If the Order is Important…
The orders you manufacture in China are important. As they should be.
You’ve got money, reputation, perhaps your job and a lot of blood and sweat on the line.
Since the orders are important, there are practical steps you would take to uphold this importance.
I’m going to say the same thing in a different way: instead of simply worrying and crossing your fingers hoping the vendor does everything right, then there are some basic steps you would implement to uphold your end of the bargain.
There would be corresponding action!
Notice I said “basic steps”. I’m not giving a micro sweep of all control points and all contingencies for every product, but there are some fundamental points to cover if the order is indeed important.
These are concepts and habits to implement as part of your normal routine.
When a supplier informs you something, give them a response and let them know what is going on. If you agree, disagree, if it’s under works, if further info is needed from the supplier’s side, whatever.
Suppliers get skittish and make decisions without your signoff. Don’t give them ammunition to use your unresponsiveness as validation for their poor, on-the-fly decisions. Does that make sense?
Be quick to answer, even when you don’t have an answer, let them know the situation is on your radar and you’ll be back to them asap.
“We are aware of these pending points and will be back in touch with answers soon. Please do not move forward until you receive our response.”.
If the factory is waiting for a PMS color confirmation, they are waiting for you to provide the address to send the samples, shipping marks are pending and you haven’t answered their last 2 emails where they informed you a certain process was not possible, they are still waiting on you to confirm the freight forwarder details… then disaster lurks around the corner.
You want to cut off loose threads as much as possible and as early as possible. You want to make sure the factory has all confirmations they need from you in a timely fashion. Too many open points may cause the factory to lose perspective and either completely miss something or make a choice for you (usually not the choice you would have made).
Basically what happens when there are all these open confirmations and points is that you’ve passed your own “order management” off to the factory. This is a bad way to handle your importing and I believe it leads to quality, timing and even price issues down the road.
Let your factory be the factory. Their #1 goal is to produce a quality product in a reasonable time frame.
I could write volumes on the vast difference between a buyer’s expectation for a successful order and their communication.
Sloppy emails, no indication of key points, emotional baggage that will cloud the factory’s thinking, lack of desire to understand production issues, not providing the factory details they need to produce properly and the list goes on and on.
What reasonable proof do you have that the vendor is able to produce what they confirmed to produce?
When you described quality expectations did you provide samples for quality reference? Have you provided the supplier any kind of list of expected production points?
When the factory said “yeah, yeah, yeah” did you make sure they provided proof that what was confirmed is now being done?
Has the factory provided you samples and you’ve signed off?
Has the factory given you a step by step scheduling showing they are going to achieve the agreed upon timing?
Is the factory clear on when they can expect balance payment? Too often when timing is urgent, there will be a standoff where the buyer wants the goods to leave the factory and the factory needs this important stuff called MONEY.
You cannot think the order is important without thinking it’s important to make sure payment terms are clear as crystal and there are no last minute understandings.
I’ve seen that when you care about the factory’s margin and payment, they seem to care a bit more about your quality. What a crazy concept!
Is Timing Important?
If your timing is top urgent, then put all these chess pieces into place. Have you at least virtually sat down with the factory (via email, skype) and looked at all production phases and the required timing to produce a quality product?
If you’re basing your timing on a few head nods from the factory, go back and think about that.
Most likely, the factory did not consider what the 3rd party vendor may do. They did not consider that production power may be cut this summer during the heat wave. They did not consider that US customs may flag the container for and inspection.
“Wow, Jacob, these questions and points to remember are all a pain in the butt. Isn’t it just the supplier’s job to make sure this all goes as per our initial agreement?”
Hopefully, no buyer would ever say or think that asinine question I hypothetically proposed above.
But all too often, buyers’ actions show that train of thought.