Tips to Overcome Common Manufacturing Challenges

As a small business owner, you are rightfully proud of the innovative products you have invented and are now going to sell. You are confident that your business will take off and succeed, and you intend on selling your items for a fair price while paying your employees well.

All that you have to do now is make sure that you and your manufacturers are on the same page. While challenges can arise when working with production and manufacturing companies, there are a number of strategies you can employ to be sure you are overcoming these potential issues and will be able to deliver quality products to your valued customers.

First impressions matter

As you look for potential manufacturers and suppliers, your first interaction with each one will provide you with valuable clues that you should take into mind when deciding if you want to work with them. As Practical Ecommerce notes, if you reach out to a manufacturer with an inquiry and you get a speedy, enthusiastic and professional reply, this is a good sign that they will be a reputable company to work with. However, if they are slow in replying to you, cagey about important info like costs, shipping times and rates, and/or they have a sketchy looking website with little info about their products and services, these are all red flags that may indicate they should be avoided at all costs. For an outstanding example of a company that “gets it” — both in terms of their customer service and their website, check out Apple Rubber; they are a trusted supplier of essential product components like seals and sealing devices, and their website offers in-depth info about their products as well as the company itself.

Weigh the pros and cons of domestic vs. overseas manufacturing

You might be determined to manufacture your goods right here in the U.S.A., however, if you are on the fence about who will produce your products, Shopify suggests taking an in-depth look at the pros and cons of each option and then making your decision. For example, the advantages of domestic manufacturing typically include higher manufacturing quality and labor standards, no language barrier and faster shipping times, while disadvantages commonly include higher costs to manufacture your items, and fewer product choices.

As for overseas production, the advantages include lower manufacturing costs and a higher number of companies from which to choose. Cons may include your customers feeling your items are not as high quality, language and time zone issues, slower shipping costs and cultural differences in how you both run your businesses. Again, unless you know from the get-go which option you prefer, it is advised to carefully weigh the plusses and minuses of each one before making your final choice.

Communicate on a regular basis

Whether you are using one manufacturing company to produce your entire line of products or you are choosing a variety of vendors that create the different parts, it is important that you communicate with each of them regularly — at least monthly, if not more often. Keep everyone updated on the products that you are selling on your website and regularly check their sites to be sure they are still carrying the items that you need. If you are not proactive about communicating with your manufacturers, you and your company might fall through the cracks, and they may also discontinue vital parts without telling you. To ensure up-to-date communication, follow your manufacturers on social media; this way, if some type of weather phenomenon or other issue causes their production to slow down or stop, you will know about it.

Get through the bumps in the road and you’ll be well on your way

Like many things in life, launching a new business will come with its share of challenges — some of which are related to your manufacturers. By being aware of potential issues and knowing what to look out for, what to research and how to communicate, you should avoid most of these bumps in the road and enjoy a growing and thriving business.


Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.