Now, it’s time to talk about the future with your PCB vendors. Referring to our previous columns, if you’ve done everything right so far, you will now have a strong working relationship with your PCB supplier. They understand all they need to know to fabricate perfect boards for you at this time. With trust and respect between you, you’ve truly formed a strong partnership going into the future.
So, what about the future and the days and years to come? How will you ensure that your vendor is prepared to meet all of your needs—even the ones you haven’t developed yet? How can you make sure that your vendor-customer partnership will last, and what steps must you take to take it the next level?
Here are seven proven guidelines to make sure that you have the most solid relationship with your PCB vendor:
- Let your vendor come into your company. Make that vendor a trusted advisor by inviting them to brainstorming meetings where you discuss new products. Think of how valuable it would be to have a true PCB expert at the table while you discuss your future products.
- Hold regular technology exchanges where you and your vendor update one another on what you are both working on to improve your companies.
- Talk to your vendor about your customers, both the ones you have today and the ones you are going after in the future. Talk to them about new products you want to launch and get their opinion about the PCBs you will need for those new products.
- Share business plans. Your vendor will be much more prepared to help you be successful in the future if they have an early idea of where you are going.
- Ask your vendor to train your people about how to build a PCB. Ask them to give your team classes on PCB 101 basics as well as high technology. The more your team knows about PCBs, the better they will be able to handle them in your system.
- Ask your vendor to give special instructions to your designers so they will design boards that are manufacturable as well as economical. The better your PCB designers are educated about how to build PCBs, the better designs they will produce. I recommend that your designers meet with the PCB fabricators on a regular basis so that both of them will have a great understanding of what the other one does, and together, they can come up with better solutions for tomorrow.
- Most of all, feel comfortable enough with your vendor to use them as you personal PCB expert consultant. Set up regular meetings so that they can understand your business and vice versa.
The key is to get to the point with your primary PCB vendor where they function an extension of your company or your one personal board department. Help your vendor be better by intentionally focusing on their well being as much as yours. If you care enough about your business to work with the very best PCB fabricators on the market today, treat them with the respect of a true partner, and you will enjoy the best vendor-customer relationship possible.
Anaya Vardya is president and CEO of American Standard Circuits.
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