By Brian McKay

Every great product idea needs somewhere to create it. And unless you are flush with a lot of cash to buy a manufacturing facility, you will need to hire one. And, as with everything in business, your choice at this stage will prove critical. The manufacturer you pick could be the making - or breaking - of your business. And today, we’re going to reveal the six vital questions you must ask a manufacturer before you make your choice. Let’s get started right away.

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Can you handle the volume?

You should always question the size of the facility and its ability to produce the amount you need. In general terms, the bigger facility and more staff they employ, the longer they have been in business. And the longer they have been in business, the better experience and reputation they have. You should avoid any manufacturer that hasn’t been around for a long time unless you can guarantee the quality of their work.

Who else do you work for?

Great manufacturers work with great brands - it’s as simple as that. So, always look for the best manufacturer you can find or afford. Not only will it almost guarantee you excellent production quality, but it also gives you plenty more advantages. There's the prestige, of course. And there’s also the fact that big brands have big reputations they don’t want to spoil. They will be performing audits on their manufacturers to ensure they are safe.

What else can you do for me?

What do you expect from your manufacturers? Do you see them as people who can only help you create products? Automation manufacturers RNA Automation disagree. They say that a good manufacturer should give you a competitive advantage, rather than just make your products.

Where do you source components and raw materials?

The quality of a product is reliant solely on the quality of materials used. So, it’s critical that you know precisely what the manufacturer is using, and where they are sourcing their materials. There can often be a long line of suppliers of components, and you need to know they are coming from a reliable source. It’s also worth considering the ease of getting those parts. It could have a significant impact on your ability to produce if there are hold ups.

How can you guarantee quality work?

The results of your manufacturer’s work are your responsibility. When it comes to protecting your brand’s reputation, it’s vital that all your products are built with quality in mind. Ask the manufacturer what assurance steps they take to ensure that quality remains high. In an ideal world, they will make regular checks at all stages of production. This lowers the risks of defects occurring and the installation of faulty components.

Can you scale up when we need you?

Finally, when you first start a business, it is likely that you will only need small scale production. But if you are a success, demands will grow, and you will have to make a lot more. Your perfect manufacturer will have the capacity to increase their output when you need it.

Good luck with the new product - let me know how it goes!