Are you looking for valid questions to ask a clothing manufacturer? If YES, here are 20 valid questions to ask a clothing manufacturer.
Starting and running a clothing brand is not easy. It comes with its own unique set of challenges; from translating your ideas to reality, choosing the material, to choosing the ideal manufacturer who can offer what you want. With numerous options available in the market, picking the right manufacturer who can meet your business needs can be a very challenging task.
However, it is still imperative to find a reliable manufacturer, first because you have to know that your standards are met and that the sales samples will look exactly like the merchandise you intend to sell.
Also, you need to have the cost estimation from your potential manufacturer. Note that cost tends to vary from factory to factory, and it is necessary to be on top of your price calculations and business model before starting your business. There are numerous ways to find clothing manufacturers; trade shows, online, contacts, branch organizations, etc.
Howbeit, it can be quite challenging to find a factory that properly aligns with your needs when it comes to communication, quality, and delivery. Recommendations are without doubt very valuable, and if you already have found a good manufacturer, make sure to nurture that relationship.
Make sure you don’t push them or treat them anyhow believing that you can easily replace them with another factory. Note that to improve your chances of successfully cooperating in any way with a factory, there is a range of questions you can ask.
Once you have put together your shortlist of manufacturers, it is now time to pick up the phone and start making the calls. Ask these questions to see if there is an ideal fit between your brand and their manufacturing.
Questions to Ask a Clothing Manufacturer
Can You Source Everything For Me?
There are some manufacturers who can source everything for you, while there are others who will have you provide the fabric, zips, buttons, labels, and all the other components that make up the final product. If your brand prefers to supply its raw material then this arrangement would suit you perfectly.
However, if you still do not have well-oiled sources, you should go for a manufacturer who can source everything – from fabric to tag – for you! Your primary aim should be to simplify the supply chain by finding one manufacturer who can take care of everything. Your role would be to place the order, make the payment, and receive the delivery.
How Busy Is Your Factory?
Various factories will have varying availabilities at different times of the year. Most often, a factory tends to be the busiest right before a season starts but a good number of them will hire extra staff during these periods and you won’t even notice any difference in service.
If a factory is renowned, then the question of how they intend to meet your timeline and balance their various priorities is necessary. Coupled with asking about the general workload, it is also necessary to ask when a factory can start to work on your clothing order. This is very pertinent especially if you are running a tight schedule.
When Can I Expect My Delivery?
Just like it was stated above, it might not be that easy for the manufacturer to provide you an explicit delivery date before the production gets started, but they can let you know when you can expect a sample and the duration it might take for them to finish the production.
However, if you have a deadline that you are expected to meet, then it is imperative to discuss it with the manufacturer. In addition, carefully note if the manufacturer is mentioning a date only to impress you or they are noting a realistic time.
How Many Pieces Can You Manufacture In A Day?
Note that this is more or less a practical question. If, for instance, you are new in the business or want to introduce limited clothes, you might only want 50 pieces to begin with. But what if the manufacturer doesn’t accept orders of fewer than 200 pieces per day?
Same way, you might want 1000 pieces in a few days but the company isn’t equipped for mass production. Ensure to do the numbers well and have an extensive idea of the production.
Can You Give Me A Cost Estimate For My Product?
If, for instance, you are approaching the manufacturer with a particular product in mind, don’t forget to ask if they can provide you with an estimate. Note that this will let you know whether the arrangement is going to suit your budget. You will have to start by communicating the details of your design with the manufacturer.
If you intend to make a shirt, for instance, you can state the kind of fabric you want, the collar style you would prefer, the length of the sleeve, the quality of the button, the sizes, and such factors.
Are You Working With 3rd Party Suppliers?
In some situations, manufacturers outsource parts of their production to other suppliers. If they do, endeavor to check what parts they can’t do by themselves. Don’t forget that if they work with a 3rd party supplier, it can be more challenging to control that part of the process. It is another part of the chain that can bring about delays and misunderstandings.
Do You Manufacture What I Am Looking For?
Have it in mind that there are manufacturers who have a good reputation or offer great prices but may not work well with your brand unless they have certain expertise in the form of clothing you intend to sell. Therefore, it is very vital to establish a clear ground of communication where both of you can discuss what’s your niche.
Can I Reach You Directly?
Before signing the contract, ensure to verify if you are working directly with the manufacturer or reaching the manufacturer through an agency.
Most times, manufacturers accept orders for products that they barely make and sub-contract those orders to other manufacturers. Note that this inculcates a stream of middlemen into the supply system which increases costs and reduces efficiency.
Do You Speak My Language?
Note that it wouldn’t be easy to communicate with the manufacturer unless you have at least one language in common. Therefore, it is pertinent to ensure that they understand your tongue and some (if not all) of their representatives can speak the language adequately enough for communications to be smooth and intricate. Have it in mind that this issue can be better dealt with by having a supply chain management team on your side.
How Do You Like To Communicate?
A good number of times this question tends to be overlooked, but it is a very critical consideration, one you should take seriously. How does the factory communicate?
Note that their mode of communication needs to align with yours. For instance, if you barely talk on the phone, then you don’t want a factory that leaves you plenty of voicemail. Just remember to tell the manufacturer how they will get in touch with you, and how often.
Terms of Payment
It is also vital that you ask the manufacturer when they expect the payment to be made. A good number of manufacturers want an initial advance to start the work while the greater amount needs to be paid at the time of delivery.
However, note that different manufacturers will surely follow different payment schemes – some of them might require you to pay for the fabric in advance while some might need your advance payment to pay wages to their artisans. It is ideal to ask about the payment scheme right at the beginning.
Also, don’t forget to ask about the local taxes you might have to pay, the shipping charges, the packing charges, and any other additional cost that might be applicable.
Are You Taking On New Clients?
Note that by asking this, you are presenting the manufacturer with an easy route to reply and you will know straight away where you stand without wasting any time.
How do you deal with mishaps and claims?
Even though this might be a tricky question, but you should ask it nevertheless. Instead of directly asking how the manufacturer settles claims, or whether they settle claims at all, you could ask how they deal with mishaps where the products are affected may be owing to some fault or accident on their part.
What Other Services Do You Offer?
Have it in mind that your manufacturer may also offer other services which would make your process easier such as fabric and trims sourcing, pattern cutting, grading, prototypes. However, you must know the costs involved and the amount of control they have over your project. Most importantly, having a potentially easier supply chain could be of massive benefit.
What Other Brands Have You Worked With?
This question should give you a certain view of the manufacturer’s portfolio. It also lets you find out if they have worked with one or more leading global brands in the past and verify who their present partners are. This can help you analyze the faculty and reach of the manufacturer, and great partnerships should be considered as good recommendations.
If anyone you know has worked with the manufacturer in the past, you should seek a first-hand review of their product quality and services.
What Is Your Minimum Order Quantity (MoQ)?
Without doubts, MoQ remains one of the first things you should ask about while talking to a clothing manufacturer. Note that you might want to place an initial order of only 50 pieces to analyze whether the product sells well, but the manufacturer does not take any order below 500 pieces.
In addition, you might want a thousand pieces at once, but the manufacturer may not have the capacity for such mass production. Note that when there are such situations, there is no reason to waste your time moving further with the manufacturer – unless there is the chance for additional negotiation.
Do They Have Terms And Conditions You Can See?
Written terms and conditions are a good document every top-notch manufacturer should have. There are quite a few things you want to include in an agreement with a supplier.
Can I Visit Your Factory?
Indeed, visiting the factory in person remains one of the best ways to understand how the manufacturer functions, the sort of equipment they have access to, how they handle their workers, how they manage their raw materials, and every other necessary thing.
If you can make visits in the middle of the production process, you can easily see for yourself if they are complying with all your instructions.
Owing to that, to enable you to participate in the manufacturing process, consider asking the manufacturer if you are allowed to visit the factory. When a manufacturer restricts visits, it can be a red flag to your business arrangement – the manufacturer could be subcontracting the order to another company.
Do They Have Any Certifications?
Just like any other business looking to achieve top-notch success, you have certain standards for your brand when it comes to sustainability and works ethics. Owing to that, ensure the manufacturer meets those expectations. Are they certified? Can they guarantee a good working environment?
What Lead Times Do You Work To?
This is another very essential consideration that needs to be answered as soon as possible in the selection process. You need to discuss this at the initial stage so you can understand if the factory will be able to meet your deadlines. Note that different factories work to different time scales, however, the most critical thing is to get an explicit indication of lead times so the whole process is more transparent and there are no surprises.
Note that a manufacturer can make or break your business. So, choosing the right one is necessary to streamline the clothing manufacturing process. Nonetheless, here are basic questions which you must raise while forming a liaison with a new manufacturer.