We asked one of our clients to give us their impressions during a China factory visit during a buying mission recently. Read below to get an idea of how they felt during this trip. This is one of a series of blogs that we will title: Buyer Diary.
The last thing anybody would want to do is to embark on a China factory visit with no preparation at all. Trust me, there is no way you would want such adventure. ODM had this one experience of managing a village factory on my behalf, and this list of Do’s will prepare you for the worst circumstance you can expect!
Other than the usual trip preparation tips, these are additional tips!
Bring sufficient cash for the China factory visit
When you run out of cash, the first thing that you’d think of is an ATM (Automated Teller Machine). Don’t be too confident on that because some factories are based in villages and it’s tough to even access an ATM; don’t mention one with internal funds withdrawal. The solution is – you either bring sufficient cash to sustain your expenses for the entire trip or ensure that you have a local china bank account to withdraw from.
Pre-arrange your trip with factories
Expect factories to be your host for the entire trip – so just drop them a note regarding your arriving flight details. As mentioned in our previous blogs, it is culture for Chinese businessmen to be sloppy on time management. Do emphasize on punctuality, otherwise you will end up stuck at the airport.
Research on your arrival airport!
We all know… Who does research on airports? Don’t take this for granted because I did, and I regretted it. I was on board an international flight from Hong Kong to Yiwu for my China factory visit at a village.
And because this airport is an old terminal …
It has only one flight each day and there seems no need for an information counter.
Also, within seconds, everybody left the airport. And there was no single soul in sight.
And because this airport is really secluded, it was an adventure for me. Carry on reading, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Get a SIM card that can dial both international and local calls
Especially when you are travelling alone, you need you communication devices to get help when needed. A working SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card is more important than you think. Here’s what happened –
I arrived at the Yiwu airport, waiting to be picked up by the factory. Unfortunately, I only had a prepaid SIM card on hand (which cannot be dialed outside of the country). Of course, the plan was to borrow the information counter’s phone at the airport to contact the factory manager. Who knew there was no information counter at the airport (as shown in the picture above). And everybody left within split seconds, so the airport was empty without a single soul. I tried to seek help from a security guard at a building outside of the airport to probably borrow a cellphone, but he rejected it and walked away.
I had no choice, but to walk back to the airport. Fortunately, I found another guard and he offered help. He described my appearance to the factory manager and left. I was on my own with no man or car in sight. At the end of the day, the factory manager arrived an hour and a half late. Lucky me, I guess.
Sounds unbelievable? All we can say is ensure that you are fully equipped and you will be fine for your China factory visit. Don’t forget to charge your phones!
Get enough information from factories
Well, it is important to have some survival tools for your China factory visit just in case… Well, sometimes don’t trust factories too much. Remember to take down as much information as you can. For example:
- Factory address
- More than 1 contact number of factory manager
At least, you can find your own way to the factory!
Learn basic Mandarin or at least bring along a translator!
It is important to have good communication with factories, given the fact that factories may be hard to manage at times. That’s why organizations always choose to go through a promotional products intermediary company (ODM’s a good recommendation) to ensure that all factory matters are professionally handled. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to go through handling the factories yourself, especially when you have office documents piling up on your desk.
During the China factory visit, ODM Group sent another representative other than Patrick, whom is proficient in both English and Mandarin. This way, I can be kept in the loop of all the happenings. Basically ODM and their staff handled factory matters during the China factory visit and it is definitely a wise choice, rather than to attend to these matters yourself.
As you can tell, communication between Patrick and the factory boss is very reliant on body language and visuals.
Nevertheless, it is always wise to bring along a translator for all of your China factory visits. Probably the most important point of all:
Pay attention to the factory
The most important out of all the above throughout the China factory visit is to be wary and pay extreme attention the factory. It does not matter if you end up alone without communication in the airport or you run out of cash. But you have to always pay close attention when dealing with the factory. That I did not have to worry, because ODM Group handled the factory well, despite all the challenges faced.
From my experience from dealing with the factory personally, some factories can be relatively sneaky for production and give reasons that practically don’t make sense. If you’re not familiar with the factory operations, it may be hard to detect the warning signs – for example when production is interrupted and the factory tries to cover up.
What I suggest is to either entrust your project to professionals whom work with factories or to deploy an experienced employee during China factory visits.
Build a strong factory network
Factories in China have strong networks with one another, especially factories which complement each other. For example, a pen manufacturing factory would have good ties with a gift box manufacturing factory. Also, factories in China have good networks with those manufacturing similar products – either they are competitors, or they help each other out by outsourcing. During your China factory visit, it is bound that the factory manager will meet representatives from other factories. Grab the chance to build a strong network! You never know when you require their assistance! With a strong network, your business progression will definitely be smoother than you expect.
Take down useful contacts!
As mentioned at the previous blog, it is culture for factories to drive you around during the China factory visits. Well, it is always convenient to get your own transport! As the factory’s situated in a village, cabs generally do not drive in that area. In fact you won’t be able to spot a single cab.
Tricycles are a great alternative, they are the common transportation in villages. I definitely took the tricycle down to and fro the factory every day for 2 weeks!
I had a few numbers of tricycle drivers and they are usually efficient. Call them, and you’ll see them in two minutes at your door step. Otherwise, there is always the car-cab. Basically these are people who own cars and they use it as cabs. This is definitely good transportation for long distanced journeys! Where can you find these tricycles and car-cabs? Make your way down to the shopping area in the village and you will see them stopping by the road side! Well, be sure to ask for cost before hopping on!
One thing I love about China – they have free food delivery! Almost all eateries in China have free delivery to nearby places that is about 5 – 10mins walk or bicycle journey. So when you’re hungry at your hotel, just dial the number shown at the shop’s signboard. Expect the delivery to be really efficient!
Take note of culture and customs
Of course do keep yourself puffed up with knowledge on the culture and customs faced during China factory visits! China Factory Visit – Buyer Diary #1: Culture & Customs
Do all the Do’s, and we’ll see you tomorrow for the Don’ts.