Second hand office furniture and equipment: an SME guide

Starting or expanding a small business is expensive but costs can be cut. We look at the pros and cons of buying second hand office furniture and equipment.

According to The Office Planning Group it’s possible to reduce your start-up costs by 30–60% by buying second hand furniture. But buying cheaply is a false economy if furniture does not do the job properly. What do you need to consider?

Charity furniture shop?

When buying either second hand or new furniture consider your budget. How much do you want to spend on furnishing your workspace? Explore the options online to get an idea of the quantity and the quality of equipment you can buy.

There’s no reason everything in your new business premises needs to match – especially if it’s not going to be seen by the general public. If you are concerned it won’t match with your branding then it is possible to decorate or paint some items in your brand colours.

Be aware of your limitations

Unless you have decided to set up business as a furniture restorer, know your limits. You may not have the time to spend on re-purposing equipment. If you’ve already spent a lot of cash on buying the furniture – don’t commit too much time to doing it up.


Try before you buy wherever possible. You don’t want to pay for something that’s not going to last very long – again, it’s a false economy. Bear in mind that proper checks are far more difficult when buying online.

Remember that you will likely spend far longer sitting on your office chair than any other piece of furniture so comfort is important. Likewise, your employees’ productivity will suffer if they are uncomfortable.

Flat pack furniture is worth far less and may not last as long. Wooden items should have proper carpentry joints, rather than just being nailed or glued together. Check all the screws and nails are in place and that joints are smooth and aligned.

Some items may still have their original label, which can provide some indication of the quality of the piece. If you have a smartphone, have a quick look online at how much similar pieces go for.

If something seems overpriced (or even if it doesn’t!) try to haggle the price down. A polite but firm manner can help drive significant savings. Few people will begrudge an attempt to get a discount, especially if it is done with good humour.

Disadvantages of used equipment

The advantage of used equipment is obvious: price. But other issues may mean that buying second hand is not for you.

No warranty means broken stuff has to be repaired or replaced, although you may get some kind of guarantee if you buy re-furbished equipment.

Also, there’s no way of knowing who has used the furniture or how. Some items may have been left outside or in a damp outbuilding. This means that used equipment will not last as long as new.

Leasing equipment

Rather than buying new or second hand equipment it might be possible to rent or lease what need, suggests smallbusinessheroes.co.uk. This offers the advantages of smaller initial outlay and flexibility – can upgrade or change equipment as and when you need to.

An easier way to save

If you are looking to cut costs, SwitchMyBusiness.com has already helped thousands of smaller businesses save up to 70% on their energy bills. We understand that you have no time to wade through quotes or go through a complicated switching process. Our impartial business energy experts can offer a simple comparison of suppliers with one simple call. Just fill in the form at the top right of the page or give us a call on 0800 411 8830

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