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Don’t underestimate the importance of your reception area!

April 2017

The phrase ‘You only get one chance to make a good first impression’ cannot be understated. Just as a face represents a person, the reception area represents an office or a business, and many failures and successes can depend on that split second when a first impression is formed.

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Welcome reception

Every customer, visitor and potential employee who walks through the office doors will get an immediate first impression about the company from the layout, style and presentation of the reception area. As the initial point of contact, it’s important that a good first impression creates a great lasting impression, which is why investing in a quality and professional reception area is a sound business decision.

A reception area that is thoughtfully designed with company values and aesthetics in mind will help set the tone for what visitors can expect from the company. Whether you value innovation and creativity, tradition and elegance, or agility and minimalism, the right reception area creates a lasting visual message.


Understand your target market

The general rule of thumb for businesses when planning a new entrance space is to understand your target audience. Conveying the best possible representation in the reception area is dependent on the type of business being run. Worldwide brands such as Google and Red Bull are renowned for their impressive reception areas, furnishing these spaces with quirky designs and innovative furniture. They reflect the core concept of these companies, which has been a contributory factor in their success and is one of the reasons why everyone is talking about them as forward thinking, dynamic businesses.

Good reception furniture gives an impression that the business has the financial means to support their good taste. But the importance of receptions goes beyond just beautifying the area. In addition to being stylish and communicating the company’s brand values, practical considerations must also be taken into account.

The vital ingredient …. the desk

Perhaps the most important item in a reception area is the reception desk. The first point of call for any workplace should feature eye-catching furnishings and accessories with a reception desk that will reinvigorate an entrance area and reflect the vision and personality of the business. This is why we always recommend to people that they prioritise the reception area with a smart, stylish reception desk when the time is right for an office upgrade.

A good reception desk will cost more than a standard office desk, but the investment is worth it if it helps to develop an image that is aligned to the company’s values. However reception desks can come in many forms, with different shapes, sizes and materials, ranging from wood, glass and even in steel, as well as rectangular, square and even curved variations. Modular reception desks designed for bespoke projects are also becoming increasingly popular as more and more companies realise the significance of the reception area.

Reception desks need to be multi-functional workspaces because this is where many important tasks carried out such as answering phone calls, receiving and sending letters, and of course welcoming visitors. Working with a good reception desk will also give the receptionist a sense of pride and consequently, would do his or her job well. The other employees would also be proud that they are part of an impressive, vibrant company.

A receptionist is essentially the face of the company. They should be comfortable and happy in their working environment so they can represent the company in the best possible manner. The reception desk should also come with adequate storage so the area appears uncluttered and important documents can be kept safe, with technology integration and cable management so wires are not exposed to visitors.

Dams modern reception desk solutions really bring home the wow factor. Welcome is a stunning, angular design in white which shrouds an existing desk or can be bought with an ‘Adapt’ or ‘Maestro 25’ white frame desk. An optional D-end extension adds to the reception unit to give greater access and additional desk workspace. Welcome also allows for a company name and graphics to be added and remote control lighting through the colour spectrum to match your corporate identity.

Denver, by Dams, is a flexible modular unit that can be arranged in a variety of configurations with the desk and hutch units to create a commanding reception feature that will make a good first impression with clients and visitors. Available in a beech finish, cables are managed from the hutch to the desktops with classic design pieces that will inspire people and reassure them that you mean business.

To compliment the reception desk, soft seating or tub chairs can be added to the reception area which will not only enhance the overall appearance but also offer comfortable seating for visitors. Social Spaces is a range of innovative, contemporary, design-led products ideal for receptions, manufactured in the UK by Dams. Investing in soft seating and tables that have an integrated power supply built in can also act as a charging station for guests while they wait.

First impressions count

The reception area is of critical importance for any business. It needs to be a welcoming space for all visitors, from valued customers to prospective new starters arriving for an interview. But the reception area is also where every office day begins for all employees and it should inspire them to be proud about where they work.

Striking the right balance of interior design and furniture solutions can make all the difference in developing new business relationships. The right reception desk, together with some comfortable soft seating and tables for visitors to rest in comfort can set the standard for hospitality and extend outward to the rest of the workplace.

No matter how great the company is, or how interested customers are, if the front of house looks scruffy and dated, then it is bound to put potential customers off, even if the rest of the office is a proverbial wonderland of design and technology.

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Take Care of your Office Furniture

March 2017

At Dams, we understand that office furniture is an important, sizeable investment for any business. Office furniture and fixtures are an integral part of any workplace and they should be well taken care of and maintained regularly so there is no need to replace them for years to come. Below we have listed some helpful tips and advice on how to maintain and take care of your office furniture.

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furniture care

DESKS & STORAGE CARE & MAINTENANCE

Melamine finished surfaces
Dams melamine desking ranges and storage products are manufactured in the UK and available in 5 wood finishes – beech, maple, oak, walnut and white – to suit all styles and personal preferences.

All Dams melamine (MFC) products are very durable and resilient to staining and abrasion from dirt associated with light industrial or normal office environments. Melamine finished surfaces are heat and stain resistant, but care should still be taken when placing hot drinks on the work tops.

Regular dusting should help keep work surfaces in perfect condition. When necessary, surfaces can easily be cleaned with a damp, non-abrasive cloth and a mild soap or detergent, before immediately buffing dry with a different clean, non-abrasive cloth.

Do not use abrasive cleaning fluids, furniture polish or scouring pads to clean stubborn marks as these may affect the colour and finish of the melamine surface. In extreme circumstances a mild alcohol product can be used, however this must be followed by a cleaning cloth soaked in water to ensure no alcohol residue is present afterwards.

Real wood surfaces
Wood is a naturally occurring product and part of its unique characteristic and beauty is that no two pieces can be the same. The depth and shade of colours and grain pattern vary from item to item. Protect real wood products from prolonged exposure to sunlight, and as with all furniture, never place directly up against radiators or heaters.

Day to day care of real wood surfaces can be achieved from gently dusting the furniture and polish with a soft, lint free buffing cloth to maintain its appearance. In extreme cases, surfaces can easily be cleaned with a damp cloth and a mild soap or detergent, but must be followed by a thorough drying of the unit, again with a lint free buffing cloth. We would always recommend using coasters to avoid tea and coffee stains as these can be difficult to remove later.

Steel storage
Dams steel storage products are protected with powder coated paint which helps protect the steel from damage, and although very durable, every effort should be made to protect this layer.

Regular dusting should keep the powder coating free from dirt and help stop scratching. However, liquids can discolour and stain the paint if left untreated. We recommend regular cleaning with a damp, non-abrasive cloth and warm soapy water, and then ensure the metalwork is dry afterwards by buffing with a dry, non-abrasive cloth.

SEATING CARE & MAINTENANCE

Leather products
Leather managers and visitors chairs come top of the list as they require careful maintenance. It is perfectly normal for certain areas of leather to show signs of creasing and stretching, however leather chairs should not be exposed to direct sunlight or placed against a heating source as this will accelerate the natural ongoing discolouration process.

Dust should be removed by vacuuming and wiping with a slightly damp cloth, using a solution of warm water and mild soap. Don’t use an abrasive cloth or an alcohol-based cleaning product. You must only clean with products which are specifically designed for cleaning leather surfaces.

Fabric products
In 2016, Dams upholstery department produced over 66,000 upholstered seating and screen products with an extensive choice of fabric styles and colours available for a fully co-ordinated look in any office environment.

However upholstered furniture can get dusty and dirty and should be viewed in a similar way to clothing, i.e. it needs regular cleaning. If snags appear, carefully cut off the loose ends with scissors or tuck them back in, and never pull them under any circumstances.

Upholstery can be lightly vacuumed or gently brushed to remove dirt and dust, but do not use detergents. If you spill something on the upholstery, act quickly and mop up the excess liquid with a clean white cloth. With stubborn stains, use a specialist fabric cleaning product (in accordance with the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions) before soiling becomes ingrained.

HINTS &TIPS
Employees should practice a clean desk policy in the office. A clean desk is important as it avoids accumulation of dust, and the use of a desk pad and a mouse mat will prevent scratches and abrasions on the surface of an office desk. Employees should also avoid eating on their desks as food stains can be difficult to remove.
Providing employees with wooden or steel storage units such as filing cabinets, bookcases or cupboards will make the workplace look clean if there is no clutter, however avoid over loading cupboard shelves with heavy items.

When moving furniture, always lift the unit as opposed to dragging or pushing. Dragging the furniture will cause legs to separate from the tops of desks and can cause bookcases and cupboards to become unstable. Always seek assistance when moving furniture as it can be extremely heavy.

Finally, employees must report a defect. If employees hear any strange sounds coming from the chair while sitting, or any loose screws or a movement in the joints of desks then this should be reported to the maintenance team for fixing. Defects must be reported for safety as not only does this help prolong the furniture life, it also prevents accidents from happening.

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Advantages of an open plan office layout

February 2017

Some 20 years ago, it was the norm for businesses to separate their offices into different departments, with smaller office spaces and dedicated working areas separated by long corridors. Fast forward two decades and this has changed completely. Gone are the days of old fashioned offices with endless corridors and cramped work spaces. In 2017 more and more companies are tearing down the partition walls and are opting for bright open plan spaces.

It is widely reported that some 70% of all offices now have an open floor plan, as companies begin to understand the benefits in terms of the collaborative and creative nature of the space, and its ability to boost productivity and staff harmony.

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connex

Some 20 years ago, it was the norm for businesses to separate their offices into different departments, with smaller office spaces and dedicated working areas separated by long corridors. Fast forward two decades and this has changed completely. Gone are the days of old fashioned offices with endless corridors and cramped work spaces. In 2017 more and more companies are tearing down the partition walls and are opting for bright open plan spaces.
It is widely reported that some 70% of all offices now have an open floor plan, as companies begin to understand the benefits in terms of the collaborative and creative nature of the space, and its ability to boost productivity and staff harmony.

A lack of walls, doors or other physical barriers in open plan office spaces makes it easier for employees to interact with each other on a regular basis, promoting the flow of communication among employees. Friendships amongst colleagues will also be strengthened, which will make them more inclined to work effectively together.

Open plan allows businesses to create a collaborative working environment where new ideas can be generated and shared. Having an open space also makes it easier for both employees and management. Proximity of other staff members allows for minor issues or queries to be dealt with efficiently, without the need for a formal meeting. There is no need for people to search around individual offices in the hopes of trying to track anybody down and things are easier for managers as everyone is in a centralised area.

Overall, open plan is a highly flexible solution that caters to the ever-changing working environment. However, just as businesses are changing to accommodate new working practices, the world of office desks is changing faster than ever before.

Whereas elaborate executive desks and sizeable corner desks were once needed to accommodate a large monitor, a chunky desktop computer, possibly a printer and to store folders, paperwork, stationery, and the rest – things have now changed significantly.

Today people are working with laptops, flat screen monitors, MacBooks or tablets, with wireless technology and digital working. The general shift towards a paper-less office has also led to a reduction in the amount of paper used by offices and the amount of storage needed by employees. Improved accessibility also allows different departments to share resources such as printers, copiers, communal office supplies and more.

Bench desks suit the modern working environment
Increasingly, businesses are moving away from dedicated single employee workspaces, towards more flexible working environments, and bench desk solutions are the ideal solution for high density open plan work places.

Using bench desks enables businesses to accommodate more office workers in the same amount of space. Enabling people to work side by side and facing each other with bench desks it is possible to fit an extra 30-35% extra employees in the same space compared to using ergonomic or wave desks. And by fitting more people in their existing offices, businesses don’t have to invest in additional space when they grow and take on new employees.

Connex modular bench desk solution
As bench solutions are becoming more popular and mainstream in open plan offices, Dams have developed the Connex bench desking range, which is the ideal modular system for high density, open plan work spaces.

Connex bench desking is based on one principle – simplicity. The design of bench desks means that they are modular, so businesses can easily expand working space to accommodate expansion and new employees. With its clean lines and elegant form, Connex offers a choice of classic tried and tested configurations from a single desk to hundreds of workstations in a wide variety of sizes to fit any office space.

Connex offers a clean and minimal look to the workplace. The legs are shared between bench clusters, which not only look aesthetically pleasing, but save space and effectively reduce the overall cost. The simple design of bench desking also allows for other shared components such as screens and cable trays, reducing the quantity of all items required and resulting in significant cost savings.

With the option of adding colourful divider screens to personalise work areas, bench desks can refresh and liven up even the more traditional workspaces. And although they have an open appearance, bench desks don’t need to mean a mass of cables or wires on show. Bench desks in general incorporate very effective shared cable management, ensuring a clean look to the office and making it much easier to clean and vacuum under desks.

With Connex, horizontal and vertical cable management allows cables to rise up from the floor via single leg and mass cable risers, which improves office aesthetics and safety. Each desktop has two cable access ports in the 25mm tops allowing wires to pass directly through to the cable tray and risers to ensure complete cable control.

Assembly per cluster is quick and easy through its highly engineered parts which further increase the system’s functionality and flexibility. Bench desks are designed so that devices can be moved on and off in a few seconds. This makes hot desking where employees can simply plug in their laptops and start work, or changing seating rearrangements in the office comparatively simple and hassle free.

In conclusion, mention open plan to office workers and usually you will get a few grumblings in return, typically about general noise or distractions around the office. However there is no doubt open plan offices are here to stay, so the question should be how do we make them more productive for employees and businesses?

Bench desking isn’t just about saving businesses money, it keeps the environment of the office consistent allowing managers and colleagues to sit together which leads to improved communication and employees performing better. Connex bench desking from Dams is robust enough to cope with the rigours of a busy office and is the ideal modular system for high density office spaces.

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Why Buy British?

January 2017

The world is becoming a smaller place. Have a close look at many of the products in any retail or wholesale environment and the chances are that you’ll find many of them with a ‘made in China’ stamp on the bottom. Products from all over the planet are readily available in our retail outlets.

We are also inundated with Brexit news and rhetoric at the moment which isn’t going to go away anytime soon. The UK’s vote to leave the EU was a shock across the continent and beyond, however the UK economy has shown more resilience than expected since the EU referendum in June. There is no wholesale panic (which many predicted) however the downside of the weaker currency is becoming increasingly evident.

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The weak pound and consequent increase in the price of imported goods has led to one of the steepest rises in purchasing costs in recent history. So during this time of national and international business insecurity, does it make sense to buy British?

Offshoring has been one of the most prominent trends in British manufacturing for years, with UK companies looking to the Far East or Eastern Europe for reduced production costs. But things are changing. Invariably, companies that import goods have found that it’s harder to control product quality when they are manufactured remotely, even with a trusted supply base overseas.

A manufacturing operation thousands of miles away is also much less flexible than a factory in the UK where changes in production schedules can adapt in response to seasonal variations, market trends and spikes in demand.

Manufacturing overseas also requires longer product development lead times, in addition to lead times on stock deliveries. These factors, coupled with the destabilisation of exchange rates due to Brexit and increase in prices for imported products, demonstrates that there is not just strong demand among UK customers for British-made products, but also an excellent business case for manufacturing in Britain.

All these considerations for the manufacturer translate into tangible benefits of buying British for both the office furniture trade and end users. Selecting a product that has been manufactured in the UK is about much more than warm, fuzzy feelings of patriotism. It’s about confidence of quality, speed of delivery, continuity of supply and accountability from a manufacturer that is managing the various elements of the supply process on the ground.

As a manufacturer who manages their own production plant in the UK, Dams can adapt production levels to reflect sales trends, ensuring that all standard items are consistently available from stock. That’s why Dams have invested significantly in expanding their upholstery plant and recycling facilities over the past year. The more processes Dams can bring in house, the more the company can control overheads as well as the quality.

Over 80% of products in the Dams 2017 furniture guide are manufactured within the UK using the latest manufacturing technology, ensuring the highest level of quality. The most stringent environmental and health and safety standards are also in place, which will provide significant peace of mind for those customers who are ethically and morally aware.

Years and decades of tradition and know-how go into the production of furniture in this great nation of ours. Manufacturing in the UK also means that we are protecting and developing the skills needed for the office furniture industry of the future, ensuring that we create a legacy of quality British-made products that are built to last and fully traceable.

After sales service is also more reliable and more efficient when dealing with a British manufacturer, who put their reputation on the line to not only provide the best furniture but also the best service to their customers.

There is no doubt that the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote and the weak pound has contributed to British made products now being more competitively priced compared to imported goods. The bottom line is however, choosing products that have been made in the UK simply makes more commercial and financial sense now than at any time in recent history. And when it comes to furniture, British is best!

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Create a Healthier Work Environment

December 2016

The days when the only choices a customer needed to make when selecting a desk were which colour and whether to opt for straight or curved are long gone.

These days, desk choice is not only about aesthetics, it’s also about working practices, productivity and wellbeing, which is why Dams are constantly innovating to develop new desking solutions that suit all requirements.

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Dams launched a range of sit-stand height adjustable desks in January 2016 and the Elev8 desks have proven to be extremely popular, allowing the individual user to electronically adjust the desk height from a sitting to a standing position with the touch of a button. Dams are now launching a new wave desktop version of its best-selling Elev8 sit-stand desks for users who want a little more desk space and who want to add a bit of style to their workspace.

Incorporating height adjustment technology used in the healthcare sector, the desks have been designed with a three part leg assembly to enable the end user to set their desk at any height within a range of 635mm to 1285mm, or change the height to suit the task at any time. The electronic Linak motor is supplied with a five year warranty and provides reliably smooth height transition powered by a standard three pin plug.

So, why are height adjustable desks so popular now?

Firstly, they address and anticipate changing working practices.  Increasingly, companies are designing collaborative spaces into their office environments and a sit-stand desk layout enables a permanent or temporary collaborative space where colleagues can meet informally without having to move chairs or retreat to the more formal setting of a meeting room.

Secondly and most important, there is also a wellbeing element to the practice of standing meetings or even working while standing. Sitting in an office chair behind a desk for prolonged periods of time can definitely cause lower back pain or worsen an existing back problem. The main reason behind this is that sitting, in an office chair or in general, is a static posture that increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms, and legs, and in particular, can add large amounts of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs.

Prolonged periods of sitting have also been linked to increased risk of morbidity and life threatening conditions, including type two diabetes and cancer. Now a study co-commissioned by Public Health England has advised that office workers should spend a minimum of two hours on their feet at work – building up to an ideal four hours – in order to avoid the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

The report specifically advises the use of sit-stand desks to help employers encourage their employees to spend less time sitting at their desks and more time standing while they work.

And the health benefits don’t end there. Even when an employee is sitting at their sit-stand desk, the easy adjustability of the Elev8 range can help them to improve their posture by enabling them to position their desk at the optimum height for their needs.  That not only means an end to sitting hunched over a keyboard but also enables greater flexibility for offices that operate a hot desking policy.

Explains Managing Director, Chris Scott: “Research suggests that a sedentary desk job can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing over time and office workers should be encouraged to spend more time standing during the working day.

“The Elev8 range provides the ideal solution to address this issue and creates an environment where colleagues can collaborate at standing meetings before adjusting their desk back to a seated height to continue with their routine tasks.

Having the option to stand, as well as sit during the work day has been proven not only to benefit the health of the user by helping to burn calories, improving posture and promoting mental well-being, but also benefits the business.

Put simply, a healthier workforce is a happier, more motivated and more productive workforce; not to mention the reduced risk of sickness days due to back problems and other symptoms of sedentary work habits. Studies also show that height adjustable desks promote creativity, team interaction, collaboration, and the willingness to share ideas.

So, when it comes to sit-stand desk ranges like the Elev8 range from Dams, a desk is much more than a place to work; it’s a working culture that benefits both the employee and the company.

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Making Seating Choices Stand Out

October 2016

The average office worker spends more than 75,000 minutes in a seated position every year, or the equivalent of 65% to 75% of their working hours sitting down, half of which is in prolonged periods of sustained sitting. A recent study also suggested that prolonged sitting for more than seven hours a day contributes to negative health consequences. However, sitting at a desk is an essential part of the office working day, so selecting the right office chair is a very important decision.

Recently, articles with sensational headlines such as “Office workers must exercise for an hour a day to counter death risk” and “Office workers spend five years of their lives sitting at a desk - no wonder a third are overweight” have appeared in the UK media, warning of the dangers of sitting at a desk for hours on end every day.
And although these articles were only intended to raise awareness of the negative health implications due to prolonged seating, they fail to take into account the impact that a good ergonomic office chair can have on the comfort, productivity and long term well-being of each and every office-based employee.

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People need to be mindful of the amount of time they do sit down, but sitting does have its advantages. Sitting allows people to rest, transfer weight off their feet and reduce the pressure on the circulation system of the lower legs. One disadvantage to sitting in an office chair for long periods is that most people have a natural tendency to slouch over the desk or slouch down in the chair, which can contribute to or worsen back pain.

When people sit to work, they need to be well-supported in postures that promote health and productivity and that counter slouching. A decent office chair can be adjusted to the proportions of the individual's body to improve comfort and reduce aggravation to the spine. Reclining and changing postures while sitting can also reduce pressures on the body and improve circulation.

As with most things in life, moderation is important. No matter how comfortable people are sat in an office chair, there is no doubt that prolonged static posture is not good for the back and can lead to health issues, so the importance of being active and moving around  throughout the working day cannot be underestimated. But for when people need to sit, the ergonomic office chair still has a critical part to play in the workplace.

Over the last year Dams have conducted an extensive review of their seating range with the aim to deliver a more innovative, diverse and high-quality selection of products that offer the ultimate in functionality, comfort and durability.

Explains Managing Director, Chris Scott: “At Dams, we believe that everybody deserves a good office chair which has the movement and positioning capabilities to enable people to sit comfortably, whilst at the same time encouraging productivity by seamlessly supporting the body during work activities. That means combining the right ergonomic design, advanced functionality and chair fabric for optimum style, flexibility and comfort.

“We’ve made a significant investment in our product portfolio and now offer one of the largest seating ranges in the UK, with the launch of an additional 55 new products to complement our existing best-selling products.”

Dams has also invested significantly in expanding its existing manufacturing and upholstery facilities with new equipment and additional skilled personnel. This ensures Dams can offer customers an even faster turnaround across the seating range and tailor seating choices to customer’s individual specifications with an extensive choice of fabric styles and colours for a fully co-ordinated look that can unite a workplace.

“Modern solutions such as sit/stand desking and soft seating in breakout areas are becoming increasing popular in the workplace” Chris adds “However an ergonomic office chair is a tool that, when used properly, can help employee’s maximise back support and maintain good posture while sitting, in addition to offering all the good looks and aesthetic choices that you would expect from a market leader in office furniture.”

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At your service

August 2016

Whether you’re ordering dinner, getting a haircut or buying a new car, service matters.  If it’s bad, no matter how good the product may be your customer service is ruined and you’re unlikely to return.  If it’s good, you’ll want to go back for more of the same.

That simple ‘good service = repeat business’ equation is just as true for commercial transactions as it is on the high street. For dealers, who depend on their suppliers’ service in order to fulfil their own service commitment to customers, it is absolutely critical.

The challenge for businesses, however, is keeping up with increasingly high expectations of what good service entails. Improvements in technology have meant faster order processing, and customer experiences of online retail mean they expect the same standards of fast and efficient delivery for commercial transactions, along with a range of delivery options so that they can select the one that suits them best.

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And why shouldn’t they? If the retail sector can offer speed, efficiency and flexibility on delivery, the wholesale and trade sectors ought to be able to offer it too. That’s certainly the philosophy that Dams has be working to when developing our new ‘Premium’ range of delivery options. Keen to find ways to help dealers add value to their own customer relationships, we’ve developed a number of delivery options, designed to enable customers to receive the furniture they need when and where they need it.

Amongst these is our groundbreaking 48-hour delivery and installation service, enabling dealers to offer their customers a fully-installed office furniture solution within 48 hours of placing their order, or delivery and installation at a specified date that suits them.

This service is a game changer for the office furniture sector, slashing industry standard lead times from the standard 7-14 days and providing a fully accountable and traceable fulfilment service, with orders delivered and installed by our expert two-man teams.

Other delivery options offered within the Premium portfolio are next day or ‘day of choice’ delivery on all 3,500 products within the Dams range. Dealers can calculate delivery costs for their preferred option quickly and easily by using the specially designed calculator on our website and this can also be used on our mobile site for instant calculations when dealers are out and about using any mobile phone or portable device.

Where it’s more convenient or cost effective for dealers to collect the product instead, they can now do this free of charge from collection centres in Glasgow, Northampton and Watford, as well as from our central warehouse at our headquarters on Merseyside. There’s no minimum order value for this service and dealers can collect their orders from 8am the day after placing the order. It’s an option that we expect to be increasingly popular and we’re planning to expand our network of collection points over the coming months to address that demand.

All of these new additions to our delivery services have been designed to meet the needs of dealers and end users and build on our existing focus on customer service, flexibility and choice. Furthermore, if dealers want to upgrade to the premium service, as well as the lead time improving, they will also get our enhanced communication both to themselves and to the end-user, including order status updates by text or email and a unique tracking reference.

High quality products are vital, and customers will only return with repeat business or refer you to their peers if the product is right. A good customer experience depends on great service, however, so selecting supply chain partners that will offer the choice and reliability you need is also an important part of growing your business.

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Social Spaces in a Changing Workplace

July 2016

Experts often predict the future of the workplace, with many speculating on the changes that will be prompted by advancing technology and some even predicting an end to office environments all together.

In reality, however, while home working and flexible working may now be more popular - and more possible - than ever before, they are solutions that only suit some employers and some employees, some of the time.  Face to face communication and effective collaboration are pivotal to the success of most businesses and, for that, people need to come together in an office environment. The question is, what will that environment look like in years to come?

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It’s also worth remembering that, both as colleagues and as human beings, we are social creatures. Most of the reason for being in the office five days a week may be to get a job done and pay the mortgage but at least some of the reason that more than 10 million people in the UK work in an office is that the environment provides social interaction on a daily basis. And that social interaction is just as valuable to employers as it is to employees, lifting the mood and productivity of personnel, as well as giving them an opportunity to problem solve together, discuss tasks and develop as a team.

So rather than considering whether we need offices, most of the smart research and investment in office environments is being ploughed into enhancing that social interaction in the workplace; building on collaborative work spaces to make the whole environment more engaging and communal. There’s also an emphasis on making it more fun, working on the philosophy that an employee that likes their work environment and enjoys being there will be more productive.

While not every company is ready for slides and swings in the office or dedicated games zones, designing a workplace with social spaces that employees can use as informal work areas, meeting places, chill out areas and break out zones is fundamental to creating a forward-focused and people friendly office.

It’s for all those reasons that Dams has now launched a Social Spaces range, specifically designed to bring a more varied approach to social areas and informal workspaces within the contemporary office.  Combining upholstered seating with bistro style tables, chairs and benches, the range has everything a modern office needs to create collaborative work spaces, break out areas and dining facilities.

Explains managing director, Chris Scott: “Not all companies have formal canteens but all companies need to get people away from their desks, so bistro style furniture provides the ideal solution for both informal dining areas within an open plan office and dedicated cafeteria style facilities.

“Meanwhile, upholstered seating helps to create relaxed working environments where people can go for some time away from their desk, meet and collaborate or bring their laptop with them to work away from the distractions of phones and colleagues. The modular solutions and fabrics available from Dams mean we can offer a huge choice of colours and styles that can be used to bring the corporate palette into the office interior, create a cohesive look or even zone different areas.”

Dams has invested significantly in expanding its in-house upholstery plant as part of the Social Spaces launch, with extended premises, new equipment and additional skilled staff.  All upholstered items are made to order and, thanks to Dams’ in-house manufacturing and fulfilment, every item can be tracked from order through to delivery for complete traceability and peace of mind.

The company can even offer a project management service using its in-house CAD design team to help customers space plan their office and manage the whole process from specification through to delivery and installation on site.

“The office isn’t going anywhere, but it is changing,” Chris adds.  “As always at Dams, we’re changing too by adding to our core range with Social Spaces furniture that reflects the way companies work today.”

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Why Dams is at Home with Student Living

June 2016

According to a survey by the Guardian, almost half of English Universities plan to increase their student intake by 2020, with some setting ambitious targets of up to 50% more students.

New rules introduced last year to lift limits on the number of UK and EU students that universities are allowed to accept has prompted many to invest in plans for growth. That investment brings with it a need to provide sufficient purpose-built accommodation to offer students a comfortable and secure place to live, which also means a need to specify durable, value for money furniture that will offer the high living standards for contemporary students.

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The growth in student accommodation projects, both as part of universities own estates and as private developments, has prompted Dams to launch a range of products and services specifically tailored to meet this dynamic market.

It’s a sector specific portfolio that builds on Dams resources as a UK manufacturer of both solid and upholstered furniture along with our track record of value for money products that meet market demand for both style and durability. As a result, while student accommodation is a relatively new departure for Dams, it delivers all the excellent quality and reliable service that dealers trust Dams to provide.

The launch of our student accommodation furniture solution is detailed in our new student accommodation brochure. It follows considerable investment in new product design and development, tailored to the specific requirements of the student accommodation sector. These are not products from our core range that we think could fit into a student accommodation setting, far from it. These are new, bespoke items that draw on our experience of the finishes that will last in a demanding commercial environment and translate that expertise into a student living context.

The portfolio includes furniture for student study bedrooms, including desks, chairs, beds, upholstered furniture and storage, along with solutions for bedroom studios, kitchens, kitchen/lounges and communal areas.

Explains Managing Director of Dams, Chris Scott: “At Dams we understand the challenges of a student accommodation project. Our approach has been to create a one-stop shop for dealers and specifiers on student accommodation furniture, offering a professional service with product design, manufacturing, delivery and installation designed to work within development budgets.

“Our student accommodation services are also designed to support specification requirements and business critical construction deadlines. Our UK manufacturing base and in-house upholstery capabilities mean that we manufacture project-specific requirements to order, with the client’s choice of fabrics, and that we can hold it in stock until the required delivery date.”

Dams’ in-house expertise even means that we can work with dealers or their clients to design the furniture scheme for a student accommodation project, with room by room 3D images of furnished layouts to demonstrate different options.  Dams can offer the complete project management service, including just-in-time delivery and installation on site, with full accountability for every step of the ordering, manufacturing and delivery process thanks to the traceability of every item through our factory and warehouse.

Just as modern university courses are much more aligned to working environments, student living developments are now much closer to residential apartments than they have ever been in the past. The furniture they require reflects that shift and Dams has created a specialist range of products and services specifically developed to address the sector’s needs.

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The ABC of Education Sector Sales

May 2016

The UK education sector is changing at an unprecedented rate. A crisis in primary school provision has been driving school extension programmes and, with the population boom now reaching high school age, a similar boost in secondary school places is needed, with many local authorities predicting a rise in ‘super schools’ of more than 3000 students.

The drive to convert schools to academies has also become a game changer in the way that young people learn, alongside the significant changes in GCSE and ‘A’ level syllabuses that are already underway.  As a result, the way students learn at secondary and tertiary level is evolving. Schools and colleges are developing closer links with business, increasing their focus on the use of technology and pioneering more vocational approaches to teaching, all of which is affecting the furniture they need.

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Meanwhile, the university sector is seeing massive levels of investment as institutions compete for fee-paying UK students and the lucrative overseas market by enhancing their campuses and facilities, along with their courses.

So what does all this mean for dealers?  It can be summarised in one word: opportunity.

The education sector needs to cater for more pupils and students in a varied array of education environments that support different approaches to learning. As a result, the need for quality solutions tailored to meet the needs of education environments is growing, as is the potential to capture a piece of that market.

It’s an opportunity that Dams has already integrated into our product development programme. Our new Ergos and Lotus seating ranges have been specifically designed for schools and colleges and we are launching new ranges of break out and student accommodation furniture in June which have been designed specifically for academy, UTC (University Technical College) and university environments.

Timing is everything, so not only have we developed the range of products needed to supply increased demand in the education sector, we have also aligned our manufacturing schedules and stockholding to accommodate spikes in demand in June and July as schools and colleges procure new furniture for installation during the summer recess. What that means for dealers is complete confidence in efficient supply of high quality, fit for purpose education sector products.

We’re also committed to helping customers maximise the opportunity by supporting dealers with customisable materials that you can tailor with your own logo and net prices to support sales into the education sector. Easy to access through the online marketing portal on our website, www.dams.com, new materials will be uploaded weekly every Monday throughout May and June, the biggest sales period for the education sector.

We’ve designed our suite of education sector marketing support to offer maximum impact and flexibility. There will be a new four-page mailer and an A4 product flyer available for personalisation every Monday during the campaign period, making selling into the education sector easier than ever before.

As managing director of Dams, Chris Scott puts it: “Successful sales is all about selling the right product to the right people at the right time.  When it comes to the education sector, that time is now and Dams has a range of products tailored to the end user’s needs, supported by marketing collateral that communicates a compelling reason to buy.”

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Buy Cheap, Buy Twice

April 2016

Whether you’re ordering dinner, getting a haircut or buying a new car, service matters.  If it’s bad, no matter how good the product may be your customer service is ruined and you’re unlikely to return.  If it’s good, you’ll want to go back for more of the same.

That’s certainly the case when it comes to desking, an item of office furniture that comes in for plenty of wear and tear and will often be the workstation of multiple users over the course of its lifetime.

And yet, customers will often opt for the cheaper alternative to a proven UK brand simply to save a few pounds on the unit price.  With no accountable quality management system in place and poor traceability in terms of design, materials and manufacture, that decision to save some money could come at a high price.

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The reality is that most end users are looking for value rather than cheap goods and part of the dealer’s role is to highlight where the value lies in the product they are selling.  Take the Dams Maestro 25 desking range, for example; it may be an entry level desking solution but it has a robust 25mm thick desk surface and is available in a range of colours and design options with full FIRA testing and a standalone catalogue.

Maestro 25 is just one example of a Dams product range that has added value built into a competitive price. So, where does that value lie?

Firstly, let’s consider the materials.  Is the wood used from sustainable sources and can this be traced and verified across the supply chain? For many corporate customers, particularly those that measure their embedded carbon and report on CSR (corporate and social responsibility) matters, purchasing goods made from materials that have been sourced responsibly is important.

Next, there is the question of supply chain considerations. If the desking is being manufactured overseas, what are the lead times? Will it be available from stock? Will co-ordinating items be available and, if the customer decides to buy more items to match in the future will they be a true match or will there be variations in colour and quality due to lack of traceability.?

Conversely, by buying from a UK manufacturer like Dams, the customer can be confident of excellent product availability.  Our operations have been designed to adapt to spikes in demand and around a third of our portfolio is available for next day or day of choice, ‘Blue Box’ delivery.

And of course, every item is traceable - from raw materials through to dispatch from the warehouse - with consistent processing to ensure accurate product matching for future orders and consistent wood finishes used across complementary ranges to aid specification of a co-ordinated office.

Our UK manufacturing capabilities also mean that quality management is consistent and accountable throughout the product design, manufacture and delivery process. Our work flows have been designed to include quality checks throughout production, ensuring consistently high standards.

Those standards are now independently verified by FIRA (Furniture Industry Research Association), with strict UKAS-accredited testing carried out across the Dams product range to provide additional peace of mind for customers that their furniture will not only offer a robust solution following purchase, but will also stand the test of time.

Finally, Dams delivers across the UK and offers both the dealer and the end user complete flexibility. Urgent orders can be collected from the Dams warehouse on the day of order and ‘Blue Box’ items include delivery within the price with next day or preferred day options. Any item can be delivered to a choice of either the dealer’s address or the end user’s preferred location, with options including assembly at site and installation or even space planning and project management for larger orders.

Replacing office furniture is a costly and inconvenient process; end users do not want to do it often, especially if they have to invest in new items because they sacrificed quality or traceability for cost first time around.

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Everybody deserves a good office chair

March 2016

The biggest problem that dealers encounter when selling chairs is that many end users view them as a commodity item. This is particularly true of task seating; while end users view boardroom and directors’ chairs as a prestige item worthy of some significant investment, task seating is often seen as a generic piece of equipment, in the same way that a paper clip or a stapler might be.

The challenge for the dealer, therefore, is to convince the customer of two things:

  1. Not all chairs are the same
  2. Investing in better chair design is of benefit to their employees and their business
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Not all chairs are the same
In the Dams range there are over 200 chairs, 60 of which fall under the task seating category and 30 of these are designated ergonomic seating.  For the end user that can be a mind-boggling array of options…and that’s before we get into any discussion of fabric choices and colours!

The first task for the dealer, therefore is to talk to the end user about their basic needs. For example, how many hours a day does each worker spend seated at their desk? Does each worker have their own chair or does the office have a hot-desking arrangement that necessitates chairs to be adjusted and set to different requirements? And what’s the worker profile…is there a history of sick leave taken due to back ache, RSI or posture related aches and pains?

Armed with this information, the dealer is in a much better position to narrow down his recommendations of the most appropriate seating choices for the customer and to extol the benefits of key features such as flexible back supports, adjustable seating heights and ergonomic design.

For example, the Jota Ergo fabric task chair from Dams is a sturdy high back chair available with and without arms. Arms can be fixed, height adjustable and also fold back giving the option of both in one arm.  In addition to gas lift adjustment, it offers weight tension control and lumbar support via an inflatable lumbar pump built into the upholstered back. The seat and back position can be moved and set independently to each other. The seat depth can be altered as to can the back height. These wide-ranging personalisation options ensure that it can provide the end user with a one-size fits all solution to his task seating needs and futureproofs his investment because chairs can adjust to meet the changing needs of his workforce.

If office aesthetics is the end user’s main priority, they may prefer something like the Pocco mesh task chair from Dams which is available with a fabric seat and mesh back. For a bespoke solution, Dams also offers a number of ranges, including ergonomic seating, that can be custom-made with the customer’s individual choice of fabric from Camira’s extensive range.

Seating Benefits
For any office worker that spends a significant part of their day at their desk, comfort is essential. For the dealer, it’s important to convey to the buyer that employee comfort is directly linked to motivation and productivity. As a result, an investment in good chairs is an investment in the company’s future.

Back pain is the leading cause of long-term sickness in the UK and is responsible for around 15 million lost work days each year. Those are sobering facts for any employer and a compelling reason to invest in seating that offers proven lumber support and adjustable features to enable individual workers to alter the chair’s settings to meet their own needs.

For even more robust support, end users might want to choose a chair that has been designed to offer increased ergonomic posture and lumbar benefits, such as the Jota Ergo or Senza Ergo from Dams’ ergonomic range.

It’s important to remember too, that aesthetics play a major role in chair choice and this should also form a significant part of a benefits-led approach to selling. Chair colour can be used to demarcate different areas of the office, co-ordinate with the interior design style or reflect corporate branding, so remember to leverage the wide range of options available to highlight this key benefit of selecting the right chairs.

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Why Bigger Choice is Better for Business

February 2016

Every office environment is different. Selection of office furniture not only has to take into account the available floorspace and layout, including considerations such as access, lighting, power and ingress/egress; it must also factor in the business function, culture and corporate style of the occupier, not to mention the influence of budgets.

With so many factors involved, it’s not surprising that end users are looking for suppliers that can offer them increased choice, enabling them to specify their office to suit their requirements. And genuine choice not only means having a variety of products, including desking, seating, storage and screens available but also demands a variety of ranges and multiple options for finishes, upholstery and configuration to deliver a truly tailored approach.

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And then, of course, there is the question of whether the end user already knows what he wants…or if he will just know it when he sees it!  By providing a greater choice from a single source supplier, it’s much easier to answer unknown requirements, meet the brief within budget or upsell to a more premium offering.

The problem for some suppliers is that import costs, exchange rates and overseas production lead times can make it difficult to manage a broad portfolio of office furniture products.  As a result, some are reducing the number of SKU (stock keeping units) on their product list in an effort to concentrate on the most popular and profitable lines so that service and prices don’t suffer as a result of supply issues.

The question is, does reducing the number of office furniture products available really improve service levels or does it simply limit choice?

Dams firmly believes that maximising choice and quality is an essential part of delivering excellent service.  That’s why the company has invested significantly in enhancing its manufacturing facilities, increasing its stock holding capacity and improving its data management capabilities to ensure it can now list 3500 SKUs.

By manufacturing at its headquarters on Merseyside, Dams can manage production schedules in real time, responding quickly to spikes in demand to ensure that the most popular items are always available from stock.  Indeed, around half of the company’s catalogue is always available for next day, blue box delivery.

By investing in its own upholstery workshop, Dams can also offer fast lead times on custom orders of upholstered items with the customer’s choice of fabric.  And in-house manufacturing ensures that each item is quality-assured and completely traceable, providing the end user with total peace of mind.

The company is also uniquely placed in the office furniture sector by combining its manufacturing capabilities with an established reputation as a wholesaler, increasing the level of choice from a single source supplier still further.

Explains managing director, Chris Scott: “While many office supplies companies cover an extremely broad product range, for most of these generalists office furniture is a relatively small part of what they do.

“Dams has always been an office furniture specialist and our focus is on providing the level of choice and quality that the market wants at an attractive price point, enabling our customers to sell successfully and build in attractive margins.”

Investment in data-based IT systems over the past year has been critical to Dams’ ability to maintain excellent service levels as its product range has grown. A new warehouse management system has ensured that stock holding capacity is always fully utilised, increasing the available space by 25%.

The company’s focus on quality data feeds also means that ordering of Dams products can be fast and efficient. Data is available through Atomic, for use on Horizon, Vision and Progress systems, through Open Range for use on a wide range of systems including Oasis, Office Power, Heart and Red and through Prima for use on all Prima software systems. Dams data is also now integrated into FusionPLUS systems, including Evolution web stores and the new AMevo e-commerce platform launching mid-2016.

Chris adds: “For those with supply chain challenges, reducing the number of office products available is a short cut to reducing lead time issues. For us, a UK-based and adaptable business, enhancing choice goes hand in hand with providing better customer service and sales opportunity.”

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