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How to Effectively Manage Your Suppliers in Mexico?

By AMREP | Posted on April 06, 2022

Updated on December 12, 2023

This Image Depicts Managing Your Suppliers in Mexico

With the rush of the automotive and aerospace industries into Mexico over the last few years, it's been an extremely busy time for our quality engineers and inspectors. We've been working with suppliers in Tijuana, Nogales, Mexicali, Reynosa, Monterrey, Puebla, Queretaro, Leon, San Luis Potosi and many other industrial locations across Mexico.

Most of the time we're developing corrective actions and improving their quality production processes.

When reporting back to my American and European clients, I find that they keep asking me, 'how do we understand Mexican suppliers better?' 'How do we get the best out of them?' 'How do we effectively manage our suppliers in Mexico?'

Some Tips For Managing Mexican Suppliers

Here are a few points of advice given by Marco Garcia Flores. A Supplier Quality Engineer Team Leader at AMREPInspect Mexico

  • Mexicans always say 'yes'

    Mexicans find it very difficult to say no or express disagreement directly. This is especially the case if you are a guest or customer of theirs.

    When you're speaking to suppliers, don't be surprised if they keep agreeing with you and saying 'yes' to all your requests even if they are unable to follow through. They will go along with what you say; the trick is being able to read their body language and other surrounding factors.

    For example, when you try to follow up with them, do they seem to be trying to push you off, avoid the topic, or delay giving you an answer?

    Read More - Quality Control Tools for Managing Your Outsourced Supply Chain

  • A 'Tomorrow' Attitude

    The biggest problem with Mexican suppliers is that the management has a 'tomorrow' attitude on problem resolution, whereas the customer would expect a 'today' mentality. The overall business drive in Mexico is not as frenetic as compared to other countries like China, India, or the USA.

    As an example, just look at the rate of technology adoption in China. Chinese suppliers have jumped onto getting their websites translated into English, listed themselves on every supplier directory possible, ensured that they are contactable by all communication methods available to them.

    Mexican suppliers in contrast, have been very slow to do the same. Most of them keep their websites in Spanish, have a website design that dates back to the early Internet days, and may not even have a product catalogue. They may also be very slow to respond to customers, especially over email.

    Having a hard time managing your Mexican Supplier?

    Talk To An Expert

    To overcome such situations, one of the strategies we employ is placing a customer quality representative within the supplier's factory. This representative works directly with the Mexican factory management to facilitate and guide them through problem resolution.

    We often humorously say, 'You fixed your quality problems with the Mexican Way and Style, using American tools!'

  • Friends Share Business

    Mexicans have informal ways of conducting business and tend to rely on word of mouth and person-to-person referrals. Everyone involved in a business transaction is considered a friend of one another. In the context of manufacturing, it's common for your supplier to collaborate with other supplier friends to outsource production activities or source components, sometimes without your knowledge.

    Read More - Third-Party Quality Companies To Check Verified Suppliers

    This situation can become particularly challenging if you are unable to consistently maintain a presence at your suppliers' facilities. This not only hinders your ability to monitor the performance of your supplier's sub-suppliers (over whom you have no control since they answer to your supplier, not you), but also prevents you from gaining visibility into the components that are being integrated into the final product. Friends often impose less stringent standards on each other.

Is There A Solution?

The most effective ways to address such situations involve regular and thorough checking of your supplier's operations, from the initial stages through packaging and delivery. It's essential to maintain diligent control over their incoming materials receiving processes.

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