With her background in accountancy, including working for some major companies, Cherisse Lewis took some time to make sure that the numbers all added up before taking the plunge and starting work in pet transportation through CitizenShipper.
But she also decided that, rather than go down the road of operating as a sole trader, she would use the platform to set up a mini-business focusing on pet transportation. And by bringing in other drivers to help her enterprise, Roadside Plus, can offer truly nationwide coverage.
What’s more, she’s achieved all this in not much more than a year, in time for her reaching a significant milestone in her life too!
“Yep, I turned 40 this year, and since I started my new venture, I’ve realized that 40 really is the new 30! I am embarking on a totally new venture – something which I never really thought about doing before.
“But working for myself, along with my husband Eric, has helped me unleash the creative side of me in finding ways to set myself apart from all the competition that’s out there on CitizenShipper – a side of me that I’ve never been able to express before,” she told us.
Cherisse admits that having initially decided that self-employment was the next step she wanted to take in her life, she had little another idea what she was going to do – other than it was going to be something very different from what she’d been doing before.
However, about of serious illness at Christmas 2017 made her search for a suitable new career all the more urgent. “I had my gall bladder removed, and that meant I had a whole lot more time on my hands to look at ways I could continue to earn an income,” she recalls.
“So I just Googled ‘good things to do from home”. A lot of people were talking about buying and selling stuff online. And while there are plenty of people doing that kind of thing of course, many were saying that one of the most common issues they encountered was finding reliable regular couriers and means of transportation.
“That made me and Eric curious to find out a whole lot more about it, and how we could play a part in meeting that demand. So I went home and started my research – and we came across a few sites which were offering the chance to do something like this, one of which was CitizenShipper.”
Steady As She Goes
For Cherisse, landing her first pet shipping job, and then getting a good response from the customer, could have meant that her business built up quickly – but that didn’t prove to be the case. And in hindsight, she believes that was a good thing.
“The first job was from Tennessee to Chicago, and paid $500, and the lady whose pups we transported was so pleased that she told us the kind of service we had provided was in demand, and we should do well.”
But using her knowledge of the ways in which successful businesses are set up and run, Cherisse had also decided that her pet transportation enterprise would be established as a limited liability company.
Special Guarantees And Features
This also brings benefits for would-be clients, because Roadside Plus can offer many features that other businesses can’t. For example all-inclusive pricing, full refunds if travel arrangements fall through, and ‘travel anytime’ guarantees. Get in touch with Cherisse and Eric to find out more.
“So even though we pitch our bids to ensure that we can make good money, we have set ourselves up as a business in a way that means our customers know we appreciate the big responsibility that’s involved in transporting their pets and their goods,” Cherisse adds.
Working in this way has also helped ensure that CitizenShipper is only one element of the business for Cherisse, as she also promotes herself outside of the platform, and wins business through word-of-mouth.
All Pets Welcome
They’ve transported all kinds of animals, from domestic dogs and cats to exotic monkeys and even sugar gliders (a type of possum). Roadside Plus also offers private and semi-private trip options, whereby the client’s animal can be the only one aboard by arrangement. In this situation, they’re also happy to arrange for the animal to travel cage-free, if this may help keep them more relaxed.
Individual tracking of each consignment, be it a pet or other valuable goods, is one of the major advantages Roadside Plus, Cherisse’s business, offers all its clients – and this will also be instrumental as the venture grows, with the eventual goal of having as many as 50 drivers working under the RP banner.
As with even the biggest hauler, Roadside Plus offers customers the opportunity to save money on shipping pets if they can be included in an already-planned journey. This is what’s known in the logistics industry as ‘groupage’. But with vehicles ranging in size from a Toyota Prius to a Dodge Caravan and a Cargo Van in their fleet, the number of ‘passengers’ is always carefully thought out. It is closely geared to the amount of space available and the number of pens that fit into each vehicle.
A Service In Demand
Having only joined CitizenShipper at the start of February 2018, Cherisse and her team passed the landmark of 50 completed shipments well before the end of the year. They had topped 80 at the time of writing, and have achieved a more than 95 percent five-star (from five) rating from clients.
Comments are given to her and her team include:
- “I will always use Cherisse and her business as my go-to shipper of pups and dogs. I cannot say enough great things about her.”
- A customer who needed two cats transporting more than 2,200 miles cross-country at short notice said: “She sent frequent updates with pictures and made sure the kitties were well taken care of. I would definitely recommend using Roadside Plus.”
- For a near-2,000-mile trip also involving two cats, the client wrote: “I can’t say enough positive things about the service provided. I would use them again. Best ever! Look no further.”
Real-Time Progress Reports
Of course, occasionally not everything runs to the detailed plans which Cherisse and Roadside Plus’s drivers put together for each journey. But every effort is made to pass on details of any delays as they happen. With real-time GPS monitoring fitted to all vehicles, drivers and their companions can update owners and shippers regularly of their progress, so that any worries are minimized.
While CitizenShipper provides its own registration scheme and accreditations for all drivers, Roadside Plus and all carriers know that anyone who is sending a much-loved pet on any long journey with a carrier they have never even met before.
But as Cherisse says: “Because we run our business in the right way, we have all the right documentation in place for all our drivers, and we keep a full trail for every trip by every driver.
“We know that all pets are different, and so we do learn new things as we go along, but we are aiming to build a business on trust, so we are available to discuss any problems our clients might have, or to answer their questions, however small.”
Roadside Plus is always happy to give prospective clients a quote for its services. It will also try where possible to work around individual budgets and timescales. It’s the kind of flexible, responsive business that encapsulates what’s good about the ‘gig economy’.
Clear Communication Is Vital
Yet Cherisse knows that many people will always still find it a little scary doing business with people they’ve never met. Roadside Plus uses all the tech available to establish and maintain vital communication between client and carrier throughout every journey.
Cherisse also says that, even in the last year, she has seen considerable change with the CitizenShipper platform – and she is keen to be involved in taking it to the next level.
“There’s high demand for all kinds of transportation services. CitizenShipper is in a good place to be able to fulfill many of those needs,” she says.
“If you want to be successful as a CitizenShipper driver, above all you need to build solid trust with all your customers. You need to show them that the big and growing online world isn’t a scary place. That’s what we’re all about with Roadside Plus.”
CitizenShipper is a two-sided marketplace for hard-to-ship items such as dogs, cats, motorcycles, boats, cars, and more. CitizenShipper puts you in touch with experienced, background-verified, and user-rated transporters. A quality experience — quick, safe, and affordable!