Madrid, Spain, Sept. 23 – Less than a week after launch, the recruitment drive for the world’s first “virtual multinational” freight forwarders alliance has already netted scores of pre-applications and hundreds of website hits and requests for information.
“We are very encouraged by the response,” said Antonio Torres, himself a veteran freight forwarder and mastermind of the new Conqueror network, whose members will be obliged to work with each other on at least half of their shipments. “Our launch was reported widely in the specialized press, and seems to have become a talking point in the industry.” This response from forwarders, Torres said, “is making us optimistic about our chances of meeting our first objective, which is to have the 60 most important cities covered within six months. That would already put us ahead of many of the medium-sized multinationals. Our target for the first year is to have 90-100 agents.”
Unlike other networks, Conqueror is designed to operate like a mega-forwarder, with exclusive territories, internal discipline, rules governing business relations between members, and a global brand.
“Some forwarders have complained about the paperwork involved in the application process,” Torres said. “This is because most other networks accept anyone who pays. We charge nothing for the first six months, and while we are prepared to be flexible, we can only accept applicants who meet reasonably high standards. Our whole business model is based on this.”
“It’s true that our entry barriers are high, and that we require evidence of solvency, reputation, business volume, and good credit,” Torres said. “But how else can we be certain that our members have the quality we are promising to all our other members and to shippers around the world?”
“We’re not like other networks,” he added. “Our members will have exclusive territories, and they will be assured of substantial increases in business volume, and many other advantages. Other networks ‘recommend’ cooperation, but we demand it –although our members can still use their old agents for half their shipments,” he explained.
“Most other networks take your money and give you little or nothing in return. We only ask you to show your qualifications to join what we call ‘the aristocracy of freight forwarders’. At the end of the six months, you will know whether you want to remain in this alliance, and we will know whether you are fulfilling your responsibilities as a member. No money will change hands until then. I don’t see how we can make it any easier, safer, or more transparent than that!”
One forwarder expressed doubts that Conqueror would manage to negotiate lower rates from carriers for its members, who retain their independence. “We answered by comparing Conqueror to a franchise, like Burger King, which is correctly perceived as a multinational chain by both customers and suppliers, though its establishments may be locally owned,” Torres said. “Conqueror is going to show that by working together under one brand, the best independents can beat the mega-forwarders at their own game!”