One of the things my law firm’s international manufacturing lawyers always tell our clients is to visit their overseas factories, if at all possible. Such a trip is critical for the following four reasons:
- Visiting your foreign factory emphasizes that you care. Why should your factory care if it doesn’t believe you care?
- Visiting your foreign factory makes you a human being and not just a purchase order. This decreases your chance of getting bad quality products.
- Visiting your foreign factory is a great opportunity to see product quality (or a lack thereof) and to work on product quality.
- I guarantee the value of what you learn from such a trip will exceed the cost of taking it.
I believe — based strictly on feel and not hard evidence, and without doing any accounting for other variables — that companies companies that visit their factories have far fewer factory problems than those that don’t. Now before you challenge this, note that we as international manufacturing attorneys do not make a penny more from our clients that make these visits. In fact, we make less, and yet here we are making clear how important this is.
I have had countless clients go on and on about how much they learned from visiting their factories, but nobody (literally nobody) has ever told me they regretted having made such a visit — not even those whose visits convinced them to cut ties with their existing factory.
But what should you do on such a visit? My answer is that above all else you should spend time getting to know your foreign counterparts as this is what will help you down the road. But this is also a great opportunity for you to see what your factory can do. Can it make your next generation widget, or should you be looking elsewhere? Does your factory look efficient, or does it look like it has almost no clue? Does it look and feel financially healthy or should you be concerned about your next order?
For a whole host of specific questions that may make sense for your business, I urge you to check out the following:
- 24 questions to ask during a factory visit
- What it’s actually like to visit factories in China
- Lessons Learned From 7 Years of China Factory Visits
- Factory Visits – Benefits of Visiting
- 5 tips for visiting factories
What do you find most important about your factory visits?