Let’s face it, dealing with manufacturers and suppliers in China can be a nightmare. You face language barriers, different time zones, and a uncertainty of what platform you should use to communicate. If you don’t setup processes early on in your business to deal with your manufacturers and suppliers, chances are your business won’t last too long. As a entrepreneur, you not only need to manage people but you also need to manage your product through it’s full life cycle.
Managing your product can mean everything from dealing with a engineer who is working on your computer aided designs to telling your manufacturer the adjustments you want made on your pre-production product sample. When your business is on the line, you need to use the following keys to deal with manufacturers and suppliers in China:
Setup a Go-To Means of Communication. When you first starting interacting with a potential manufacturer or supplier, it will be key to setup ways to communicate. I recommend having at least two methods and at least two points of contact at a company you are considering working with. As an example, we once had a customer who tried finding a manufacturer on their own and had their main sales rep quit. When the sales rep left, she took all the information they had sent her about their product. They then had to start from ground zero in the product development process because the sales rep that quit didn’t tell the manufacturer about the product they were working on.
Cross Check Everything. This should be a rule of thumb when dealing with manufacturers: If they send a contract, NDA, or payment information, be sure to check it with them twice, using two forms of communication. This means check it with them over email and then check again over Skype. We heard this story from a customer of ours before they started working with us: A manufacturer had sent payment information via Email. The client went to double check via Skype and found out that the bank account numbers were completely wrong. Turns out the manufacturer’s email had been hacked. That double check over a different communication platform saved this guy thousands.
Always Follow Up. If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re starting production, you need to be checking in at least once a week. Though it may sound annoying, checking in with a manufacturer makes your project top of mind. This enables you to try and make sure manufacturers stay on top of deadlines and update you if there are any issues. The worst scenario you can get yourself into is finding out of a problem three weeks after it happened because you weren’t in communication with your manufacturer and they didn’t have the stigma to tell you. Now that you know the keys to dealing with suppliers and manufacturers in China, it’s time to put them into practice. If you have a manufacturer, use these keys to make sure you’re dealing with them correctly.