Let me ask you a question: “Would you purchase a new vehicle based on an appealing picture you found on the Internet?” Of course not! That’s why there are car dealer showrooms throughout the country that allow you to view a variety of vehicles and take them out on test drives. Pictures viewed on a computer screen can be very deceiving and words written on the Internet quite exaggerated. But seeing the vehicle in person and driving it around your area allows you to have a first-hand ability to determine if the pictures and words are valid or not. This process enables you to make an informed decision about which vehicle to purchase.
Let me ask you another question: Would you purchase new church chairs for your church based on an appealing picture you found on the Internet?” I would suggest your answer should also be “Of Course Not!” But the reality is that many churches do just that. They search the Internet for church chairs, read over the descriptions and sale verbiage provided by a variety of church chair manufacturers, dealers and importers, make a few phone calls, and then place an order for church chairs they are planning to use for hopefully many years. I would suggest this method is not the wisest process to follow if your church desires to make the best church chair purchase possible!
What is the primary difference between the two examples above? With the vehicle purchase, you had a sample vehicle to evaluate. With the church chair purchase, you made the purchase without a sample church chair to evaluate. And perhaps the reason you did so is a lack of awareness of the availability of sample chairs for your church to evaluate before making your church chair purchase.
Most church chair manufacturers, dealers and importers offer some sort of sample chair program. Some many provide a sample chair for no charge. Others may provide a sample chair for a subsidized charge. And still others may provide a sample chair for the full cost of the chair and shipping. I have found that overall, the more reasonable the process is for your church to acquire a sample church chair, the more confidence the church chair manufacturer, dealer or importer has in the quality and attractiveness of their church chair. Here are three points to be very aware of regarding sample church chairs:
- First, there are some importers who will offer you a sample church chair if your church is in the market for a substantial number of church chairs. In other words, if you only need 50 church chairs, a free sample chair is unlikely. But if your church needs 500 church chairs, a free sample church chair is quite likely. However, it is common under this scenario for your church to be required to submit quite a bit of information in order to qualify for the free sample church chair. And your church can often expect quite a bit of ongoing sales pressure from this type of offer. We find often these church chairs are not of the best quality and this sort of free chair offer is really more of a sales ploy to get their foot in your church’s door.
- Second, there are some church chair manufacturers or dealers who will offer you a sample church chair for a token amount. For example, the cost of a sample church chair and the oversized shipping cost to get it to you may actually be $125.00. It is not uncommon for your church to be offered a delivered sample church chair for $40 to $50 under this cost-sharing arrangement. The manufacturer or dealer derives from this you are a serious buyer as you are sharing in the cost of the sample chair. Normally little church information is needed for a church chair sample to be obtained under this arrangement, just a delivery address and contact name and phone number. We find this to be the best sample church chair program as it almost always means a quality church chair is on its way to your church.
- Third, there are some church chair importers that will insist you pay the full per chair price for a sample church chair as well as the full cost of the shipping of the chair. You purchase one church chair just like you would 500 church chairs. This is not really a true church chair sample program, rather it is just the purchase of a single church chair. We find that in most of these cases, the importer would just as soon your church not have a sample of their church chair as that chair will likely be rejected during the evaluation process by your church.
We encourage your church to not judge a church chair by its appearance on a computer screen, but rather through a hands-on evaluation utilizing sample church chairs. And of the three types of sample church chair “programs” we certainly encourage the one found within the second bullet-point above. Our experience is that your church is much more likely to be pleased with your church chair purchase over the long-term by following the steps above.