Premises Management Buying Guide

Contents

Intro

Types of premises management equipment

What is premises management?

What makes a good premises manager

Top tips for effective premises management

Implementing a good waste management system

Questions to ask before shopping for premises management items.

General best practices when buying premises management equipment

Further information

Introduction

Premises management is a wide-ranging remit and the equipment that you require is varied. Everything from marking out car park spaces to cleaning and installing cloakrooms comes within your purview and you need the right equipment to carry all of this out.

In this buying guide, we’ll cover some of the most common kinds of equipment you’ll need for premises management, such as bins and waste management, mats and flooring, line marking and barriers and essentials for getting through the winter.

We’ll look at what makes a good premises manager, including some top tips for effective premises management, and give you a run down on some of the key factors to consider when implementing a waste management system.

Then we’ll give you a list of questions to ask before you start purchasing items and we’ll break down the choices you have when it comes to some of the main kinds of products, giving you a comparison of some of the styles available.

Finally, we’ll cover a best practice guide for ensuring that you choose the right retailer and get the best value for money when making your purchases.

By following this buying guide, you’ll have a great idea of not only what you need for premises management but also how to choose the absolute best equipment for the job.

Types of premises management equipment

Waste management

One of the key concerns in any management of premises will be the safe collection and disposal of waste. Most companies will rely on external partners to come and collect waste, but you’ll need a variety of items to store waste across your premises. There are a large number of types of bins available, which we’ll cover later in the ‘Choosing the right products’ section.

Line Marking

Line marking can be useful for car parking areas, designating smoking areas, highlighting fire assembly points and more. Line marking systems vary from temporary markings using tape to more permanent markings using hand applicators or marking system kits for larger areas.

Barriers

Barriers are useful both indoors and outdoors for a variety of purposes. If you have high traffic to your reception or sales counters, rope and pole or belt barriers are great temporary barriers that can be used to guide visitors into line. Barrier tapes are temporary measures to limit access to certain areas, for example if there has been a chemical spill.

Industrial and heavy-duty barriers are also available, either for temporary use or as heavy, ground installed barriers for car parks and such.

Cones

Cones are often used as a temporary warning sign to highlight dangers, advise on no-waiting areas or to point out hazards such as slippery surfaces. They come in a range of colours and markings to suit your requirements.

Post Boxes

Managing company post is made easier with the use of post boxes that can be wall-mounted and which are lockable. Postal workers can drop the company mail into the box which can be opened by your facilities manager to be safely and securely distributed to staff. They come in indoor and outdoor styles.

Bike racks and stands

Many companies have seen the benefit of both accommodating and encouraging cycling. Installing secure bicycle storage is a great way to encourage staff to cycle to work, which has health and environmental benefits.

Bike racks can be wall or ground-mounted and you can also purchase Bykebins that enclose cycles, or bike shelters that can store a number of bikes at a time and protect them from the elements.

Winter Essentials

Winter can be a tricky time for facilities and premises management as there is often a host of health and safety considerations to be aware of due to adverse weather conditions. Thankfully there are a range of winter premises management items available, including grit/salt bins for spreading on snow or ice, salt spreaders to help with distributing salt on pathways, snow ploughs for heavy snowfalls and ice free mirrors that don’t fog or ice up.

Cloakroom

Many premises will require cloakrooms for staff and/or visitors. You can purchase coat rails of various sizes, cloakroom benches, or cloakroom units that combine hangers and benches. These are all available in a range of sizes to suit your premises.

Identification systems

A wide range of identification systems are available and can be used in a variety of industries. Floor signal markers are ideal for marking palette areas in warehouses or storerooms. Self-adhesive label packs in bold colours can be used for marking off storage, while magnetic markers can be used to highlight different locations.

Ticket holders can be used to mark of areas of shelving, while hi-visibility floor markers can help to highlight warnings or requirements, such as no pedestrian traffic, fire exit signs or warnings to look out for forklift trucks.

Matting and Flooring

There is a wide variety of flooring available for a range of purposes across your premises. We’ll break these down in more detail later in the guide.

What is premises management?

Premises or facilities management is the management discipline that focuses on the delivery of an organisations’ support services. It is primarily concerned with real estate property, buildings, lighting, transportation, furniture, custodial and grounds management.

Broadly speaking, it is the management of the premises in which the work is carried out, as opposed to the operational functions of the business.

Premises or facilities managers are usually focused on EHS (environmental, health and safety), fire safety and security, as well as the maintenance, testing and inspection or various aspects of the premises and the buildings themselves.

Regular buildings maintenance is the upkeep of all buildings on site, including the preventative, remedial or upgrading works needed to ensure buildings remain safe and fit for purpose. This can include painting and decorating, plumbing, plastering and tiling, although the actual scope will vary from business to business and across different industries.

Where some or all of this maintenance work is carried out by external contractors, facilities managers will organise that work including obtaining quotes, booking contractors, assessing work and ensuring invoices are paid.

Facilities managers will often oversee cleaning, usually out of hours. Again, this may be undertaken by a contracted team, or by on-site cleaning staff, and includes cleaning of working areas, kitchens/canteens, toilets and any other areas, as well as the replenishment of all cleaning consumables.

In many modern offices, facilities management teams will also be responsible for tasks that are related to the day-to-day running of the building, including critical operational factors that are needed to ensure the business operates smoothly. This can include running a help desk that would deal with such things as printer jams, problems with lighting, heating or air conditioning or dealing with liquid spills. However, this remit will vary significantly depending on the business and whether the premises are run by a managed service.

Facilities managers can also be responsible for contingency management and planning; that is, a continuity plan that ensures the business can remain operational in the event of a fire or other major incident including server failure, for example. Sometimes this will require who teams or organisations to move to other premises.

Where this is the case, the facilities manager and their department would play a key role in ensuring that the move takes place with minimum disruption to the operation of the business.

What makes a good premises manager

Premises managers carry out a critical role in businesses and are required to take on both a lot of responsibility and a large number of tasks.

The most critical skill in becoming an effective premises manager is being a fantastic organiser. The sheer variety of tasks and services that come under the remit of this role means you must be efficient, accurate and able to work well under pressure.

Duties will vary greatly depending on the business or industry, but the key responsibilities will be:

  • Building and grounds maintenance
  • Cleaning
  • Vending or catering
  • Health and safety
  • Contract management and procurement
  • Site security
  • Management of space
  • Utilities and communications.

Facilities managers may be called upon to improve the efficiency of a business and reduce operating costs; this is a role that requires a high level of administrative skill.

You may be required to manage one site or many, depending on the size of the organisation; as the size of a business or site scales up, you will probably be responsible for running an entire team or department, so people management skills are crucial too.

Some facilities managers will work for a department that covers all required services, while others will be responsible for running a specialist team, such as cleaning or catering.

The key skills required for an effective facilities or premises manager are the following:

  • Networking and relationship-building skills
  • People management and interpersonal skills
  • Negotiation skills and experience of procurement
  • Ability to multi-task and prioritise, excellent time management skills
  • Project management experience
  • Report writing skills, ability to write clearly and concisely
  • Ability to work in a team and to motivate others
  • Excellent IT skills
  • Ability to be flexible and practical
  • An innovative approach to problem solving.

There are no specific degree requirements to enter into facilities or premises management; however, good managers usually have some form of qualification in building management or studies, construction, hospitality or management, usually at HND level.

However, people who have gained experience and skills in a variety of industries are often sought out for these roles, with or without formal qualifications.

Top tips for effective premises management

Premises management is a difficult, complex role that requires you to balance a lot of sometimes competing factors. Follow these top tips for being an effective premises manager:

Familiarise yourself with the lease

Checking the lease, including timescales, renewal dates and all other important pieces of information contained within, will provide you with timescales and scope for all your other tasks. Always ensure the lease remains a good deal when compared with current market conditions.

Check construction drawings

Architectural or design drawings at date of completion of the building work are essential for knowing where everything is located, but you should also check they are up to date and that any further structural or repair work that has been carried out is noted in the drawings.

Review systems

Buildings systems such as HVAC, electrical systems, safety and security should all be high priorities when you take over premises management of a new property. Check maintenance records to make sure everything is up to date and working correctly and ensure that you instil a maintenance programme that fits with the larger company culture: either a rolling programme with fixed dates and tasks, or a wait-till-it’s-broken approach.

Review budget

You need to work closely with the finance department to ensure the premises budget is adequate and to give you an idea of the full scope of your job. If you feel there is not enough budget allocated to facilities and premises, you’re going to have to make a strong business case for an increase, with as much evidence as possible.

Check cleanliness, safety and functionality

An initial assessment of the current state of cleanliness in the premises, as well as the safety standards and the current functionality of all equipment and furniture will give you a good starting point. Anything dangerous or in violation of legislation must be dealt with ASAP, and everything else can be assigned a priority and timescale as appropriate.

Review service contracts

Check that all current service contracts are in-date and when they are due to expire and meet with all contracted staff to ensure you are getting a good deal. If not, negotiate when contracts are up with renewal or look elsewhere. It’s also crucial to ensure that all contracted work and workers follow the correct scope and are in line with expectations.

Meet with co-workers

Meet with all peer workers, including managers of all other departments, and try to ascertain their relationship with the premises, including any problems, barriers or challenges they face. Understanding how other departments interact with the premises and facilities is a key factor in managing effectively.

Be visible

To manage facilities effectively, key personnel should know who you are, and you should be approachable when colleagues have questions or concerns.

Implementing a good waste management system

What is waste management?

Wikipedia describes waste management as:

“all the activities and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal. This includes amongst other things, collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste together with monitoring and regulation. It also encompasses the legal and regulatory framework that relates to waste management encompassing guidance on recycling etc.”

Implementing a proper working waste management plan isn’t easy; it requires a great deal of forethought and planning.

The first things to consider are health and safety; effective management of waste should first and foremost make it safe for employees and site visitors, clients or customers. While this will vary greatly depending on the business and industry, the foundation of effective waste management is having in place a controlled approach to disposing of waste.

Areas of business

Each area of a business will require its own waste management. For example, office floors should probably allow for a small waste bin at each employee’s desk. These can be collected every evening and deposited into larger waste bins for disposal. They will mainly carry paper but may also contain food scraps if employees are allowed to eat at their desks, so it is crucial these are emptied regularly.

On the same floor, it’s likely that you will have a specific waste disposal system for confidential waste. This can either be shredders, the contents of which can be deposited in paper recycling bins or, more commonly for larger companies, confidential waste bins that are collected and managed by an external organisation.

Toilets will require a separate waste management strategy. Again, recycling bins can be used for the disposal of paper towels, but they will need to be clearly marked as such so that employees don’t dispose of other waste there; a separate bin for general waste would be useful.

Female toilets will need provision for sanitary waste products; these need to be handled carefully for health and safety purposes, and it will depend on the facilities management to decide whether this is handled internally or by an external organisation. Cleaning staff should be well-trained on the disposal of sanitary bins and should be provided with adequate protection clothing such as disposable gloves.

In kitchens, a more complex waste management system might be required. Many premises will just have one or two large bins for the disposal of general waste, but as environmental policies become more common (and more important) in business, it’s likely you’ll want to consider having a number of different bins.

The easiest form of environmental waste management in the kitchen or canteen is to have separate bins for recyclable materials, non-recyclable or general waste and compost. These can be emptied every night into larger recycling bins for collection by the local authority or waste management service you choose to contract the work to.

If you have a smoker area outside the premises, separate bins should be used. These should be fire safe and should have provision for both the stubbing out and disposal of cigarette ends. You’ll also likely want to regularly clean this area as inevitable stubs will be tossed on the ground.

Litter pickers are ideal for allowing operatives to pick up and dispose of dropped cigarette ends without stooping, and they can come in handy for retrieving general waste on the grounds of the premises.

Looking after the environment

It’s no longer considered a bonus to have environmentally-sound policies in the workplace; it’s become a key issue around both environmental protection and resource management. Waste has become a valuable resource that can be used to our collective advantage, so recycling is a key area of consideration in waste management.

As a business, you should have a credible approach to the collection, transportation and disposal of waste materials and you should have a plan in place for better resource management. This includes not only the recycling of waste at disposal, but also reuse and prevention.

Clear policies and procedures should be drawn up and communicated effectively to staff members through training that outline clear guidelines for the reuse of all materials where appropriate. It’s also critical that you implement policies for the prevention of waste in the first place.

Employees should be encouraged to contribute as much as possible to a paper-free workspace. With current technologies like cloud-based storage and digital shared workspaces, this is easier than ever; however, it often requires a significant cultural change and shift in mind-set that must be led by management.

Prevention of waste, reuse of material where possible and the recycling of materials that must be disposed of have benefits across the board. These are areas where you can make significant cost savings and overall efficiencies and they contribute to a better environment for all.

Hazardous waste

Some industries by their nature will produce hazardous waste. This could be chemical by-products of manufacture or healthcare waste including sharps, anatomical or offensive wastes.

Whatever your industry, if you produce hazardous waste you should implement effective policies and procedures for the safe handling, storage and disposal of this waste.

Staff members who handle hazardous waste should be fully trained and kept up to date, as well as being provided with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This will protect them from risks to their health and safety. PPR can include gloves, eye protection, aprons or other safety clothing.

Hazardous storage can be used to store chemical, medical or flammable materials and fluids on site and you should set up a procedure for the safe disposal of hazardous waste. This is usually done by contracting an external organisation that specialises in the safe collection and disposal of such waste.

Questions to ask before shopping for premises management items

Some of the questions that may help you to understand your needs include:

Is the equipment for indoor or outdoor use?

Equipment for premises management is usually available in a wide variety of styles and materials. Some materials will be designed for indoor use; perhaps lightweight materials that can be easily moved around or which are easily maintained if they are used regularly.

However, equipment that is designed for outdoor use is often permanently fixed or heavy enough that it won’t blow away, and will need to be durable and withstand all kinds of weathers.

Always ensure that you purchase the right equipment for the job; small pedal bins will be of no use for outside areas, for example. They are small enough that they would need constant emptying and without affixing them to the ground they would blow away.

Outdoor waste bins are usually far larger meaning they are more secure and can be emptied once a week instead of multiple times a day.

Is it a high-traffic area?

High-traffic areas need rugged materials that will stand up to repeated use. If it is flooring, for example, you might want to avoid fabric tiles for areas with heavy footfall and instead opt for durable rubber flooring.

It will not only last longer, but will have additional extra features that will help to keep entranceways clean, such as collecting dirt and mud as well as allowing water or snow and ice to drain away easily.

Do you need specific equipment for adverse weather conditions?

During winter, pathways can become treacherous during ice or heavy snow. These can become significant health and safety risks to employees and visitors; ice and snow can cause slips, trips and falls, while embankments of snow are also trip hazards.

It could be worth considering having a permanent grit or salt bins on site and a salt spreader that you can use to quickly and easily cover paths.

Do you have adequate signage on premises?

It’s important for accessibility as well as health and safety purposes to ensure that areas are clearly signposted. This will take a variety of different forms.

Car park spaces, disabled parking and access or permanent routes around the prices will need some kind of permanent marking or signage and you can use paint here to outline those areas clearly.

Semi-permanent barriers can be installed or temporary ones can be used for specific events, will temporary signage should always be on hand for when floors are being cleaned or to highlight hazards such as liquid spills, for example.

Is there sufficient storage?

Before purchasing premises management equipment, you should consider whether you have appropriate space or not. Leaving equipment lying around can become a trip hazard and some equipment will deteriorate over time if exposed to the elements.

Always consider storage solutions alongside any equipment purchases designed for premises management. A central storage area for general items is a good idea and you might want to consider lockable storage for high-value equipment. Like materials should be stored together, for example, a cleaning cupboard that contains all the cleaning equipment and products that your cleaning team will need.

These can be further separated by site or room.

Choosing the right premises management items

When it comes to actually choosing the right items for purchase, you´ll have to weigh up a number of factors for each, including type or style, material or permanent or temporary.

Let´s take a look at the various different broad types of premises management items available as outlined in the first section of this guide, and break them down to help you choose the perfect model for each.

Bike racks

Bike racks are used for parking bikes outside the premises. They come in a variety of outdoor styles and the kind you choose with depend on factors like seasonal use versus all-year-round use.

Style: There are four broad styles of bike rack, and each has its advantages.

Compact, medium-duty bike racks are designed for occasional use or for areas where space is at a premium. Manufactured in hot-dip galvanized steel, they are strong but are not as secure as other styles and would be best used where there is clear visibility of the bikes for security purposes.

Wall-mounted brackets or “Sheffield” style brackets that can be installed sub-surface and surface mounted are both made from thicker hot-dip galvanized steel. They are economic and durable are provide greater security than the compact versions.

Industrial shelters have space for up to 7 bikes and are housed in a heavy gauge steel framework with galvanized side panels and a PVC roof. With a curved roof and drainage gutter, these are ideal for all weathers and provide great security.

Bykebins are the top of the range in bike security and are polyethylene lockers with individual padlocks and keys. Bikes are fully secured and protected from the elements, vandal resistant and ground fixed, and contains interior hooks for hanging waterproof clothing or helmets and other accessories.

Colours: Only Bykebins offer a range of colours to choose from, with a wide variety including faux-stone finishes that ensure the storage systems will fit into any environment.

Barriers

Barriers are available in a wide variety of styles. Whether you’re sectioning off parts of a car park to prevent vehicular access, or are setting up a queueing system in a lobby, box office or reception, there are a range of methods you can choose from, which are broadly separated into temporary and permanent.

Temporary: There are four main types of temporary barriers; barrier tape, rope and pole barriers and belt barriers.

Barrier tape is available in black and yellow or red and white, or with one of a variety of notices on them, including “Hazardous Area”, “No Entry” and “Maintenance in Progress”. Barrier tape is a very temporary measure, usually for immediately preventing access to a hazard that should be dealt with quickly.

Rope and pole is the style of barrier system that most associated with bank queues or theatre box offices. They are elegant and easy to use, with black or chrome posts and a choice of rope colours. The design makes it simple to section off queueing areas, or to temporarily prevent access to other areas.

Belt barriers are a more modern, heavy-duty version of the rope and pole system. Single poles have retractable belts that hook on to a second pole, forming a barrier system that, while temporary and easily moved, can also be used as a permanent, semi-permanent or flexible barrier system.

Industrial barriers are temporary and are mainly used for maintenance, construction or any other kind of temporary, heavy work that is being carried out. They come as portable, folding barriers, expandable barriers, or post/cones and barrier planks. Whichever type you choose, they all come in very clear warning or hazard colour combinations.

Permanent: Permanent barriers are usually made of heavy steel with either a galvanised or yellow stove enamel finish. They are fixed directly to the ground surface and can be combined in a variety of configurations allowing you to tailor make your own barrier.

You can also purchase machine guards, which are constructed from heavy-duty steel tubing, affix to the floor and are ideal as corner protection that can, for example, protect shelving frameworks from being bumped by forklift machinery.

Line Marking

If you need to section off parking bays in a car park or delineate clear flooring routes for operatives or customers, for example, you can create line marking directly on the floor.

There are two possibilities here; medium term marking tape, or long term paint. Whichever you choose, there are a wide varieties of colours to select from, including most popular hazard and warning colour combinations.

Line marking tape applicators take a reel of tape and are wheeled, allowing you to easily apply tape to the floor in straight lines.

Permanent applicators take paint cans especially made for line marking and act in the same way as the tape applicators, and you can also choose hand applicators and stencil units.

Bins and waste management

Waste management comes in a variety of forms; the key ones are outlined below:

Pedal bins:

Pedal bins are operated by a mechanism which has a foot pedal at the base of the bin attached to the lid. Operation of pedal bins is easy; apply the foot to the pedal and the lid flips open. This allows users to open the bin to dispose of waste without touching the lid itself, meaning there is no chance of transferring germs or other contaminants.

Pedal bins are available in a variety of sizes, materials and colours and can be purchased in models that allow for waste separation.

Push top bins:

Similar to pedal bins, and usually available in a similar range of styles and materials, push top bins operate slightly differently. The hinged lid opens by pressing down on it and they are usually self-closing. This means litter can be easily dropped into the bin without touching the lid.

Open top bins:

These have wide openings that allow access to the garbage bags within and usually have safe, rounded edges to prevent harm. Some models will come with additional recessed ash trays on the top and these bins are usually made from galvanised metals and are often outdoor bins.

Waste separators:

Waste separators are compartmentalised bins designed for recycling. They have two or more compartments in varying sizes, often colour-coded so users can easily see what kind of waste goes where and they make for easy disposal of waste that can be later recycled, such as paper or compost.

Cigarette bins:

Some litter bins come with optional additional ash trays on top, but there are also a variety of bins designed specifically for cigarette ends and ash. There are a variety to choose from, including freestanding bins with hooded tops, pyramid bins and wall-mounted cigarette disposal units. They can be installed in any outdoor smoking area and help to keep your premises free of cigarette stubs and ash. They are also designed to be fire proof.

Outdoor bins:

Sturdy, durable and usually available in larger sizes than other models, outdoor bins are designed to withstand all weather conditions and come in a wide variety of styles, from push top bins to open top designs and larger commercial wheeled bins for large premises.

Recycling bins:

To help your business be more environmentally-friendly, recycling bins come in a variety of styles, sizes and, conveniently, colours, which make it easy for users to see which kind of waste should go in each bin. You can choose your own colour scheme or adopt one that matches your local council recycling collection or that of an external waste management company. Battery disposal bins are also available.

Sack holders:

Available in open or enclosed styles, these sack holders are operated by a foot pedal and, instead of being a full container as a bin, are instead a wire mount that holds a garbage back or sack. They are ideal for areas where hygiene is critical.

Waste accessories:

Alongside the wide variety of bins available, you can also purchase a number of waste accessories, including consumables such as garbage bags, and litter pickers to help keep outdoor areas clear.

Matting and flooring

Entrance mats

These are used to prevent visitors tracking in mud or dirt into entranceways and reception areas and come in a variety of styles and materials, from plush fabrics to coarse fibres and tough ringed rubber mats that are ideal for high traffic areas or for ice and snow.

Entrance systems

These are extended versions of entrance mats and are designed to cover larger areas or to act as walkways that guide visitors through the premises. They are available in tiles or rolls. High visibility stair treads are also available for extra health & safety.

Chair mats

If you have expensive hardwood or laminate flooring, you can protect them from damage using individual chair mats. These are available in a variety of styles, with lips at the end to prevent chairs rolling off them. They are also useful for improving health & safety and reducing the risk of chair sliding on high gloss flooring, or for areas where spills are likely.

Floor tiles

Head-wearing deck flooring or touch-lock flooring are available as tiles, meaning they can be used in premises of any size. A variety of styles and materials are available.

Anti-fatigue mats

These are cushioned mats which are suitable for employees who will be standing for extended periods of time. They promote regular foot movement which can help blood circulation and they reduce the health risks associated with long periods of standing. They are comfortable and slip-resistant and many styles come with tapered edges to prevent employees tripping. They are available in a wide variety of styles, materials and colours.

Industrial mats

These tough, hard wearing mats are ideal for use at industrial workstation where, for example, there is a risk of tools being dropped onto hard flooring. They offer anti-fatigue properties similar to the mats above, but are also designed to trap dirt and debris to prevent workers from tracking dirt around your premises.

ESD mats

These mats dissipate electrostatic electricity. They are ideal for those who work with delicate electronics and can be combined with ESD cords and earth bonding plugs for extra protection from the risk of electrostatic discharges that can damage fragile or delicate electronic equipment.

Leisure mats

These extra-non-slip mats are ideal for leisure centres and swimming pools. They have interwoven designs that allow water to drain away and they also combat bacterial growth for extra health & safety.

Catering mats

With anti-microbial properties, these mats are ideal for kitchens and catering areas. They are resistant to grease, oils, fats and detergents and have anti-fatigue properties, whilst also being designed for extra drainage of liquids.

General best practices when buying premises management equipment

When you’re making any kind of capital purchases for the business, you’re usually balancing requirement with budget. You want to get best value for money but you also want to make sure it’s a sensible investment.

In order to do that, you need to choose your supplier or retailer carefully. Use your judgement as you would do with any other purchase but to make sure you get the absolute best result, following our best practice guide.

These top tips will help ensure your get the best premises management equipment at great value:

Choose your supplier carefully

When it comes to suppliers and retailers, there’s never been more choice available to you thanks to online shopping. You can choose from well-know, tried and tested or new and obscure retailers. Each can have their benefits, but it pays to shop around. Take the time to do your homework before you make any purchases and you’ll prevent yourself from being stung by a bad deal.

It’s important that you find a reputable, trustworthy supplier and be wary of websites that may not be legitimate.

Here are some of the main things to look out for when shopping online:

  • Security flags or warnings in your browser; most modern browsers provide warnings and feedback if you visit a known illegitimate site, or one that users have given poor feedback on
  • Be wary if there are no reviews or customer feedback on the site, as most trustworthy retailers will post reviews; equally, though, be wary if all the reviews you find are bad
  • If there is no registered postal address or phone numbers or only a PO Box address, look elsewhere
  • Bad spelling, grammar, poor design, broken link and images are all warning signs that a retailer is not quite legitimate
  • If the prices are so low that it seems unbelievable, there’s probably a catch
  • Watch out for very new or young businesses and websites

If you’d like to check the authenticity of a site, probably the easiest and most straightforward way is the ‘whois’ service. This is a way to check the registrar of each domain and should show you the registered address of the retailer as well as how long the site has been running. If there is no record or if the address is hidden behind the website host details, be very wary of purchasing from them.

Hackers and phishers have become very sophisticated and can actually clone entire legitimate sites. It can be hard to spot these, although they are usually flagged by modern browsers, but if your gut is telling you something is wrong, take heed and look elsewhere.

You might come across a genuine retailer that seems new or very young and is offering great price deals to undercut the competition. This can seem like a fantastic proposal but be wary; fledgling companies may not last and if they go into administration, you could forfeit any guarantees or warranties on your purchases, leaving you to have to replace them entirely if there is a fault.

Check for reviews

Looking for product reviews is a fantastic way to get an idea of possible drawbacks as well as benefits of various products. While it can be very reassuring to read a slew of great reviews of the equipment you’re considering buying, sometimes the bad reviews that tell you what you really need to know.

However, don’t just assume it’s a bad product if you see one or two bad reviews. Customers often choose the wrong product for the task at hand, blaming the retailer and not their own lack of diligence. Bad reviews can also give you a chance to find out what happens when things go wrong; is there a decent response from the retailer, for example?

Do a price comparison

All suppliers are different, so once you’ve decided on your purchase, make sure you shop around and get comparisons on the price. Comparing offers has never been easier thanks to online shopping, with price comparisons possible in just a few clicks on certain sites or browser extensions, so look around for the best price

If you have a preferred supplier but see a product cheaper elsewhere, don’t be afraid to contact them and let them know. They may be able to do a price match, especially for frequent customers. Alternatively, some suppliers and retailers will offer a discount for first time buyers or for those who open up an account, for example. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

When it comes to online shopping, don’t just focus on the headline prices. Ensure that you look carefully at all the costs on the checkout page and in the small print. Occasional surprise extras can include:

  • VAT: Currently at a massive 20 per cent in the UK, VAT can turn a bargain into a burden. Check whether the price you see includes VAT or not before agreeing to a purchase.
  • Import or export tax: Overseas retailers can often offer massive price discounts which can seem like a huge bargain until you realise that you’ve been landed with a massive import/export fee. These aren’t charged by retailers so you won’t see them in the checkout; in fact, you only find them out once you take delivery of a product. If buying overseas, do a web search for common import/export tariffs.
  • Delivery: At Equip4Work, we offer free delivery on most products to UK addresses. However, some of our competitors will charge a lot for delivery, so be aware of the situation before you buy.
  • Express: If you need your premises management equipment fast, some suppliers will charge large fees to express courier the items. Many of our products come with free next day delivery, but always check if buying elsewhere.
  • Admin: Admin fees are no longer common, but some suppliers will still add them on, especially when being invoiced through an account. Always check the small print!

Remember that price isn’t everything. You also want great customer service, high quality goods and excellent aftercare, including watertight guarantees and warranties. Factors these in when looking at price and making your decision.

Only buy what you need!

Finally, it can be tempting when shopping online to add more and more items to your cart, or to make extravagant purchases of new technologies, for example. However, it’s important that you only buy what you need.

That’s why it’s a good idea to ask yourself questions in advance and think carefully about your requirements. Following this guide in advance of your purchase will give you a realistic outlook; stick to that and you’ll be fine!

Further information

We have a massive selection of all kinds of premises management equipment with full specifications, clear pricing and great photos and descriptions.

However, if you don’t see what you’re looking for, need help with exact specifications or would like some advice on choosing the right equipment for your requirements, you’re welcome to talk to our Sales Team.

They can help you with any aspect of your purchase and can be reached on 0844 999 222, email on sales@equip4work.co.uk or complete the contact form on our site and we’ll get back to you.

John

Head of cool things at Office Furniture
Bit of this, bit of that but love cats.

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Author: John