How to Approach a Manufacturer with Your Idea

presenting your idea to your contract manufacturer

As a new start up, approaching a Contract Manufacturer can be an intimidating task. While there aren’t many reasons that a manufacturer would choose not to work with you there are a couple that might. Manufacturers don’t want to devote alot of time to projects that might not go anywhere.

After developing your idea and conducting market research, the next step is Choosing your Manufacturer and beginning the process of bringing your product to market. Deciding whether to manufacture domestically or overseas and making sure to extensively research potential manufacturers is integral to the process.

What Will a Manufacturer be Looking for From You?

At Fieldtex, we look for a couple of key indicators that a project has long term potential.

Those indicators typically include a strong grasp of the product that needs to be manufactured and that the person seems knowledgeable about the market that they are selling into. If you a approach a factory with an indication that you have no idea if your product will work or how much you plan to charge once the product goes to market most factories will pick up on that and invest little time or effort into working on a that project.

We prefer inquiries that are brief ,direct and straight to the point, “I am looking to make this type of product I have a Sketch or drawing of the bag I need and I estimate that I will purchase 600 a year to start increasing over time.”

Manufacturers Get Lots of Inquiries 

Since the explosion of the internet in the early 2000s it has be come very easy for anyone to find a manufacturer and email them saying “Hey can you make my product?” think about how you will separate yourself from the unserious inquires a manufacturer may get every day.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

It’s a good Idea to reach out to more than one company or factory or hire a consultant to help you vet multiple factories. This can help weed out manufacturers that are unequipped and don’t have the manufacturing capabilities. Different factories have different machines and skill sets. For example, just because a factory is in the sewing business doesn’t mean that its the best company to make a compression garment. That would require a facility to have unique types of sewing machines that handle a different kind of seam and stitch than traditional clothing.

Some start-ups hire a Product design and Engineering firm prior to manufacturers; Fieldtex is proud to have its own internal Engineering and Design Department to simplify the process as much as possible.

When approaching a manufacturer, its important to be prepared, professional, clear, and concise; this could mean less alterations and sampling rounds, ultimately leading to your product hitting the market sooner.

Some manufacturers have a Request a Quote Form (like us!), which gives the manufacturer background about your concept and purpose prior to a formal meeting. Then a manufacturer get an idea of what the product is going to be and what they need to ask you in initial meetings about how the product should be manufactured as well as where the project is in the development process.

Remember: First impression (be it through contact form, email, phone call, or a meeting) is truly telling, and helps in building a good relationship from the ground up with your contract manufacturing partner.

Having questions prepared for the first conference call and a brief but informative business plan will show Focus and potential to a new partner.

Common Questions to ask a Manufacturer:

  • What are your production minimums?
  • What is (or ‘How long is’) the prototype and sampling process?
  • How fast can you turn around an order of XX amount?
  • What are your common lead times?

After presenting your idea, pricing is established based on quantity and material choice. Finding the perfect manufacturing partner in terms of timeline, capabilities, experience, and appropriate pricing can be a longer process than some expect; as a start up business or solo OEM, it can be difficult to dedicate sufficient time. That being said, this decision can affect the trajectory of the future of your business, and should have time dedicated to it.

Fieldtex is a Domestic Contract Manufacturer with over 40 years in the industrial custom product industry. Learn more about our custom product capabilities here.