Before an EMS provider can respond to a request for a quote (no matter how indicative or informal it might be) there are a number of things they definitely need to know. So, before you pick up the phone or press send on that email, it’s worth doing a check that you’ve got the following facts at your fingertips.
8 details an EMS company needs to prepare an initial quote
- What’s the full scope of the project? How much of your assembly, test and logistics are you looking to outsource? There are many different services an EMS can provide and there is a lot of extra value they can add that will affect pricing.
- What type of materials are required for the build?
- How long does it take to assemble, test and pack your products?
- How many products do you anticipate needing over a 12 month period? What daily/weekly/monthly batch or ‘call off’ quantities are required?
- Where do you need your products shipping to? UK, Europe or elsewhere?
- How quickly do you need your product available? What lead-time do you currently offer the end-user? What are their current delivery expectations and are they likely to change over time?
- How much forward visibility can you give the EMS and how much firm order commitment can you realistically sign up to?
- Is the product design stable and do you have up to date build and test data?
Without these details, without these basic facts about your business and your requirements, the person on the other end of the phone could end up simply guessing.
No room for guess work
And guessing about the extent of the services you may want them to provide or the potential complexity of your build and volume of your order - could just land you with a lot of incorrect information. And if you end up basing projections and a budget on those incorrect estimates then they’ll be a knock on effect for your business, with all the wasted time and effort involved in rethinking your approach.
Hopefully, the person on the other end of the phone won’t resort to ‘a finger in the air’, but if they don’t have a handle on what you actually want, they may end up asking for more information that will elongate your fact-finding mission. And if you’ve got a busy schedule you don’t want to get involved in a lot of back and forth to clear up misunderstandings or clarify requirements.
What are the 3 things an EMS provider absolutely can't do without?
But it is the case that sometimes an OEM just needs an indicative quote or a ball park figure to go back to their team with. This is understandable and as long as the EMS provider is confident that the query is genuine and not simply speculative, they should be prepared to help expedite your query. In this case, there are three details that an EMS provider absolutely has to have to pull an indicative price together.
- What products you want to build
- What materials are required to build them
- How long it takes to assemble, test and pack them
From this information the EMS provider will be able to apply their material handling costs, labour charges and profit margins to work out a rough price per unit.
However, this is never going to be a substitute for answering all the detailed questions above and the pricing will only be at unit level. So, you will eventually need to weigh in with more detail before you get an accurate quote to reliably base budgets and projections on.
Some final thoughts
Finally, here are some great observations from a number of manufacturers on LinkedIn about their experience dealing with buyers - underlining how both parties can get what they need from an initial enquiry:
1. Put yourself in the position of the EMS - “If I were in their shoes, what would I want, expect, and need from me?”
This will help you know if you’re giving them enough time to respond and if you’re giving them the right (or enough) data to respond effectively.
2. Be as open as you can be - ‘we’re not the CIA’
An EMS will understand the need for discretion, but you will need to give us as much detail as possible to produce an accurate quote. And it will help us be discrete in the way we approach third parties, so that we don’t disrupt any existing relationships.
3. Assemble as much data & information as possible - “it might take a little longer but it’ll be worth it”
The effort you expend will be paid back in the speed and reliability of the quote you receive.