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Signs that mass production may not go well

By Jacob Yount

A bad start to your China sourcing project, generally leads to issues in mass production.

Before mass production starts, there may be some telling signs that the project is not going to go very well.

Most of the time, not always, but most of the time, if a project doesn’t start out with some semblance of smoothness and stride hitting, then it’s not going to get any better. A chunk of mass production errors started incubating at the beginning of the project.

Multiple attempts to get the sample right

It’s common for a supplier not to get the sample right the first time. The first sample, from the supplier’s perspective, is frequently seen as a draft to know what to amend.

But if you realize there seems to be a continual lack of understanding of your vision and there’ve been multiple attempts to get the sample right, then know there may be trouble brewing.

One option is to test the sampling phases between 2 suppliers; whichever supplier offers the better piece and seems to have a clearer understanding of the project, this may be the supplier to continue with.

If the other supplier’s sample that didn’t make the cut wasn’t horribly bad, let them know the project went to another vendor and to please keep the door open for future business.

 

Low motivation from supplier from the beginning

Suppliers, especially if they do not know you, are not necessarily going to come out of the gate offering a 5 star service.

But there should be some demonstrable willingness to take the project, guide you through some steps and help to achieve goals.

If the supplier starts out lackadaisical, grouchy, full of excuses then it’s not a good sign they’re going to be a solid production partner.

When it’s evident that supplier seems like they’d rather be doing anything else, responses are slow, samples are off; send them a very direct email with direct questions. Ask them 1 more time to confirm they want the project and that their actions need to show it.

 

Overly lengthy sign-off period from the buyer side

Not everything comes from the suppliers’ side, right? Taking too long to sign-off on a production, without communication from the buyer side, leaves the supplier to proceed with other business.

When an overly extended amount of time precedes mass production, this results in:

• Supplier losing interest.

• Job being relegated to lower-end sales staff.

• Specs / requirements no longer fresh in supplier’s mind. They are horrible at cataloging info.

• Once the job comes through, they now want to rush it through production because all of their margin was spent in waiting.

 

Long periods of silence from the supplier during mass production

If you are unable to contact your supplier for long stretches of time, especially during the production, this is not a good sign. Emails stop, their answers delay 1 day, 2 days, many days and you have to send follow-ups to your follow-ups.

Many times, this is a sign that something is wrong, they’re sweating it and either trying to hide or find a band-aid solution before they contact you.

These signs would have you to either intervene and change the course of direction; ie delay making a deposit and starting mass production or delay making a balance payment.

Often the payment still in your hands are keys of authority to wield to get the supplier to shape up and correct what’s lacking.


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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