Collaborating With a Manufacturer to Make a Better Product

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

As a small business owner, you may have a ton of great ideas but lack the specialized technique and manufacturing process to execute them properly. Collaborating with a manufacturer creates a partnership that allows you to sell a better product and benefits both parties.

Foster a Relationship

You need to form a relationship with every manufacturer your company works with. A great relationship with a manufacturer means that it will go above and beyond in its work for you. Factory partners will help you identify mistakes before they are made. If you think beyond the short term and into the future, you can work to develop a lifelong relationship where both parties have a mutual understanding of what one another expects.

Begin to nurture a relationship with your manufacturer by maintaining complete and responsive communication via email, text, phone, factory visits and even socializing over meals. Always remember that people come first and business comes later. Keep your conversations lighthearted and social, while being open and honest.

Understand Your Materials & Processes

It is a good idea to get acquainted with a new process or material. Dig deep. Be sure that you understand how your product is made, backwards and forwards. Start with an online search to begin your process of due diligence. The industry and materials you are working with have a long history of nuances and rules you need to be familiar with. Just a little background can do a lot in helping you learn how a finished product is made, so you can communicate ideas with your manufacturer and move forward successfully.

Share Your Calendar in Advance

Your business likely has times of the year where it is busier than others. In some industries, in particular, there are events that can be crucial to a company’s timeline. Maybe your industry has a trade show cycle that adheres to buying seasons, and when the time comes to give your presentation, you are still a year out from product delivery. There will be a number of components to your investor presentation that you need to inspect in advance. By communicating deadlines with your manufacturers, you will stay within your timeline. The more explicit and clear you are about your deadlines, the more likely they are to be met.

Never Be Too Afraid to Ask

When first meeting with a manufacturer regarding a new material or process, ask to have things explained to you as if you were 5 years old. It is very hard to know the difference between what is important and what isn’t if you don’t ask many questions. A great question to ask is, “When working with designers, what are three mistakes that they tend to make?” This question gives you expert insight into avoiding the errors of the people before you. Additionally, your factory partner will thank you for trying to make its job easier as well.

References & Resources

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