Skip to content

Question: I’ve been having some major quality and responsiveness issues with my current product manufacturer and I’m considering moving my business away to a new manufacturer. Before I do, I want to make sure I’m thinking through the right way to handle my existing situation and also what I need to be thinking about in my search for a replacement so that I don’t run into the same issues.  Would love some perspective!

I’m sorry to hear you’re experiencing challenges with your current manufacture.  I’ve experienced a similar situation in my past.  Quality is the backbone of every successful product, so it’s important that you prioritize a plan to get this issue resolved swiftly.  Here are a few tips, based on my experience, to help you navigate this situation:

1. Understand the Root Cause

Before jumping ship, it’s important to understand the root cause of your current quality issues. Often, communication breakdowns or misaligned expectations can lead to issues that can be fixed with your existing manufacturer.  If you haven’t done so already, prioritize a discussion about the problems you’ve been experiencing and see if there’s a solution before deciding to make a change.

2. Do Your Research

When considering a new manufacturer, here are a few things you do due diligence on:

Check their track record:

Look for recent client testimonials and case studies.  Often times larger companies have very rigorous manufacturer qualifying processes, so if the prospective manufacturer has a history of doing regular business with a few bigger company names, this could be a good sign that they’ve been thoroughly vetted by a company with substantial resources to do so.

• Ask for samples:

Gauge their product quality firsthand.

• Visit the manufacturing site in person, if possible:

It gives you a clearer understanding of their operation scale, machinery, cleanliness and work ethic.

3. Seek Recommendations

Connect with other entrepreneurs or industry peers. Their firsthand experience can provide invaluable insights and potentially lead you to reputable manufacturers.

4. Prioritize Communication

Your manufacturer isn’t just a service provider; they’re a partner in your business. Solid communication is paramount. Look for a manufacturer that will commit to these traits:

Responds promptly.

• Offers transparency in processes.

• Is willing to work through challenges with you.

5. Discuss Quality Assurance Processes

Inquire about their quality control measures. Ensure they have:

• Routine inspections.

• Defined processes for correcting defects.

• Clear channels for reporting and resolving issues.

6. Negotiate but Don’t Compromise on Quality

While cost-saving is essential, remember that sometimes, you get what you pay for. Negotiate terms, but never at the expense of product quality.

7. Start Small

Before entering a long-term contract, some manufacturers will allow you to initiate a trial run. I highly recommend doing so because it allows you to gauge their efficiency, quality, and responsiveness without significant risk.

8. Understand Cultural and Time Differences

If you’re considering overseas manufacturers, cultural and time differences can affect communication. It’s essential to:

• Schedule regular update meetings at convenient times.

• Respect their holidays and working hours.

• Consider hiring a local liaison or translator if there’s a significant language barrier.

9. Draft a Clear Contract

A comprehensive manufacturing agreement should be in place before doing any business.  At the very minimum, the agreement should outline:

• Quality standards.

• Delivery timelines.

• Payment terms.

• Pricing 

• Formula or spec ownership details

• Termination clauses.

This is NOT a comprehensive list of contract terms.  Always consult with a legal professional when structuring a contract.

10. Foster the Relationship

Building a strong relationship with your manufacturer is key. Visit them regularly, offer feedback, and understand their challenges. A collaborative approach to doing business always results in a better product and smoother operations.

Switching manufacturers is a significant decision that can affect your business’s operations and ultimate success. While it might seem daunting, with research, clear communication, and a focus on quality, you can establish a strong and efficient manufacturing partnership. Remember, the right manufacturing partner not only ensures product quality but also supports your vision and growth.