I Have a Board Game Idea – Now What? Part 30: 5 Tips to Dealing with Manufacturers

Welcome back! There are a number of expenses that you will need to consider when working on setting the goal for your Kickstarter campaign including shipping, freight, and manufacturing. For today’s article, I am going to revisit selecting your manufacturer and share my five tips to dealing with manufacturers.

Tip 1: Shop around

One of the first things you will want to do when looking for a manufacturer is to ensure you get quotes from a lot of different manufacturers. When I was looking for manufacturing quotes when preparing for the last Kickstarter campaign for The Hackers Guild, I received quotes from 8 different manufactures before settling on Long Pack Games.

It is important to note that while price is a key factor in determining which manufacturer to use, it shouldn’t be the only one as often the cheapest option is necessarily the best option. Additional factors to consider include communication and English proficiency, payment options, minimum order quantity, recommendations from other designers, and more. I wrote an blog post on the important considerations earlier, which can be found here.

For a listing of all of the many options for manufacturers, check out James Mathe’s list on his blog. He also an excellent article on ways to keep the manufacturing cost down that is worth reading.

Tip 2: Be as specific as possible when compiling your request for quote (RFQ)

The request for quote (RFQ) is just a fancy term for the list of specifications for the components of your game that you send to the manufacturer so that they can give you an estimate on how much it will cost you to print your game. It is important that you be as specific as you can with this document, including pictures when needed. Often the manufacturers will have a template RFQ for you to complete. James Mathe has an excellent write up on the whole process that I highly recommend you check out.

Tip 3: Insist on samples

Regardless of how good the manufacturers communication is, or if you see a sample over Skype, there is no substitute for handling the various components especially when it comes to all of the different options for card stock and chip board. It should also be noted that these are just blank component samples and aren’t the same thing as the pre-production sample you will get before mass production begins.

Tip 4: If at all possible, communicate in “person” over something like Skype

Written communication can only take you so far, and often verbal communication will give you the best idea of how well your representative speaks and understands English. It can also help with the Yes men as you can ask for specific examples of what they will be using.

Tip 5: Ask for and follow digital file formatting templates and guidelines

Each printer is going to be different and you can save a ton of time by formatting your digital files correctly from the get go. Early in the process you will want to ask your representative about any templates or guidelines that need to be followed to help prevent errors in the future.

Other than shipping, manufacturing is likely to be your greatest expense when running a Kickstarter. It is important that you start the process as early as possible, but make sure that all the major changes are done first to help in needing to get more than one quote. Until next time, happy designing.

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