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Last Update: Tuesday June 15, 2021

Key Idea: Out Serve the Big Guys

Leonor Ferrer was born in Mexico City and became an American citizen over two decades ago.  She speaks the language of the small importers and she provides all the service the big competitors offer.

Key Question:


Leonor has all of the technology that her big competitors have plus she knows and likes her customers.  Keith Games says, "Distance is no longer a deterrent to exporting. Time, not distance, determines the level of service you can provide."  As a small company, you can't depend upon friendly high-touch service.

Q:  Why is speed such an important part of service? so important

A: We may be lulled into thinking our business has no competition then wake up one morning to find our customers buying what they need from a competitor we didn't even think existed. This competitor could be across the street or around the world but finding a way to get to our customer in non-conventional ways. The most obvious example is You never need go to a bookstore in your neighborhood again, you don't have to leave your computer to buy the exact book you want This doesn't mean you won't enjoy going to a bookstore in the future but, you as a consumer have a choice today you never had before. This choice is causing turmoil for all businesses.

The company who can deliver fast, hassle-free service will win the customer of the future. 

Think about it

What do your big competitors offer that you don't offer?  What do you need to do to close the service gap?

Clip from: Ferrer Brokers

Otay Mesa, California and Tijuana, Mexico: Leonor Ferrer is the first Hispanic customs broker in the greater San Diego area and she is leading the way. She is president of the San Diego Chapter of National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America. You can sure that she and all of the leading thinkers among the import/export business are eager to help you begin to go global.

Leonor learned the ins-and-outs of this business working for somebody else. When her boss said that he was not interested in handling small businesses, people who only had small shipments to export or import, she struggled with herself, "Should I break away and start my own business to service these small accounts."

And, of course, she did. Ferrer Brokers has nine employees and a building across from the commercial border crossing. She is in Otay Mesa, just south of San Diego, California. Her offices are less than 100 feet from the Tijuana border. As all the 18-wheel truckers cross the border, they have to turn right or they would end up in her parking lot!

Ferrer Brokers

Leonor Ferrer, Founder

9840 Via De La Armistad
Otay, CA 92154

Visit our web site:

Office: 6196616755

Business Classification:

Year Founded:

Out Serve the Big Guys

HATTIE: So how are you holding your ground against bigger people, bigger companies?

LEONOR: By doing what I do very, very well. We are very service-oriented.

HATTIE: All right. Give me an example of what you do for your clients that maybe somebody who's larger doesn't do.

LEONOR: We hold their hands. We tell them what stage their product is in. We advise them about different things, not just pertaining to customs. And, also, if we have to go to customs and argue a point, we are very effective about that.

HATTIE: You're powerful with the customs...

LEONOR: Yes, you know, we...

HATTIE: ...inspectors or whatever.

LEONOR: Well, yeah, with the import specialists at customs, and we document ourselves very well. We know that--read the law very well so that we can support them, and that's something that big companies don't do. They will probably do it for their bigger clients, but they will not do it for the smaller clients.
HATTIE: (Voiceover) Much of the activity at this border is generated by the 550 Maquila (Maquiladora). These are foreign-owned assembly plants in Mexico that import raw material duty-free and export final products around the world.

But Leonor has always focused on the little guy.

LEONOR: Like I mentioned, we're very service-oriented, and we have the contact with the persons that have a vested interest in their product. And because we have that direct contact, they're very loyal and they're--and when they grow, they stay with you. They recommend you. One thing I have never done within 15 years, I have never advertised. All of my clients are word of mouth, and I'm extremely proud of that.

HATTIE: What are the steps that I have to go through to export my product? Is the first step to come to you?

LEONOR: That would be a very good idea.

HATTIE: Not your competitor next door.

LEONOR: Actually, I would tell you one thing, it is the best idea for the price--for what we charge, and we can save you five or six times the amount of money that you would be spending if you did it by yourself.

HATTIE: So I can do it by myself.

LEONOR: You can do it by yourself, but there are a lot of horror stories of people that have tried to do it by themselves. First, it cost them a lot of money and time, and the worst, some people have even like lost their product.

HATTIE: Does every country have its own rules?

LEONOR: Yes, they do.

HATTIE: So that's why we need to come to someone who knows all those rules.

LEONOR: Right. Because what I would do, I would contact a broker in the country of the final destination and I will talk to them and ask them what the requirements are for the specific product. The US Customs implements the laws for over 40 agencies, so if you have a product that you're importing, you don't know which of all those agencies are gonna be involved, and it's the same in every country. So I would talk to a counterpart to find out exactly what the requirements would be for that product.

Four dollars...

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