Francois Jaffres from Noviland – Get Your Physical Product Sourcing Blackbelt

Episode 62

Francois Jaffres is a blackbelt in product sourcing. We have him in today’s episode to talk about his company, Noviland, and learn product sourcing tips that can elevate our businesses. Among other things, we have also discussed China and other potential manufacturers, common mistakes that Amazon sellers make, and the traits that separate successful entrepreneurs from the average ones. 

Let’s listen to Francois and learn from a product-sourcing blackbelt! 

[00:01 – 07:40] Opening Segment

  • Let’s get to know Francois Jaffres
    • An entrepreneur at heart 
    • His journey to Noviland 

[07:41 – 16:12] A Pioneer in eCommerce  

  • How Noviland became a pioneer in the eCommerce industry
  • Don’t make these 4 common mistakes of Amazon FBA sellers
    • Experience
    • Capital
    • Speed 
    • Listen to learn the last one! 

[16:13 – 28:25] Why Sign Up For Noviland

  • Choose Noviland because of these reasons
  • Listen to Francois on how they optimize units in a container
  • Want some Amazon refunds? Check out Getida
    • Promo code: FTM400

[28:26- 43:50] Should You Look Outside China? 

  • Answering Noviland’s Request for Quotation
    • Francois walks us through the process 
  • Are there any other viable manufacturers aside from China?
    • Francois weighs in 

[43:51 – 48:13] Closing Segment 

  • Get to know Francois more in the Fire Round!
    • What is the common denominator among successful entrepreneurs? 
  • Connect with Francois! Links below 
  • Final words

Tweetable Quotes:

“Grit is the number one component that I think I see from entrepreneurs that are successful.” – Francois Jaffres

“We’re here to really be more as a partner rather than just another transactional platform that you used as a source or to find factories or to see production timelines.” – Francois Jaffres

Resources Mentioned:

Email francois@noviland.com to reach out to Francois or follow him on LinkedIn. Check out their website and get the best products for your business! 

Also visit them on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and YouTube.  

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Francois 0:00
platforms are really just sort of an open platform. And a lot of times it’s what we see as a growing pay to play marketplace where you have verified gold suppliers. All is fantastic. And that is talked about in every single sourcing YouTube video that I see I always look for the verified gold badge and make sure that you look at the ratings and the number of transactions. But in reality, in practicality, that seems wonderful on paper, that seems wonderful. In reality, that is not necessarily the truth. The thing is that the markets are going to sort of even out right as soon as the panic and the chaos goes away. This is what we’re gonna see with the UK for the next probably six to eight months. But as soon as that panic and chaos goes away, everyone sort of settles on Okay, now we understand it’s 25% more how can we cut costs elsewhere? Any business no matter the size, new amazon seller experience, Amazon seller, fortune 500 company can go through it alone. And that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to really be more as a partner, rather than just another transactional platform that you use to to source or to find factories, or to see production timelines.

Intro 1:14
Welcome, everyone, to the Firing The Man podcast, a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. If you sit in a cubicle every day and know you were capable of more than join us, this show will help you build a business and grow your passive income streams in just a few short hours per day. And now your host serial entrepreneurs David Schomer and Ken Wilson.

David 1:38
Welcome everyone to the firing demand podcast. On today’s episode, we are joined by Francoise Jaffres, from Noviland. Now Ken, after this episode, I am realizing that Francoise is a black belt in product sourcing. And I am a white belt and have a lot to learn. And there’s a ton of value in US partnering with Noviland in order to just do a better job here. What What are you thinking? Yeah, absolutely.

Ken 2:05
You know, after talking with Francoise, you know, he is an expert and not only supply chain, he’s an expert in supply chain management from A to Z and Noviland after talking with them. You know, they’re kind of a turnkey service, doing, you know, sourcing inspections, logistics, and, you know, they’re integrated in with Amazon and shipping in it. Yeah, it was just, it was pretty amazing. And you know, starting as a you know, as a solopreneur. David, you and I, it’s like we wear lots of hats and do all these things. And, and to get some of those off our plate is just absolutely amazing. So to partner, you know, with experts at Noviland I’m definitely looking forward to it. And you know, Francoise, he unleashes a wealth of knowledge on this podcast on anything from sourcing to, you know, his thoughts on tariffs in China. And yeah, it was it was it was pretty amazing. What what was key takeaway, David?

David 2:55
You know, I would say, in general, if someone asked me for one bit of advice, when getting into e commerce, you know, I generally say, like, sell good products. And unless you’re manufacturing those products, yourself, you need to have a really solid relationship with the manufacturer. And they have a network of 3000 factories that they’re working with, oftentimes, they’re going to get better pricing than you can get up on your own because of that relationship. And so I would say to the listeners, if you’ve ever gotten on Alibaba, sent out a bunch of messages, and just been frustrated with the overall product sourcing process. This is an episode you’re not going to want to miss

Francoise, welcome to the show. First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself in your journey to being part of Noviland

Yeah, well, thank you, David and Ken for having me. I really do appreciate it. Wonderful show you guys have Lisa raves about it all the time. So

Francois 3:50
thank you guys for having me. It’s truly an honor. My background, I’m from the Washington DC area always kind of been an entrepreneur at heart. I guess I should say I kind of always had my focuses in a bunch of places. But as a kid, you know, I went around to all apartment complexes, you toss out trash and would take candy to school and resell it from Costco. And so I always have that kind of buy and resell almost arbitrage mindset. So that’s why I love first of all working with Amazon sellers and e commerce sellers of just entrepreneurs in general. So that makes my role here, very exciting. But my journey with Noviland I started back in 2016, I was finishing up my industrial engineering degree at West Virginia University. So I was able to come with a little bit of supply chain and manufacturing knowledge and background. A really key emphasis was on processes and improving process and building slps which is quite literally all supply chain is managing each step of the way. And so when I started back in 2016, I think it was through barefoot student or barefoot calm or something like that, where I was just looking for an internship for a summer and I stumbled upon We weren’t Noviland at the time, we were actually European. And the name sounded funny to me, I was like, I know that company in Oslo, Kp a startup, I looked it up and you Rikiya is a vacuum brand, actually. So hence the name change the eventual name change. But yeah, started with them. And they really pitched this vision of streamlining through technology and through the internet, streamlining a lot of this international manufacturing and purchasing process. And that’s mainly because our founder Tron has a background where his family owns manufacturers in China. And he would sort of work as an intermediary between them and US companies that wanted to use them. And they would have listings on Alibaba, as well as a few other marketplaces and platforms for manufacturers. So he saw this tremendous need, where all these platforms are really just sort of an open platform. And a lot of times, it’s what we see as a growing pay to play marketplace where you have verified gold suppliers. All is fantastic. And that is talked about in every single sourcing YouTube video that I see, always look for the verified gold badge and make sure that you look at the ratings and the number of transactions. But in reality, in practicality, that seems wonderful on paper, that seems wonderful. In reality, that is not necessarily the truth. Right? So were most of them, I’m sure most of them are actual verified gold splashed by a third party auditor that they have no relations with. I’m sure that is the case. But there are still cases where, and we’ve heard this many times where they would have an inspector come and they may pay them under the table. Or they may just know them. Or they may, there’s this one crazy story where they actually invited them, the inspector invited the manufacturer to their wedding and the manufacturer, instead of giving them a direct payment, they gave him a very big gift. A lot of these sort of international risks are presented with sourcing from overseas. And so our founders really thought, Hey, we can make this safer, we can make this simpler through a centralized platform that covers the entire end to end sourcing and manufacturing and logistics processes, while at the same time delivering a white glove service that no one else is doing at the moment ever, you know, go on Alibaba, you’ll talk to 10 different people. five of those might be from the same company, or they might be trade agents representing factories, but saying, Oh, yeah, we are manufacturing cooperative of sorts. Right? So there’s a lot of things that go into the background that isn’t necessarily small, business friendly. And when we started in 2016, I was personally doing hundreds of calls a day trying to find a good product market fit, try and see how you know, where do we actually fit into this equation. So like a traditional sourcing agency, we’re targeting more enterprise and medium to large sized businesses to try to get into their supply chain in general, that procurement teams. And over the course of two years, we saw that, you know, we do very well and building materials, we do very well in consumer packaged goods. And in 2018, we launched our platform. And it was not the nicest looking platform, but it was a platform nonetheless. And it was something that was to me and to our team, and to a lot of our initial early adopters. Revolutionary, it’s something first a market of its kind. There’s marketplaces, like I said, that have been around far before it’s like Alibaba. But we’re the true first to market with a platform that does all the capabilities that our platform does. There’s no one else that does that, in regards to controlling the rfqs, the sourcing, the back end tasks in process, sort of development and project development between our teams. And so with that also came, of course, the rise of e commerce sellers on our platform itself. Because, you know, Amazon sellers naturally wanted to find new manufacturers and suppliers and they googled us and somehow stumbled upon us, it was not actually one of our target markets. And since then, I guess to sort of shorten the story because the scope very long, but to shorten the story, we saw that there’s a ton of features that ecommerce sellers specifically love and they need to mitigate those risks and to make it simpler. So our goal is really to simplify this overseas purchasing and procurement process, not for just medium to large sized businesses, but for everyone for a new amazon seller for a marketing department at your local retail chain that just wants to buy 1000 mugs with their logo on it, and do so with a very competitive costs. So you know, the pricing that you’ll see on our platform is usually on par If not a little bit less of what you can get yourself unless you have pre established relationships with suppliers. That’s a different story though, while at the same time, giving them the QC overseeing the production acting as the boots on the ground helping them develop this RFQ serves to set them up for sourcing success. And then taking care of logistics, Amazon FBA packaging, which is a pain in the ass, you have to make sure that everything is labeled properly, the master cartons are under 50 pounds. And even you know, get to 47, you’re kind of pushing it. So we make sure all these different aspects are met properly. And we do that at the source. So you don’t have to ship it to an FBA location and wonder, hey, am I going to be charged FBA fees or ship it to a three PL location and worry about them having to prep it for FBA, we can ship it directly and for you. So that was sort of my journey, I started as just an intern, moved on to sort of a sales position ultimately settled with business development, which is a very vague term, but it is sort of all encapsulating of marketing sales partnership establishment, the customer experience, so we’re in a lot of hats, still very young. But it is exciting. Nonetheless, no day is the same as the one before and it’s something that I was definitely trying to avoid going into a sort of a first job out of college sort of thing. So luckily, I have great bosses that empower me to sort of use a lot of, I guess, in entrepreneurial skills, it’s a good way to put it. And we always find new markets and new ways to expand, which is exciting. But I hope that answer your question for how I got started. Noviland

Ken 11:25
Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, to sum that up Noviland sounds like a turnkey sourcing solution platform. Yeah,

Francois 11:33
pretty much.

Ken 11:35
When you start working with less left, for example, you know, an Amazon FBA centric seller, right. Like say they come to Noviland and sign up and kind of go through the process. What have you seen that some of the traditional Amazon FBA centric sellers aren’t what’s what are some of the mistakes that they’re making that whenever they come on board, you’re like, Oh, you know, right away? Is it cost? Is it quality? What have you seen?

Francois 11:58
Well, for starters, the biggest cliche, I think, that I hear most commonly throughout every seller, and anyone that’s not necessarily familiar with business, is I want the best quality at the best price. And what does that mean? What on earth? Does that mean? Like? Do you want to pay $5? You want to pay $20? Because you could pay the same amount? Or you you pay different amounts for different quality levels? Right. So for starters, it is I think, lack of experience, that that’s where that ties into. Second, I think it’s lack of capital, I think that is a big issue, because it seems like there’s a lot of false information out there that says, hey, you can get started selling on Amazon with less than $1,000. And yes, realistically, if you sold arbitrage, you could do that, go to your local Walmart, find clearance items, post them on Amazon try to sell them very much doable. I have a few friends that did it in the past, they were fairly successful, made some vacation money. But when you’re talking about private labeling, and you’re talking about building your own brand, and in building your own products, you need a capital at a very minimum to be relatively successful, just for sourcing and logistics, I would say anywhere between five and $10,000. And that is at a bare minimum, right? That is to order your initial inventory. That’s not including tooling or molding, if you had a custom product, that’s not including marketing expenses. And I know a lot of sellers that have used our platform with far less, they’ve started with three $4,000. And they grew, you know, exponentially, they started to place $10,000 orders and $20,000 getting up to container loads. So that’s not to, you know, decent advise anyone that has less money. But if you want to be safe, and you want to be able to run the proper giveaways, and to iterate on product design, and to work with a lot of factories, instead of just you know, being a one trick pony, I would say five to $10,000, at a minimum is what you need for sourcing. Aside from that, I guess two more things speed, I see a lot of sellers that, you know, see this and they have the wrong expectations of Okay, we can finish this up in two weeks, and I’ll get my product within Amazon within a month. That’s not realistic, if you’re developing your own product and having that manufactured. But there’s also the counter argument to speed, there’s a lot of sellers that will develop a product over the course of a year. And in that year, they have 10 competitors, so it’s no longer even feasible to sell. And the last thing really is grit. I would say grit is a huge component, not only with Amazon, but I’m sure you guys can attest, it’s a huge component to e commerce. Right? You have to put in the work to learn about this platform to learn about the advertising, the marketing, but the grit aspect really is understanding your product, making sure that you are an expert in what you’re going to sell. And that way you can also talk to the factory as an expert. And I think that’s something we can touch on a little bit more. But yeah, there’s four main things capital experience. speed and grit are four very challenging aspects, I think for a lot of new sellers.

David 15:05
I’m glad that you made that comment on capital, because I think some of these YouTube gurus do the industry a disservice by saying, Yeah, get started with 500 bucks or 1000 bucks. And traditionally, it’s hard to get a factory to take you seriously on that small of an order, right. And so, now one thing I want to ask you, and this is a little embarrassing for me to admit. So I’ve been in business for four years. And in terms of sourcing I’ve sourced from existing relationships in the US, that has probably been my most successful products, and then exclusively Alibaba. And I will say, my experiences with Alibaba have been like, spray and pray, right? So I will, I will have like a canned message with some images and examples. And I will send it out to 20 different factories, and then some of them get back to me same day, some of them it takes several weeks. I’m actually right in the middle of this spray and pray strategy, where I started this about nine months ago, and I got my first sample this week. And so I learned about Novi land about two weeks ago, and I signed up for an account and I’m just getting started there. So what would you say will be different? How will my experience be different with Novi land, as opposed to interfacing with Alibaba?

Francois 16:20
Well, for starters, with Noviland you get rid of that spray and pray bottle, the reason that you sort of have that spray and pray mindset is because again, it is an open marketplace where any supplier can sign up, it could be a trade agent, could be a scam artists, it could be a factory, it could be a factory representative, that’s not a trade agent or an actual employee of the factory, they might just be helping them out to get them online. But with that also comes to preparation, right preparing your RFP. And that’s something else that we’ll touch on, I think a little bit later. But going back to what I initially said, it’s very much a white glove service where as soon as you submit an RFP, on Neverland, we will assess it. And we’ll make sure to give you feedback on anything that we know the factories that are network are going to need to quote this accurately. So on Alibaba, you might spray and pray and you’ll get out of those 20. Let’s say you’ll get 10 responses. And now everyone is sending you different pricing, the specs are likely a little bit different for all of them. They might be misquoting you and just saying, Oh yeah, I saw that you include that in your specs. But I didn’t include that in my pricing. So now you might start seeing incremental increases, like the packaging. I’ve mentioned the card insert initially, but you didn’t quote that. So now that’s an extra 10 cents. Oh, I didn’t realize you wanted polypropylene this was actually quoted ABS that’s an extra 15 cents. And so it’s sort of this incremental process and you feel like you’re getting a lot out of it, because it’s a lot of one on one interactions, when in reality just delays your speed. So with Noviland, as soon as you submit it, we assess it. As soon as we deem it as sort of a quality RFQ or request for quote, we’ll send it off to a few of the factories in our network, usually about 10 to 15, sometimes up to 20. And then we won’t send any design files, we try to limit the exposure of your IP as much as possible, while also having agreements in place with all of our factory networks, all of the factories in our network to make sure that they don’t use your information for anything else, whether that’s develop their own products or send it off to their trade agents, whatever the case may be. From there, we look at the manufacturers and we have all this data behind supporting this showing, okay, what are their capabilities? What is their speed and regards to how fast they can manufacture it? Have they manufactured this in the past? Do they have experience with these materials? Do they have the certifications that you need are the certifications legitimate? Because that’s another issue that no one really talks about. A lot of certifications tend to be tossed around, and they might just change the name on it. And they Photoshop it looks legit. you place an order find out later that it’s not. Because in reality, the certifications aren’t always checked by customs. But they’re sort of this this supplementary information, if customs checks for it, or if the FDA checks for it, they will have to present them and then they preview them. And so we know all this information on the factories, we know what they’re good at. And so from there, we can get you the most accurate pricing ahead like on that first try. We know everything that you need down to, okay, you just want a very cheap packaging, let’s say a clear polypropylene bag with your logo on the sticker. And the FN SKU label will include all of that in that initial quote. So where it might take you four or five weeks to develop with a factory, you know, all the incremental changes, making sure that all of the specs are right. We’ll get that done typically in about three to five days. Now sometimes it takes a little bit longer because there is missing information, but our product specialist team actually works with you for that So another difference between us and Alibaba is that on Alibaba, you have no idea who you’re working with on the other side of the screen, with Noviland, you work with only a Noviland team. And this is how we kind of grew our business model actually. So rather than having one agent that’s worried about the packaging that’s worried about the product specs, worried about the HS code, shipping, quotes, all of that information, we have a team, you have a product specialist, they double as a factory specialist also. So they interact between you and the factory, they can negotiate the best pricing, they can make sure that when the factory says yes, I can do something, they say, Yes, I could do something. And that’s going to cost an extra 10 cents, not last minute increases, it’s also going to be Yes, I can do that. And I can actually do that, because I’m experience not necessarily just Yes, I can do that. And then they try to do it, you end up with, I don’t know if you can, you can curse on this. But as sort of pork watt poor quality or shit quality, I guess you could say,

Ken 20:57
right,

Francois 20:59
which happens a lot. And then you can consolidate all of your samples directly in the platform, you’ll interact with order managers, quality control inspectors, all Noviland employees and everyone in one place. plus another piece of technology in this tool is absolutely awesome. No one else has this, you get a quote, and you add it to a cart, just similar to ecommerce added to a cart. entering any FBA destination, let’s say you usually get it on the west coast, sometimes you get it, let’s say New Jersey and North Carolina added all these different FBA locations. And instantly, you will see the customs and import duties and you will see the shipping information. So the shipping costs so you know your landed costs. And you could play around with the different products per order, you can play around with the quantities. So let’s say you just started out with 500 units, you’re like, I know, I could scale this up to 2000, within three months, increase that number to 2000, you will immediately see, okay, this goes from utilizing 5% of a container to 20% of a container. And with that comes the unit cost decreases, right because the shipping, you’re usually paying for that initial cubic meter, and then you’re paying for additional space after that. So you have a true cost value there. That helps you very quickly say also, this is doable, I could break even on my first few orders. But once I get to 2000, I have a 20% profit margin, because it’s just shipping. So we have that tool. Of course, as soon as you place an order, we oversee the entire production. So it’s no more late night, we chats, no more late night emails, late night phone calls to your freight forwarder saying you know where the hell is my products, where’s the bill of lading. All of that is tracked directly in the platform too. So our product specialists work with the factories one on one, they have weekly check ins or bi weekly check in sometimes they perform the QC inspection based on your key quality indicators, not just a guesstimate of what you might like. So where traditionally you would work with a manufacturer work with a different freight forwarder work with a different QC Inspector, all of that’s done in one platform. And it’s an all inclusive price. So the price you see is the price you pay, there’s no monthly subscription, there’s no last minute fees, it’s all very clear. There you see the fob pricing, you see the customs and import duties, and you see the shipping costs. That’s all you need to get your initial cogs or your cost of goods sold. Right. And we’ll do all the FBA prep at the source. Right, it’ll go through our logistics center, if we see that, hey, this packaging is not good enough, we’ll repackage it or we might, you know, include some wiring on the outside. Or if it’s something fragile, we might put some cartons on the outside of it to make sure that it’s safe. So it’s really working as more of a partnership rather than just a transaction. That’s something that I think e commerce has kind of taken away from from business in general. But I guess that’s that’s something that a lot of sellers might struggle with sort of getting out of that consumer mindset and getting into business mindset.

David 23:54
As a follow on question, as you describe this process, it seems to me kind of like an all you can eat buffet, right from start to finish. And I absolutely love that now, you had mentioned, you know, optimizing the number of units in a container. And I’m thinking of one particular product that that Ken and I are working on now. We’re trying to solve that puzzle. We’ve already found the supplier, but in terms of, you know, optimizing a container and then getting it over, that’s something that we’re struggling with. And so do you offer any like all a CART services in that, you know, we’ve already got the relationship, but we think we could improve on on logistics and in terms of getting it over there. Is that something that we could work with you on?

Francois 24:37
Yeah, so we offer a purely logistics and QC service also. So if you already have the supplier perfectly fine, we can help you with just the logistics and the import process, get making sure all the documentation is in order as well. And also a key thing to note making sure that the HS code is properly classified. So a lot of businesses come to us with existing suppliers, they show us their HS codes. And when we get it over to our customs team, they say, No, no way in hell is it, you know, this 3.8%, this is a 28 and a half percent HS code. And if you don’t pay that, you’re going to be subject to double that if they catch it for misclassifying it. So it’s all about, you know, making sure that you are not using black hat tactics. And we try to do that in the most cost efficient way for every business that we work with. But to answer your question, yes, we do handle just the logistics or just the QC or a combination of both.

David 25:34
One last thing before I kick it over to Ken, for our listeners that are unfamiliar with HS code, can you explain what that is and why it’s important? Yeah,

Francois 25:44
yeah, it’s and it was probably top of mind for everyone unknowingly about two years ago when the trade war started. But when the administration started imposing a lot of tariffs are additional tariffs, supposedly on China, it’s not really on China, as you guys know, it is actually on the businesses that import those items. Now, they did that so they could dissent, devise, doing more business with China and try to go to other manufacturing partners that we are manufacturing countries that we have partnerships with, but HS codes is the code that it’s an international code, I believe, but it’s a code that the US Customs classifies every single product imaginable. And they have to make they put these tariffs or taxes is another word for tariff, they add these taxes onto your import. So let’s say your HS code was whatever number and it came with a 3% tariff pre trade war. Now, you might see a 15% increase after that trade war because it was classified within a certain list. So now you might see an 18% tariff or taxes that you have to pay on the Import value. And that does not include shipping that’s purely on, I would say the fob pricing of that item, or even the pricing of that item. That includes your packaging, that includes supposed to include things like design and mold, that a lot of people classify those on their invoices. But I guess to answer your HS question, in short, it’s a code that customs classifies every item, and they put it taxes or a tariff on that item. That’s what you’re paying when you’re importing it. So that’s why you saw, you know, the 25% tariffs. And that was a huge rave. It’s still an issue today, I don’t imagine it’s going to go away anytime soon. I just don’t think they’re going to get worse.

David 27:33
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Ken 28:25
The way you explained the entire, you know, the process was very eye opening to man and you know, as a as a solopreneur for the last several years, you know, building an e commerce business and having sourced and, and you know, dealt with logistics and inspections. And literally every aspect of that hearing that process I’m like, okay, where do I sign up? So it and I’m sure some of this, you know, a lot of the solopreneur listeners are in the same boat. So you mentioned an RFQ. So let’s like to do a practical experiment here. So for the listeners of the show, you know, David and I, we have rocking chairs in the podcast studio. They’re they’re pretty popular. So let’s say David and I wanted to throw up some firing demand merch, and we wanted to source some rocking chairs. We got an overland, can you give us some some pointers, some tips on how to how to fill out this RFQ and kind of go through that process?

Francois 29:19
Yeah, yeah. And so every product is going to be different and we have an RFP guideline that tries to help every business sort of point them in the right direction easily accessible on our website. Also, it’s downloadable I think on our homepage if you just go to Neverland calm but there’s a few key elements right there’s the product information so we’re talking about materials specifications. For something like that. We definitely need to know the type of what the finishing the the paint that you want on it, it’s likely going to have a fumigation charge so that’s something to keep in mind for exporting wooden items. Do you want it assembled or unassembled? So RTA are ready to assemble product, what type of packaging Do you want on that do you want? If it’s fully assembled? Do you want it to be within? You know, a styrofoam are they known in China as EP s or expanded polystyrene? So if someone doesn’t understand what styrofoam is, and I learned this the hard way, talking to real factories and real factory owners, so what the hell is styrofoam? I don’t know. Well, it’s APS, most of them will know what styrofoam is. But if they don’t, it’s APS, you know, what level protection do you want? Do you want just a plain cardboard box? Do you want a full color print on it? What sort of labeling Do you need on it? You know, how is how much weight should IT support? What sort of rocking mechanism doesn’t need to have? Do you have example URLs to the item? If it’s a new invention? Do you have AI files or CAD files that you can provide shows you know, the dimensions the engineers at the factories can usually read those files and see, okay, these are the different components to it, they’ll create a bill of materials, and be able to quote that, if you know it had, if it was more plastic on the bottom, they might require, you know, some molds, then we’ll let you know, hey, we need CAD files for these molds. So for the product aspect, it is material specs, colors, finishing, as much detail as much detail as you can get on the product itself. And that doesn’t mean that you have to do a materials test on it. Just Google 10 different, you know, rocking chairs, I’m sure you’ll find a commonality between the materials. Looking at the five star review items on Amazon, look at what materials they use, look at what finishing they have. Is it a stain? Or is it a powder coating, I mean, there’s so many different ways to actually have it done. But that level of detail is what we’re looking for. Because we only work with OEM factories, and they’re all medium to large size. So they’re fairly well experienced with getting these technical details and producing items. Not necessarily saying, hey, I want a rocking chair, and then proposing these are the 10 different rocking chairs that we have, that’s usually the job of a trade agent. And that’s where you also present more risk to your supply chain. A lot of business don’t tend to think of it that way. They think of it as Hey, I can order 200 units instead of having to order 1000 units. But what happens after they run out of those 200 units? How did they get those 200 units? Can they produce those 200 units again? Or is the mo q going to go up? Did they just tack that on to the back of someone else’s order? Or is it actually the factory that just over produce for someone else? So there’s all these different elements that we work slightly differently than a traditional sourcing process. But we do it because we need to work with serious businesses that are serious about their business. Right. So if you are not willing to put in the work to tell us what exactly you want, then I mean, we’re not doing any magic here, we can’t take it out of your head. I mean, you tell us what you need. But you have to tell us the product, the the materials, and another very important aspect that we do ask for and it’s not necessarily immediately, but it has to be established at some point, our key quality indicators, and this goes back to sort of, you know, I want the best quality at the best price. Well, that price is really determined by the quality of that product. So if you said, I want these t shirts, and I don’t care if there’s a few loose threads on the end of them, it’s going to be cheaper than I want these t shirts, and they have to be completely seamless. And any loose threads need to be cut off. Otherwise, that is a minor defect or a minor nonconformity. So we asked for these different key quality indicators. And we have also a list that we’ve made that’s attached to the RFP guideline or the request for, quote, guideline that anyone can access if they sign up, and it’s directly in the new RFP section. But that’s I guess the three elements product packaging, and quality are all the things that we asked for.

David 33:46
Now, I want to talk about, you know, we are in an involved in a global business, oftentimes, and I hear this from a lot of sellers. And masterminds is the first place that we’re thinking is China, in terms of manufacturing. And you know, as I look at my own product portfolio, I like to go to China, because typically I can get products, and even after considering a sea shipping, I can usually get them for 50 to 75 cents on the dollar from what I can get it in the United States. Now with the tariffs this year, that advantage has shrunken. And so what are you seeing in terms of, you know, globally, what are some other countries that that people should be looking at? And do you anticipate China rebounding from this? Or, you know, because I’ve seen a lot of people drift away from China after this 25% tax. So what are your thoughts here?

Francois 34:41
And it’s funny that you mentioned that that you see a lot of companies drifting away, because we saw the same thing. Actually, as soon as the trade war started. A lot of our users asked us Can you find factories and let’s say Vietnam or India or Bangladesh, every country has their advantages and their disadvantages. huge advantage of China is that they have such a robust supply chain where everything is centered around manufacturing. And it’s centered around a lot of manual processes, but mostly machinery and tooling. And with that comes experience. So there’s a lot more engineers, I would say in China, for starters, because there’s more people in China, but also, because they’re able to produce more items. And with producing more items, they’re able to produce more experienced workers, so they can develop better molding, better tooling, usually for cheaper than other countries. But you are absolutely right, the tariffs sort of started to scare companies away. And so when they did ask us, Hey, can you go to Vietnam? Can you go to India, and we did look into these countries, they did not have as short of lead times as China. So that impacted their supply chain, they did not have as robust of an infrastructure logistic wise. So their logistics costs actually might go up, the quality tended to actually suffer. So if you’re usually getting, you know, on average, about four and a half stars, you might drop down at three and a half stars because you’re getting more returns. But a lot of companies that might have even left our platform and tried to go to let’s say, India, we saw that back on eight months later. It’s really the chaos and the panic that the market has presented by things like that the 25% tariffs. And and I’m not saying that you can’t find a cheaper item elsewhere. 100%, you can you do enough digging, flip enough rocks, you 100% can find another factory elsewhere, it’s not going to be anywhere near as easy as trying to find a factory in China, for starters, you’re going to have to do a lot more vetting, you’re going to I would suggest trying to get boots on the ground. So actually going and visiting those factories, I had someone experience Actually, it was a ceramic tile that they were sourcing through China, great product had had a porcelain glaze on top of it. And they took it to India. And they portrayed it as the exact same specs, they even shipped them a sample to the factory to make sure it was the exact same factory produced items with completely different materials, because they usually produce for the Indian market. And when they received the sample, part of it was already chipping off and sort of crumbling, almost like a grain, which you know, that took them itself about four or five months to find a factory, and then to figure out that it’s not the right factory and that actually just pay the additional 25%. The thing is that the markets are going to sort of even out, right, as soon as the panic and the chaos goes away. This is what we’re gonna see with the UK for the next probably six to eight months. But as soon as that panic and chaos goes away, everyone sort of settles on. Okay, now we understand it’s 25% more, how can we cut costs elsewhere? Can we spend less on advertising? Can we expand our product lines to actually have 15% margins across 10 products instead of 35%? margins on three products? Can we save on logistics by having more items within a container? Now what does that come with? I have to find a 303. pl partners? So to go back to the question, the tariffs are something that definitely has impacted the supply chain. And a lot of companies have looked outside of China, far less companies have been successful looking outside of China than staying in, in my opinion. Now we have Vietnam. This is a real example. Actually, cabinetry in China got hit with a 260% anti dumping and countervailing duty tariff. For those of you that don’t know what an ad or CVA is, that is the US saying hey, China, you are dumping your products in the market to make us companies and us manufacturers no longer competitive. So they hit them with the 260% anti dumping duty and tariff. And they immediately started seeing Chinese factories flooded Vietnam. And so now you started seeing traditionally furniture manufacturers, not necessarily cabinetry manufacturers, but furniture manufacturers in Vietnam, start producing cabinetry. And so we saw poor quality, we saw much longer lead times, we saw sort of black hat tactics with between China and Vietnam, where they were importing pretty much all the products from China already made just not finished into Vietnam, putting them in the box slapping the main and Vietnam label shipping it over to the US and just having a country of origin certificate for it. That itself can cost a business, the entire business actually, it can it can completely bankrupt a business if they’re found out to do anything of that sorts, even unknowingly. right because that they just lost their entire supply chain if that’s all they banked on. So it was our job to sort of find the right factories that were moving to Vietnam and we’re setting up shop and creating their own manufacturers and had the right MSDS reports and sourcing their products ethically, or their parts and pieces ethically. And I don’t think that’s something you can necessarily do alone. I don’t think that’s necessarily something that any business no matter the size, new amazon seller experience, Amazon seller, fortune 500 company can go through alone. And that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to really be bored as a partner, rather than just another transactional platform that you use to, to source or to find factories, or to see production timelines.

Ken 40:30
So as a follow up question to that Francois. Now, this is kind of kind of be a hypothetical situation. But But drawing on your experience and kind of the situation we’re in in the world now, you know, put a lot the tariffs have put a lot of pressure on small businesses to like, say, hey, source somewhere else, right. But in my mind, at the end of the day, like, what we have in the US or any other country, is that everything over the last two decades or three decades, has all the manufacturing has moved to China largely right. So two options, I think, one, you go the route of, Hey, I’m going to figure out how to manufacture this in the US. And I’m going to jump through, you know, 37 hoops to do that, or to you sourced in China and you scale. Now, do you have any other arguments to that? Or do you think it’s feasible that manufacturing will move in a large scale back to the US? Or is that a pipe dream? And, you know, just go to the China route? What are your thoughts?

Francois 41:34
I think it’s a bit of a pipe dream to that. So whenever we work with enterprise level businesses, it’s not necessarily just a business that says I want to produce in China because it’s cheaper. And I like something that’s cheaper, it’s always because it’s in the best interest of the shareholders, and they have to do whatever’s in the best interest of their shareholders. So they will find a cheaper alternative. And whether that’s British in the US in India, in China, China tends to be the best option. But I think what we’re going to start to seeing, particularly with the Belt and Road initiative in the next probably 10 to 15 years is the price of this China plus one. And who that plus one is, I’m not sure I, it could be India, it could be Bangladesh, it could be one of the countries that, you know, China is investing in, could be Vietnam could be, you know, Central America, Mexico might be on the rise for certain items. I know Brazil has seen a huge spike in manufacturing. Ultimately, in the next decade, I think it will be China plus one, it’s not just going to be China. And that’s sort of the direction that that Neverland itself is heading in, you know, we’re not going to be solely reliant on one country, because of the geopolitical impacts that you know, any administration could have. Be one trick pony is never fun. But who that plus one is, I couldn’t tell you, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, it’s going to depend on the infrastructure, that country, you got to India, you can get low mo keys on textiles, very high quality textiles, you get trinkets you can get, they’re really good at metallurgy over there. Because they have a lot of the tooling, a lot of the the labor forces is cheaper. So we are going to start to see costs rise, we just saw the devaluation of the Chinese RMB, which has impacted a ton of companies. And you know, it’s not just a factory wanting to charge you more, it’s something that’s completely out of their control, the government said, Hey, we’re gonna devalue this by I think it’s at 9%. Now, you’re going to have to either eat that cost or your customer is going to have to eat that cost 99% of the time customer is going to get that cost. So it’s really just being able to be nimble move with the market. And we’ll see where that plus one really comes up. I don’t think it’s always going to be China, just China. But I think China for the long run is going to be that mean, sort of source where a lot of companies can turn to for their products.

Ken 43:50
Before we jump into the fire round. David, do you have any any follow up questions?

David 43:54
No, this has been very, very helpful in and Francois while you’ve done a great job answering all of our questions. I think that currently I’ve got my blue belt in product sourcing, and I want to work with somebody that has their black belt. And I think that’s Noviland And so really looking forward to you know, testing out your platform. And and Ken we’re gonna have to do a follow up episode, you know, just to talk about our experiences with it. And and, but yeah, really appreciate you being on the show. So Ken will kick it over to you for the fire round. Yeah, absolutely.

Ken 44:22
So Francoise, all of our guests, we put them to the ringer on a fire round. Are you ready?

Francois 44:28
Let’s do it.

Ken 44:29
All right, what, what is your favorite book?

Francois 44:32
At the moment? I would say blitzscaling Reed Hoffman blitzscaling. Number one book, every entrepreneur should read it.

Ken 44:38
I’m writing it down, put on my list. What are your hobbies?

Francois 44:42
I’m at the office about 12 to 16 hours a day, to be honest, to be completely honest. My hobby honestly, is the and this is what our founders and my bosses have really empowered me to do is come up with just business ideas that we can sort of shoot shit on. That’s one of my hobbies, I kid you not. And Lisa can attest to this, I have an entire notepad of just business ideas beside these bits. So that’s one of my hobbies, my other hobbies is definitely a little bit more I don’t know if you could say mature but gaming, I love playing Call of Duty hopping around with some friends. And, you know, we could say socially distant that way, but gaming and just coming up with any idea possible writing it down, I would say are my two biggest hobbies.

Ken 45:26
Nice. So so you’re sure 90 miles an hour at work, and then going home and getting on and blasting some things? Exactly. Alright, so last one, what do you think sets apart successful entrepreneurs from those who give up fail or never get started.

Francois 45:43
And this goes back to I think what I talked about earlier, grit. grit is the number one component that I think I see for entrepreneurs that are successful. And that’s either lack of grit, or having too much grit where they think they can do absolutely everything. And that’s not scalable. But also knowing your limits and knowing that you have to put in those 80 hour weeks if you want to run something successful. It is not 15 years ago where this could just be a side gig and you could become a multimillionaire. You have to learn about everything. And I’m sure you both can attest to that.

Ken 46:14
Yeah, that’s that’s excellent advice. And I haven’t heard that in a while the grit, you know, knowing that you have to have enough but not too much. Right? You so you have to know when to tap out and when to pivot otherwise, right? Kind of doing the same thing expecting different results. So excellent.

David 46:29
Francoise, how can people get ahold of you?

Francois 46:32
Yeah, they can add me on LinkedIn, there aren’t too many Francoise Jaffres or you would spell it jeffress out there. So you can find me on LinkedIn. You can also find us on Facebook just facebook.com/novilandinc we get tons of messages there all the time, no matter what it’s about. And lastly, if you want a guaranteed phone call with me every single time, just sign up for a platform www.Noviland.com. And as soon as you sign up, you get an email, try to get an onboarding call on it can be anywhere from quick five minute conversation to I’ve spent over two hours with new users before. So any one of those ways is perfectly fine.

David 47:08
Very nice. And we will post links to all of those in the show notes. really want to thank you for being a guest on the firing demand podcast and talk soon. Thank you guys.

Thank you everyone for tuning in to today’s Firing The Man Podcast. If you like this episode, head on over to www.firingtheman.com And check out our resource library for exclusive firing demand discounts on popular e commerce subscription services that is www.firingtheman.com/resource. You can also find a comprehensive library of over 50 books books that Ken and I have read in the last few years that have made a meaningful impact on our business, or that head on over to www.firingtheman.com/library. Lastly, check us out on social media at Firing The Man on YouTube at Firing The Man for exclusive content. This is David Schomer and Ken Wilson. We’re out

Transcribed by https://otter.ai