by Mike Bellamy in "The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing" book
Here are some “softball questions” I look to toss out during a factory tour or at the dinner/lunch following the tour, to get the supplier talking. When they are comfortable and at ease, they may go off-script and give you some juicy information.
It may be uncomfortable to ask for sensitive information like ownership papers, business licenses and client references. Certainly you don’t want to come across as being rude and letting the supplier feel they are guilty until proven innocent, but this is something you have to do to be safe! I have found that playing good-cop, bad-cop is an effective solution to this dilemma; usually by saying something like this: “Mr. Factory Manager, you run a nice shop and I am impressed with you and your team. I want to go home and tell my team about what a great supplier you will be, but my boss is a real stickler for detail and he is making me fill out this check list. I could care less about the following, but under our company’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for conducting a supplier audit, I need to get a copy of the following documents….thanks for your understanding and sorry to trouble you”.
If the supplier still tries to wiggle out of giving you the information, it should be a red flag. Here are some common scenarios:
Mike Bellamy is an Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center. He is also the author of "The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing" and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions.