Three Underlying Factors You Shouldn’t Ignore When Selecting an Outsourced Manufacturing Partner

By: Michael Hotchkiss, Director of Sales, SB&W 

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success. –Henry Ford

The three keys to success in selling made-to-order things are price, delivery and quality, usually in that order.

While those may be the main elements of successful selling, they aren’t the only important ingredients. There are underlying factors that do not get the attention they deserve yet are critical considerations when selecting a manufacturing source.

In manufacturing, paying attention to these underlying factors enables buyers and sellers to establish and maintain a secure long-term relationship—a relationship that makes it possible for both parties to endure mistakes without losing reputation, and that allows disputes to be easily resolved.

Here are the three most important underlying factors buyers and sellers need to understand to achieve a successful outsourced manufacturing partnership:

#1: Mutual Respect

Mutual respect is key to selecting an outsource partner. Outsourced manufacturing is not a straightforward buying decision. It is not transactional, nor is it a one-time deal. It requires both sides to commit to a partnership in which they will trust and help each other. Without the willingness to make that obligation, there can be no successful sourcing relationship.

#2: Empathy

A good relationship requires understanding. Buyers should not make requests without recognizing how those requests will affect the seller. Likewise, it is incumbent on sellers to be aware of issues that pose difficulties for the buyer. This requires compromise, but that compromise must be made without negative consequences. The terms “demand,” “must” or “deal-breaker” should never be used between outsourcing partners and in a true partnership, they aren’t necessary.

#3: Communication

A successful outsourcing partnership demands open and clear communication. It is nearly impossible to over-inform in situations with specific requirements and deadlines. As the ebb and flow of a process unfolds, things change that may require adjustments to specifications or delivery dates. The more promptly and candidly a change in expectation is conveyed, the better. An honest and ongoing dialogue will eliminate surprises and lead to a stronger outsourcing partnership.

A buyer can usually find multiple sources that can meet the obvious elements of price, delivery and quality, but successful outsourcing also requires mutual respect, empathy and communication. When looking for an outsourced manufacturing partner, do not neglect these factors in the decision process.