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15 Nov 2010
11 Tips for Dealing with Chinese Factories
by Ian Lowsley, Director China, Chinawand
Receiving painless service from a Chinese manufacturing partner is a massive ask, and is far more difficult to achieve when carried out remotely and with pressing time constraints.
Starting to manufacture in China can be made a much smoother experience by remembering to think about the following points:
You get what you pay for.
Factories will sometimes go the extra mile with the promise of a large order and provide samples and lots of initial project work without payment. Some factories do not. Expect to pay cost for samples.
Come to China with your own approved product technical drawings
, samples (if you have them) dimensions, colours, surface finishes, tolerances, weights, materials, QC criteria all decided upon.
Put in the time.
Working with a company in another time zone will always add an element of difficulty and delay thanks to short working hour overlapping windows. Working with a non-native English language country can magnify this issue.
Chinese factories will generally ignore all but the most recent email
and will not take in the bulk of a long one. Be concise and use as simple English as possible.
Pressuring factories with hundreds of angry emails is rarely helpful.
Trying to understand the issues at hand and working to solve them without apportioning blame or emotions will result in a faster project completion.
Repeat all important points, then repeat them again
and send QC and QA to inspect that your words have been put into correct action. You will be amazed how project critical points can be ignored, forgotten or confused.
Many factories are run by illiterate bosses
with a good head for business. This is not intended to be defamatory, but should serve as a reminder that dealing with many Chinese factories is dealing with people who have no formal management training, and little schooling. Be warned – appropriate time should be reserved for a ‘meeting-of-minds’ on important issues.
Direct communication with the people in charge of the Chinese factory will be very rare.
For the above reason, an English speaking sales team will be a factories main/sole point of contact with overseas clients. Make sure your words are getting translated properly and through to the people who need to hear them.
Be prepared to double your expected delivery date.
Set backs will occur, whether they are made during the communication process, sampling, production or shipment. Adding a few days contingency is not enough. Do not expect miracles and fast delivery times, especially if you are working with a new manufacturer on a new product.
Visit the manufacturer or send someone you trust to visit them
before any substantial funds leave your bank account. The importance of this step cannot be stressed enough. When visiting a potential supplier, take an interpreter you can trust. Chinese interpreters can sometimes be unwilling to communicate strong sentiments and can weaken in the face of an intimidating factory boss/team.
Have a company in China you can trust to follow production
and keep the factory following your instructions. It would be great if one short client visit was enough to ensure commitment and eternal understanding. Unfortunately, if communication breaks down, mistakes in sampling/production can occur and the whole project can very quickly turn into a rescue operation. More face-time with the manufacturer will be the best way to resolve issues, but would mean another costly trip to China
About the Author
Ian Lowsley is Director for Chinawand, and a member of Dragon Business Network - view profile
specialises in performing and managing many essential China-based business functions for overseas clients starting or expanding their projects in China. Chinawand can help facilitate smooth and successful trade relationships with Chinese businesses.
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