Given that 75% of small business owners peg organization as the reason they’re not as successful as they should be, preparation means everything in business. If you don’t plan out every step of a product’s lifecycle from conception to the product manufacturers, you risk losing it all. Disorganization could be the chaos nipping at your heels at all times.
Here are 5 ways to prepare yourself to work with the best product manufacturers in your field.
1. Ask Your Colleagues
If you’ve made a fantastic prototype and you’re ready to start manufacturing your product, you’ll need to find someone you can trust. If this is the first time you’ve ever gone down this road, ask your colleagues or mentors for some guidance.
Not everyone is good at asking for help, but it will pay off if only because it will get your products into your customers’ hands sooner.
Finding the right manufacturer means that you’ll be finding someone who is familiar with your industry, who is easy to work with, and who has solid experience. It’s going to be challenging to find a company that can do all three but with the help of experienced colleagues, you’ll be able to sift the wheat from the chaff.
Online reviews can help you to find out more about who can manufacture products in your region, but you might have to find multiple sources. If you have to have the perfect housing for the engine that powers your product, it could take a lot of hours on the phone. You can save some time and money by seeing who worked on some of your favorite products.
2. Do Some Research
You’ll have to get to know the process so that you know what to expect. If you don’t know what it takes to make the products you’re designing or trying to have manufactured, you won’t know when you’re being ripped off. Being able to predict costs can help you plan for the future.
When you learn about the manufacturing process, you can also anticipate potential issues. If something is taking far longer than it should, you can inquire respectfully and intelligently. If you know someone who could do it better, you can have them manufacture the product instead, rather than worry about an unreliable manufacturer.
Research will also help you to know what material pricing will be. When you know the price of raw materials and labor, you can make decisions on the fly. Since material prices go up and down with the market, choosing a fairly stable material with a stable price will protect the longevity of your products.
Having to change the way a product is made or how sturdy it’s built could not only change your patent but could also drag out the process of fulfilling orders.
3. Know the Lingo
You’ll have to negotiate with the manufacturer you work with. Whether over pricing or over how the product will be produced, there’s sure to be some conversations involved with the process. If you know the inside lingo of manufacturing, you’ll be prepared to hold a conversation with your manufacturer.
Every material will have its idiosyncracies. Temperature, conductivity, and density will vary between different materials. There will be pros and cons to spending more versus producing more for less.
While you might bristle at having to pay more for raw materials, it could pay off in the end.
When you know the lingo, it means you know what to ask for. You’ll need to make sure that your customers are happy with the choices you make for how the product will be manufactured. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you won’t be able to give your customers what they need in the end.
You’re doing everyone a service by learning more about the manufacturing process. You’re making sure you and your customers get a good deal.
4. Build a Relationship
Be kind and deferential to your manufacturers. Once you feel like you trust them, you need to let them know how you feel. You do that by working with them graciously and getting out o their way when they need you to.
Building a relationship with manufacturers means that you go back to them when you need work done and that you are willing to refer your colleagues to them.
By working with a certain manufacturer again and again, you ensure that the quality of your products is consistent. Your customers will recognize this, whether they tell you or not. Once you establish a consistent level of quality, you’ll know to be reliable for that.
If you build a relationship with your manufacturers, they’ll notify you in advance of pricing changes or changes to the material they get. You’ll be able to make the decisions that you need to make as far in advance as possible, in case there are any snags.
Should they get overloaded during a given season, they’ll still prioritize you because of all the good work you’ve done together in the past.
5. Trust Their Judgment
While you know about your customers and the kinds of products they expect, you don’t know everything. You need to be willing to allow your manufacturers to teach you something once in a while.
They’ll be able to notify you of potential vulnerabilities in your products if you let them. If one edge or one wall of the housing of your product is too flimsy or will be prone to breakage, they’ll let you know in advance.
When you trust that they know what they’re doing, they’ll feel comfortable giving you advice and potentially saving you millions in lost sales. You should see more here to learn about what product manufacturers can bring to the table.
Product Manufacturers Have a Symbiotic Relationship
As a small business owner, you’ll have a close-knit relationship with product manufacturers. The people who make your products aren’t going to be responsible when customers are displeased. That’s all the more reason to build a good relationship with them so that they can be sympathetic when you hit trouble.
Once your product is ready for the world, check out our guide on what you need to do to market it the right way.