I just wrote an article for Natural Products INSIDER’s World of Nutrition series with DSM about managing the supply chain. (The link should be available soon.) One of the article’s main points is how important it is to vet the various aspects of the supply chain.
Contract manufacturers, of course, are part of that. And those contacts need to be checked and maintained. That you know. However, what has grown more important as the natural products industry has gotten more refined and corporate-minded—is the need for a personal touch.
Yes, there are emails and phone calls and Skype chats, but you have to go beyond that. You need to visit your contractors, and not just during national trade shows. Everyone’s either too busy, too rehearsed, or having too much fun. It’s not a good gauge for what you need in this scenario.
If you really want to know the people you’re doing business with—to bond with them—you need to actually pay a visit to your business partners. You can see things for yourself. You can ask questions that you may not have thought of when you’re behind a desk or navigating a throbbing convention floor. And by seeing your partners up close, you can tell if he or she cares about your business as much as you’d like. Are they looking at their phone more than your eyes? Are they introducing you to the key people in their organization? Are they answering your questions without hesitation?
The ease of online communication has provided some ease to running a business. (I speak from experience. I wrote this from a vacation rental in the Berkshires, which was a nice change from two weeks writing in libraries and coffee shops as I relocated.) A personal touch is still required for your own peace of mind—and the future of your business.