How to build strong relationships with factories
When you’re working with a manufacturer, factory or fabricator it’s important to build up a working relationship, it’s not just a one-off transaction. After talking to hundreds of manufacturers over the last few years we’ve pulled together our top 5 tips for building these relationships with the factories that you are working with.
Do you have any other top tips? Let us know, and we’ll add it here.
1. Pick up the phone
It’s so tempting to just send out an email to prospective manufacturers, but we found that an initial phone call with a follow up email can be more effective than a email to a general inbox. This way you can get to speak to the right person who can help you, and help them understand your requirements straight away.
2. Set expectations
Before starting work on your project it’s really important to agree clear timelines with your supplier. You should definitely set out your budget and what you expect to receive at the end, and have it all agreed before work begins. That way everyone knows where they stand. Asking about the details for example; do they supply trimming and fabric, or do you need to supply it yourself?
3. Keep in touch
While you are working together it’s really good to keep in touch, keeping conversations open means that it’s easier to be aware of delays. Let them know about any issues or changes you are facing, allowing them to prepare too.
4. Work with their timelines
It’s a great idea to understand any scheduled down time that a factory might have. You’ll find that lots of Scottish factories and UK manufacturers shut down over July and August. It’s also useful to find out about their quieter periods, for instance knitwear manufacturers are quieter in the winter months, making it easier to accommodate conversations about new business.
5. It’s a partnership
Traditionally makers and designers especially in the fashion industry keep their manufacturers top secret. However, if you’re able to shout about their great work with others, then you absolutely should, even if it’s just to remember to invite them along to showcases and events.
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