Bid-Lite: A Playbook For Selecting A Furniture Partner That Gets You
When designing a new workplace, many companies still use a traditional request for proposals process to identify the vendors they elect to work with, but in today’s complex and competitive workplace environment, the RFP process does not always serve the end user well.
When using a traditional RFP, price often dictates the focus, and end users miss out on an opportunity to evaluate the best, most holistic floor plate solution. When a furniture dealer receives an RFP, the client’s requirements are summarized in the RFP document, but there are often critical details and areas that are missing or go unexplored.
Today’s modern work environments are people-centric, incorporate new technology, prioritize wellness and offer a wide array of amenities. Understanding a client’s needs and priorities goes beyond headcount, workstations and conference rooms. A people-centric work environment places a high value on relationships, yet relationships are often overlooked during the RFP process.
In an attempt to make the RFP process more effective and provide a better final solution to end users, Pivot Interiors is moving toward a new way of operating referred to as Bid-Lite. Bid-Lite brings an approach similar to how a client would go about selecting an architecture and design firm to the furniture procurement process.
“While price would be a consideration when selecting an A&D firm, the main driving factors would be the talent, the people and the value they are adding to their project,” Pivot Interiors Architecture and Design Director Edward Woodill said.
Focus On Value, Not Price
Clients should begin the process by talking to other customers about their experiences with the dealer. One phone call can help build confidence in a dealer’s overall capabilities. Price will always be a factor in any business transaction, but working with an experienced dealer is a value-add.
A best-in-class dealership can offer ways to maximize the budget by value-engineering the design. The dealer can also educate the end user about new products, and how the proper products can solve certain workplace challenges, like acoustic issues.
“The best way to move beyond price is through demonstrating value, building relationships and fostering transparency,” Woodill said. “This can be achieved through an agreed upon pricing structure which clearly outlines fees and rates for design and dealer services.”
Design Discovery Process
Through its Bid-Lite process, Pivot recommends conducting a mini design charrette, where the architect, client and other key stakeholders brainstorm together. Introducing a furniture partner into the conversation during the design development phase provides the dealer with insights on the end users' needs, which will lead to a more bespoke furniture selection and other solutions that will address the entire work environment. Clients also gain a better understanding of the dealer’s overall experience through the questions being presented.
Asking clients for a few keywords to describe their vision for the space is one of many strategies used during an initial discussion. Gauging a client’s emphasis on phrases like “modern” and “technology,” for instance, can lead to solutions that integrate current technology options into the furniture.
End users' daily needs and habits are also uncovered during the conversations. By using strategic workplace tools like Herman Miller’s “Living Office,” Pivot evaluates end users' particular modes of work and suggests the optimal solutions for maximizing the floor plate while creating a more natural and desirable workplace experience for the end user.
“From these initial discussions, we can begin to prioritize where to allocate funds in the overall landscape of the office,” Pivot Interiors A&D Creative Strategist Maddy Raman said. "We thoughtfully consider the entire space and discuss areas such as lighting, AV, window coverings, modular walls, acoustic solutions and other products that may be incorporated into the design."
A Trusted Adviser
Bid-Lite would bring an interactive, consultative alternative to traditional furniture RFPs. Consultation has long been a cornerstone of architecture and design practices. Buildings are not the result of an architect looking only at a client brief and designing within a creative silo. They are the result of countless conversations detailing every inch of the space. The furniture process should adopt a similar practice.
“There is value in having an adviser,” Woodill said. “We bring knowledge and experience to the table to get a project what it needs. That expertise improves the overall customer experience.”
The increasing complexity of the furniture solutions available makes the need for an experienced design partner more important than ever.
“Offices have transitioned from cubicles to collaborative spaces, leading to a focus on ancillary furniture,” Raman said. “A furniture partner can hone in on how space is being used and has the expertise and know-how on the many considerations that go into a single piece of furniture.”
“We want to create lasting relationships with our clients, and while Bid-Lite is still in its early stages we believe we have begun to prove value by leading our clients and design partners towards a better solution,” Raman said.
With Bid-Lite, furniture dealers like Pivot Interiors are laying the groundwork and paving the way for an elevated customer journey, encouraging clients, end users and design firms to think differently and bring furniture forward in the conversation.
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