In the Apparel Industry Speaking the Same Language Does Not Mean You are Communicating
By: Bruce S. Berton , September 2008


Consultants Corner News Consulting Manufacturing Clothing



Winston Churchill once said something like this:  "The only thing separating England from the U.S.A. is a common language."

There are different languages within many industrial sectors and definitely in the textile/apparel industry. These special communications within the industry are usually applicable to the technical application of making fabrics, assembling into garments, and shipping and packing of the same.

The communication of selling your facility's capabilities -- to whom, for what purpose, and why buyers should come to you -- is a completely different language. You must ENTICE the potential buyers and convince them that if they do not investigate your potential, then they are not doing their jobs.

For example, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an entity is generally the most responsible person if the organization; if anything goes wrong, the CEO should be held responsible. If the CEO thinks otherwise, then that CEO is not a leader and is in the wrong position. Therefore, to entice a potential buyer to view your organization and facilities and to give you the opportunity to meet, the proper information must be disseminated by all forms of communication at your disposal. How you can produce the requested product must be part of your infrastructure, your people, and your mission statement.  Your communication introduction should contain the following:

Name and location of your facility

Names of the owner(s) and their positions

How many years you have been in business

Whether or not you are a full package manufacturer

Your terms of doing business

Compliance organizations do you subscribe to

Work in Process (WIP) information you can supply

Your Time Action Calendar to handle the total complete processes

Number of employees by department (cutting, sewing, finishing, etc.)

Names of those brands you have worked for or are presently working on

Types of fabrics you are capable of handling

Specialty types of garments you can assemble

Your minimum units for production for each style

Your sample making policies

Your timetable for costing of their samples

Any logistical issues explained thoroughly

Whether you have local representation in the U.S.A.

Special processes you may have available

List of machinery you have available

By providing this profile of your business, buyers will instantly understand your facilities and know that you are experienced.  If you have a mission statement, it should also be part of your communications also. This should all be written by a professional who understands the English language as it is spoken in the U.S.A. The more transparent you can be, while covering all the variables that come with producing product in your country, will allow you to earn the trust of potential clients.

I realize that different cultures have many different ways of communicating; the art of salesmanship is not always the same in different countries of the world. The Do's and Don'ts and what is acceptable must be learned. I am sorry to say that time in the U.S.A. is more critical than in most other countries. Therefore, we may seem to be abrupt and not courteous. We believe that "time is money", and we have so many options from so many competitive organizations that we may forget the time you have spent with us to develop a relationship.  I can only say that RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS are the KEY to maintaining consistent business, as well as performing according to what you said you can do. You must learn in some instances to say NO to certain requests, so that you are honest with your customer and then be willing to learn what and why they need something that you cannot provide.

This is a learning curve.  You must try to improve to be able to service your customers or offer services others cannot. Honest profiling, knowing your customers business, and being flexible will allow you to grow and will help the customers stay competitive. Lead in service and perform on your commitments.

By:  Bruce S. Berton

Bruce S. Berton is a business and management consultant with Stonefield Josephson, Inc., a leading regional consulting and accounting firm with offices in Santa Monica, San Francisco, Walnut Creek and Mexico City. The information in this column is of a general nature.  Readers inquiries are welcome; and may be sent to Bruce Berton, at Stonefield Josephson, Inc., 2049 Century Park East Suite 400 Los Angeles, California 90067 310-432-7437 Direct
866-225-4511 Toll Free
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