Selling Furniture To The Government

Selling Furniture to the Government: How the GSA Can Help Boost Your Bottom Line

As the world’s largest purchaser of goods and services, the United States Federal government offers significant opportunities for businesses large and small; including those in the furniture industry.  In fact, last year government buyers spent over $1.2 billion on furniture through one contract vehicle alone – the GSA Schedule.  With significant potential for sales, the GSA Schedule Contract warrants serious consideration.

What is a GSA Schedule Contract?

The General Services Administration (GSA) is a government entity that negotiates long-term contracts with commercial companies on behalf of government buyers. Federal agencies use these contracts, known as GSA Schedule Contracts, to purchase the company’s goods and services.  Agencies and vendors prefer GSA Schedule Contracts because they contain set pricing, terms, and conditions which accelerate the procurement process.

Is It Really Worth It?

Before pursuing a GSA Schedule Contract all companies should research the market, assess demand, and identify target buyers.  Provided you actively seek out opportunities and market your contract, GSA Schedule Contracts provide undeniable value when competing in the government space.

Here are a few points to consider when deciding if a GSA Schedule is right for your company:

  • Companies with a GSA Furniture Schedule Contract took in an average of over $1.5 million in sales last year.
  • What exactly is the federal government buying?  Here are some highlights from 2012:
    • Furniture Systems, Worksurfaces, Workstations, & Computer Furniture – $311M
    • Seating – $240M
    • Packaged Offices – $135M
    • Residential, Dormitory, & Quarters Furniture – $125M
    • Filing Cabinets – $106M
    • Office Furniture Installation – $83M
    • Executive Furniture & Specialty Pieces – $72M
    • Industrial & Institutional Furniture – $30M
    • Hospital Furniture – $11M
    • Think all GSA Contract holders are big businesses? Think again.   Approximately 83% of all Furniture Schedule holders are small businesses.  In fact, small businesses receive special consideration within the federal government, as do small businesses that are minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned.

Want to Get Started?

Before you become entrenched in the process, it’s important to understand that not all businesses qualify for a GSA Schedule Contract. To meet the requirements your company should have:

  • Financial stability
  • Two years in business
  • Sufficient past performance
  • Products that are commercially available (if offering products)
  • Products that are compliant with the Trade Agreements Act, meaning they are “manufactured or substantially altered” in the United States or another designated country named in the Trade Agreements Act (if offering products)

If your company meets the qualifications above, you can begin the process by submitting a proposal to obtain a GSA Schedule for furniture, the GSA Schedule 71 Contract.  It can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year to prepare your proposal for GSA’s review and consideration.  GSA has stringent criteria for the content and format of proposals, and a majority of proposals are rejected at the first submission.  To save time and provide peace of mind, companies should consider hiring a professional to minimize the processing time and assist with the proposal development. Whether or not you do decide to pursue a GSA Schedule Contract, one fact is irrefutable: sales through Schedule 71 will not be slowing anytime soon, as they grow, so do the opportunities for furniture companies.

This article was produced by Heather Rattman of Federal Schedules, Inc. (FSI).  Federal Schedules, Inc. is a leading GSA consultant, and has provided government contract expertise since 1986 to help businesses obtain and maintain their GSA Schedule Contracts.