Welcome to today’s discussion on outsourcing. In particular, outsourcing your wire harness assemblies for a critical project. Finding yourself in the beginning stages of searching for a new Wire Harness Manufacturer to partner with presents several challenges. Let’s go on a buyer’s journey to help assist you with the selection process.
Reasons to Outsource to a Wire Harness Manufacturer
First, outsourcing to a Wire Harness Manufacturer gets you in the game immediately without adding significant overhead and fixed costs.
Establishing the wire harness assembly process as a variable expense lends tremendous value and flexibility to your growth and profitability. This allows you to eliminate the financial risks of taking on the exorbitant investment required to build your own wire harness department.
In order to create your own wire harness assembly department, you would need a designated area in your facility. That is if you actually have the space to conduct these tasks.
Your next step requires purchasing all of the proper equipment, machinery, and crimping tools. This investment adds up quickly. Even into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Top 10 Tips for Selecting a Wire Harness Manufacturer
So if this sounds unrealistic and overwhelming, you need to consider what steps are necessary to find a Wire Harness Manufacturer that will serve as a trusted partner.
You now might be asking yourself:
- Where do I begin my search?
- What type of questions should I ask when interviewing a Wire Harness Manufacturer?
- How can I determine that this Wire Harness Manufacturer is a solid fit with our company culture
- and goals?
- Is this a trustworthy candidate?
Well, we have you covered. Below is a 10 step process to consider when outsourcing to a Wire Harness Manufacturer.
“Should we begin outsourcing our Wire Harness Assemblies to a Wire Harness Manufacturer?”
This is a common question our new customers typically ask themselves before reaching out to us.
Many times in life, if the question crosses your mind, then odds are it is time to act.
For example, is it time to discard those old ratty sneakers that offend everyone around you? Most likely, it is time to let go.
Do you eat the leftover seafood from Monday night…on Saturday? Probably not a good idea.
If you have been asking yourself if it is time to outsource to a Wire Harness Manufacturer, odds are the time has arrived. At the very least, it certainly doesn’t hurt to investigate further.
Start by identifying what event occurred or how this question arrived. Understanding when, how and why your internal Wire Harness Assembly Process became a burden is an important step.
What hold ups, hang ups, drag downs, hiccups, throw ups, headaches, heartaches, belly aches, or pain in the “you know what” occurred? Think about the moment where you said to yourself, “there must be a better way”.
Serving as a Wire Harness Manufacturer for over 30 years, we have found several scenarios where a customer approaches us for the first time. Typically the customer contacts us with excitement (or out of frustration) when they are Selecting a Wire Harness Manufacturer.
Let’s role play. Below are a few scenarios where a new customer finds themselves seeking a new Wire Harness Manufacturer…….
Scenario #1) New Product Design and Prototypes
Congratulations! You have just completed a brand new electrical product design. You and your team (or maybe you are a team of one) just exhausted weeks and even months designing your new product that is going to be a home run! Now what? You need a completed prototype. Also, an estimate to see if your new design can be produced at a competitive price.
For example (and a shameless plug), you can go to the Falconer Electronics Wire Harness Estimator for an estimate on your prototype. You will find the Wire Harness Estimator easy to use and works extremely fast. A quick estimate allows you to determine the potential cost and competitiveness of your new product. New customers love it.
Another concern with creating a prototype on your own includes the prohibitive costs. Purchasing the necessary quantities to begin the process can be cumbersome and not cost effective. A Wire Harness Manufacturer has the tools, equipment, staff, and infrastructure in place to create a prototype quickly and affordable.
Scenario #2) Jumping Into Electronics
You are in the purchasing department of a company expanding into electrical products for the first time. Management has challenged you to seek out and find a Wire Harness Manufacturer that best demonstrates the ability to tackle this project.
Let’s say a mid-sized manufacturer is expanding into electrical wiring. Two examples that fit this example. We recently began working with two separate companies:
1) One that specializes in handicap accessible transportation
2) An ATM manufacturer
They each produced a new proprietary product line requiring wire harnesses and printed circuit boards. It was a significant savings for each company to outsource the wire harness assembly process and printed circuit boards rather than to attempt to conquer the project themselves.
Scenario #3) Vendor Divorce
Unfortunately, you and your current Wire Harness Manufacturer are no longer compatible. Who changed? It is like a marriage deteriorating quickly where “living like this” is no longer an option. Either quality has deteriorated, deadlines are no longer met, or prices continue to increase.
Whatever the case may be, it is time for a change. Losing a customer is deeply disappointing and discouraging. Our team works relentlessly to maintain long-lasting and monogamous marriages with our customers. We also enjoy catching new customers on the rebound.
Scenario #4) In-House No Longer Working Out
Your company no longer finds it efficient or profitable to produce wire harness assemblies in-house. The task falls into your lap to find a highly qualified Wire Harness Manufacturer. Selecting a company that you trust is essential!
This recently happened to a large customer. They found it much more cost-effective and profitable to outsource their entire line of wire harness assemblies by partnering with our staff. Our team went on full throttle to make this a smooth transition.
Perform an Internal SWOT
The next step, start with a SWOT on your internal Wire Harness Assembly process. What are the company strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? Especially if you are just starting up. This step is critical to help determine financial risks.
Do the same procedure and create a SWOT if you were to outsource to a Wire Harness Manufacturer.
The next question becomes, “Who can solve this problem so we can focus on our core business”?
A key to building a successful business is partnering with experts in a given field. Successful companies exist by solving a problem. Solving a problem requires developing an area of expertise. A proficiency that stands above the competition.
Partnering with Seasoned Professionals
You need to partner with a Wire Harness Manufacturer that thrives and works relentlessly to gain a competitive advantage. Also, one that creates economies of scale for you. Most importantly, a solution so valuable that it just doesn’t make sense to perform these tasks on your own anymore.
As a business owner or manager, you hire professionals to strengthen your business and protect your assets. This list includes hiring an accountant, attorney, or insurance broker who have invested the time and energy to educate themselves respectively on business law, tax codes or proper insurance policies. Especially since you rely heavily on these individuals to help you make critical business decisions. Surrounding yourself with highly trained and qualified professionals has the potential to pay huge dividends.
Outsourcing certain tasks within the manufacturing process offer similar benefits. Partnering up with a Wire Harness Manufacturer that maintains an all-star team creates a winning formula. This allows you to maximize profits while minimizing risks.
Where to Search for a New Wire Harness Manufacturer?
Once you determine that partnering with a New Wire Harness Manufacturer would be extremely beneficial for your company, now the fun begins.
Unless you already have a candidate in mind, most likely you will kick-start the search process by relying on connections within your network. A great place to start includes the list below:
- Chamber of Commerce
- Trade Associations
- Other local connections and business organizations
If you lack successful connections going this route, no fear. Call on your dear friend Google. Conducting a few Google searches will provide an array of companies that serve as a Wire Harness Manufacturer.
Is geography a critical factor? Not necessarily. Let’s say you were looking for a supplier of wooden pallets. You definitely need somebody extremely close. Otherwise, shipping costs would be brutal and cost prohibitive.
With a Wire Harness Assembly, shipping costs are typically not prohibitive and detrimental. Partnering with the right company in another part of the country can still be an effective and profitable relationship.
For example, we have customers throughout the entire U.S. We consistently ship to the west coast and Mexico as well. Shipping costs are particularly a non-factor compared to the quality of workmanship and consistently hitting tight deadlines.
Once you have discovered a worthy prospect, begin conducting company research and due diligence to see if this Wire Harness Manufacturer is a good fit for you.
Due Diligence When Searching for a New Wire Harness Manufacturer
What can you determine from their online presence?
Check Out the Company Website:
- First, explore the company website. Does the website represent the company as a partner that you can trust?
- Does the company reveal itself having the staff, tools, resources, and ability to tackle your project?
- Do they serve your industry?
- Do they have the experience and expertise to take on your project?
- Are company capabilities listed?
Check out their Social Media:
- Is the company active on social media with communicating their culture?
- Does it fit with yours?
- Does the company provide helpful tips?
- Communicate the company mission? Does the mission fit with yours?
- Can you easily submit a drawing of your wire harness assembly?
- When you contact them, do you receive a quick response?
Below includes a few additional questions to consider asking the Wire Harness Manufacturer:
- Types of customers they serve?
- What industry does the company target?
- Do they understand your needs?
- Do they have the flexibility to speed up during your busier times?
- Can they adjust to varying seasonal demands?
- Do you feel a chemistry and kindred spirit with this company?
Questions Regarding Vendor Relationships:
- Do they have outstanding vendor relationships?
- Do they have purchasing power?
- Are they willing to negotiate and fight for the lowest cost on products for you?
- Do they have strong cash flow and pay their bills on time so there are no delays in purchasing your product?
We will dig much deeper into questions to consider for your Wire Harness Manufacturer search, with #6 and & #7.
Asking Challenging Questions Captures Valuable and Critical Information
At this stage, you have narrowed the field down. To either a single or hopefully only a few Wire Harness Manufacturer candidates. Now is the time to begin the interview process. Asking tough interview questions will help lead you to the valued partner that you desire.
Being overly prepared and asking the right questions can save you a great deal of grief down the road. Hastily jumping into a new relationship with a custom manufacturer that turns sour can be devastating and difficult to recover. Depending on the severity. The divorce can get nasty and costly.
Having a list of tough questions prepared brings tremendous value to the process.
50 Questions When Interviewing a Wire Harness Manufacturer
To help discover if you are compatible with a Wire Harness Manufacturer that you are interviewing, below are a list of helpful questions to consider:
- What industries do you serve?
- Please describe your ideal customer?
- What has been your greatest victory in your business career or at your company?
- Biggest letdown or setback and how did you resolve?
- Could you share exciting changes taking place in your business?
- What are you absolutely best at?
- What are your weaknesses?
- How long have you been in business?
- Who are your key employees?
- Also, can you describe the experience of staff?
- Do I have access to the floor supervisor?
- Who is my main point of contact?
- Do I have a contact on weekends?
- Who do I contact for an emergency?
- Are you properly insured? (Check with your insurance company to confirm requirements)
- Can you supply 3 customer references?
- Are you willing to sign a non-disclosure form?
- What is your lead time for orders?
- Therefore, are you able to tackle rush orders?
- Should the customer supply parts or do you prefer to supply parts?
- Do you have aggressive discount programs with vendors?
- Furthermore, do you take advantage of early payment discounts with your vendors?
- Also, what are your payment terms?
- Do you accept credit card for payment?
- Are discounts available for early payment?
- What type of equipment and tools do you use?
- What is your shipping policy?
- Could we compare discounts with UPS/FedEx to see who has the best rates?
- Who is responsible for damaged goods during shipping?
- Do you accept blanket orders?
- Will you inventory our raw parts or finished goods when necessary?
- Are you willing to purchase new tools or equipment to complete projects?
- Can we work with you on projections?
- What software do you use for inventory management and scheduling?
- Furthermore, is your company tech savvy?
- Do one or two customers represent more than 50% of your annual sales?
- Have you ever been sued or in a lawsuit?
- In addition, have you ever gone bankrupt?
- How do we handle damaged goods or parts not working?
- Can you describe your testing process and quality control?
- What is the company mission or vision statement?
- Do you have a succession plan or exit strategy in place?
- What makes your company stand above the competition?
- Also, are there facets of your business that demonstrate your commitment to your customer’s profitability?
- Any industry standards or certificates achieved?
- Do you also have a safety protocol in place?
- What is your capacity level?
- Have you experienced layoffs recently?
- Furthermore, are you profitable?
- Please explain the reason a recent customer stopped buying from you?
Asking thorough questions goes a long way with any relationship. This list is just a suggestive list of helpful questions to consider when Interviewing a Wire Harness Manufacturer.
Outsourcing manufacturing operations can deliver tremendous benefits to your business. Unfortunately, there are many risks attached as well. Furthermore, let’s continue our discussion by addressing Discreet Questions to Determine Character Compatibility and Financial Viability. Asking tough questions will help narrow down your selection process.
So you have entered the interview process to select a new custom manufacturer to partner with. Therefore, now you are digging deeper into the due diligence process to see who is exactly the best fit.
Financial stability is certainly one of your absolute top concerns. If you are both small businesses, discovering actual financial figures or intimate information may be difficult to obtain. Even though this is information is critical. Especially if the project or product represents a significant portion of your sales.
So what steps or strategies can you take to discover the financial viability of this new prospect?
Important Questions to Ask Yourself
Here are a few questions to ask yourself through this process:
- Does the company represent itself well?
- Do you have similar goals and a common business philosophy?
- Also, is this a team of people with integrity that you can trust impeccably?
- Is this a partner that is committed to your profitability and success?
- Or are you another opportunity for the owner to support a lavish lifestyle?
Determine Character Compatibility and Financial Viability
Here are a number of discreet questions to consider to help determine the financial viability of the company as well as the character level of ownership:
Check Spending Habits:
- Strike up a conversation on hobbies. Do they have expensive hobbies? Golf at Pebble Beach, mountain climbing the Himalayas, scuba diving in Thailand, flying a helicopter, bragging about their yacht… you get the point.
- Find out the type of car they drive. “My spouse is looking for a new car. What type of car do you drive or recommend?”
- If you live near the prospect, casually ask what neighborhood they live in. Sorry to get overly “stalkerish”, but finding out their neighborhood will let you know their lifestyle. Also, Google Earth may assist.
Ask for References:
- Ask for bank reference
- ……business references
- ……also, character references
- …… as well as customer references
Do Some Research on Google and Social Media:
- Google the owner to discover any past felonies, convictions or other bad news.
- Additionally, you may want to check their Facebook page & see what they do in their personal time.
- Also, check any other social media – Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Pinterest.
- Look for Videos on YouTube.
- Furthermore, check mutual connections on LinkedIn.
Going the extra mile with your due diligence process will save you a tremendous amount of grief and frustration down the road.
It is Now Time to Plan a Visit and Take a Tour
So you continue plunging through the due diligence process to select a Wire Harness Manufacturer.
You have performed dozens of Google searches of “Wire Harness Manufacturer” to narrow down the field.
You have evaluated plenty of websites and social media pages until they all start to blend together.
Hopefully, several companies are standing out from the crowd.
Emails have been exchanged and phone calls have been made to break the ice.
You have also been asking plenty of tough questions and pleased with a majority of responses.
Also, there may be one or two candidates that really seem like they are head and shoulders above the rest.
You are feeling good.
Finally, it is time to plan a visit and tour each facility.
A physical visit to top candidates in person is vital to your decision. You might even want to consider a surprise visit (“Hey, I was in the neighborhood” – even if 500 miles away).
Here is an excellent article from the Harvard Business Review regarding plant tours (Even though this was written 20 years ago).
Eyes Wide Open and the Attitude of a Harsh Critic
It is extremely important to go on the tour with eyes wide open and the attitude of a harsh critic.
(Actually, this was just a great excuse to get Judge Judy into one of our blogs).
What to Look for When Touring a Wire Harness Manufacturer
Below is a list to consider when Touring a Wire Harness Manufacturer:
- Do you find the building and property presentable or unkempt? (Unmowed grass, disheveled parking lot, garbage, broken windows, etc…)
- Additionally, is the office presentable or unkempt? (Top of the line everything or dated to the 1960’s)
- Are you warmly greeted?
- Additionally, are the management, staff, and employees pleasant and welcoming?
- Also, do employees look happy and hustling?
- Are tools and equipment organized and well maintained?
- Furthermore, are the warehouse and inventory efficiently organized?
- Is the shipping dock clear of clutter?
- Also, are you impressed or underwhelmed with the team and operation?
- Are there any red flags that make you uneasy?
- Additionally, do employees have cell phones out?
- Check the kitchen area – is it clean and organized or dirty?
- In addition to the kitchen area, are the restrooms clean?
- Are there any key employees that do not come out to meet you?
- When evaluating the quantity and quality of staff, does the company seem to be top heavy?
- What are the years of service of the management team?
- Be prepared with tough questions regarding your product and process to determine if they are indeed experts in their field (see #6).
- Is the Wire Harness Manufacturer management team short and brief with you? Is this a good sign that they are focused and busy or are they rude and distracted?
- On the other hand, if they meet with you for a long period are they too lackadaisical or not busy?
- Furthermore, do they seem eager to earn your business or desperate?
- Look for matching or mismatched priorities: expensive office furniture, overstaffed, excessive non-business essentials (foosball table, video games, keg parties, etc).
- Get a gauge on morale at the company.
- Does the owner wear an expensive wardrobe or jewelry?
- Finally, ask the owner for an opportunity to have a mutual meeting with their accountant to view audited financials. In addition, if necessary, offer to have the meeting at your expense. Could offer great ROI.
Outsourcing your production to a custom manufacturer is similar to finding quality daycare for your child. Therefore, you need to find a company that you Trust, Trust, Trust!
As the saying goes, if something is not a “HELL YEAH” then it is simply a “No”.
Supply Parts or Not to Supply Parts?
That is the Question
(OK, that was our pathetic attempt to sound like Shakespeare).
Anyway, a common question with new customers: “What if we would like to supply our own parts?” With many custom manufacturers, this is the equivalent of bringing your own food to a restaurant and asking them to prepare you a meal.
Supplying your own products to a custom manufacturer offers several positives and negatives. Consequently, it works best to communicate clearly with the manufacturer on the pros and cons of either option.
The question is do you really save money? Also, one-size fits all does not apply here. Furthermore, there are many variables to consider which option makes the most sense (or more importantly, makes the most CENTS).
Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of supplying your own parts and components:
Several benefits fall in your favor by taking the initiative to order and supply your own parts when outsourcing:
- You control the ordering process and supply chain.
- Ordering your own parts allows you to also have full disclosure of pricing on the cost of goods.
- First-hand knowledge of availability or stock-outs of your product.
- Furthermore, you have better control over delivery times.
- Negotiating your own discounts with the vendor.
Ordering or supplying your own parts may be welcomed by the Wire Harness Manufacturer. On the other hand, this approach could be disruptive to the manufacturer. Furthermore, there are a few negatives to consider:
- The time you spend ordering parts.
- As well as the time you spend coordinating deliveries.
- Lost opportunity of volume discounts available to the manufacturer due to their purchasing power.
- Product knowledge and expertise that the manufacturer possesses.
- Also, the variety of shipments arriving at the manufacturer on different days throws off their production schedule for your product.
- The receiving department at the manufacturer must be informed of delivery. This communication is crucial for the manufacturer in order to properly schedule the production of your products.
- The manufacturer must implement a means to monetize the receipt of your goods that you have delivered. It is in neither parties interest to not account for labor, handling, and the overhead expense of receiving and storing goods. So, are you really saving money?
Where is Your Time Best Spent?
An important question to ask yourself: Is your time better spent focusing on other areas of the business? Furthermore, did you partner with a company that you trust enough to delegate the purchases?
In addition, you partnered or hired the custom manufacturer due to their proficiency, expertise, and ability to deliver a quality product on time. Is it worth your time, hassle and energy to locate new vendors and product? Especially in areas that are either new to you or where you are lacking purchasing power and strong vendor relationships.
Selecting a Wire Harness Manufacturer does not need to be a stressful process. Outsourcing Your Wire Harness Assembly can generate significant profits for your business.
Especially partnering with an experienced company with a seasoned staff. This decision lends a tremendous competitive advantage for your company. Also, selecting a Wire Harness Manufacturer that completes projects with the highest quality, effective pricing, and on-time delivery dramatically boosts to your bottom line. Therefore, teaming up with a company dedicated to your success is critical.
Wire Harness Manufacturer Checklist
To recap, here is a checklist of company traits to pursue when finalizing your search for a new Wire Harness Manufacturer:
- Superior Quality
- Maintaining an Impeccable Customer Scorecard
- Also, fast Turnaround Times
- Competitive Prices
- Seasoned Staff
- Company Experience
- Short Lead Times
- Agile and Flexible
- Company Culture Dedicated to Customer Satisfaction
- Lastly, a Deep Commitment to Safety
Ok. Hopefully, you are now happy as can be with your new Wire Harness Manufacturer.
Furthermore, as with any outsourcing partner, work diligently to maintain healthy and constant communication. Also, be clear about goals and expectations. This will also help guarantee a long, happy and prosperous marriage.
Thank you for taking the time to read our Tips for Selecting a Wire Harness Manufacturer.
Also, check out these helpful articles:
- Wire Harness Manufacturing Terms, Tools, and Tips of the Trade
- Ground Straps: What Are They And What Are They Used For?
Wishing you a HUGELY SUCCESSFUL and an ELECTRIFYING DAY!