After the quote the factory told you it will take 15 days for setup and sampling.

Just because the factory says 15 days, don’t mean its going to be 15 days.

Instead of placing all your hope and planning on what the factory says (especially in the early phases), plan more so based on reality.

Use what I call “good ol’ fashion horse sense”.

What I’m saying rings especially true for custom projects.

When you’re doing a new item, you and the factory are still laying traction.

You’re still learning one another’s work method.



Maybe you haven’t worked with this factory yet.

Don’t Underestimate Necessary Setup Phases

Necessary setup phases are the steps to develop, sample and properly quote the custom project.

Just because a factory is a widget factory, doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to make the widget you are asking for.

You are going to have to expect some back-and-forth.

Many importers are taken aback at the required back-and-forth.

It’s like they hope to skip this phase.

They want to email a rendering or PDF.

The factory receive it and either send a perfect quote or start working on the best sample this world’s ever seen.

A factory that asks questions is a good factory. This means they’re diligently considering the item.

Here a little secret when to be concerned: be concerned when the factory DOES NOT have any questions. That means they’re blindly going into the project and haven’t really thought much about it.

Expect the back-and-forth.

Prepare yourself for some trial and error.

There’s nothing nefarious or underhanded about this. It simply means the factory is working to get it right.

So just because the factory said “15 days”, you as the expert Marco Polo importer, know that 15 days is the bare minimum based on all things being equal.

Letter of the Law

When you first send your design or requirements the factory may simply go by the letter-of-the-law.

What I mean is, they’re not going to think too much about what you offering and just rigidly follow what you’re asking for.

When this happens, without the necessary tweaking required to get something “production ready”, the samples come out funny looking.


It may require one more trip to the proverbial drawing board.

Buyers become exasperated at this.

The thought is “how could the factory think this is what I wanted?”

The factory doesn’t have the incentive, from the beginning of the job, to offer you all sorts of custom solutions and ideas once you send your design over.

What if the factory spends all sorts of time and resources offering designs and options…and then you don’t order? This happens you know…

So just like you are trying to balance giving out an order to a factory. They’re doing the same thing with a customer. In other words, as you determine a factory’s ability, the factory determines your sincerity. Or professionalism. Ability to be a worthy buyer…however you want to word it.

When you send your first design….

Aside from the design or initial PDF rendering, try to give the factory some parameters to work in.

Examples such as.

  • This is the basic design but do what’s necessary to achieve the general look and still make it production ready. We’re open to suggestions.
  • Remember that when making this, we need to stay within such and such a price frame.
  • What you see in the design that isn’t practical or smooth for mass production, let us know and we’ll consider changing.

Those are just ideas.

This is the kind of talk that helps reduce and clarify the initial back-and-forth time in development.

But nevertheless the necessary time is still the necessary time.

You don’t want to rush the factory.

Make yourself available for Skype calls and questions during initial phases.

Hey, it’s only a few days until the calendar rolls forward 1 more time. 2019 is coming whether we like it or not.

Make a determination now to handle your importing smoother this year.

Less freak outs.

Reduce the 4-alarm fires.

Think about past projects and the things that happened there.

Problems that came and lessons learned.

Let’s grow together this New Year.