Factory Relationships: Finding the Perfect Fit

If there’s one thing we pride ourselves on at Greater China, it’s our relationships. While we pay close attention to cultivating and maintaining our relationships with our partner factories, we make sure that they will ultimately benefit our customers.

Just because we might get comfortable with a certain vendor doesn’t mean that’s the right fit for a certain client, and we’re always searching for new partners, and qualifying our current ones. That’s one of the reasons we brought on Stanley Tang, our new Director of Sourcing and Project Management, who wants to make sure when we match a factory and client, that they’re the perfect match.

“I resolve the needs between sales and the factory. Of course it can be challenging and even frustrating at times, but in the end it’s satisfying. At the end of the day, it gets done. It’s like solving a puzzle,” Stanley said.

Although we consider communication one of our stronger points, there’s always room for improvement, and we strive to do this through clarity and honesty.

“On the production side, people are afraid to talk about something that went wrong. Sometimes, it’s out of your control. Things happen,” Stanley said. “But I want people to share their experience, mostly for ideas. Nothing is really bad or good — it’s just an experience of what happened. Treat everything as a discussion.”

We approach our interactions with our clients, factories, and fellow employees with honesty in order to avoid miscommunication and to foster a mutual relationship.  That could mean discussing any problems to try and work them out for next time, or being open with the factories we’re working with. While language and cultural barriers have the potential to slow down the process, Stanley’s’ ability to speak Mandarin helps smooth things out.

“China is a big country, but when it comes to a certain industry, it’s a small world,” Stanley said. “All the factories know what the others are doing. You have to be open about your relationships with other people and keep them on their toes, instead of being secretive.”

But even though we might be working with multiple factories, we still make sure we have a personal relationship with each one and an up-to-date understanding of what’s going on. Stanley visits China once or twice a year to check in with our overseas factories, maintaining personal contact while making sure factories meet our standards.

New companies are given a questionnaire and an internal factory audit, and buyers can also visit, to get a feel for a company that involves more than just communicating via email. Stanley, however, wants to make the process of choosing a factory even easier for clients, by creating an internal database.

“It would be a comprehensive database that does a rating system,” Stanley said. “Right now we’re depending on a person working in the factory to provide us with information, so it’s subjective. With our rating system it would be based on everyone’s experiences, so it’s a fair reading. It would be useful for a new client or a sales person.”

Overall, our goal is making sure we’re focusing on the essential key for every relationship: communication, between both our clients and our partners. While maintaining a constant stream of communication and dialogue can be difficult to make time for, it’s essential to our success and giving our clients the best options we can.

“We’re so busy every day. In the promo world, time is of the essence,” Stanley said. “Timing is of the essence. It can seem like you just get stuck in ways due to deadlines, but you need to take the time to communicate.”