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Finding and Choosing a Manufacturer

Finding and Choosing a Manufacturer

The prototype for your product was just the start. Now it's time to go into full production, and you need to find a manufacturer who can handle to job.

You’ll obviously want to secure the best deal for your enterprise and get your products made as cost-effectively as possible. However, that doesn’t mean you should simply go with the manufacturer who will charge you the least for the job. You need to do your research and try and find out who will do the best work with the minimum of problems and offer you good value for your money. It’s no easy task, but here are some tips to bear in mind when choosing a manufacturer for your business product.

**Look for a good match**. It makes sense to seek manufacturers with experience of producing products like yours. But also look at their wider client base – do they have contracts with many businesses like yours, in terms of size, budget, etc? That could indicate they are a good fit for your firm.

**Do your homework**. Look for recommendations. Ask your manufacturing prospects for client references.

You can be proactive and do your own research with their clients, too. Ask them whether or not their product was made to a good standard and to the correct specifications. Find out if deadlines were met and if there were any defective products included in shipments – and if so, how many. Also ask what the manufacturer was like to deal with and whether or not they were easily contactable, flexible, etc.

It’s always worth checking a company’s reputation on the internet. There are often customer reviews or forums where clients have shared their experiences. So perform the relevant searches and see what you can learn about the each prospect’s reputation.

**Ask for a tour**. When you meet with manufacturers, ask for a tour of their factory. This could give you a rough indication of the quality of their equipment, processes and efficiency. You might also be able to gauge their overall professionalism and standards.

**Be inquisitive**. Have a list of questions for your prospective manufacturers. For example, you could ask:
* How long will it take them to fulfil the numbers you want to order?
* What quality-control procedures do they have in place?
* How up to date is the equipment they use?
* Do they sub-contract any of their orders and, if so, who with?
* What are the payment terms, eg, will they require a percentage of the fee up front?
* Will you get a discount for repeat orders?
* How will ordering larger amounts affect the cost?
* Where will the products be stored when they are finished?
* How will they be delivered?

**Be specific**. Remember, the more specific you are with your requirements, the easier it will be to discern whether or not your prospect will be able to deliver the job you require. You need to do your bit by providing all the relevant information on your product and the kind of service you expect. Don’t be vague and hope for the best – you need to try to maintain as much control as possible over the process so you get the products and manufacturing job your business deserves.

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