In April 2016, I travelled to the Hong Kong lighting exhibition to source the most efficient LED light bulbs, from the most reputable manufacturer, with 90-day payment terms and reduce lead time.
Green Tech Solutions, a company I had recently invested in had secured 4 huge commercial contracts within the first 3 months of operation, and we needed to deliver the highest quality products at the best price in order to deliver on our promise. As with all new companies, cash flow is king so securing stock with 90-day payment terms was key to the companies long-term success. I was told by others that it's almost impossible to achieve unless you are already an established business, but that didn't deter me.
Within 10 days I achieved this from 5 of the top LED suppliers, globally. Here's how;
Day 1: Find exhibition stands that had visually appealing products. Look at the specification and build a database of companies that manufactur high quality;
- Product spec
- Product range
We finished the day with 26 companies on our database (out of 1000 that were at the exhibition)
Day 2: Introduce yourself to the company, collect their brochure and complete the database with the following information;
- Company size
- Largest UK client
- Number of staff
- Location of manufacturing facility
- Sq ft of factory
- Length of service
If the company does not know this information or they are afraid of sharing it, do not proceed. Analyse the database and select the top 10.
Day 3: Introduce your own company to the top 10. Use a presentation and explain the process used to select their company as one of the top 10 manufacturers.
Day 4: Select the top 5 companies. Explain that you have selected them and want to visit their factory. Ask them to organise accommodation and travel.
Day 5-9: Visit the factories. Take photos and videos and show an interest in to quality, testing and working conditions. Do not discuss prices until you have had lunch with the company director. Use the same presentation to ask for your terms and negotiate prices. Show them your vision.
Day 10: Notify the companies which products you are interested. Ask for written confirmation of the terms requested. Job Done.
I studied Chinese business culture before travelling. Had I of listened to any of it then I would have failed miserably. They are good hearted people and respond to others that talk from the heart. If you go looking for the cheapest, you will find the most expensive. Only the top manufacturers will negotiate price on the highest quality products if you care more about quality and service - they only want to do business with people that care so show them your long term vision, the values behind the business and why you want to succeed.
I have attached the presentation we used as well as some videos and photographs. I hope this helps anyone looking to build relationships with Chinese manufacturers.