1. Do you want to go into business with a sweatshop? This is a real question. Some people do. They might not admit that, or even realize it, but, there are pricing expectations that some companies have that absolutely dictate that they have to take the work to a sweatshop. Not just overseas.,, in Los Angeles, there are plenty to choose from.
2. Is the communication excellent? Does the factory respond to email inquiries? Are they specific when answering questions or addressing concerns? If you're having a hard time communicating with the factory before you give them your business, then imagine what it'll be like once they have it. Great quality apparel manufacturing, among other things, requires honest, direct, effective communication.
3. Do they understand you? This is yourproduct, the thing that will make you money. Your business relies upon the factory delivering to your expectations, assuming your expectations are reasonable. A good apparel factory will tell you if this is not the case. Those that agree to everything you ask, or tell you what you want to hear, are not doing you any favors.
Establishing expectations are crucial. The factory must understand your product, how your company operates and in general, the things that are important to you. If you can't relate to the people running the factory chances are they can't relate to you. Don't overlook the importance of this.
4. Does the factory make you proud? Suppose your parents are visiting and they want to see what you've been up to. Would a visit to your factory impress them? Or would you hear yourself making excuses for the shoddy nature of the thing?
More importantly, if you had an important customer in town, would you take them on a tour of the factory that produces the product that will sit on their shelves? Hopefully! You should not feel that you have something to hide or worry that your manufacturing practices will be called into question.
5. Do you know where your product is? Do you know where your product will be made? You hire a factory, but really, are they thefactory or do they outsource? If they won't disclose where your product will be made, I'd move on. If they do outsource, are up front about it and you're OK with the arrangement, that's OK too. But, if you're not sure if the factory is making the product on-site, double check. Outsourcing without your consent can be problematic for a number of reasons. Proceed with caution if you're not sure on this one.