Visiting a manufacturer significantly increased my knowledge of the industry especially on production and the up-stream of the supply chain. It is also a good opportunity to verify what the manufacturer have said to you before. Here are the aspects I would focus on when visiting a manufacturer.
- Product expertise. How well they know the products? What accomplishment have they made? Any awards? Usually you can tell from his/her speaking. They will be very proud of their products especially if they are the one who made some breakthrough in the industry. Ask specific questions on products details, learn beforehand your products basic and use this opportunity to fill in your knowledge gaps.
- Industry experience. How experienced they are? Ask for past clients they have worked with. If your business includes exports trading, ask if they have worked with overseas clients.
- Turnover scales and capabilities. Notice the size of the factories. Both physically, e.g. square meters, and the number of employees. Of course, this factor varies from products to products. If it is a family studio, say tailoring, there won’t be that many people and the capability will be small. If they are car manufacturer, and you can imagine it will be much larger. The point here is, verify their stories, point out something that’s not consistent and ask the right questions politely.
- The tidiness of their storage. You can tell from this how well/bad they manage. Why this matter? If they can’t properly manage their storage, how they keep their products, how can you trust they will deliver the right products on time?
Here are the aspects I will pay attention to for now. Let me know what you will look for when you visit a manufacturer/supplier. Happy to read about that. 🙂