How to choose the right manufacturer for what you need

You’ve spent years planning to branch out on your own and you’ve lost count of the hours you’ve invested in perfecting the design of your product. You’ve tested, re-tested and refined your big idea to ensure it is the best it can be. Now, it’s time to hand it over to a manufacturer.

For many entrepreneurs, the thought of handing over their product to be mass produced is akin to handing a stranger their baby. How can you trust them to do a good job and not damage the thing you have worked tirelessly on and thrown every ounce of energy into?

If you fail to do your homework, picking a manufacturer to develop your product at scale and for the market you’re targeting can be a very risky affair. The world if full of fantastic manufacturers, but there are an equal number you’d either be better off avoiding or who simply aren’t equipped to work on your product.

In this post, we’ve put together 6 tips for choosing the manufacturer that will make your big idea a reality.

1. Check they’ll be at home developing your product

Let’s start with the obvious. Let’s say you’ve invented revolutionary, synthetic grass that never needs cutting. You’ve found a manufacturer practically on your doorstep, but a quick look at their client list suggests they’re rather more at home making mass-market bluetooth speakers.

Chances are, that manufacturer isn’t going to be able to develop synthetic grass. With that in mind, always check a manufacturer’s website and ask them directly about the types of materials they work with and the products they produce.

2. Who else do they manufacture for?

If possible, seek out manufacturers who accurately claim to have worked for at least one or two big name brands. If they have, they will almost definitely have gone through all of the relevant regulatory and audits required, and that’ll be one less headache for you to worry about.

3. How many quality assurance steps do the have in place?

A good manufacturer will have a robust quality assurance (QA) scheme. Again, be bold and ask them up front – how long does it take them to test products before they are released to market and how many QA steps do they have to go through?

Depending on the type of product you need producing, you may also need to ask if they carry out QA during the build process (this is particularly important in electronics manufacturing). Testing at the end isn’t aways enough.

4. What’s their capacity?

Take a look at your business plan. How many products do you expect to sell in the first year and beyond? As your business grows, you need to ensure you have a manufacturing partner that can grow with you, so ensure capacity won’t be a problem and that there is plenty of overhead for when things go big time.

5. Compare domestic vs overseas

Sourcing products overseas is often cheaper than doing so closer to home, but that should never be the sole reason to abandon UK manufacturers. Cheap rarely means ‘good’, so always compare the service offering of overseas manufacturers vs domestic and don’t neglect any of the other checks in this list.

6. Gather testimonials

One of the best ways to sniff out good a manufacturer is to speak to an existing client or two. Any manufacturer worth their salt will make note of key contracts on their website. Even if you only see a list of big brands, be brave and pick up the phone – you’ll be surprised by how far you get and the information you’re able to gather.

Summary

We hope the tips above help you make an informed decision about the manufacturer of your product. Handing your baby to anyone is nerve-wracking, but follow these simple steps and you’ll find a manufacturer who will make your big idea shine and serve you well for years to come.