Down to the last detail: how furniture impacts ROI

A top priority for those in the restaurant industry is for property owners and operators to offer a compelling, unexpected experience for guests, while maximizing ROI. That’s why it’s critical for manufacturers to put as much effort as possible behind presenting and producing the types of products, including furniture, that reflect the current and forthcoming needs of their clientele for the F&B market. This requires working hand-in-hand with designers to execute the client’s vision with both design and feasibility in mind.

Furniture is a key component to creating an appealing space, one that has longevity and functionality while standing out from its competitors in the neighbourhood. In order to guarantee a project’s success, design choices must be based on a well-balanced combination of ownership input, environmental considerations, logistics and, last but certainly not least, the client’s target market. There are many facets to this conversation, but keeping an open and continuous dialogue and adhering to proper processes will ensure for a successful project with furniture that speaks to the designer’s vision and the goals of the owner for their property.

A mantra that my company finds time and time again to be crucial in stating upfront is that “not all furniture is created equal.” That’s because many individuals piecing together a project frequently don’t have prior knowledge of what high quality manufacturing typically entails. The idea that ‘furniture is not created equal’ really sums up the importance of what constitutes the wide variation in manufacturing. This circles back to our point that decision-making when it comes to furniture and furniture manufacturing, is not going to be a “one size fits all” solution and will be an ongoing conversation from ideation to installation.

Given today’s competitive market, clients rely on the designer to specify products that will create a unique and special environment for their clientele that will make people come back for more. The “wow” factor and visual impact of the initial experience is critical. However, a strong design aesthetic and the top-notch engineering of product must run alongside each other to achieve long-term functionality and durability within a space.

Ultimately, value is paramount in product selection, which satisfies both the design concept and durability, all within the available budget. This is where a deeper understanding comes into play, and our job is to walk clients through the design specification process. Failure to understand the underlying attributes that help piece together and complement a project can ultimately result in a decrease in ROI. A few factors that impact the level of durability and customisation when it comes to product selection include:

Wood Species: When considering wood furniture, hardwoods (those coming from deciduous trees such as maple, walnut, beech) versus softwoods (those coming from coniferous trees such as pine, cedar, spruce) are more desirable as they aid in the production of a more durable, high quality piece.

Veneers: Beyond the distinctive and exotic physical appearance of veneers, stability and durability are key advantages to working with veneered MDF. Solid wood must be used in appropriate sections of the piece to create the correct balance of functionality and durability.

Finishes: It’s important to remember that not all finish types are equal in quality. ROI is increased with the use of high-grade commercial-quality finishes that are hand applied, burnished, and glazed as required per design intent. For example, the of Polyurethane (PU) or conversion varnish finish materials are best used as topcoat in sealing and protecting the finish. We recommend that furniture used in high-traffic environments should be finished using one of these material types, depending upon the product type and final finish look desired.

LED Technology: Lighting quality plays a pivotal role in creating an atmosphere throughout a property.  In addition to addressing practicality and functionality, lighting establishes a mood and creates emphasis on the appealing design within the space. LED technology offers important benefits to property owners. While upfront costs of LED lighting is higher than that of traditional light bulbs, the long-term benefits and cost savings, as well as energy efficiency, offer greater ROI for owners. The application of LEDs in furniture can bring an artistic impact while creating a subtle, practical ambiance. The low voltage, low heat, and high durability of LEDs make it a smart choice for furniture design given the value it adds to the overall experience.

Construction: When specifying seating for a restaurant space, you should examine the construction of the furniture to ensure its strength and durability. Details to pay close attention to when researching your furniture options include: examining whether there is double-doweled or mortise and tenon joinery within the piece’s frame; seeing if the piece has fitted glued and screwed corner blocks; and noting if there is high-quality synthetic webbing, sinuous springs, or eight way hand tied coil spring construction.

President of Samuelson Furniture Lawrence and his son, Michael Chalfin, vice president of Samuelson Furniture

By Lawrence Chalfin, president of Samuelson Furniture, a Jersey-based manufacturer of high-end casegoods and seating for four- and five-star hospitality projects around the globe. For additional tips, readers can refer to the company’s white papers:

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