You must read this before working with a Factory!

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from businesses who are interested in working with factories is how do we determine a capable factory to manufacture our products? Many articles have weighed in on this question and in so doing fail to address the most important question! The question we really should be asking is, what does a capable factory look like for you?

The word capable in this context should be left open to interpretation. What one business defines as capable may not necessary be widely accepted by others. I tend to ask what to first time clients in order to gauge what they deem as important to understand, where their expectations. Some of the answers are listed below:

1. Great manufacturing abilities
2. Clean
3. Competitive
4. Busy
5. Have time to work with you
6. Excellent pricing
7. Honest
8. Transparent
9. Has great communication
10. Has great response
11. Provides great quality products
12. Completed production in a quick and timely manner.

While none of these are wrong, it would be farfetched to expect any one factory to say they are capable of executing all of these and doing so well at the same time!

Having helped businesses manufacture and export products for many years, the interactions I have had with good and reliable factories share similar features, below are some of my top picks which I hope will be of use to you in determine which supplier to work with.

1. Capable factories are specialists in making products.

A factory that’s a specialist in making great products, is one of the first things we look out for when working or collaborating with a factory and this is the reason why.

Factories that make great products, will show you samples of what they have done in the past. Let’s say for example you are making a gift box. Factories that make great gift boxes will have vast number of samples to show you. Factories that have samples from previously production will provide insight into what they can produce.

2. Capable factories communicate well

Factory understands frequent communication is a key trait they need to possess in order to build a strong relationship with international clients.

In China the word 关系 guanxi -relationship is a word that can be the difference between getting your products produced well or not being produced at all. Relationship means everything in China. A strong relationship is reinforced between a factory and a client when there is communication between both parties that is transparent, and consistent. This is why working with a good factory is important

When we talk about communication, we refer to good communication throughout the manufacturing process. Clients become frequently frustrated when a production begins, and the factory fails to provide regular communication or updates on the status of an order to the client.

Factories in their hope to grow and gain win more business may forget that, the only way a client can be rest assured production is going as planned is through continuous updates and communication. If you feel this is not being done, remind the factory about the importance of this and the expectations you expect from them.

3. Capable Suppliers take ownership and accountability

We’ve all heard of that one horror story when manufacturing goes wrong, and the client is left with 10,000s of products that can’t be sold!

The reality is complications in the manufacturing process tend to happen, which can be very frustrating. Adding to this frustration is when factories choose not to take ownership and accountability of rectifying the problem and this is where business need to ensure they choose their suppliers carefully!

Factories in business for the long term understand the long-term profit that would be lost should they choose not to fix the problem when a manufacturing defect has occurred.

Factories that are proactive in rectifying the problem, are very hard to come by. If you find yourself in the in contact with a factory who is proactive in rectifying the situation, Congratulations! You’ve hit the gold mine and should do everything you can do keep them.

4. Capable Suppliers are competitive and hungry for business.

Being complacent is one of the worst traits to have in business. When factories become less complacent, they are prone to make mistakes, seem less engaged in their dealings and ultimately lose momentum.

Contrary to this, companies that are competitive tend to be engaged, plan ahead and are open to exploring new opportunities. The latter tends to provide some great opportunities for you especially if you come in contact with a supplier who believes in your long-term goals, they may well take your business on board and help to achieve your goal.

Being hungry to do business is great, it shows commitment and attention. Businesses should be able to differentiate between red flags and capable factories, the qualities mentioned above.

5. Capable factories are Innovative and thought leaders.

Innovative and thought leading suppliers are a great fit for businesses requiring designs and development work, before production even begins.

Suppliers will be a great source in this process as they will provide industry know how, a proven track record to deliver and ideas on how this is to be executed during the manufacturing process. This form of thought leadership is value for money, especially if businesses lack an engineer on the team.

Having an innovative and thought leading company on your side will help you identify some of the issues you may encounter in the concept and designs phase.
Working with a great factory will give you a huge advantage in that they will be able to analyse your designs and concepts while bringing in industry knowledge to provide alternative solutions.

Whatever the case may be manufacturers will use their expertise to provide leadership during the production phase, especially is this is something you are inexperienced doing.

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