Why quality inspection cost over 250 USD per day
Some importers ask why our quality inspection cost is “so expensive”. One of them even told David Fisher, our account manager in Boston, that he could hire a Chinese/Bangladeshi/Indian employee for a day “for $1 and a Big Mac”.
Quality inspection cost
Why do all third-party inspection firms charge over 250 USD per day of work, even in low-cost Asian countries?
To respond to this question, the best is to break the cost components down:
The job itself in the factory
We have to send an inspector who is capable of checking the type of product made by the factory, who is familiar with the procedure, who can read & write technical English, and who is willing to write a report at night after his workday.
Traveling expenses and rest days
Factories tend to be spread out geographically, especially in China and in India. That usually means paying for a bus and a taxi, back and forth.
And inspectors do not work every day, since our job is on an as-needed basis. We need to build in some extra capacity, to be able to accomodate last-minute requests from our clients.
Assembling a team
No inspection firm can provide a reliable service simply by using freelancers, who might be available one day and not the next (or who might “forget to wake up” on the right day). We have to find, evaluate, hire legally, train, and supervise full-time inspectors.
Many importers imagine that they can manage the quality control process themselves, but in fact can never assemble a good team on the ground. Why? Because they are not willing to pay the costs of hiring a manager, setting some procedures, and doing things legally.
Communication with the client
Importers have specific needs that we have to understand before we suggest the right services. They also have questions along the way, and they might need advice for setting up a quality control plan.
Many of them prefer to be in touch with a Western account manager familiar with quality control (and preferably in their country, for easier communication).
Communication with the factory
Our local coordination team needs to contact the supplier to get the confirmation of the date and the place of inspection. It would be easy to simply follow the instructions from the importer, but it is impractical. Few of our clients actually know the factory address (in local language) and contact information, for example.
Preparation of the checklist, management of approved samples
Importers usually send us some product specifications and an approved sample. Our operations team needs to input the specs in our checklist format, and to ask questions when things are not clear. Our coordination team also needs to track the samples and forward them to factories.
Review of the reports
We have to ensure that reports are understandable and are not ambiguous, so they go through several pairs of eyes before they are sent to the client. But we manage to send the vast majority of reports on the same day, late at night.
To sum up, when you pay for a professional inspection firm, you not only get more reliable reporting but you also benefit from a whole lot of back-office services.
Most importers decide to let specialists take care of quality control, for more convenience and more safety. Some others cannot avoid to compare the full service cost to the average salary divided by 30. What do you think?
Photo credit: gfpeck