22 Tips for Healthier Offshore Manufacturing Relationships
11. Be sure you have a direct contact at the factory.
12. Take advantage of the cost advantage of not having a “middle man.”
13. Always play fair. If a factory tries to do an end-run on your broker to secure your business directly, do the honorable thing and keep your business with the broker. Likewise, if you’ve been introduced to a factory by a broker, don’t bypass that broker in favor of working directly with the factory.
Setting Up an Offshore Partnership
14. Obtain references from trusted sources.
15. Understand the cultural differences in the country where your work is being done. This includes knowing which holidays are celebrated when. Also, strive to understand the culture’s motivation. An example, says Butenschoen, is that Asian cultures typically have a strong sense of honor and family. They will aim to please you and will respond positively to appreciation. She adds that her experiences in India have shown that many factories may strive harder to meet schedule and quality needs when direct representation is available on behalf of the customer. “Putting a face with a name makes a far bigger impact in most cultures than in Western culture,” says Butenschoen.
16. Become familiar with the differences in specification terminology. In China, for example, the term “offset paper” can mean “wood-free paper,” while “cover” might mean “wrap.”
17. Avoid the use of slang and colloquialisms. These simply do not translate in most other cultures. Your partners will take you quite literally, so phrases such as “hit the nail on the head” or “we’re on the same page” will likely be misunderstood.
18. Seek confirmation that your communications have been understood correctly. Repeat what you mean (in an e-mail or over the phone) more than one way, using different words when possible. This can help ensure that you and your partner are clear on what is expected.