Let’s face it, when it comes to products manufactured in China, we’ve all done it.
We purchased an item that we thought was a great purchase, used it twice, and then it breaks. Said item then gets relegated to the back of the linen cupboard along with several other companions that have done the same thing. Our first thought is generally something along the lines of “Cheap garbage…made in China!”
It’s not China’s fault that this happens. Someone asked them to make it that way.
I have spent the past seven years researching and working with factories and the supply chain with Chinese manufacturers. Although it’s not easy at times and was a difficult sea to navigate, there has never been a truer saying that you get what you pay for.
This is not only true from a consumer point of view but also from a manufacturing point of view.
Companies have the power to set the non-negotiables.
When I first launched my product, I knew what I wanted my business to be. I knew what my non-negotiables were. One of those was not compromising on quality.
It is up to me as a business owner to make sure that this happens. From my experience, there are two types of businesses.
The first one is what I call “smash and grab.”
The business smashes out the cheapest possible product they can, accompanied by some flashy, gimmicky “impulse buy” marketing. They take as much money as they can, never to be seen or heard from again.
There is absolutely no customer service page, phone number, address, or proof that the company ever existed at all. Basically, they don’t want to hear from you.
The second version of business is more like mine.
A business owner who has a vision for the future and who puts her heart and soul into the business.
Quality business is my life’s purpose. I want my business to focus on the customer. I am here for the long haul.
You do not have a business without happy customers. My customers know that I am only a phone call away.
As business owners, we have all the power when it comes to production control with regard to products manufactured in China.
Move past the common manufacturing assumptions.
Chinese manufacturers naturally assume that you want the cheapest possible product.
My first 15 versions of samples were the cheap and nasty versions of what I wanted. That is how China starts as they are so accustomed to having to provide a cheap quality product as the dominating factor for most businesses is generally profit.
The first samples of my collections were exactly that. The cheapest version possible was slapped together for reasonable prices.
However, this was not what I wanted.
It was up to me to communicate my quality expectations to the factory…and it remains so to this day. I wanted the best quality for the materials I used and, guess what, it costs more. My company is all about quality and I am prepared to pay for this…and so are my customers. This is why we stand out and this is why we are successful.
When it comes to quality, play the long game.
Seven years of not compromising on quality have led to a repeat client base who value my label and are happy to pay for quality.
I made a choice to focus on my customers. As a result, I have happy customers. I am happy to sacrifice margins for quality and client satisfaction. China will make exactly what you ask for.
It’s a bit like having a bad meal at a restaurant and blaming the waitress. Don’t shoot the messenger.
Here’s what I have learned.
- Communication is the key to working with your manufacturer to produce the quality of goods that you want to represent your business.
- Do not settle.
- Somewhere along the road, you will be presented with a version that is close to what you asked for, but not quite there.
- There will be a defining moment when you decide whether you go for sub-par quality, thinking the customer won’t notice, or you stick to your principles and remember why you started.
- Once your manufacturer has a clear understanding of what you will and will not accept, your supply lines are a lot easy to manage.
- Set the benchmark from the beginning.
- Finally, good things cost money.
If you want to be the best, you won’t be the cheapest. Get comfortable with this axiom, own it, and never apologize for producing quality.
Quick cash grabs are ultimately self-defeating.
Yes, it is harder to start and get known. However, when you don’t compromise on quality, your customers learn this and stay with you on the journey.
One of the saddest things to see is the brand that started out well with its missions and values intact. Then someone suggested manufacturing to cheaper quality.
Cheaper manufacturing may look good on the accountant’s abacus, but who is counting the customers who don’t come back?
Remember why you started. The next time you buy something that falls apart after two uses, don’t place the blame on products manufactured in China. See past the country that made it and blame the company who asked them to make it that way.