Last December, David Zimmerman joined the ranks of CitizenShipper drivers, specializing in pet transport. In the next seven weeks, he completed eight shipments and recently stepped up to help deliver a puppy that was marooned in an Indiana kennel.
Zimmerman took some time to speak with us about his new career in online shipping.
Q. Why do you like being a driver?
A. I love to drive and always have, even as a kid on family road trips. It’s great to make money and see the country at the same time – I like to pull over and grab a picture of a cool bridge or scenery. Plus you get to meet all kinds of people.
Q. Since you focus on pet delivery, what’s your favorite thing about the job?
A. I really like bonding with animals, even just for a day. Some people love pets, some don’t. I’m one of those that love them. We just delivered Jasper, an 8-month-old puppy that didn’t want to get in the Jeep when we picked him up and was nervous until we gave him a hug and let him know he was safe. It’s great to make an animal feel at ease with you.
Q. How did you connect with CitizenShipper?
A. I worked in New York City as a chef, and then owned a catering company geared toward the movie and entertainment industry. The Hollywood writer’s strike happened at about the same time the economy tanked and that industry really took a downturn, so I had to find something else.
I bought antiques and sold them online and had an Etsy store. One day a saw an ad for drivers on craigslist. I did my research into CitizenShipper, saw it was a viable company, and joined.
The Internet has shifted the way business is conducted. Can you talk a bit about working online?
A. It’s communication for the world, and it really helps what we do. You can do anything you want – confirm identities, get paid, research routes, anything. It is a tool that makes shipping really simple. It also takes mutual trust between the customer and the driver, which is not a problem.
Q. What’s the best thing about being your own boss?
A. If there’s a mistake, you can look in the mirror and fix it right there. I learned a long time ago – there a right way to do something and it’s the only way.
Plus, I was self-employed for so long, I couldn’t imagine working for the man.
What are your goals for the next year?
A. I just want to get on the road five or six days every week and keep it up, and keep focusing on pet delivery. I would love to combine 15 or 20 shipments in a month.
Q. Do you have any advice for new CitizenShipper drivers?
A. On the business side, give yourself plenty of time to make a run and be sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape.When dealing with customers, be who you are, no matter who you meet. This is a people business and you need to find your people skills and use them. For pets, it is key to keep in contact with their owners, send pictures from the road and let them know you realize pets are family.