By now, you should have a large list of prospective manufacturing partners. However, we still haven’t tackled the hardest part yet – selecting the right manufacturer from this list of candidates.
A lot of manufacturers will promise the world but under deliver on the results. It is crucial to weed out low-quality candidates and select a partner you can work with in the long run.
STEP 1: Ask the right questions
Start the evaluation process by asking the manufacturer these questions. Do this via email before you do any other diligence:
- How many employers and machines do they have? What is their annual production output? Any legit manufacturer would be more than happy to provide you with this information.
- What is their manufacturing expertise in? It is best to work with manufacturers who have proven expertise in your product category.
- What is the profile of their typical costumers? If they deal only with multi-million-dollar business, the might not give you enough attention.
- Have they ever made any products similar to yours? This gives you an indication of whether they have experience shipping your product-type.
- What is their internal quality process? How do they ensure that the products are manufactured to spec?
These are standard questions any quality manufacturer would have answers to. If they are hesitant or refuse to answer them, cross them off your list.
STEP 2: Ask for samples
Your next step should be to ask for samples, preferably of a similar product-types yours. Again, most serious suppliers will be happy to send you a handful of samples at no extra cost. A manufacturer who is unwilling to send a few dollars-worth of product(s) won’t make a good long-term partner.
When you ask for samples, it is also a good idea to ask them a following:
- Where is their factory located? This will impact shipping times.
- What is their shipping process? Do they have any partnerships with logistics companies?
- Can they help with clearing customs?
Once you get a samples, examine them for quality and consistency. If they don’t meet your standards, cross the manufacturer off your list. With the manufacturers that get through, proceed to the next step.
STEP 3: Due diligence
Before you proceed to the negotiation stage, do your due diligence and find out as much as you can about the company.
Here are some ways you can do this:
Ask the manufacturer for at least 5 references. These should ideally be current customers. If these are business of similar size and/or category as yours, it’s all the better.
Call these references and ask them what was good or bad about manufacturer. If possible, try to buy their product to check their quality for yourself.
Ratings and certifications
Most manufacturers maintain a presence on mayor B2B platforms. Dig through their online profiles and check their ratings over time. Make note of any excessively negative feedback. Take note of other quality indicators such as years in business, total transactions, and certifications (if any).
Finally, search for the manufacturer byname online.