When you write your specs, here’s something you really need to remember. If you have a contractor friend, you might have them come over and help you write your first order. The bottom line is this. I believe if you ordered a car from China and you didn’t tell them in the spec that it needed a steering wheel, I don’t think it would have one when it got here. They literally are going to go by the order to the letter of the order.
If you have a contractor buddy, they’re used to that. They’re using to dealing with subcontractors. Subcontractors are the same way. They’ll brick your house without mortar if you don’t ask for it. They’ll just stack the bricks up along the wall. Those contractors know they have to write very, very, very, very specific instructions with that letter. When you’re writing that order, you need to be ultra-specific. You need to talk about what’s included. You need to talk about the gauge of the metal that’s used. The quality of everything needs to be totally gone through.
Another thing: you need to absolutely get hard completion dates, along with penalties. Typically speaking the standard manufacturing time in China for most everything is 20 days. You need to have is an automatic cancel, or financial penalty, or something built into that order to make sure. That is what the big guys do. The big guys say,
“Look, you want $10,000 for this order, okay. I’ll give you $10,000 and it has to be delivered on the 20th. For every day that you’re late there is a $100 penalty that we will take off of the rest of the invoice.”
What happens is if your order is sitting there and a big guys order is sitting there and they have a penalty for his order and they don’t have a penalty for your order, guess which one they’re going to do first?
The thing is, you’re going to pay some money down when you place your order and you have a cost of money that starts ticking that day. When you pay your money your biggest objective is getting it made and getting it across the water. Pre-selling it across the water. You definitely want hard completion dates if everybody agrees to it and signs off on it.
Finally, you want an established written damage policy with the factory and you also want that with your freight company, or you may want to choose freight insurance. The truth, between you, me, and the fence post, if they tell you to go p— off there is not a whole lot you can do about it, but for the most part if they agree to something in writing most of the time they will follow through with it. If they don’t agree to something in writing and you get damages, well, there you go. “Sorry about that. You never said anything about that. You mean you want it to work? You never mentioned that part.”
You definitely want to have a damage policy that says “In case the freight comes in damaged or not as described the factory agrees to remediate, send new merchandise, pay for return shipping, or replacement,” whatever the case may be.
When I’ve had problems with factories in the past, for the most part they try to make it right. It’s not like Wal-Mart. You’re never going to be able to walk into the store and return it with no questions asked without the packaging or the original receipt. You’re going to end up communicating in the middle of the night when you’re not very excited about communicating because the time is so different. It’s much, much easier to deal with the situation if you deal with it right up front in the beginning. Clearly spell out what happens if this product is poor quality, or is not as described, or doesn’t work, or is damaged. The reason you want to have a contract with them is you can’t go to the freight carrier and get satisfaction. They have to get satisfaction from the freight carrier and they reimburse you.
The factory is packing your container, too, that is something to keep in mind. We’ve argued with people before, “Oh, you can fit more in that container.” Sometimes you can, and sometimes you can’t. I tell people that if they don’t have quality control on the China side, don’t go into the import business period.
One of the ways that you’re going to avoid a lot of problems with that is, if you don’t know somebody in China that you’re already dealing with, you need to hire a third party company. A good one is SGS Testing Laboratories. They are in all the major ports in China. You can have your sample sent to them so they can go to the factory, make sure that it works, they’ll bring a 110V generator to plug in electrical things to make sure they work, they’ll go to the factory as the product is being built, they’ll mike the metal, they’ll check the paint, they’ll send you photos and videos. They’ll actually go there while the container is being loaded to make sure that it is being loaded safely and tightly so that there won’t be any damage in the sea vessel. They’ll watch the container being sealed off with the proper count of product on it, All that is going to cost you maybe 20% of your shipping costs. It is the best money that you will ever spend. And when you tell your people in your order that quality control will be handled by SGS Testing Laboratories, guess what? They know you’re no joke. They’re not going to mess with you at that point. You’ve done everything throughout the entire process to show that you’re a professional, all the way down to having a reputable company coming out to do quality control.