5 Things You Need To Know About Selling Furniture To The Federal Government

With the new calendar year many companies are looking into ways to increase their market share in 2013, and the government market offers ample opportunity to do this.  Whether your company is expanding within the government space or just beginning to tread the waters, a GSA Schedule Contract can provide a much needed edge to attract federal buyers.

GSA Schedule Contracts contain pre-negotiated pricing, terms, and conditions that federal buyers can use to purchase products and services, including furniture.  Last year alone, the federal government spent over $1.2 billion on furniture through the GSA Schedule Contract.

To get a GSA Schedule Contract, your company will have to prepare a proposal for GSA’s consideration.  Besides needing two years in business and healthy financials, the furniture industry has some additional requirements.

Before you begin the process to get your GSA Schedule Contract, here are five things you should know that are unique to the furniture industry:

  1. Depending on what type of furniture you plan to offer to the government, you must provide GSA with test certifications and/or reports to show compliance with applicable performance, safety, and flammability requirements.
  2. Internal testing can be subject to questioning, so independent, third-party testing is recommended to avoid any additional scrutiny.
  3. Fabrics and other upholstery components such as vinyl, leather, foam, and batting must meet flammability requirements defined in California Technical Bulletin (TB) 117. For example, foam must show no more than 20% smoldered residue when subjected to the Smoldering Screening Test. The full bulletin can be found here.
  4. Office furniture must meet standards defined by The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA), which include assessments of sustainability, flammability, mechanical performance, durability, and more. Official testing locations can be found throughout the United States as well as abroad.
  5. Since all furniture must pass rigorous testing and standards requirements, the GSA Schedule program is not conducive to custom furniture.  So, companies with product lines consisting mainly of custom pieces may have trouble obtaining a GSA Schedule Contract.
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While testing and certification requirements can be costly, they do align with industry standards and can be used to build your company’s brand reputation and credibility in both the public and commercial markets.  Take advantage of any certifications or testing you’re required to obtain by publishing the information in company marketing materials, including your website.

Keep in mind, meeting any of the furniture standards discussed above by no means guarantees you’ll receive a GSA Schedule Contract.  This is one small component of the GSA Schedule proposal process.  Many businesses choose to enlist the help of a government contract consulting firm to guide them through the proposal process.  Consultants that specialize in the GSA Schedule can help ensure the process goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.

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