Minor changes are not always minor

I had an email from a prospective customer a couple of weeks ago. She detailed for me the problems she had been having with a garment FTY in Zhejiang , China. She wrote as follows: 

The new factory is making me crazy!  They simply are not following instructions. Their pricing is low, which is what attracted us and I made a visit there to meet the owner and my liaison as well as to tour the facility and I was quite pleased. We proceeded with sample preparation. I have been back a second time to work through the construction issues with them. I literally sat down in the sample room and showed the sample makers two times how to construct our unique waist band seams. They then made me a good sample before I left, however, they have not gotten it right once since I left! I requested additional samples just to be sure that they were on top of it, but not one right since.  

There are myriad possibilities at work here as follows: 

1.) The FTY is not happy with her order QTYs and is not prioritizing her orders. They have other orders which they regard as more important.

2.) There is an internal communication problem so that her instructions are not being passed on to the workers. (bad FTY management)

3.) There is a costing issue somewhere with the waist band.

4.) There was a problem with her own communication with the FTY

5.) The FTY is under financial strain as are  many small FTYs in China nowadays and it is just not able to focus on production.

6.) This is simply a bad FTY or a FTY that does not have the expertise to do this particular order. 

It is hard to know what is going on without having seen the FTY myself  but I suspect it is a costing issue. If a factory fails to do something in spite of your repeated directives it is usually because there is an added cost somewhere.  Some factories in China work on razor-thin margins so that the slightest increase in cost- resulting from a revised design or production step – can make the difference between profit and loss. I remember working with a FTY once that was reluctant to discard a few rusted nails that I had found in a product and asked them to remove. For me it was just a nail. But for the FTY disposing of those nails represented a loss. So what did they do ? They set them aside and tried to reuse them when I wasn’t looking which I found more interesting than aggravating. This is how many factories think.  For this reason you should never assume that a minor change for you is a minor change for your FTY as well. In many cases it is not.   

Returning to the example above, the fact that the FTY above has not been able to do samples to the customer’s specs – after she herself went there to provide guidance – and has not been able to communicate to her why they are having so much trouble is a warning sign that she should not ignore. This is a FTY she probably does not want to work with.


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