So when one website after another for display cabinets give no indication of what even their off the peg range comes in at cost wise - I have no idea if I'm wasting my time and theirs by making inquiries. And as folks working in museums know, our time is an ever diminishing resource as roles are consolidated, and suddenly you have more on your plate!
I have looked over a lot of display cabinet websites recently. We’re looking for something pretty basic, not conservation grade etc, so a lot of cabinets fit what we need. Great! From all of that choice, I have to narrow down a list for a proposal, and here’s where it gets sticky.
Proposals need Prices
Because so many websites have no prices at all listed, and there are so many to choose from for this type of very standard cabinet design, I have to make snap decisions on who to contact – otherwise I could spend all day firing emails out to discover that they’re too expensive, or that the cabinet price is fine but delivery is astronomical… That wastes my time, wastes their time, and can often end up with my email suspiciously suddenly attached to sales mailing lists (naughty) or salespeople emailing or phoning me two or three further times to desperately chase the sale.
Posh websites, confusingly, do not posh prices make...
It appears that only a handful of shop fitting websites (yes, we sometimes use cabinets from retail resources rather than museum specific) have prices front and centre, as they often stock pre-built designs from other manufacturers, and are not the only retailer to stock that cabinet.
A little help may get a lot more business
Browsers otherwise put off may then be surprised at how reasonable you are, and get in touch. Browsers uncertain about the costs, who would otherwise contact you, may realise that it's way out of their league, and not waste everyone's time with the cat and mouse game of sales rep and over taxed museum worker.
I appreciate that the aim is to attract a certain type of customer; the type who see a cabinet design and like it enough to be pulled in, have the chat, and pay what it’s worth: The exhibitions designer or procurement team who have the time, money and negotiating power to engage in discussion and debate. But it does make me wonder how many cabinet manufacturers with adaptable off the peg designs readily available are losing sales, because busy museum folk on highly restrictive budgets only have so much time for chasing basic guide prices.