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Picking and managing relationships with factories

by Andrew Reich

If you are looking to start manufacturing in China, get ready for a very pleasant courtship. Factories will often provide cars, food, off-hours entertainment and sometimes even lodging. They will be at your beck and call, trying to get your business. This sort of treatment often continues until you succumb to their charm (give them your business).

The level of your treatment by the factory is often directly related to the amount you contribute to their revenue stream. Understanding this is one of the keys to a successful relationship with a factory.

When trying to decide on a factory, it is first important to know where you want to fit in. Smaller factories, where you are a big percentage of their revenue stream, might be willing to bend over backward to satisfy you. However, they may not have the necessary systems in place and therefore execute poorly on the production. On the other hand, bigger factories, where you are a smaller fish, might have all the capabilities/skills/equipment that you need but are uncooperative especially from a quality standpoint. Finding a factory with the right balance for your particular needs is one of the key aspects to successfully manufacturing in China.

When bringing in a 3rd party QC company to help control quality, it is important to communicate to them, letting them know your relationship with the factory. This will aid the QC company in finding the right approach to the factory and getting the factory to cooperate with your requests in the long run.

Andrew Reich is the CEO of InTouch Manufacturing Services, a QC firm that performs product inspections and factory audits in China for US and EU clients. Andrew also maintains a QC-related blog, Quality Wars.

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