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How to handle production issues in China

by Renaud Anjoran in 'Quality Inspection Blog'

I found an article that discusses "how solving issues in China can overflow into the manufacturing realm and affect your offshore production." The author (Jacob Yount, who writes on the JLmade blog) does a pretty good job of explaining the mechanisms at work.

I like this article so much that I am reproducing a good part of it below. Here are the main mistakes committed by foreign buyers when production is under way:

Directly addressing and blaming a factory for problems: This goes over like a lead balloon. If it is your first time working with a factory or if you are not a large portion of the factory's income, it won't take long before any finger-pointing or blame-placing becomes counterproductive. It will not have the intended effect of the factory suddenly paying attention to your issues and a decrease in the problem. Service and response from the factory will eventually decline and more quality issues may spring up from any embarrassment you caused in holding the factory responsible for their mistakes.

Wanting retribution for each problem: This also will not score you any points with the factory. In their mind, (for example) "if you didn'€™t want problems, you should not have ordered such a cheap product."

Have enough padding in your quotes that consider possible problems that may arise from the factory. Picking your battles is extremely important in life, even more so in China. If the factory makes some small errors that have minimal cost, my adviceand this may sound strange, gladly accept those. Yes, I said GLADLY. Then when major problems do come (and they will come), the factory will have seen your previous sincerity and you'€™ll have more negotiating power to amend major issues. If you scream "€œbloody murder"€ over a small problem, they will not take you seriously over a much more important and costly issue.

Holding a high standard of no problems: If you approach a factory and inform them you accept zero mistakes and have a very high standard of quality, they will turn you off immediately. That'€™s not how they think here. The mindset here: "€œProblems will happen, problems are normal but we have to work to achieve better." Keep your high standards, only don'€™t reveal your whole plan at the beginning. If timing is on your side, have the mind set of working to achieve the quality over time. The Chinese are easy to get scared off if you are making too high of demands from the get go. Give it them your expectations in more of a step by step format. Don'€™t think "starter demands" but "€œgoals to reach€."

Learn to think like the Chinese think: Keep in mind, whether it was their mistake or not, the concept of accountability doesn'€™t exist here as it does on the Western world. The Chinese have this concept that all Westerners are uptight and we do everything "€œby the book€." Approach issues as a group problem, not a one-sided problem (even if they are!). Remember, they are making much less margin on the order than you are. What is important to you is not the same things that are important to them. They are not working hard for you based on the money they are making off each order. They will serve and assist based on a respectable business relationship, sincerity and long-term business. If they think you are a fly-by-night customer they will treat you like a fly-by-night customer. Long-term relationships are built here based on who you say you are and how much you say you will buy. Let them orders you place and the cooperation speak for themselves. Everybody talks a big game in this business and the factories have heard every story.

Link to the article: Handling issues in China.

Renaud Anjoran is the founder of Sofeast Quality Control and helps importers to improve and secure their product quality in China. He writes advice for importers on the Quality Inspection blog. He lives full time in Shenzhen, China. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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