The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association (BIFMA) International, Grand Rapids, MI, recently released the latest office furniture industry forecast prepared by the economic consulting organization, Global Insight. The forecast predicts an eight percent decline in shipments to $8.2 billion for 2003, as compared to $8.9 billion realized in 2002.
The anticipation of war with Iraq had a more significant than expected impact on industry shipments during the first quarter of 2003. First quarter shipments declined 12 percent as compared to the first quarter of 2002. Global Insight has expected a drop of only two percent.
Global Insight does not envision significant change in the level of order and shipment volumes during the second quarter of 2003, nor does it expect them to decline much further, assuming the macro economy proceeds according to expectations.
BIFMA now anticipates two more quarters of negative growth before shipments flatten out in the fourth quarter of 2003.
A fairly significant industry rebound is expected in 2004 once corporate investment recovers and should result in the first year of positive growth for the industry since 2000.
What Your Web Site Should Be Doing
Web sites can provide some real direct and indirect benefits for design and construction firms, helping them grow and boosting their bottom line. A new publication from ZweigWhite, AEC Web Site Cookbook, outlines seven ways in which every design or construction firm's Web site should be producing results.
* Generating new leads. Your Web site should be a portal for prospective clients to access your firm and can be a powerful tool to market your services. It should not replace other business development leads, but can be an effective, easy and cheap marketing tool.
* Enhancing your firm's reputation. A Web site can go a long way in branding your firm and enhancing your reputation as a market sector leader, a technical expert and a
* Improving relationships with clients. An increasing number of AEC firms are using their Web sites to improve client service by setting up project Web sites and public involvement Web sites for clients, providing Web design services to clients and obtaining client feedback on-line.
* Attracting teaming partners. Other design and construction firms use the Internet to look for teaming partners. Your Web site can attract teaming partners you may not be familiar with as well.
* Recruiting employees. Your Web site is a great resource to find talented employees, as it is one of the first places potential candidates will check out to learn more about your company. Thus, it's important for your site to be up-to-date and provide enough information to know what your firm does and what the workplace environment is like.
* Improving productivity. Web sites can be used to save time your employees currently spend on tasks. Since time is money, the AEC industry stands to profit from the time-saving benefit of Web sites.
* Reducing costs. A Web site can help cut down on the costs of printing and mailing hard copies of marketing pieces. Since printed marketing pieces can become obsolete quickly, the costs of producing revised marketing materials can add up quickly.
For further information, visit www.zweigwhite.com.