Manufacturing with on offshore vendor introduces a myriad of complexities into the equation. Some are obvious such as potential counterfeiting and quality issues and the need to become more intimate with the finer details of your product than you ever wished (or thought possible) in order to be able to give direction to the supplier on the minor issues that can result in major brand dilution.
Outside of the obvious concerns we also need to be mindful of the way in which we conduct ourselves both within the factory environment and (possibly more importantly) outside of office hours when we are trying to foster the relationship with our new manufacturer.
In Western society we like to make the separation between work activities and social activities and feel that what is done socially does not reflect highly on our working relationship (in the most part). Within an offshore setting it is sometimes the actions that we engage within that hold more weight on our future working relationship with the supplier than anything we have done within the confines of the factory.
One of the largest predictor for your future business relationship with a supplier is how easily you can be pressured into doing something in a social setting that you obviously did not want to do. "Have a cigarette", "Lets go for Karaoke", "Do you want to play..... (game) ", all seem fairly innocuous invitations and by imposing a popular Western ideology of doing whatever is required to get the contract across the line onto these invitations, a lot of first time visitors to the region will (reluctantly) engage in these activities. I am not saying that if you sincerely LOVE karaoke you should refrain from doing so with your supplier (probably not to the extent depicted in the movie "OLD DOGS"), but if you show reluctance and then do it anyway can be interpreted as "This customer is very flexible and easy to convince on process and quality issues, just look at how easy he decided to jump up and sing karaoke / have a cigarette... etc.."
You are setting a precedent for future business and social engagements with the supplier without knowing it. You are sending the message" This is what I want, but if you want something else, I am happy to do things your way".
If you were standing up in front of a Board meeting and relayed the above message, you would be ruthlessly massacred by the more senior and experienced executives.
Another mention should be given to the excessive consumption of alcohol whilst on social outings with your supplier. After work drinks to "close a deal" is often a cultural norm. If you can tolerate alcohol without embarrassing yourself then feel free to match drink for drink with the manufacturing team. If you cannot then drink what you can tolerate and feel free to stop when you have had enough. I have seen senior representatives obviously on the first trip to the country go out for a "blinder" with the factory representative. Sitting a few tables away, I could hear them giving away a multitude of business secrets and insider tips in their inebriated state, not only to the factory representative but to 90% of the establishment. It should go without saying but "Know when to say enough!"
Be yourself while meeting with offshore manufacturers, don't do things that you normally would avoid and don't drop into holiday party mode. You will find the factory is significantly more respectful and co-operative, viewing you as a Professional rather than another gullible Westerner puppet.
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