We at Curtis have previously written about the compelling reasons for choosing a UK manufacturer to supply your hotel bedroom furniture. Below, we give some useful tips and questions to ask to ensure that your furniture manufacturer suits your needs.
First and foremost, does your supplier genuinely manufacture in the UK?
Many providers in the hospitality market are furniture suppliers, not manufacturers. And surprisingly, even among the self-dubbed “UK manufacturers”, some manufacture the furniture abroad and then ship it to the UK. Be clear on whether you are being exposed to the additional risk of import by asking the question outright early on.
Will they show you around their factory?
Is the manufacturer you want to work with proud to show you their machinery and keen to let you see their craftsmen in action? Can they show you numerous finished pieces in a showroom, or better still, in sample rooms in their factory? Be sure to assess their capabilities thoroughly while you are there, as not all websites are fully transparent.
Ask them whether they would need to outsource any of the work?
If your suppliers are planning to outsource some of the work for your project, what due diligence have they undertaken to ensure that their partners won’t let you both down? If they have proven, longstanding relationships with their subcontractors, that’s great, but if they sub work out to the cheapest bidder, should you really trust them with your project?
Do they have enough capacity?
Smaller factories are great for smaller projects, but they can get clogged up when a large project lands, or if several client projects need working on simultaneously. Try to choose a manufacturer with the space and the organisational ability to dovetail several projects through the factory at once and who you believe will commit to your project fully.
Are they proven to be stable and successful?
Stability and success don’t come easily in British Manufacturing. Companies who have been around since before the recession of 2008 can demonstrate that they have weathered certain storms, taken decisive action when needed and managed to keep up customer satisfaction and financial viability throughout. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that you never know when the next crisis is around the corner, and we have certainly been glad of our strong supplier relationships helping us to keep delivering through tough times.
What experience do they have of similar projects?
Most furniture supply websites have several impressive looking client logos and case studies published on them, by way of a portfolio. But many have very scant explanation alongside. Investigate whether your would-be supplier has experience relevant to your project. Banquette seating for one 3 star hotel restaurant requires a very different skill set to veneered bedroom casegoods for a 300-key 5 star hotel.
Do they have relevant trade accreditations and certificates?
If you are looking for commercial contract furniture, check that your supplier is a member of a relevant trade association, such as the BCFA (British Contract Furniture Association) or BFM (British Furniture Manufacturers Association). Other certificates can help align with your aims regarding Corporate Social Responsibility, for example showing that your supplier has an FSC certificate or SSIP (Safety Schemes in Procurement). Prequalification services, like the UK government’s Constructionline, assess finances, operational processes, and compliance with construction law. This can save you time in checking each potential supplier manually.
Will they work as part of your team?
When procuring furniture suppliers, the last, but certainly not least important, question to explore is whether they will work with you, taking proactive ownership for the successful completion of your project. Namely,
Do they ask you extra questions to confirm scope before submitting their quote?
You should never resent a supplier who does this, even though it's more upfront effort for you, as they are actually more likely to give you an accurate quote, saving you time in the long run.
Do they suggest value engineering improvements?
One of the major ways a supplier can save you money is by sharing their knowledge of alternative materials available in the market, or their expertise in how an item could be more cheaply or more robustly constructed.
Would they assign you a dedicated project manager?
Having one point of call in the company, saves you time and shows that the company you work with will take responsibility for how things go, right from placing the order through to handing over the completed project.
Do they offer installation services?
Things are more likely to go well when the company making the furniture take responsibility for fitting it. They won’t have anyone else to blame for snags but themselves, so will work tirelessly to fix them, sometimes before you’ve even noticed a problem.
Did they mind you asking all these probing questions?
Any respectable provider of hotel furniture will understand how important the above questions are, and should neither mind you asking them, nor be evasive in their answers.
Remembering to ask the above questions of your prospective suppliers is an important process to highlight any areas for concern prior to placing an order. If you'd like to speak to one of our friendly team about how Curtis Furniture might be able to help with your project, please do get in touch.