Feet on the Ground in China

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I believe that there are a few basic principles that are essential to having success sourcing in China. They are showing up, having patience and having feet on the ground. Actually there are a few more that are just as important as these three staples, but let's save them for another time. I want to focus today on "feet on the ground". This could mean a lot of things.

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Answer.com defines it as operating in "a sensible, realistic, or practical manner" and although not our exact meaning, this is universally good advise. But as it relates to sourcing products and services in China, our meaning is a bit more literal. We have feet on the ground. We have people in China. We have an established presence. This does not mean "I know a guy" or "we have contacts" in China.  So what are the advantages of feet on the ground? Here are just five.

  1. As a representative office, we do not have to lurk in the shadows, operating illegally in China as people who operate below the government radar do. This adds a layer of transparency and cuts down on corruption as direct transactions are more in your control. Operating in the shadows also means a lot of complications and missed opportunities as well. And typically, "contacts" disappear as other opportunities present themselves, leaving you back at square one in China.
  2. With feet on the ground in China, you instantly establish credibility and confidence with Chinese managers and business owners that you want to source products and services with. They know you are more likely to have sustainable business if you have proper representation in China. An obvious upside to relationship confidence is that you will get cheaper pricing more quickly.
  3. Being represented in China helps eliminate communication errors. Our staff has been sourcing products and services in China for over nine years, with systems in place to prevent miscommunications and false starts. This is seen as a great advantage for both our clients and Chinese companies as both sides are all to aware that communication is the most difficult part maintaining a good business relationship.
  4. With feet on the ground, you can mobilize faster, find more qualifies sources to choose from and head off issues while they are still manageable. This is so important that I am sure it will find its way to being a blog topic in the future.
  5. My favorite, that I have eluded to in the past is; to figure out what you do best, do those things and find other people to do the other things. We at Avela do those other things.

It has taken years to develop the systems, procedures and contacts to be an established company with feet on the ground in China. It is hard but rewarding work. It is what we do best. If what you do best is manage your business and have a need to source products and services in China, may I suggest you find a company that has feet on the ground in China to do those other things.

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Gary Young: Founder, President and CEO of the Avela Corporation Gary Young CEO of the Avela Corporation helps companies source produces and services in China with offices in Houston and Shanghai since 2002. Mr. Young’s experience extends from sourcing both commodities and unique OEM opportunities, to intense product development projects. His relationship with China extends into his personal life with his daughter-in-law Eva who is from Shanghai and the newest addition to the family Aiden ,who is presently learning English, Mandarin and Shanghainese. Mr. Young is a Vistage Member since 2001.

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