China manufacturing expert David Dayton just published an excellent article on manufacturing in China, setting out eleven rules that “should be engraved on the forehead of every international purchase manager.” I think many of the rules he lists have applicability, not only for manufacturing, but for all kinds of business conducted with and in China.
Here are some of the most universally applicable:
- If you’re not here, you’re not getting what you ordered. “Any money saved from not coming to China (multiple times) will be lost in missed delivery dates and/or labor paid to repair product.”
- In the midst of problems, if you get angry and try to threaten the factory using your final payment as leverage, you’re not getting what you asked for.
- Beware of the request for cooperation. “Cooperation” in Chinese means you happily pay more for lower quality product delivered later than what you’ve contracted for—obviously, you’re not getting what you asked for.
- If the answer to any question other than “Can I have a Coke instead of tea?” is “No problem. Of course we can do that.” you are not going to get what you ask for.
- Nobody cares about your product as much as you do, but if your supplier sees you regularly, knows how much you care and also cares about you/likes you, you just might get what you are asking for.
- There will be problems. Plan for them in your delivery schedules and budgets.
Overall, the lesson is that you should seek to engage directly with the Chinese end of your business. If the people with whom you are dealing in China see you regularly, and if you respect them and check on their work often, you are much more likely to get what you ask for.