During China fairs we meet dozens of foreign buyers who say that they manage quality control by themselves and usually fly to China in order to visit their pre-selected factory. However is it always the best choice to have your own representatives visit the production and will you actually get a good understanding of the manufacturing process and factory capacities while arranging the visit? What do you need to take into account when planning a trip to China and how to get the most of efficiency out of the planned trip?
Unfortunately, companies might not always realize how a typical one-week trip to China might look like when planning the visit to a factory.
Monday. You make your way out of the airport of a Chinese megacity, then take a 1-2 hour cab ride to a five-star hotel.
Tuesday. You stay in the hotel to rest after 15+ hours of flying (not counting stopovers, of course) and try to get over the jetlag, go out and explore a part of the city, and reply to the emails missed during the long flight.
Wednesday. Check out of the hotel around 11 AM. The factory staff picks you up and drives you to their town where the factory is located, usually 1-3 hours from a major city. On arrival they check you into the five-star hotel closest to their factory in order to bring you to their production premises the following day. After that, you’ll have the mandatory dinner with your hosts, which can be a simple (fairly quick) event, or it can last for several hours with endless drinks if you’re not careful.
Thursday. Your hosts pick you up from the hotel around 9-10 AM and bring you to their factory, usually a 1-hour drive away from the hotel. You arrive around 10-11 AM and spend at least an hour having general introductions in the meeting room, then have a rapid tour around the factory before the lunch break at 12 AM. Your Chinese hosts will take you to the best restaurant in town, which could be up to 1 hour away from the factory, and order the best delicacies of the local cuisine. The lunch will be abundant in food, drinks, and very interesting conversation, which could last until 3 PM easily. After driving back to the factory, you will have one hour for a quick tour around the workshop as usually factories close at 5 PM. It is good to be focused and use this hour as effectively as possible, however it is still a challenge after the massive food extravaganza and the jetlag, combined with tiredness of constantly driving around and making small talk all the while. Your hosts certainly see the fatigue, so at 5 PM they organize a car to take you back to your hotel.
Friday. It’s your last day in China, so you want to go sightseeing and shopping.
Saturday. Take a ride back to the airport, about 3-5 hours from the town hotel, and fly back home with scarce findings from the little time you spent at the production.
In many cases, this is the outline of a typical trip to China when buyers intend to check several suppliers and conduct a thorough verification of each factory.
It is usually a good alternative to save not only time but plenty of efforts and costs by hiring a third-party professional company which will conduct a full factory audit within one day and send you the report the following day. The report will give you a clear insight of the following points:
- Factory profile,
- Organization structure,
- Production Process
- Production Capacity
- Facilities and machinery
- Internal Quality control system
- Any special requirements you would want to pay special attention to during the factory visit
However, the buyers who insist on visiting the supplier by themselves are always recommended to keep in mind telling the factory in advance that you need to have a few full days at the production site. You might say that there is no need for a five-star hotel but to save time you prefer to stay as close to the factory as possible. You may bring your own lunch or ask the factory to order it for you so that there is a chance to talk to workers during the meal. Maybe ask in advance what they’re serving at the factory cafeteria. You might like it!
In general, be realistic about jet lag, make accurate calculations and a fixed schedule before planning your trip, and compare all alternatives to find the most time and cost-effective solution for choosing the right supplier.