When you can't afford 1 big supplier creating 2000 finished board games ready for the stores, you'll have to devide your production into a more complex pipeline.
There's no question this is the most expensive way creating board games in the long run, but while you're starting up and making your way to the board game stores - this may be the only way around it - if you don't have 20-30.000 dollars to start up on.
Finding suppliers who can and will handle small orders from you in the beginning is key to a good start on your board game production.
You probably want to devide your board game production into a few categories like:
- Print (cards, board, box print, rules, labels etc.)
- Plastic / Wood pieces (figures, dice, tokens)
- Misc (zip plastic bags, rubber bands)
- Foam / holder (the foam, plastic or cardboard holder that keeps every in place in the box)
- Game box (depends upon your needs but likely you'll have to find a company specialized in box making)
While you're producing a low quantity of games you can buy some things straight from local store, like zip plastic bags, rubber bands etc. which most suppliers only sell in thousands.
But one thing you can do to shorten the time spend on each candidate - is to be very open and precise about what you need for your board game:
- How many can you order of each item
- How much can you pay at a time
- What can you supply to them in terms of sketches, models, prototypes etc.
- What do you exactly expects and in what quality
And make sure to have plenty of documentation (measures, pictures, descriptions etc.) - the more you can tell the easier it is for a potential supplier to estimate if that is something they can do for you.
If a supplier says he or she can't deliver - don't be affraid to ask who of their competitors might be able to help you... most of the time people want to help and will give you some new leads to chase.
When you have found your suppliers - it's all about cooperation. You should always help them as much as possible through the proces.
- Don't make them call or email you without answering
- Paid their bills on time or better yet - before time!
And do yourself a favor and spend some time on keeping your suppliers happy with a good and contructive dialog. Let them know how thankful you are for their work. Show them your final results when your board game is ready for sale :)
Even though it might seem unnessesary and a bit unfaithful towards your current suppliers - it's always good to formulate a backup plan including other suppliers.
As long as you're a small customer in their eyes you'll sometimes have to wait until they have a free spot for you... or if one of their main clients need their complete attention for 2-3 weeks.
In those cases it nice if you can go to another supplier - specially if it's the only missing part of your game. There's no fun in waiting one more month for 500 playing cards.
That's all for now - hope you can use it :) and happy gaming!