Monday, June 29, 2009

8 questions to ask a manufacturer

It is the question I am asked most often by new business owners.

How do I find a manufacturer? Today I will focus on finding a domestic US manufacturer.

I think a great place to start is SEAMS.ORG the National Association for the Sewn Products Industry. Pages and Pages of Contract Seamstresses are listed all in one place.

8 questions to ask:

1. Price per piece. I have had people quote me $13.24 to sew the wet happened? bag. I can sew one in less than 15 minutes. It retails for $17.95. Obviously price is one of the first things that needs to be discussed, but it is not the only important question to ask.

2. What is included in the price? Some manufacturers do not include cutting or thread. Some require a professional pattern. It is necessary to know the TOTAL cost per piece.

3. What is their average lead time? If you are thinking 2 weeks, and they cannot fit you into production until November, that's an issue.

4. What is their loss percentage and how do they rectify unsellable goods? Do they issue a credit, do they need to be sent back? Will they pay the return shipping?

5. How is payment expected? Do they want 50% down and 50% when goods arrive, all of it before they ship, Net 30?

6. How many days do you get to sort through merchandise to make sure it is sellable?

7. Is there any way to get price breaks for larger manufacturing runs?

8. How many pieces can they produce each week? If you need 2000 pcs, and they only have one part time could be a problem. I also like to ask what types of sewing machines they use, since I need one seam serged. You would assume that all seamstresses listed have a serger, but that is not the case.

Even though it can be tough to find a manufacturer, being prepared and asking the right questions could prevent a bad working relationship down the road.

Is there anything else you would like to add? Any questions I missed?


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