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"Well, we've got time…"

by Jacob Yount

“Well, we’ve got time…” says the buyer who thinks timing is on their side and getting the project into full-motion is not something that requires a sense of urgency.

This line of thinking and usual accompanying casualness actually CAUSE mass production delays. There are projects where timing looks to be sufficiently on your side.

I mean, FINALLY, there is not this pressing need to rush and push the factory.

You’re puzzled as to why, on this case where time seems to be in abundance, the factory keeps contacting you…man, they must really be hurting for a sale.

“Hey, take it easy, we’re waiting for the brand to get back to us. As soon as they confirm, then we can start confirming and getting everything moving forward. In the meantime go have a green tea cappuccino and relax.”

Here is what to often happens in that “meantime, relax” phase:

-The sample you thought could delay a week or 2 to start finally arrives to your office and it’s wrong, it’s off, it stinks. Now you’ve got to sample again and that extra timing is history.

-The factory takes on more projects. Then once you’re ready to start moving, the factory tells you that timing has changed. You are now weeping and saying, “why didn’t the factory tell us earlier.”

-Ports get busy, holidays approach and traffic increases for whatever reason. I’ve seen it firsthand; a delayed signoff of 15 days caused a delayed delivery of 40 days because of port congestion. 2 weeks earlier and the entire backend delay would’ve been avoided.

-Prices change, sales persons leave their position, specs and conditions are forgotten or lost. One of the worst things to an order in the low-cost industry, is the hot and cold aspect. Working hard with the factory for 1 week. Disappearing for 2 weeks. Back again for another week. Disappearing for summer vacation. Back again. Then Chinese holiday…

Consider the entire process like a machine and once your project enters the machine, it is detrimental to the project to pull back, to stop the machine, to go from hot to cold from cold to hot…

Keep a sense of urgency about the job. Still have target dates to accomplish certain phases and strive to keep those dates, as if there was a tighter delivery time. Since timing appears to be on your side, NOW you can work with more efficiency.

Not pushing the factory is not synonymous with treating the job lightly.

Yes, you’re not pushing the factory, great!

But still work with a tightness to accomplish goals.

Working a steady pace in your China manufacturing control is good. Casual to the point of causing 4-alarm fires on the back end, not good.
Working a steady pace in your China manufacturing control is good. Casual to the point of causing 4-alarm fires on the back end, not good.

Notice I said a sense of urgency. That does not mean to act like everything is a 4-alarm fire. As you’re keeping tabs on your own timing and assigning a completion date for each task, this means you’re mindful of timing. This means you’re pondering over your schedule and using this order to closely watch the process and learn. The previous orders you could barely follow because they were happening so fast. Now you can be in more control and learn about what you’re doing. The time you used to spend pushing the factory, you can now spend tweaking your processes and watching with a controlling eye.

If there are additional days, don’t let them collect in the middle of the project. My advice is to let the additional days store up between the factory issuing the invoice and the deposit.

During that time, you allow your buyer to do what they need to do. During that period you spend the additional sweet days reviewing the project, mapping out production contingencies and doing some final pre-production discussions with the factory.

Folks this is true control when buying from an offshore or Chinese factory. True control isn’t sending an annoying email everyday to your factory asking the same question.

True control is planning for and being mindful of the end from the beginning.

Feel free to quote me on that.


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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or find him on his blog.

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