Whether you are a startup or a multi-million dollar company, there are countless benefits to working with a sewing contractor – saving money you’d spend on the production machinery and allocating it to other areas of your business, building a solid and long-lasting B2B relationship with a reliable partner, and gaining insight into the manufacturing process from someone with mass-production experience (just to name a few). As your business grows, your outsourced production line will grow in tandem with you, becoming an integral part of your business model.
This being said, maintaining a good relationship is a key aspect of outsourcing your production to a sewing contractor. Here are 5 key ways you can ensure you stay on good terms:
- Think of your contractor as a business partner. Technically, yes, your contract manufacturer is working for you to help bring your product to market. However, it’s beneficial to consider your contractor a business partner. Be open-minded to their insights, as they can provide guidance into production from a perspective that can only be gained through manufacturing experience. Their goal is to make your product as effectual and affordable as possible for you, and advice they give should not be overlooked. Your manufacturer wants your product to succeed just as much as you do.
- Be thorough with your information. It’s possible that you already have a prototype of your product made prior to seeking a contract manufacturer. Although it is already made, most manufacturers (us included) will have a sampling process, during which we will reverse-engineer your prototype in order to see how it’s constructed, as well as determine material and labor costs. Providing your manufacturer with extensive and detail-oriented information about your product upfront can help avoid re-sampling, and allows them to give qualified advice on product effectiveness prior to the first paid sample being produced. Tip – If you don’t have a prototype, selecting a contractor with a prototype and design department has it’s own added benefits (more about that here), and allows the contractor to produce a design ready to manufacture from the get-go.
- Communication, communication, communication. Consistent communication is important in ANY relationship, including (if not especially) a business-to-business relationship. If there is a product change or error, making sure your contractor is the first to know is always important and can help avoid and prevent further error. Tip – Ensuring that there is an ease of communication and good customer service prior to signing a contract with a manufacturer is an important step in the manufacturer selection process, and following through with that communication is important through the entire prototype-to-production process.
- Be understanding of lead times. In most (if not all) cases, you are not going to be a contract manufacturers only project. Ordering high-quantities and expecting a quick turnaround every time will lead to stress on both ends, and is going to put strain on the B2B relationship. Anticipating your customers needs and ordering several weeks in advance will give your manufacturer time to provide you with quality products. Tip – Planning ahead and ordering some extra product on each order accumulates a safety stock, so even in the event of a longer lead time, you can continue filling orders even if there is a longer production lead time.
- Make timely payments. Discussing payment terms will likely be a part of the sampling process when cost is evaluated. While this may seem like an obvious one, sticking to these terms can influence the trajectory of your relationship with your manufacturer.
Working with a contract manufacturer can help to grow your business, and by taking logical steps to nurture the business relationship, can lead to a long-standing business partnership.