Business partners – whether you’re looking to sell or buy, having a Vietnam partner is important to grow your business. Unfortunately, it’s not always the most straight-forward process.
Let’s first discuss the reasons.
The language barrier is real.
Although the younger generation of Vietnamese speak good English, the majority of people still don’t. It ranks #65 according to the EF English proficiency index in 2020 which is considered low(1). In business settings, Vietnamese still mainly rely on their mother tongue. Many find it tongue-twisting having to negotiate in English.
Vietnamese value face-to-face relationships.
Your cold emails and calls may be ignored. But if you show up at their office, you set a different tone. Then your potential partners will be some of the warmest and hospitable people you know. It’s important for Vietnamese to put a face to the name. As you might or might not be able to just hop on a plane for new business every time, consider having someone to represent you in Vietnam to first build the personal relationships.
Certification does not accurately represent the facility.
Certificates are great as they set companies with different standards apart from each other. However, not all certification in Vietnam is genuine. The one time the factory could look immaculate is the audit day. The rest of the year? Not so impressive. Your Vietnam Partner has had first-hand experience where we found insects, spider webs and foreign materials inside a B graded BRC certified facility. The management team just shrugged and refused to change.
Following up is important.
Take the food ingredient industry for example, it’s no news that shipments could start off flawlessly until… the third container. Don’t let your guard down. Infestation, foreign materials, etc. could suddenly be an issue. It seems like the first few containers aren’t a good indication of the next ones anymore. It’s crucial to have a trusted person to inspect the suppliers. Hiring a third party is an option but remember even their fairness could be questionable.
Have a key partner on the ground for when disputes arise.
Some Vietnamese companies have the tendency of avoiding conflicts all along. Complaints might not be thoroughly taken care of. However, a key person with knowledge and patience could turn the table around. When a problem is thoroughly solved, the partnership is strengthened. Don’t take a good business partner lightly.
(Have we missed any reason? Let us know!)
So, how to find a trusted Vietnam partner?
Through your local Vietnamese Embassy/Consulate.
They sure have a commerce division whose job is to connect Vietnamese business to the world (2). They frequently organize online B2B or trade mission that cater to your need. These events are great for partner hunting.
Reach out to your Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam.
This works best if you goal is to extend your network to other companies who are also doing business with Vietnam. The nature of these chambers of commerce is to take care of their clients’ needs and most clients are looking to sell. Therefore, they’re likely to carry a database of Vietnamese potential importers or distributors. However, if you’re looking to buy from Vietnam, you might need them to do an exclusive search because they might not be as well connected with Vietnamese manufacturers and exporters.
Work with a service provider.
There are many professional trading entities whose goal is to find you a perfect match to do business with Vietnam. They are great because they’re not as bureaucratic as public organizations, things could move faster here. Not to neglect the legal aspect if you’re expanding into Vietnam or selling
In short, having a Vietnam partner could:
- facilitate communication
- manage projects
- build relationships
- audit shipments and assure quality consistency
- solve claims when applied
You can find your partnership through chambers of commerce of your country in Vietnam, the local Vietnamese consulates or independent service providers. Drop us a message to learn more about what we can do to grow your business with Vietnam. At the end of the day, Vietnam’s promising emerging market and its price to quality suppliers are still worth all the hassles.