Everyone wants consistent quality. But, It’s a sad fact. In China and other Asian countries, there is no shortage of factories that will lie directly to your face.
They may exaggerate their capabilities when they first talk to you. Or they might intentionally make your product out of substandard materials.
Finding trustworthy manufacturers that consistently produce good quality is tricky. So how do you manage quality in an environment where you can never really be sure who to trust?
If you want to manage quality, first you need to understand why factories lie about quality. And then you need to consistently take the right preventative measures. That way, if a supplier tries to sneak something by you, you can always head them off at the pass.
3 Reasons That a Factory Will Lie to You
The reasons a factory would lie may not be obvious. Remember, you’re dealing with a different culture here. So let’s talk about some of the reasons for lying.
#1 – Short-Term Thinking
In the West we assume that all companies care about their long-term commercial reputation. And they’ll always do whatever they can to protect it.
But, in Asia there are many factories that don’t even consider the long game. They don’t care about the long-term. And so they don’t mind making your life a bit more difficult if they can make some money off of you.
They will intentionally lie to earn your business.
#2 – Pressure to Keep Costs Low
There is a phenomena in China and other Asian countries called the “quality fade.”
When you start out, your initial production runs meet all applicable standards. But over time defects start to appear. And from then on, each shipment gets progressively worse.
This happens because factories are driven by pressure to keep their costs low. So, over time they start cutting corners and producing at lower, less consistent quality levels.
#3 – Difference of Opinion
There are some factories that don’t even intend to lie to you.
But they may appear to be lying because they have a different perspective about what an acceptable unit is. This can stem from a lack of clarity about your brand’s acceptable standards.
For this reason, understanding your product and cultural differences in communication is important. It’s also key to remember that their first language is not English.
Here are Some Rookie Mistakes You Should Avoid
To counter potential quality issues, there are some basic things you can do with every supplier. Practice these to make sure you’re always ahead of the game.
First Rookie Mistake – Not Hiring a 3rd-Party Inspection Company
Sure, your factory has their own quality control systems in place. But you need to make sure that the quality inspector has your best interests in mind, not the factory’s.
Hire an independent third party company to inspect goods before shipment. And that means every shipment, not just the first one.
2nd Rookie Mistake – Letting Your Supplier Ship Goods Before They’ve Been Inspected
The last thing you want is to receive a shipment with defective units. You might think you can just inspect them after receipt… Bad idea.
Consistent quality issues are going to come up at some point. And by catching them before shipment, you can demand bad units be reworked.
3rd Rookie Mistake – Making Full Payments in Advance
Paying everything up front removes all incentives for the factory to do things right. If they know they might not get paid, they’ll have to step up and meet your requirements.
A common arrangement is to pay 30% up front and 70% before shipment. That means that quality and compliance with safety standards and regulations have been verified.
If you steer clear of these rookie mistakes then you’re on the right path. But to really maneuver the best relationship and quality with your supplier you need to make sure you thoroughly know your product.
3 Things That Can Happen When You Know Your Product Inside and Out
If you’re going to stay a step ahead of your factory, you need to know your product well.
You should understand the materials that go into it and the design features that make it work. That way, you’re less likely to get taken advantage of.
Here are three things that knowing your product will help you to do better.
#1 – You Can Develop a Clear Definition of Quality
You’ll be able to define, in technical terms, what acceptable quality means for your product. If you don’t, factories can cut corners when you’re not paying attention.
Clear quality specifications provide your QC inspectors with good instructions. If anything is amiss, you’ll find out about it right away.
#2 – You Can Have Raw Material Tests Done and Make Sense of Them
When you’re making consumables, kids products or medical devices it’s especially important to hire a third-party lab. They can test all the materials in your product.
Knowing the right materials for your product will help ensure you understand these reports. And you can make sure you’re putting the right materials into your product in the first place.
#3 – You Can Communicate Clearly With Your Supplier
Remember that you’re dealing with people who speak a different language and come from a different culture. The better you understand your product, the more clearly you can communicate details.
You need to make sure that requests to your supplier are clear and as brief as possible.
Also, don’t assume that just because they don’t ask questions that they understand your requirements. The more information you can provide, the better.
Knowing your product well will help you to improve your communication. And that is one of the keys to successful management of your supplier relationships and getting good quality.
Consistent Quality Monitoring is the Key to Success
Want to avoid unexpected quality problems? Then you need to be monitoring quality effectively and consistently.
As we’ve discussed, be sure you understand why factories lie, stop making rookie mistakes and know your products well. When you do these things, you’ll be better able to take preventative measures and catch hidden quality issues when they occur.
Remember… It is easy to become complacent and slack off on your quality monitoring. If you stay diligent and monitor quality consistently you will be in a better position to ensure your product is produced and works as expected.