At a time when products are being recalled and consumers are wary, managing your Chinese contractors is more important than ever. Here's how:
Meet your maker Go to the factory. Meet the management. Tour the facilities.
Drive a hard bargain Negotiate for copious product testing, and put together a written quality control and ethics agreement. Set the rules on subcontractors, and insist on a transparent supply chain. Use carrot and stick, rewarding factories that deliver high-quality goods, shunning those that don't.
Communicate clearly Know the ethics and compliances standards for all your customers, and make sure your factory knows them, too. Let your contractors know that the penalty for failure will hurt not only you but them as well. Put all necessary documents in Chinese.
Diversify If possible, have two primary suppliers. That can reduce the likelihood of supply interruptions should faulty products or recalls force a factory shutdown. If it's too expensive, spend more on testing to minimize the potential for problems.
Be prepared for delays The spate of product recalls has thrown the entire China supply chain into a state of chaos. Testing labs are backed up. Big recalls can seriously affect container traffic and shipping schedules.