5 More Things to Keep in Your Trunk

Back in December we highlighted 8 Things You Should Have In Your Trunk. This list mostly highlighted things you might not have considered before.

Here’s 5 more things you should keep in your trunk:

  1. Rechargeable vacuum. Get one with a lithium-ion battery, so it has enough power.

  2. Trash bags. Its good to keep small bags and a couple kitchen size ones.

  3. Glass cleaner. To clean that grease stain your last customer left on the rear window, or to clean the inside of your windshield. It’s something that I seem to need most when I don’t have it.

  4. Towels: Microfiber, paper, whatever you like. Just have something. Every morning I have had to wipe the dew off of all my windows. Microfiber has been great.

  5. Fix-a-flat: You spend so much time driving, a flat is inevitable. Protect yourself by being able to drive yourself to a repair shop, rather than spend $150 on a tow.

What should we add to the list? Reply to this email with your suggestions.

Criminal Service

Last time we talked about the Outstanding level of service, and how you need to deliver a desired or better outcome at every interaction point. This level of service is truly the top of the staircase, and leads to big tips and high scores.

Circling back to the very bottom of the staircase, we have the Criminal level of service. This is called criminal because instead of actually fulfilling the ride, you waste everyone’s time and fulfill nothing. Unlike Basic service, which is generally poor service, at least you got the customer from Point A to Point B. With Criminal service, you didn’t even do that.

Here are some examples of criminal service:

  1. Your trunk is full and you pick someone up to go to the airport. You have to cancel the ride because you cannot fit the bags and the customers.

  2. You are driving like a lunatic and your customer asks you to end the ride because of safety.

  3. You have an unauthorized person in the front seat, and pick up a party of 4, and need to cancel the ride.

  4. You go to the pickup spot, hide from the customer, wait the 5 minutes, and cancel the ride to collect your fee.

You can see, these are extreme cases. The common theme is that you do not make good on what the customer paid for, a ride from Point A to Point B. The customer needs to request another ride, and so much time is wasted for both of you. Forget tips, criminal service is the quickest way to be suspended and deactivated.

Baking Soda, The Miracle

This one is short. When it comes to the inside of your car, no matter what the problem is, baking soda can help. This miracle powder is very inexpensive and versatile.

  • Sprinkle it on any liquid that appears in your car and it will absorb the contents. From something simple like water, to bodily fluids like vomit and urine.

  • Vacuums up easily. Wait until it dries on whatever liquid you put this on and it will remove most/all of the stain and odor. Clean up messes yourself and collect that cleaning fee.

  • Reduce major odors. Do you have an odor that you just cannot get rid of? Musty mildew smell? Gym clothes smell? Last nights Uber eats from that garlicky restaurant? You have two options. Just leave the small box of baking soda out in the car overnight. That will help with small odors. Big odor, sprinkle it on the area in question, leave overnight and vacuum in the morning. Don’t know where the odor is coming from? Spead the soda all over a tray and leave it out in the back seat overnight. The larger surface area of the baking soda will absorb more odors. Then one spray of ozium should do the trick.

I said it is inexpensive, and I wasn’t kidding. You can get a 13.5 bag of it at Costco for under $8. Stock up, keep it in your trunk and use liberally. It will have your car smelling super fresh!

Track Everything!

Track absolutely everything! You are a business owner, and so any expenses you incur to run your business are tax deductible.

Here’s some examples of things you can potentially deduct. Start tracking now, so come April, you are ready to file. (Always consult an accountant for the applicable laws in your area)

  1. Miles: Duh, everyone knows you can deduct miles, right? Way too many rideshare drivers are not taking advantage of this. Your best bet is to use a tracking app that automatically keeps track of your miles, and puts a dollar amount to what you can potentially deduct. There are many apps that do this, so try them all: Stride, Quickbooks Self Employed, or Gridwise.

  2. Oil changes: This is a regular maintenance expense and can be deducted. Keep your receipts, or take a photo and upload them to Quickbooks or Stride.

  3. Car Wash: Keeping your car clean is important for customer satisfaction, and because of that, you can expense it.

  4. Mobile Phone and Wireless Plan: Your phone is how you conduct business. Without it, you are not a rideshare driver. You can deduct the percentage you use your phone for business from the the cost of the actual phone, as well as your wireless plan. If you use your phone 50% of the time for rideshare, you can deduct 50% of the cost.

  5. Amenities: The IRS says you can deduct business related entertainment expenses, which means you can deduct any bottled water, gum or whatever you provide to your customers. The IRS will let you deduct 50% of what you spent, so keep your receipts.

  6. Roadside Assistance: Did you purchase a roadside assistance plan such as AAA because of your rideshare business? You can deduct that.

Want to squeeze every penny out of your deductions? Instead of deducting the cost of the miles you drive, you can separate that into every expense you have for the car such as your lease payment, depreciation, interest on loan, license, title and registration, gas, maintenance and insurance. You have to choose one or the other, miles or all those expenses. The miles deduction is much easier and is meant to account for all those other things. You might find your deduction is more if you separate it out, but it is a lot more work.

How many of those things are you deducting on your taxes?

Detail Your Car

We’re from Connecticut, so in the middle of winter when every car is covered in salt and grime, we wrote an article about car washes. We still stand by that advice, and I wash my car 3 times a week using a monthly membership ($17/month).

But as we are coming to a close on the summer, getting your car protected now for the harsh winter months (if you live in a place that has winter) will keep the exterior from taking to rust, and damage from the salt and road treatments. Even if you live in a fortunate area that doesn’t get snow or winter, detailing your car will protect it from whatever hazards you do experience.

What you need:

Car soap (we like Meguiers)
Large Sponge
Wheel Cleaner (foam or spray)
Wheel and tire scrub brushes
Microfiber towels (Costco)
3 Step Cleaner and Wax (any brand)
Buffing pads (for each step)

Optional:

Electric Buffer/Polisher

Commit 2-3 hours to do it right, and then regular maintenance will keep it looking great all winter.

  1. Get your car washed (or wash it yourself). If you have a power washer, you can use that with the delicate tip to speed up the process and clean it better.

  2. Spray your rims/hubcaps with the wheel cleaner. Follow the directions on the bottle. Typically you will then scrub your ties with the brushes and then rinse it off. This gets all the brake dust off and any tar and grime stuck to the rims.

  3. Now is the time to start the deep cleaning and polishing. Use step one, and squirt the lotion on the pad and scrub it on the car. Step 1 is usually abrasive and continues to remove dirt from the car. Great for getting off tar and other things really stuck to the paint. Then buff it off with the microfiber towel. Wax on, wax off Daniel-san. Use small circular motions, and only do a small area at a time.

  4. Continue with step 2, using the appropriate pad.

  5. Finish with step 3, which is usually pure wax. Feel free to repeat step three several times if you want to do several coats of wax.

This is a very basic and general approach to detailing, but as you can see, fairly simple. It is mostly hard work and elbow grease, so plan to be sore the next day. Doing just this minimal detailing will help protect your car. The exterior of your car is the first thing your customer sees. Make a good impression.

Outstanding Service

Last time we talked about the Surprising level of service. If you truly surprise your customer (in a good way), you will have made a long lasting impression on them, and they will be truly grateful. This is how you get big tips. If you look back at your recent tips, the largest ones were probably from you surprising your customer in some way or another.

And now onto the best level of service there is, Outstanding service. This can only be achieved when you deliver a desired level or better in the majority of the touch points. Just remember, you cannot ever go below the expectations. Your customer will get out of your car, and then immediately realize that they just had the best drive they have ever had.

Here is an example ride:

  1. You communicate that you are on your way (Desired)

  2. You arrive on time (Expected)

  3. You get out of the car/open a door/help with bags (Desired)

  4. Your car is clean (Expected)

  5. Your car smells pleasant (Desired)

  6. You offer up the radio (Desired)

  7. You throw one of the surprising amenities at them (Surprising)

  8. You ask if there is anything you can do to make their ride more comfortable (Desired)

  9. You drive politely (Expected)

  10. You drop off right out front (Expected)

  11. You thank them for the ride, and have a closing spiel (Desired)

You see how almost every touch point along the way was ‘Desired’ or better. This creates a comfortable environment, where you customer doesn’t even realize they are receiving outstanding service until it ends. Then it hits them like a ton of bricks and they can’t get into the app and tip you fast enough.

Every drive should end with a tip. But no, you are not entitled to a tip, you have to earn it. Create an environment where your customer just has to tip you and they will.

How can you earn your next tip?

Is Your Profile Up to Date?

Imagine you are a rider and you just got paired with a driver. What is the first thing you do? You look at their profile of course. As a driver this is something we gloss over, and then do not revisit ever again. If you are reading this, make a point to review your profile and consider making some changes.

You can view your profile by tapping on your picture in the top right corner, then on your picture in the center that says “profile” under it.

Anything you want to change? Tap the pencil in the top right. You can edit:

  1. Short Description: You only get 50 characters, so make them count. Great news is you can put whatever you want in here. You can use it to set expectations. Mine says “A comfortable ride is my #1 priority!” Or you can put a link to your social media. You can even put referral links in here if you want. Just don’t expect much success.

  2. Languages: Self explanatory, what languages can you speak? You pick from a list of languages. You can also add your own, and you have 50 characters to put something in here. If you speak one language, maybe put something creative in here.

  3. Where You’re From: Where you’re from can be your ancestry, where you grew up, or where you live now. You get 50 characters, so put in here what you want that might spark interest and conversation.

  4. Background Wallpaper: In the top right corner is an icon of a photo. Tap it and you can change your background image.

    For The next three things you can customize, be very strategic with what you write. Your goal is to get your customer to know you a little more and be encouraged to tip you. You have 350 characters to tell your story.

  5. Fun Fact: Put something in here that you are passionate about, and could talk about non-stop should a customer ask you about. Is it a hobby, a skill or something you are incredibly good at.

  6. Other Experience: Have another job, what is it? Don’t have another job, talk about a previous job or how you occupy your time.

  7. Why I Drive: The real reason we drive is to pay bills, put food on the table or to create a little savings. Feel free to put that down or use a little creative license. You can be specific too. “Earn some extra cash to pay down debt… go to school… to send my kids to school… to buy my next beer”. Anything to get a positive reaction from your customer. My only caution is to be truthful. Honesty will show off better. If you have some time, check out our blog post “How Long Have You Been Driving for Uber?” It is a similar topic that might help.

What ever you do, go through your profile now and see if you can be presenting yourself in a better way. You will see an improvement in your tips and rating. Good luck!

Script Your Pickup

Starting off the pickup and the ride in a positive way is the key to a successful ride. Part of doing this is helping manage the customer's expectations. Have you ever been a rider before? What happens after you request a ride? You get assigned to a driver and you watch their car move like a hawk. If it stops moving or is going the wrong direction, you stress out.

Prevent any early on problems by writing up a script and saving it to your notes. Then just fill in the missing data. Here’s some suggestions:

  1. “Hi, this is Mike your Uber Driver. I'm on my way. GPS says i’ll be there in X minutes.”

  2. (When you are 2 minutes out send this): “Be there in 2 minutes.” This will actually speed up pickup time. Use voice commands for safety.

  3. (Say you have now waited 2 minutes. Either call or text them): “Hey, i’m outside <address> and ready when you are. Let me know if I can help with anything.” Obviously, if you wait 5 minutes with no contact, cancel the drive and collect your fee.

  4. (If there is any unexplained traffic on the way, you should acknowledge it. Otherwise you’ll be met with an upset customer): “It looks like I have hit some unexpected traffic. I will be there ASAP.” This will give your customer the opportunity to cancel, but they won’t. And they’ll appreciate the update.

What scripts do you use in your day to day?

Using Social Media

abstract-stylish-social-media-icons-set_1055-5090.jpg

Social media can be your friend. Yes, the same social media where everyone you know tries to show off their new toy or the latest vacation spot, or argue politics with a total stranger.

For our purposes, social media can help your customers get to know you better in the limited time they are in your car. Why do you want them to get to know you? You can passively tell them about your life, the job as a rideshare driver, share positive messages and help set better expectations with your customers.

Here’s How:

  1. First, set up a Facebook or Instagram page for yourself. This should not be your standard personal page, it should be dedicated to rideshare. “Uber Driver Mike” or something easy to say and get to.

  2. Seed the page with content. Do this before you even invite anyone to it. No one will look at and follow your page if there isn’t any content they like.

  3. The seed content should be positive things: good stories, photos with customers, photos of places you have been and motivational quotes and ideas. Get about "2 weeks” worth of content.

  4. Now start advertising. Put a sign in the back seat or tell every customer to go to your page. More people than you think will actually do this right away. People are curious and also are looking for things to kill time during the drive.

  5. Start adding more community focused content. Once you reach a few hundred followers, you officially have a community. You are a local celebrity. Start taking pictures with the customers of your milestones (100, 1000, 2000, 3000 ride, etc). With their permission, post it to your page. You can also start posting polls and get feedback directly from your community. Do a drive with a celebrity? Ask for a photo and post it to your page.

If this is something that interests you, start today. Do a little research and find other rideshare drivers that have dedicated pages. See what you like on their page and don’t like and start building. Be patient with the results, as it will take time. But before you know it, you will have a group of dedicated followers. At the very least, your customers will see your page while in the car with you, and if they get to know you just a little bit, they are more likely to tip.

If you have any questions on how to get this started, were happy to help. Shoot us an email.

Ode to Ozium

I don’t think drivers fully appreciate and understand how important a pleasant smelling car is. I know my customers value it about as much as a positive attitude. A pleasant smelling car can hide deficiencies elsewhere, and adds to the surprising wow factor. Most cars either smell neutral or smell bad, so having a car that smells nice is quite the surprise.

Most drivers do not even realize their car smells badly because they spend so much time in it, and get used to the odor. The best test is to breath outdoor air for about 5 minutes. Then get into the back seat and take a deep breath. What does it smell like? That’s the first impression your customers are getting.

A pleasant smelling car starts the ride off nicely, often elicits a comment (“Your car smells nice”), and is often talked about after the ride (“My drivers car smelled like vanilla!”). While it can cure a lot of small problems, a nice smelling car will not cure a bad attitude, cover up a dirty car or fix an extremely late pickup.

So here is our Ode to Ozium, the air freshener that neutralizes the smell of your car, introduces a faint citrus smell, and allows you introduce you own signature scent. Here’s our 5 recommendations on how to use Ozium.

  1. Before you start your day, spray some ozium in your car and shut all the doors (you shouldn’t stay in the car during this). I recommend (5) 1 second sprays over top each seat. Spray the floor if there is any odor coming from there. Let it marinate in there for about 5-10 minutes. When you open the door the car should smell clean and fresh.

  2. Now to introduce your signature scent. We recommend spa scents like lavender, jasmine or lemon. There is a reason spas use those scents, because they are calming. Why not calm your customer as well. Don’t like any of those? Try other spa scents like orange or vanilla. Just be careful what you pick, crazy scents can make you as well as your customer nauseous. A little goes a long way.

  3. Throughout the day, test the smell of your car. Get out of the car to stretch your legs. Spend about 2 minutes outside the car. Now get in the back seat and take a deep breath. What does it smell like? Reapply ozium as necessary.

  4. Reapply ozium after any of these occurrences: You eat in your car, you smoke (inside or outside the car), you have a particularly smelly customer.

  5. Deliver Uber eats in-between drives? Spray one spray over your shoulder right after every delivery.

Pro Tip: Hide your air freshener so it isn’t in plain sight. Under the driver and passenger seat is a good option. Just don’t hang it from the rear view mirror! The traditional tree air fresheners typically dry out and lose their scent quickly, especially in the summer months, so we recommend replacing them every 1-2 weeks. Want something that lasts longer? Look into scented oils that you can soak and place like the tree air freshener.