In the last couple of weeks, I have visited a total of 8 food making factories, 3 film companies, 4 box companies, 4 collation companies, 2 storage companies and 3 distribution companies. That’s a lot of hairnets, hard hats…and hope. We are in a last scramble to finalise our manufacturing, and before long, we will be ready to launch!
What this stage means for me, is reccying every supplier who fits the bill, getting prices and completing due diligence on their company. For every part of the product, there will be dozens (if you are lucky) of suppliers! From the material that your product is wrapped in, to the boxes and trays they will sit in, every piece needs it supplier of materials and labour to put it together.
Then there’s the journey your product goes on; moving it from manufacturer to warehouse, warehouse to customer… and finally there is the people side of it. Who is going to put a best before sticker on your box? Who is going to put the product inside the box? There are so many layers, it does make you wonder how food companies ever manage to profit! It’s not easy. But it’s pretty good fun!
You meet all sorts of people on your journey of setting up a food business, in all corners of the country, or in our case, the globe, and you might as well enjoy it! Having visited so many factories and suppliers now, I know that the most important thing to look for is that you get on with them – you have to click with them, you have to trust them with your baby. No matter how good a price is, you really have to ask yourself, would you choose them as partners to your business? Always ask for a tour of the factory, they will kit you up with a lab coat, hard hat or hairnet, ear plugs and sometimes mouth mask too, then you will wash your hands as if you were scrubbing up for E.R. before entering the factory. Have a good nosey and ask lots of questions.
Some companies might sniff at you; thinking you are simply too small with volumes that aren’t ambitious enough – don’t work with them! Look for companies that accept you as you are, and are looking to grow with you and alongside you.