Working with Buyers and Others: Interview with Barbara Carey
Our Guest Blogger, Ashton Udall, is a partner at Global Sourcing Specialists, a product development and sourcing firm that assists businesses, inventors, and start-ups tap overseas resources to succeed in the global economy.
Ashton recently interviewed Barbara Carey for his blog product-global.com. Barbara has written articles for us as a Guest Blogger for us in the past. She is the inventor of Hairgami® and dittieTM feminine protection brand, as well as over 100 other products. He wanted to share the interview with the readers of AmericanInventorSpot.com.
Here's Part III of his 3 part interview.:
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Without further ado, here is the third and final part of my interview with Barbara Carey. Again, you can learn more about her by visiting her blog or checking out the launch of her new program: The Carey Formula.
Working with Buyers, Team Members, and Other Third Parties
A: So when you needed to find out whether stretch velveteen was good enough, did you find that out by putting it in front of people?
B: Yup. When I have a question, I ask. I survey. You'll want to ask your end user, customer, retailer, lots of people in different categories. I mass market, so I need to appeal to the masses. For these reasons, I always try and develop a relationship with the buyer I'm working with. I typically close my deal with my buyer before I even go see them for the first time. When I go see them, I usually feel I'm there as a courtesy call to pick up paper. I do it that way because I believe in being a person that does what they say they're going to do. I pick up the phone. I tell the buyer what I'm going to do and get off the phone very quickly. A month later, I follow up with them and say "remember what I said I was going to do? I just did it." And then I do it again and again. And pretty soon, over a period of the product development process, which might be 6 or 8 months, I've become a person who does what I say I'm going to do. And, the buyer has seen this whole series of accomplishments with you and they want to do business with you.
A: What about bringing in people to help you during this process? Can you talk about how you surround yourself with people that can do certain things better than you?
B: I surround myself with people that can do things I can't. I've got an excellent CFO. I've got an excellent Operations Manager. Basically, we are a sales and marketing office, a great designer, and a wonderful marketing coordinator. We farm out everything else as a virtual company. I don't need to be in the warehousing industry or the manufacturing industry, so we have contract warehousing and manufacturing companies. So throughout my life, I've been on this hunt to find great resources, and that's what my CD library is all about. It's a collection of all these people and pieces that you need to make this whole thing work and keep very low overhead.
A: That's one of the messages that came strongly out of your book: keep costs low. A lot of people go out and spend a lot of money on things that aren't necessary when they're starting a business...
B: Business cards. What a waste of money! And, what a wonderful opportunity to get someone to email you instead. Now you have this relationship of communication going back and forth. Information can be the same way. That's the whole thing behind the book and web presence that I'm launching: Access to information at an affordable price. And it's not just the book-it's a whole business binder including how to price your product, cash flow and inventory management, and more-like the NOLO Press on how to start your business.
A: Turning to the subject of manufacturing overseas, what are some of the lessons you've learned along the way in this area.
B: One, I, personally, don't need to go overseas. Two, use a third party quality control inspector. Three, analyze how your communication process is going with your overseas supplier. If they're not responsive or don't seem to put in much effort, that can be a big problem. But they can do amazing things overseas. I can get a book printed over there and sent here, even with the added shipping time, faster than I can get it printed and sent to me with a company here in the US. A US manufacturer will make a book for me in 6 weeks. A Chinese manufacturer can do it in 4 days.
Also, you need to check references and do your due diligence. If there are red flags, chances are they'll become problems later. Usually, where there is smoke, there's fire.
A: What about dealing with problems that come up?
B: Problems always come up in every area of the business. I'm a problem solver. That's my job and I'm good at it. You need to be a problem solver in business. You need to maintain your professional composure. I work with my vendors. I'm not going to tear them apart when they make a mistake, because in the end they'll love to work with my company. I can be challenging, but I treat them fairly. But you have to know that there isn't anything you can't solve or overcome. Problems seem much smaller when you live that way.
When I was building my Hairagami business, I had a vendor that didn't do the things they said they were going to do. And I had an order I needed to fulfill. I was dumb in the first place to leave myself at their mercy. You need to have a second source. The order was supposed to ship and I hadn't even seen a production sample for approval yet. But, I didn't freak out. I went back to my buyer and told him that I had a challenge and I wanted to see if he could work with me. I'm willing to compromise to figure these things out. And that buyer was wonderful and so polite in helping me figure the situation out. Part of his motivation for being that way was that he respected me because he already knew me as a person that does what I say I'm going to do.
You can reach Ashton at Global Sourcing Specialists at www.productgss.com