Don’t Be Afraid to Rock the Boat With Your Chinese Factory. Here’s Why.

Apr 17, 2024 | 0 comments

I talk to many brands that haven’t negotiated with their Chinese factory in years.

Why? Things are good and they don’t want to “rock the boat.”

But I would argue that’s too “Western” a way of thinking.

How do I know?

Despite spending many years in China, I still often follow the “don’t rock the boat” thinking, because of my social and business environment conditioning in Canada.

I’m not a natural born negotiator

My wife and business partner, Xiaofeng Wu, definitely is. When traveling as a tourist anywhere that involves bargaining, I normally hide behind some corner while she goes in for the kill.

Other Chinese teammates are great negotiators, too.

I’ll cut to the chase. If you’ve read this far and are wondering what to do—it’s talking to your Chinese factories more, telling them what you need, and negotiating for your brand. Do this several times a year, or even more often if you are doing large volume.

Listen to your factory and find out what’s important to them. Negotiating, of course, doesn’t mean pressuring the other party into submission.

Be prepared to make some concessions on what you want, but also expect your factory to make concessions too. Then keep the conversation going, purchase order after purchase order.

It’s culturally normal—and almost expected—to negotiate with your factory and other Chinese partners. And you’re probably leaving a lot on the table if you don’t.

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