By Jacob Yount
Coming off the Chinese New Year lull, I thought it time for some refreshers on supplier reminders. Here are 5 reminders now and 5 for the next post, to keep in front of your supplier and…not to mention YOUR OWN flow chart and sticky-note bulletin.
To whet our whistles as we’re all getting cranked up post-glorious Chinese New Year…
1.) When You Expect to Order.
As you’re quoting and sampling, remind your supplier when you expect to order. During the beginning phases of the project, let your supplier know, “we plan to order around this date”.
“If all goes well, we should be ordering around ___”
Why let them know this?
Because you want your supplier to know you’re serious and it’s simply professional to let them know your intentions. There’s too many would-be buyers who are fishing around. If a vendor thinks you’re just gathering data and there’s no whiff of business in the air, they won’t take your project seriously.
Remind them during the initial phases to assure they’re scheduling your order and making tentative preparations.
I’ve seen buyers say that they are ready to order, for the factory to come back and say, “now it’s 60 days instead of 30 because during all of the initial steps, we got busy and didn’t think you were close to closing the deal.
2.) You Expect Sampling.
You would think this would be obvious, but not necessarily. It’s not that the supplier is adverse to making 1 sample…they’re not. But a lot of times, 1 sample isn’t sufficient.
- Some buyers require a stock sample and then a pre-production sample.
- Other projects require production samples randomly pulled and expressed to the end-customer.
- Before some PO’s are placed, some large brands can require up to 100 units of something in order to sign-off and / or test with various departments.
If you tell your supplier your sampling expectations later in the process, they may balk and feel like you gave them a runaround.
Let them know, in advance, a timeline of physical piece sign-off requirements. How many pieces and what stages of the project?
Make sure they put sample requirements in writing, in the quotation.
3.) The Type of Testing You Need
Whether it’s the supplier booking the testing or yourself booking the lab, let them know clearly and in advance.
If you require testing but are doing the process domestically, STILL INFORM THE SUPPLIER.
You see, if they know that you require passing such and such certification, this may influence the grade of material the supplier quotes and incorporates into the project.
When there’s no mention of testing in the early stages, there can be some hubbub over who pays for the testing; especially if done China-side.
Ask the supplier to quote you from a China-side SGS or another accredited brand. Send them the information on who you want to use. Request that the supplier facilitates the communication and process.
4.) Anything You Spoke About A Long Time Ago
Were there confirmations prior to a holiday?
If there are large time gaps between sampling and Purchase Order, it’s likely the supplier is forgetting some aspect of the project.
Don’t assume the supplier has some sort of flow chart in front of them that includes all aspects from email #17 that you sent 5 weeks back!
As you remind the supplier previous points, you want to do so in a matter-of-fact way.
“Here’s the last quotation before the holiday, please go through and confirm each point still stands”
Point being, is if there has been chunks of time to pass by, then you need to make sure aspects of the project haven’t slipped through the cracks.
“I told them 5 weeks ago” isn’t a sure form of order management.
It happens; client receives the sample and says “why didn’t you use right material?”
Supplier says “Oh, it’s no longer available like it was 3 weeks ago.”
Client issues PO with all the specs.
Supplier responds and says that price is no longer valid.
5.) To Start or Not Start Production
You can call this a reminder or a clear-cut confirmation.
Whatever you call it, be as precise as possible when relaying this information.
Remind your vendor not to start until they receive your purchase order AND official go-ahead.
Find out if there’s a point-of-no return you don’t want them to cross until you give a final signal.
Also you may have to remind them clearly to start the production. Cases happen when the supplier receives a 30% deposit and a purchase order, but they still don’t commence. Why? They were waiting for you to confirm a point. You may have already confirmed or thought you confirmed, but either way, they’re at a standstill waiting for you.
Client contacts the supplier and asks how things are going and the supplier says, we were waiting for you to get back to us…doh! 5 days are now down the drain.
If you have an urgent change that comes up, you want to contact them and remind the vendor, don’t start until you receive my official confirmation.
Jacob Yount lived in China from 2001 to 2012, during which time he started JLmade. He is now based out of North Carolina in the US and his home office is still in Suzhou, China; manufacturing and exporting branded merchandise, promotional products and retail gifts for distributors worldwide. Contact Jacob at email@example.com, or find him on his blog.