China Sourcing Blog recently did post, China Plant Tours: Why You Have to See for Yourself, calling for visiting the overseas plant from which you will buy your product, “before you place an order.” China Sourcing calls for this for the following reasons:
- It makes sense to meet the people with whom you will be working before you place an order. You will get to know their personality and will start building a relationship with them. Good relationships play a crucial role in business in Asia — hence the value of a face-to-face meeting can never be underestimated.
- You can inspect manufacturing areas to get an idea of raw material quality, workers’ skills, production capabilities and the internal QC process of the manufacturer. There is nothing better than to see it with your own eyes.
- You can find out to what extent your manufacturers subcontract their production to other plants by checking their work areas and warehouses, or by asking them during meetings.
- You can experience the working environment and meet the workers to be sure that your suppliers are not using child labour and are providing protection masks etc.
- By making the long trip, you are giving your suppliers a sure signal that you are really serious about quality issues, and more so if you emphasize quality during your meeting. When they produce and deliver products, they will put you in a ‘Picky clients’ list and will therefore be more careful with your products.
It then goes on to list the following extra benefits you can gain from visiting your overseas product supplier:
- You may find out that you can actually source many other products in China besides those in your current plan. I had a client before who saw good packaging material during his plant tour in a steel tube plant and finally ordered some packaging materials as well.
- You may see your competitors’ products in a production line during your plant tour.
I am going to add an eighth reason that either sort of goes beyond all of the above or completely overlaps it: You know your own business better than anyone else. Therefore, you visiting the plant is more likely to trigger suggestions for minimizing problems/maximizing quality than anything else.
Ninth reason is that you going to your China plant should go a long way towards convincing your supplier that you are serious about your relationship with them and serious about watching over what happens to your product.
Anyone up for a tenth reason?