It’s easier than ever to get your products manufactured in China, with resources such as Alibaba, Quora, and Google Translate at your disposal. But having a reliable Chinese manufacturer isn’t just about knowing how to communicate with them; it’s also about understanding how the whole process works and what your role is in it. Here are the top five tips for ensuring smooth communication with your Chinese manufacturer to help you get started.
1) Have a clear idea of what you want
Before you go contacting manufacturers in China, spend some time to really figure out what it is that you want. Don’t just say I want a cheap product made in China. Get specific. Look at different products that are similar to yours and decide exactly how your product will differ. And if there are aspects of your product that can be improved upon, do it! It’s always a good idea to outdo your competition. The more detail you put into your product from start to finish, the better off you’ll be when it comes time to communicate with your manufacturer.
Find a model or sample if you can for reference. A picture is worth a thousand words, and seeing exactly what you want will help your manufacturer understand exactly what it is that you’re looking for. They may even be able to point out design flaws in your product that you hadn’t considered before! It may seem like an extra step, but it could save time and money in the long run.
If your product requires any specialized parts, make sure to get those details sorted out early on as well. If there are specific types of wood that need to be used or special kinds of metal, make sure to clarify that from day one so there aren’t any problems later on down the line when it comes time to actually produce your product.
2) Be clear on expectation and deadlines
If you’re planning to work with a Chinese manufacturer, make sure your requests are as clear and specific as possible. Make deadlines clear and enforceable, otherwise there is no incentive for your team to stick to them. If a situation arises that requires changes or exceptions, have a separate process in place (such as checklists) to make sure everyone on both sides knows what’s going on. Good communication saves time and money—two things every business wants more of.
That’s why it’s advisable to find a manufacturer with their own production facility, preferably in the same city or anywhere within three-hour drive. This way you can easily check on your products and make sure everything is going according to plan. It also means that you don’t have to worry about shipping costs and delays from faraway locations. Finally, if something goes wrong, you’ll be able to respond quickly—and save face by fixing things before they get out of hand.
3) Know how the factory and its QC operates
We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to build an in-depth understanding of how your factory runs and what your QC protocols are. A deep understanding will help prevent issues, save you time and money, as well as help you work more effectively throughout your manufacturing process. There’re so many independent vetting services in China you can turn to. You’ll find them on Alibaba or by Googling independent QA checker or independent quality control checker. You’ll also want to make sure you understand exactly who your QC inspector is and that they have a good track record of working with other western companies. If you don’t know who they are, ask! Ask to speak directly with them or their supervisor if possible. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to communication breakdowns between yourself and your manufacturer!
Although there’re many independent QC services with a history of working with western firms, if you insist on one that shares a similar cultural background with you, Shield Works has its root in the UK with years of QC experience in the industry that you can fully rely on.
4) Get someone local in China that you can talk to
Even if you don’t speak Mandarin, there are still ways to ensure you get your message across. If you’re traveling to China yourself, a translator is a must-have. But given the current travel restrictions, it is not an option to physically be there. So what do you do? You can hire someone local in China that can act as a liaison between you and your manufacturer. They should have experience working with Westerners and can translate information from both sides of communication (i.e., from English to Mandarin and vice versa). They will help bridge any language barriers that may exist and make sure everyone is on the same page regarding deadlines, expectations, etc. This will help reduce confusion and miscommunication that could lead to delays or other issues down the road.
But most manufacturers there now have bilingual team members that have no problem communicating with you in your language. if you manage to find one with a western background like Shield Works, that’ll save you a lot of efforts!
5) Keep your language plain and simple
This may seem obvious, but be sure to speak clearly and concisely. If there’s anything you don’t understand about what you need to accomplish or convey, don’t guess or fill in gaps with assumptions. If a word confuses you, go back and get clarification. Try to avoid using big words as it can make it harder to understand for non-native speaks. Keep your language simple
Remember that your goal is communication—not simply understanding what someone is saying to you. Successful communication requires that both parties feel confident they have a full understanding of one another’s intentions before moving forward on any project or task. Otherwise, confusion will quickly ensue; misunderstandings can lead to delays and even make-or-break moments down the road. The more time you spend ensuring that everyone understands each other, the less time it takes to complete tasks. A little upfront work now can save a lot of headaches later.
By following these five tips, you’ll be on your way to having a smooth process of communication with your manufacturer and start working together to create a great product. Shield Works is one that comes with their own manufacturing facility located exactly where the headquarter is, and bilingual team members as long as 17 years of manufacturing in China under their belt. Contact us today!