What Should I be Paying for Restaurant Tables, Restaurant Chairs?

restaurant tablesOften, the number one concern hospitality personnel must consider before deciding to purchase restaurant tables, chairs, or wholesale outdoor furniture is price. The products’ durability and delivery lead time follow just a short distance behind price in the purchasing research process.  So what price should you be paying?  After all, when researching products on the Internet, you will find many different price points when for the same looking item.

Given these hurdles, what sources can you trust when purchasing restaurant tables so as to get the best price on the best product?  The factors mentioned below will determine your choice of retailer in most cases: the purveyors’ application and processes, the trust-worthiness of suppliers, and, of course, you must also take into account the copy and pictures on their websites as the keys to not paying too much or too little.  However, as the internet has so many suppliers available, how do you pick the right one?  You should always see if the web site you are looking through has logos from trusted companies like the Better Business Bureau which should link you right to the BBB web site.  You should also make sure that you talk to several companies, and try not to depend solely on their web site.  What feeling do you get from talking to them on the phone?  Do they seem to be giving you good advice, or just throwing words out at you?  What is the supplier’s warranty?  Try making a chart of these and other details for each supplier you talk to about restaurant tables, outdoor furniture, and restaurant chairs. Make note of what you like, and weigh each feature against the cost.  When you have 3 or more companies listed with your notes and ratings of their features on a piece of paper, it should become clear who has the right price for you.  Putting these details down in writing is important, this way, you have them immediately available, rather than just trying to remember things when they come up.

Can you trust pictures and associated copy?  The answer to that question is integral when deciding if you can trust what you are seeing.  Two wood chairs may look identical on two different web sites, but the real question here must be related to how the joints are made.  Typically, in America, the chair is made first, then finished by the same supplier. In some foreign chair companies, the parts are made and finished overseas, then assembled here.  With the foreign chair made following the above process, the joints in the legs tend to be considerably weaker than the American-made chair because of the manufacturing process. Though when looking at both, side by side, the foreign chair and American chair look identical in the pictures.  When turning to the cost of these two chairs, the American chair will likely be more expensive than its foreign counterpart, but will likely last much longer.  For wooden chairs, American-made chairs generally last longer, so paying the extra $40 charge per chair can be justified, as the merchandise will last much longer.  Essentially, when it comes to pictures, let them just be one of your qualifiers for purchase.  Remember – what you see may not always be what you receive.

Turning now to another question we must ask ourselves as purchasers, does the restaurant table or restaurant chair fit the application you intend to use it for?  In the above example with wooden chairs, the place in which the chairs will be used is very important.  For example, foreign wooden chairs in a heavy-traffic fast food restaurant may not last 6 months, whereas the same chairs in a quiet coffee shop may last for years.  If the fast food restaurant paid $75 per foreign chair and replaced them all in one year, the total expenditure is $150 for the first year.  But if the fast food restaurant purchased American-made wooden chairs for $125 which hold up to the traffic, then their net cost would be $125 v. the $150 for the foreign chair.  Sometimes paying more up-front is the better way to go.  You need an accurate estimate of  how many people will be sitting in each chair every day to anticipate (at least in part) how the customers will treat the chair.  In addition, when cleaning is being done, will staff be stacking the chairs on top of the restaurant tables, causing extra wear?  Or will they be gently sweeping around each chair?  This may seem like a minor point, however, if 100 chairs are purchased and you save $25 per chair for the first year, than it may well be worth it to go through the mathematical exercise and possibly save yourself up to $2,500.  Paying for a better chair than you need can also cause issues by tying up your business dollars in fixed assets that you don’t need.

Think of your restaurant chairs and outdoor patio furniture just like your food specialties. For this last example, let us suppose your specialty is steak.  Certainly you would know the difference between round steak, top sirloin or filet mignon.  These differences affect your cost, what your customer would expect to pay, and what your customer expects from each serving of your steak.  No matter what a restaurant serves, someone has gone through and researched which items to serve, how to price them, and the characteristics of the type of restaurant they are opening.  Other equipment such as restaurant chairs and restaurant tables are no different, you need to get to know the all the details, so you can pay the right price.