How to make the right Trip Preparations for your Factory Visits in China

Thorough trip preparations help you improve your chances for a successful visit. Although it depends very much on the main goals of your visit the following general preparations will fit most of them.

Will the Electricity Be On During Your Visit?

Chinese factories are forced by the government not to use electric power one or two days per week. This government imposed outage rotates between industries and factories during the week (including Saturdays and Sundays) because demand outstrips supply. Heavy penalties are imposed if they break the rules. Most factories have purchased electric power generators to overcome the shortage thereby avoiding production interruptions. Still, be sure the power will be on when you visit or you will not be able to see production operations first hand.

Business Cards are Critical!

They are lightweight and can be used long after your visit to China so bring considerably more than you would normally think is necessary. In China everybody expects you to give him at least one business card and if you are meeting with several people, you may handout a dozen or more at a time.

About Cell Phones

I suggest you check with your cell phone provider at home to see if your phone will work in Hong Kong and China. Give your cell phone number to any supplier that you prearranged to meet.

The call charges to Mainland china are very high and many visitors buy a SIM card from a China Mobile retail outlet upon arrival to reduce phone costs. The call charges in Hong Kong are cheaper but you can also buy a SIM card from one of the local service providers.

You Will Need a Digital Camera

A digital camera is one of the most important tools you will need during your visit. You will have many opportunities to shoot photos of products, production operations, and quality control operations. These will include close-up photos from details which cannot be seen in a catalogue. Do not forget to bring a spare battery with you because you probably will not have a chance to recharge the battery while traveling between factories. You may also need another memory card if you do not have already one of those 2-5 GB cards in your digital camera.

You Need a Notebook Computer

If you have a notebook computer, bring it to every meeting. If you do not have one, consider purchasing one. That purchase will be worth the money you spend for it.

Your notebook computer provides you with the necessary information for your business negotiations, plus allows you to show background information about your company, and the packaging concept for your products. You can also input vital information during your discussions without the need to take hand written notes. At the end of each day you can send this information together with the matching photos to the head office.

Colleagues at home can in that way interact and ask for additional information if something important was missed.

I suggest a large capacity battery for your notebook computer. One that lasts up to 6 hours or more. If that battery type is not available for your model, bring another fully charged battery along.

Your Company’s Catalogue

If you have your own company catalogue, bring a few sets along with you for the meetings with your suppliers. From my experience, it makes a good impression and helps to cement the relationship with your supplier if you hand over one set during the most important meetings. Remember you are your company’s ambassador and want to show your company in the best possible light.

Your Corporate Identity Artwork Concept

Creating your own corporate identity concept is very important. After spending a lot of effort on it at home, it would be a very good idea to bring it along with you to show it to the suppliers during your meetings. It enhances the impression you make and helps suppliers better understand your needs.

Sketches, Drawings, and Photos are Perfect Tools to Inform Suppliers

You should also bring along any sketches, drawings, or photos clarifying what you are looking for from your suppliers. Sometimes suppliers will tell you where you can find products and help save a lot of time.

Your Specifications

What is a specific requirement? A specific requirement could be a more complex sales packaging or an instruction manual in several languages that are often needed for Europe.

For electrical products, the plug is a substantial cost factor. The British BS plugs is more expensive than the US plug.

Quality Requirements

Your quality requirements are a very important cost factor. The requested quality standard is defined by your requested Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) that sets the limits for the satisfactory process average.

License and Royalty Fees

Other important cost factors are license and royalty fees that have to be negotiated with certain suppliers. DVD players/recorders, MP3 Players etc. are examples.

Your Shopping List

To avoid being distracted, you have to prepare your shopping list of the products you want to source. This list should include at least the following details:

  • Product description
  • Target Fob price in US$
  • Quantity of the first shipment
  • If possible an estimate of your yearly quantities
  • Requested earliest delivery date
  • Destination port
  • Packaging information of other than standard
  • Number of samples needed
Posted April 1st, 2012 in China Factory Visits.

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