colours you choose and the intended uses of the space.

What is my budget?

Budget is crucial when you’re designing a reception area; you’ll be buying multiple pieces, some of which will be individually fairly expensive. Setting a reasonable budget and prioritising certain pieces over others will definitely help. Your reception area is important for all the reasons we covered earlier, so you don’t want to skimp on costs where possible; that said, if you only expect people to wait for short periods, you don’t need to splash out on super-plush furniture.

Balance your budget versus your expectations and decide on which pieces are the most important. You might want to spend more on a professional-looking reception desk than you do on chairs or coffee tables, for instance.

Should I get flat-packed or delivered assembled?

This will depend on a number of factors; time, space and skill. If you (or another employee) has the skill to put flat-packed furniture together safely then this is an option that can save you a bit of money. However, you’ll need the space to build it and also the time to free someone up to do so.

If you have a busy office, you might prefer to have your furniture delivered assembled. It might cost you a little more, but it will mean less downtime involved in the installation and means you can get your reception area up and running in a much shorter time than you would if you had to build each piece separately.

Do I need aftercare?

Aftercare could be even more crucial with reception furniture than it is with your office desks and chairs. Because this is a public area, the furniture will need to be durable and reliable. If a chair develops a fault, for example, it could send the wrong impression to visitors.

Make sure you are protected by checking to see if the products you’ve chosen come with aftercare packages, including warranties or manufacturers’ guarantees. Remember that such guarantees will usually only cover damage that’s caused by a defect in the furniture; it won’t usually cover abuse by members of the public.

However, such guarantees can be a saving grace if something goes wrong due to a fault; it saves you from shelling out more money to replace the item if the damage occurred even though the piece was carefully treated and maintained.

 

Choosing reception furniture

We’ve looked at why the reception area is so important to your business and you should now have a list of requirements that will help you narrow down your choices. It’s time for the nitty-gritty: selecting the furniture. In this section, we’ll cover some of the key factors that differentiate one piece or range from the next and how those can make the different to your reception area. In the next section, we’ll look at specific types of reception furniture.

Shape

Reception desks, in particular, come in a variety of shapes. Each of these can create a different feel, and neither of them are better than the others; the style you choose will depend on a number of factors, including your corporate identity, the workplace culture you want to project and the impression you want to give to visitors.

Curved reception desks have become very popular; they are sleek and modern, tending to look very professional. The shape also allows easy accessibility, making it easy for employees to get behind the desk and the open, curved shaped can be more inviting for visitors. Your receptionists can also greet people arriving into the area from a number of directions.

However, one possible downside is that they might not have the same amount of workspace as other styles. If your receptionist is busy enough with visitors, this may be ideal, but if they also carry out administration duties as is common these days, just make sure that you choose a model that has plenty of desktop work space.

Straight or rectangular reception desks are fully forward-facing and give a no-nonsense, business-like impression. They can provide plenty of work space for your employees to carry out all their tasks, and have the option of concealing plenty of storage space too. If your reception area is such that visitors will approach from one direction only, the rectangle model could be ideal.

Combination, ‘U’-shape or spherical desks offer the best of both worlds. With both straight and curved sections, or with a “spherical” shape, your receptionists have a full range of visibility of the reception area, as well as tonnes of desktop real estate on which to carry out a whole host of tasks. These are ideal for busy offices where your receptionists also carry out administrative duties.

Access gate reception desks are perfect if you have a lot of visitors and you need to manage access. The access gate can be used to control the flow of visitors into the main office, or to prohibit unauthorised access into the area behind the reception desk.

Material

There are three main material types when it comes to desks, and a number of other material types available for chairs and other furniture pieces, each of which has its own benefits:

Real wood

Real wood is sumptuous and has a high-quality finish. It tends to be more expensive than other materials and, while it is broadly hard-wearing and structurally very durable, it can be prone to surface damage. It requires regular maintenance to keep it in tip-top condition and can be easily scuffed or chipped if not treated with care; however, it looks very professional and expensive.

Wood veneer

Veneers or laminates give the appearance of wood at less cost. Modern laminate or veneer furniture is incredibly long-lasting and durable and is easier to maintain and care for. Ideal for high-traffic areas where you want the look of wood but without the upkeep involved.

Metal

Stainless steel is regularly used in reception furniture, more commonly as an accent in wood furniture. Too much steel on its own can look cold and clinical, but when combined with wood can look sleek and modern. Metal including steel is very strong but can be dented or scratched; such damage is difficult to cover up or repair.

Fabric

As upholstery for chairs and other pieces, fabric has the advantage of being one of the cheaper material types available. It also comes in a massive range of colours, so is often the choice for reception areas that are colour-matched to the company’s logo or branding. However, it can promote sweat in warm environments and it can be difficult to remove stains.

Vinyl

Vinyl also tends to be relatively inexpensive and is usually available in a range of colours, although more limited in choice than fabric. Its key advantage is in the low maintenance required; stains can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and overall, the material is very durable, making vinyl ideal for public or high traffic areas.

Leather

Leather is the most expensive of material types for upholstery. It is plush and gives a professional, executive impression, ideal for areas that clients will be welcomed into. However, it need careful maintenance; it can be ripped or scuffed, so it might not be ideal for high-traffic areas. It can also be uncomfortable in cold environments.

Storage

Reception areas may require storage the same as any other part of the office. You could opt for drawer pedestals that sit underneath or to the side of the reception desk. You could also choose under-desk storage, or cupboards that sit behind the receptionist.

When designing a reception area, many people try to opt for discreet storage; you want to make sure the area looks clean and tidy, but you also don’t want it to look too full of furniture either. Thankfully, many reception desks come with integrated storage nowadays, so aim to find a balance between the style of desk, available space and storage requirements.

Comfort

Earlier we posed some questions to ask before buying and we touched on the idea of comfort. When you’re designing a reception area, comfort is a key factor, but not always in the way you might think.

Of course, you don’t want visitors to feel uncomfortable. However, as the reception area is the most public part of your office, you don’t necessarily want visitors to feel too comfortable either; if your chairs are so cosy that visitors feel encourage to sit for long periods of time, and perhaps even to catch 40 winks, then the area is not doing its job.

Reception areas should feel like temporary areas; visitors should be comfortable enough to not be frustrated by waiting, but they should also feel keen to complete the reason for their visit. That can be a tough balance to strike, but it is usually achieved by creating a professional look but not spending too much on the seating, for example.

Extras

Think about who will be coming in and out of the reception area. If you will have visitors such as client who are arriving for meetings, the reception area is just part of the office they pass through. However, you can add to the visitors’ experience with some optional extras.

A coat stand is a great way to welcome visitors, especially if it’s been raining on their arrival. Receptionists can offer to take coats or direct visitors to the coat stands; this allows them to carry on into the office unencumbered, which can make them feel more welcome.

Newspaper or magazine racks are a professional way to offer visitors reading materials without having them scattered across tables or chairs.

 

Types of reception furniture

Reception Desks

We stock an incredibly diverse range of reception desks. From curved and kidney shaped to rectangular and compact styles, there’s something to suit, no matter what kind of impression you want your reception area to project, or whatever kind of work you need to be carried out there.

We carry modular reception furniture ranges that can be customised to create your own bespoke desks, as well as an array of up-to-the-minute design trends including the ultra-modern white gloss or wood and metal finishes.

You could even opt for the sleek, contemporary Sphere compact reception unit; this cylindrical design is both compact for areas where space is at a premium and offers unparalleled views around the room. With built in cableports and counter units that allows both good line of sight and the ability to hide unsightly items, this unit is perfect for smaller reception areas.

No matter what kind of desk you opt for, there’s something to suit your existing décor and it’s easy to create exactly the look you want. However, if you’d like some help with planning your reception area, we have a space planning and CAD team who offer a free service.

We can help you to plan almost any configuration and show you the finished result in full 3D, in a variety of colour finishes. This lets you see how it’ll look before you make any decisions on purchase. Talk to our friendly sales team for more information on this fantastic service.

Fabric Reception Chairs

If you’re looking for fabric seating for your reception area, you’re spoiled for choice at Equip4Work. We carry every conceivable style and configuration to suit any requirement. We care fantastic budget ranges where you don’t need to cut corners in terms of style, as well as stacking chairs that allow for easy storage if you don’t want your seating to be a permanent fixture.

We also have plush Westfield reception chairs in a range of modern styles with upholstered seats and classic wooden legs and frames. Modular seating ranges allow you to set up chairs in combinations of two, three or more, creating sofa-style seating, or have corner tables integrated.

You could also opt for heavy duty armchairs, perfect for areas that will see heavy traffic. For less formal reception areas, the Mojo stools or Dice cushion stools come in a range of colours (literally thousands in the case of the Mojo!). These would also be perfect for breakout areas or educational establishments, and offer a playful alternative to staid, traditional seating. Inject a bit of Silicon Valley spirit into your workplace!

Tub Seating

Tub, or bucket, seating has become incredibly popular in recent years. Designed with excellent ergonomics and aesthetics in mind, tub seats are usually bright and colourful, with fully upholstered frames and simple, curved designs. They look modern, but can fit into almost any interior design or décor.

We carry a full range, including leather and fabric tub seats, tub chairs and sofas. You’ll also find some stunning contemporary designs, like the Marvel Spyder Base tub, with its 4-point aluminium spyder base, or the Pledge Spirit range, where you’ll find wooden shells and wire frames in a variety of combinations, with some stunning colour choices to boot.

Leather Reception Chairs

If you want to make the absolute best impression for your clients and customers, kit out your reception area in sumptuous, executive leather. We carry a massive range of high-quality leather reception seating in a vast array of styles, from traditional armchairs to tub seating and modern leather-and-steel combos.

We carry stylish Caspian oversized chairs with deep cushioned seats, supportive back rests and classic square buttoned stitching details and eye-catching chrome frames with a funky curvy crossover design. Supportive straps give a suspended feel making these seats both durable and stylish.

Conversely, you could opt for the traditional Cambridge chocolate leather-look armchair. Modern manufacture meets classic styling and the leather-look material gives you the executive look of leather without the price tag or maintenance.

Coffee Tables

If you want to design a reception area that is comfortable for visitors, you should consider adding at least one coffee table. Guests can rest their drinks, lay out paperwork for reading or flick through magazines or newspapers while they wait.

Equip4Work carries a comprehensive range of coffee tables in a variety of styles. There’s something to suit every office here, from budget-friendly square tables, heavy-duty coffee tables ideal for high-traffic areas and Foundry industrial style tables with a metal and “found-wood” finish, perfect for design agencies and modern offices.

Glass tops, modular designs and sleek curved styles means there’s something for everyone here; no matter what kind of office décor and interior design you have, you’ll find a coffee table to suit.

Coat Stands

A well-equipped reception area caters for everyone; include a coat stand and let your visitors hang up their coats and jackets while they do business unencumbered. Perfect for guests who’ve been caught in the rain, or just offering employees somewhere to hang their coats away from their desks, our range of coat stands come in a variety of styles, including hangers for bags.

We also carry Tria II umbrella stands, allowing guests to deposit wet brolleys without getting the reception area wet.

Reception Bundle Deals

If you’re giving your reception area the full makeover, you should take a look at our excellent bundle deals. These packs of chairs and tables, with optional modular seating and packs that include full reception desks, allow you to make one choice and get everything you need at a fantastic price, cheaper than buying the pieces individually!

Newspaper Racks

Our contemporary newspaper racks offer an elegant way to provide your customers reading material. If you prefer to have your customer stay longer, give them a coffee and let them select a newspaper from the rack while they wait in comfort. Choose from 3 or 5 compartments. These racks come in a lovely cheery wood colour finish.

Vinyl Reception Seating

If you’re kitting out a waiting area for a dentist, doctor or other public surgery or service, you might want to consider vinyl seating. Vinyl is extremely durable and is easy to clean; just wipe down with a damp sponge at night. This reduces the maintenance required; leather is easily damaged and fabric absorbs liquids, often leading to permanent staining.

For high-traffic areas or those open to the public, vinyl is the perfect solution.

BN Velum Modular Reception

BN offer the Velum Modular reception solution and we stock the full range. Customisable with individual straight and corner pieces, you can create your own bespoke reception area. If you need help with designing the perfect BN Velum solution, talk to our friendly Sales Advice Team.

General best practices when buying reception furniture

Buying reception furniture takes careful planning and not just concerning the factors we’ve already discussed. When you’re making any kind of capital purchase for your business, by following best practice you can make sure that you get the best possible products at great value from a fantastic supplier. You also need to protect yourself and your purchase, especially when buying online. Here are our top tips for buying reception furniture in the best possible way.

Do your research

Whichever way you’re doing your shopping, whether in person or online, there’s a wealth of choice when it comes to retailers. From preferred suppliers you’ve used before or recognisable High Street brands, to reputable suppliers you’ve never used before or even obscure online-only retailers, there are many options.

There’s no right or wrong in terms of which supplier you choose, just make sure you do your homework. Ascertain that they are a reputable, legitimate and trustworthy supplier before you agree to do business with them and you’ll protect yourself and your purchase from any problems.

Some of the key red flags to watch out for when shopping online includes:

  • Warnings or security flags from your browser or anti-virus software; most modern browsers are sophisticated enough to flag up problematic sites
  • No contact address or telephone number; reputable retailers will include a phone number and/or their registered address. If these details aren’t available, or you only see a PO Box number, look elsewhere
  • Retailers spend a lot of time and money ensuring that their websites are top-class and offer a great experience to their visitors. If you see poor or dated designs, broken links or images or bad spelling and grammar, it could be a sign to try a different retailer
  • It’s an old adage, but if the prices seem too good to be true, they probably are. Look for the catch
  • Be wary of purchasing from a very new or young website or company

Thankfully it’s very simple to check the authenticity of a website. You can use the ‘whois’ lookup service to see the registered owner; just input the URL or IP address and you can check the details of the owner, including their registered address and how long the site has been running. Website owners can choose to hide their details behind those of their hosting company, but this is mainly used for the privacy of individuals; most companies will not choose to do this. If the details are hidden, try shopping elsewhere.

Scammers have become more sophisticated over the years and can now clone entire, legitimate sites as a means of phishing for credit card and other information. Thankfully, most modern browsers can detect this, but if you see strange information on a site or things just don’t feel right, go with your instincts and look for another supplier.

Even if the website you’ve found is authentic, you should think twice about buying from a very new or young business. While they can probably offer you good deals as they try to undercut their competitors and gain a foothold in the market, they might not have the track record to prove that they’ll last using this model. You could find yourself in trouble if they fold; any warranties or guarantees could become null and void, leaving your no option but to shell out for new furniture if your purchases become faulty or defective.

Shop around

Suppliers differ greatly; not just in the stock they carry, but also in the prices they offer. Once you know the type of product you want to buy, make sure you shop around. This is easier than ever with online shopping; you can just visit a few sites or use a price comparison site or browser add-on. Whichever you use, just make sure you get a few quotes before making a decision. It’s worth remembering too that you don’t always need compare prices on identical products; check for like for like products on the basis of their specifications, as a branded product may be more expensive than an almost-identical unbranded model.

Many people benefit from contacting suppliers to discuss their purchases. Perhaps you need help with a specification, or just some advice on choosing the right product. When you’re on the phone to them, it’s worth asking for a discount if you’re a first-time buyer, opening a credit account or buying in bulk. Many retailers will offer a discount if they can secure your repeated business and if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

The headline prices are of prime importance when you’re shopping, but don’t forget other charges too. Make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for before completing the purchase. Some of the most commonly encountered unexpected charges include:

  • VAT: At 20% in the UK at present, VAT represents a significant chunk of your overall price. Some retailers price with VAT and some without; it doesn’t matter which your chosen supplier does as long as you’re aware which is which.
  • Import or export tax: Shopping with overseas retailers can sometimes reveal massive price discounts, but many people aren’t aware of the possibility of import/export charges. Because these are applied by Customs and not the retailer, you often won’t be aware of them until you take delivery, and they can be significant, especially for large pieces of furniture. Do a search online to see if you can get an estimate of these taxes before you buy.
  • Delivery: Some suppliers will charge hefty fees for delivery, especially for large items. Here at Equip4Work though, we offer free delivery on most of our products to mainland UK address. Always check the terms of delivery before making your purchase so you don’t find yourself saddled with excess charges.
  • Express: Sometimes you need your reception furniture quickly and many suppliers will charge excessive fees for express couriering the item to you. We offer many products with free next day delivery and if you’re not sure which products that applies to, talk to our Sales Team.
  • Admin: Admin fees are rare these days, but you should always check to see exactly what you’re being charges for, especially if you’re purchasing on a credit account. Check your invoices to make sure there are no unexpected charges.

Remember too that price isn’t everything, especially when you’re procuring for your business. You also need fantastic customer care, high quality products and solid aftercare including warranties and guarantees, so evaluate your choices in these terms too.

Try to buy what you need!

Lastly, make sure that your purchases solve the problem you set out to achieve. Stay focussed on your requirements, particularly the list of needs you obtained by working through the Questions to Ask Before Buying section of this guide. It’s easy to be swayed by new technologies or gimmicks but you could end up paying over the odds for features you don’t need.

 

Further information

Here at Equip4Work, we carry a massive range of reception furniture that suits every requirement and office design. All of our products have clear photos, full specifications and upfront pricing. However, if there are any specifications you can’t find, or if you just need some advice on choosing the right furniture for your needs, talk to our Sales Advice Team who would be happy to help.

Get in touch by calling today on 08444 999 222, email us at sales@equip4work.co.uk or complete the contact form on our site and we’ll get back to you asap.

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Last Modified / Updated on: May 31, 2018 at 11:00 am