If your company is exploring manufacturing methods, you’ve likely encountered contract manufacturing as a possible avenue. Contract manufacturing is when a business hires a third-party to handle the production of a product or good.
If you’re at the stage of evaluating contract manufacturers and trying to determine whether your prospects can handle your needs, we’ve compiled a list of questions that will help you in the vetting process.
Your number one priority is providing the best product possible for your customers. A contract manufacturer needs to ensure that is accomplished. A reliable partner will be certified for adherence to quality standards, such as ISO 9000. You should always make sure the manufacturer you hire has systems in places to make the best good possible.
Yes, this is an obvious question. But it goes simply beyond getting the job done as cheaply as possible. You should have an idea of how much it costs to manufacture your good at the quality you desire. A manufacturer who estimates you below what you expect may be skimping on the raw materials to make a cheaper but inferior quality product. Alternatively, one who estimates far beyond what you expect may be using materials that are more expensive and drive up your costs.
It’s important to not only know how much they’ll charge for their services but what they expect to pay for their ingredients and raw materials as well.
Depending on what kind of product you make, you will almost certainly need to ensure it meets certain regulatory criteria. Whether it’s a federal requirement handed down by the FDA or a corporate guideline from a chain store you sell in, your good will need to hit certain benchmarks in order to be sold.
Make sure you ask a contract manufacturer what systems they have in place to ensure compliance. Ask them how to monitor changing protocols and regulations, how they quality control test their products, whether they have outside testing to confirm their internal results, and more. If your contract manufacturer isn’t compliant, that’s a problem for your business as well.
Knowing who else a contract manufacturer has worked for is important for the vetting process. Previous customers can provide feedback about what it’s like working with the manufacturer and the quality of their work. And a company that hesitates or avoids telling you who they’ve worked with in the past indicates a possible issue.
With contract manufacturers as well, you can also learn what products they’ve helped make in the past. You can then sample and evaluate similar products to yours to see how they stack up. Is the quality and craftsmanship up to your satisfaction? Then you may have found a good match for your business.
Of course, a manufacturer will only tell you companies they likely know will give good reviews. So, it’s important to do your own research and see if you can find any past customers who aren’t suggested to find more impartial feedback.
A contract manufacturer you’re considering will likely have specialized interests and expertise unique to your industry. If they’ve worked with similar companies to yours in the past, that means they also likely know tips and tricks to help you succeed. Do they have any advice on ways to improve your product that you may not have realized yet? Are there any concerns for manufacturing your good that they’ve encountered with similar ones in the past? A contract manufacturer can be a partner to help your business grow and thrive. But a partner who can’t add valuable feedback or insights on how to improve may not be one you want to work with.
The size of a company is important in several ways. You need to know if a business is large enough to fit your needs. Do they have the space and personnel to manufacture your product in a timely manner? Ensuring a contract manufacturer has the capacity for your order is necessary. Larger companies will also likely employ more experts and qualified workers that will meet the quality standards you require.
But the reverse can be true as well. A contract manufacturer can be so large that your business gets lost in the shuffle. If your order isn’t as large as some of their others, you may drop down their priority list and not receive the attention you deserve.
Experience matters. A contract manufacturer who’s been in business for many years will have a roster of clients and products they’ve helped bring to market that demonstrates their reliability and competence. Whereas a manufacturer that hasn’t been in business for as many years will not have that portfolio of results to point to. But a new manufacturer can still have experts with experience in the field, so it’s important to learn about the team as well.
There are many other questions you can (and should!) ask a potential contract manufacturer, but if these seven are on your list, you can feel safe that you have a good foundation in your vetting process.