Contract Manufacturing Partnership

What to Ask Before Partnering with a Contract Manufacturing Company

If you’re considering partnering with a contract manufacturing company, there are several questions you should ask before you make a final decision. Contract manufacturing companies can vary in many ways, from operating procedures, to hiring practices, to communications processes, to customer service commitments, and beyond.

Are They the One?

Before you decide to work closely with a contract manufacturing company, it’s important to determine whether they will be able to meet your company’s needs and help you achieve your manufacturing goals. And, before you can begin searching for the ideal contract manufacturing partner, you’ll need to identify what it is you’re looking to achieve by working with a potential business partner. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, it makes finding the right partner more challenging, which can ultimately have a negative impact on your company’s growth and success down the line.

Once you’ve determined your main manufacturing goals and the challenges you hope to find solutions for in a contract manufacturing partner, you will need to make a list of questions to narrow down your choices. While there are many contact manufacturers that will claim to have the right solutions for your manufacturing challenges, the only way to know for sure, is to ask the right questions.

Questions to Ask

Here are some of the essential topics to inquire about and specific questions to ask before partnering with a contract manufacturing company:

  1. Do they adhere to strict quality standards? Your contract manufacturing partner should be compliant with the latest quality standards, including ISO 9001-2008/2015. They should have the appropriate certifications for specific manufacturing processes, and should also be willing to providing document to support these standards and certifications.
  2. Ask to see the facilities. While a contract manufacturing company may claim to have clean, organized and well-managed facilities, it is best to arrange a tour to see it in person. This shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, the contract manufacturer should encourage a visit, to show off their facilities, equipment, and other capabilities.
  3. Ask about their investment in equipment. A great contract manufacturer will want to tell you all about the equipment utilized during the various manufacturing processes they perform. It’s important that the partner you choose to work with understands the value of investing in acquiring and maintaining the best equipment in the industry.After all, you’re using them so that you don’t have to make these investments yourself.
  4. Is the company financially stable? This may seem like an obvious question to ask, but unfortunately, it is sometimes overlooked. It’s important to get a solid understanding of where the company is financially, how they handle their profits and their goals for growth. When choosing a contract manufacturing company, you should be looking for a long-term business partner, and therefore their financial well-being is crucial to the success of your partnership.
  5. Do they specialize in multiple industries and or offer multiple capabilities? It’s important to determine if the contract manufacturer will be the right fit for your company’s manufacturing needs. If they don’t specialize in your industry, or aren’t willing to invest in the proper equipment and experienced labor to help you reach your goals, then they aren’t likely to be the right partner in the long-run.
  6. Do they offer engineering and prototyping services, and other extra services for a complete package? Some contract manufacturing companies only offer specific aspects of the manufacturing process, while others are able to offer a broader range of services, which may allow you to unburden your P&L of more of your production and overhead costs. Therefore, it’s important to get a clear understanding of what is offered by the organization, vs. what is not.
  7. Do they have a positive company culture? Companies with happy employees tend to produce better quality products and services. Be sure to ask questions around employee relations, benefits, ongoing training opportunities, to get a sense of the company culture in general. A visit to the facilities may also be a way to see the company at work, and to see employee interactions and enthusiasm.
  8. Will they be committed to your success? It’s important to ask a potential contract manufacturer what size companies they prefer working with and why, in addition to their philosophy on business partner relationships overall. You want to work with a contract manufacturer that’s invested in the success of your business, right? If they don’t have a good answer to this question, then they may not be the right contract manufacturing partner for you.
  9. How long have they been in business? While the number of years in business shouldn’t necessarily be the main factor in your decision, it’s important to get a sense of the company’s collective experience, areas of expertise, and commitment to the industry. You may also want to look at online reviews, and ask the potential contract manufacturing company for testimonials from existing or previous customers. This way, you can get a first-hand account of what it’s like to work with the business, and hopefully determine if it’s the right decision for your company.

These are just some of the questions you should ask before deciding to partner with a contract manufacturing company. The more questions you ask, the more informed your final decision will be, and the result will hopefully be a long-term and beneficial partnership for both organizations.

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