Navigating the Theater Seating Buying Process
The decision to purchase church seating is a relatively complex process, requiring knowledge and understanding in variety of areas. Typically, many of those involved in the purchase process are members of the community who are working on a voluntary basis and have little prior professional knowledge of the subject.
The process you are about to embark on for purchasing seating for your church is complex and can be frustrating at times. The decisions we make on seating design and comfort are, at the end of the day, determined by personal preferences and taste. Different people reach different conclusions, and coming together and reaching a collective decision is far from simple matter. In order to avoid unnecessary disputes along the way, it is highly advisable that it be decided in advance who will be authorized to make decisions on behalf of the community, and how these decisions are to be reached.
Now that you have decided how decisions are to be made and who is to be responsible, factors should be defined for examining and comparing furniture between the various manufacturers.
For most people, the phrase "good housekeeping" means spending as little as possible. If you are part of this group, you can skip ranking manufacturers and concentrate on the companies producing the cheapest products, usually of lower quality control and inferior materials. It should be taken into account that buying lower quality seating will result in a quicker replacement (and higher ultimate cost) than you would normally expect.
For others, "good housekeeping" means getting the best possible quality for their budgeted dollars; in other words, they are looking for high "value" in return for their investment. In this case, the purchase price will be only one of many considerations in the process of selecting the preferred vendor. Remember – buying furniture for a church is basically similar to any other purchase. You can find a large selection of products, standards, quality, and price. It is a well-known rule that "there is no such thing as a free lunch" – at the end of the day, you get what you pay for.
At the stage of obtaining price quotes, you need to ensure that the quotes all relate to the same item. The items comprising the specification offered need to be examined and compared: the type of seat, design for placement of the seats, number of seating places, type of upholstery, and compliance with quality and safety standards, such as fire resistance. Don't overlook ancillary items, which can be critical elements is creating high value in the purchase. If the quote given by one of the companies is significantly cheaper than the other quotes, you should compare the various components to ensure that they are indeed the same.
The factor of quality results in the need to deal with and look into a lot of technical information, such as the source of raw materials, drying process, production and technologies, finishing materials, and product assembly methods. These are significant factors influencing quality. It is thus of benefit to acquire a basic understanding of the relevant manufacturing issues to be able to make a better informed decision. Request to meet with a professional and reliable sales person, who you feel you can trust, together with the manufacturer represented by him/her.
Following these introductory remarks, here are five factors that will assist you in comparing the quotes that you have received from the various manufacturers:
* Product quality
Just before ranking the factors – from the most important to you to the least important – you need to once again bear in mind the weight of the decision you are about to take. The furniture that you will be purchasing should serve your worshippers for many years. The price factor, which is often deemed to be of prime importance, is regarded in a completely different light when looking forward and taking into account the length of time that the seating is going to be used. Take this into account and make your ranking from a wide and realistic perspective.
The quality of the product is determined by two factors:
*Quality of raw materials and their suitability for their intended use
The manufacturing process requires a number of different raw materials – some of them visible, the majority of them hidden from view. If hidden, it does not mean that they are any less important towards the overall quality of the product. Purchasing good quality raw materials from reliable vendors of course increases the price of the finished product, but is of vital importance for the quality of the product over time.
Service, Reliability and Availability
This also applies also to manufacturer performance and support after installation. Products made out of wood are sensitive to knocks and scratches and could be damaged during transit and during installation. Frequently, remedial action is needed on the part of the manufacturer. It is possible that you will need maintenance activity during the lifetime of the furniture. It is reasonable to assume that a large and stable company will remain at your disposal over the whole of the period of use of the furniture, and will be able to meet its promises and declarations made at the time of signing the contract.
When you compare companies, compare their terms of payment. Most companies require a deposit when signing the contract to place the order. Certain companies require an additional payment prior to commencing production, and there are those that demand payment in full prior to installation.
The degree of flexibility shown by a company can be an indication of its financial state and strength. A company that is not flexible and requires full payment in advance could possibly be in a difficult financial position. Its ability to continue operating depends, manufacturing and servicing your furniture may be problematic.
What about product warranty? Most companies provide a product warranty when purchasing their products. You should check what is included in the warranty and what it covers. There are companies that provide a lifetime warranty, although the lifetime of the product is defined as only 10 years, although quality seating should last much longer.
Preparation of a seating configuration plan is part of the service you need to demand of the manufacturer. The configuration must take into account the congregation's requirements but also the objective factors and limitations. In many cases, changes are made during construction, with the actual measurements of the building not being the same as those appearing on the plan. In addition, consideration needs to be given to the required definitions regarding width of aisles, access for the disabled, and emergency exits.
Even small errors in measurement can result in not being able to configure the seating according to the agreed plan. This is especially true where the placing requirements are more complex, such as stepping, curved rows, and placing the furniture next to openings, pillars, and walls.
It is important to ensure that the company you hire has the knowledge and experience to execute the agreed-upon plan. There are companies that use the drawings and plans prepared by another manufacturer, which could result in errors and discrepancies. Using the configuration and drawings of other companies, without their consent, may contravene copyright laws and be illegal.
In the course of the purchase process, you will need to make various decisions regarding the suitability of the seating and its design. Issues such as the model, style of the end/cap/external footing, thickness of upholstery, color and design of the cloth, and engraving of a logo or writing on the end cap all require knowledge that you may not necessarily have at your disposal.
It is important that you are comfortable with your sales person and feel confident that he/she and the company they represent have the ability to present you with the various options and have the capability to perform to your specifications.
It is also important to look at the planning and design department at their factory and the machinery that will accurately produce your complex job. Speaking to other customers/references will give an indication of their experience and ability to back up their written promises to perform.
This information is courtesy of Galilee Church Seating, www.galileechurchseating.com.