If you’re preparing to take a project out to bid for a cleaning product, finding the right vendor is a skill. The process usually entails very well-established protocols that most of us are familiar with: Your internal project team (product, purchasing, etc.) establishes a need, and a member of that team defines the project’s scope, usually in the form of a request for proposal (RFP). The team puts the RFP out for bid with a series of contractors, during which time those vendors evaluate and respond to the bid.

Once the bids are in, the management team reviews those bids and rewards the contract to a vendor best suited for that project or product. The vendor and client work back and forth to finalize and sign a contract. 

Sounds standard enough, right? However, if you’re new to outsourcing liquid chemical production, it can be difficult to know what to look for in a new vendor and partner. 

“Transparency” Means Just That

Liquid cleaning products need to meet high standards of safety and quality. When you’re working with a new vendor, that vendor should be prepared to share documentation, schedule facility tours, make introductions to your team, and so forth.

Additionally, that vendor should be as motivated as you are to protect your IP. Mutual NDAs and other contractual documents prior to the bidding process are normal and to be expected in this field. The bottom line? You know your products (and customers) better than anyone. You also likely have a set of internal metrics you use to evaluate and process new bids. It’s up to vendors to work with you under the circumstances you prescribe and partner with you throughout the process.  

That process should ideally include a thorough vetting of the premises and the equipment.

Facility Visits

How much of your vendor’s projects are handled on-site vs. processed through yet another vendor? Seeing is believing, and any contact manufacturing vendor seeking to work with you should allow for open and transparent access to their machinery floor and laboratory facilities. 

As part of the bid process, it’s vital that you meet with the team at the facility to:

  • Inspect equipment
  • Review current safety and maintenance records
  • Talk to machinists and the staff who work on the line
  • Current insurance and permitting info 

Meet With In-House Chemists

Hiring and recruiting chemical engineers is time consuming and costly. Outsourcing allows you to pass that cost onto your vendor. That doesn’t mean that all talent is created equal…especially in tight labor markets. 

You should feel entitled to meet with and talk to in-house chemists and engineers during the RFP process. A true turnkey manufacturing partner has the staff and facility to handle the entire end-to-end process, including:

  • Prototyping, formulation and blending
  • Testing
  • QA and QC processed 
  • Design and implementation as needed 

Inquire About the Resiliency of the Supply Chain

When your retail and wholesale customers suddenly have a spike in demand, or if there’s an unexpected kink in the global supply chain, your manufacturing partner should have adequate resources to meet your order volumes. 

Third-party vendors for household and industrial cleaning products should insulate you and your customers from those unexpected (but inevitable) strains on the supply chain to avoid passing on costs to your customers. For example, PCI maintains relationships with ingredient suppliers to keep our client’s order flow consistent and predictable. Those processes are difficult to maintain but indicate a commitment to results and brand consistency. 

Our rigorous testing and quality control systems are based on ISO 9001:2015 standards, the highest available for our industry.  

Is There Adequate Redundancy and Resources to Address Ongoing Challenges? 

Exclusivity clauses can certainly pose challenges for various aspects of your business, particularly when you need to respond to spikes in demand. Ensuring that your next vendor has a willingness to work with other third parties provides you with additional flexibility as your order volumes fluctuate. 

Also, not all liquid contract manufacturers have workflows that can help you address unexpected issues with other suppliers. For example, PCI has the internal facilities and established experience to relabel bottles when there’s a packaging issue with another vendor. We can pivot our entire line to help safeguard your reputation as well as your bottom line whenever there’s a mislabeling issue.  

Need to Talk to a Contract Manufacturer About Your Next Bid?

At PCI, we are transparent and forthcoming the minute you approach us with your RFP or a new bid. Whether you need help with a big order or are just looking for a reliable partner, we are just as concerned about your brand’s reputation as you are. 

We don’t ask you to work exclusively with us and we can collaborate with other vendors in our space as needed by our clients. Our team is looking forward to discussing how we can manage your entire liquid manufacturing process, from sourcing material to shipping finished goods to your distribution center. 

To speak with a member of the PCI team or set up a time to visit our state-of-the-art facility in the heart of the midwest, contact us today.