Stay Healthy While Doing Rideshare

So you decided to become a rideshare driver (or have been one for 5 years). Welcome to the world of slower metabolism, sore back, unusual body aches, and dealing with unreasonable customers.

Here’s 5 tips to keep yourself (relatively) healthy while driving:

  1. Eat enough fiber. I’m not joking. If you eat a fibrous breakfast not only will that fill you up much longer in the day, but also keep you on ‘schedule’. The more you can predict your schedule, the more you can maximize your earnings. You can eat simple things like high fiber toast, steel cut oats, a high fiber cereal or even a fiber power bar. Shoot for around 6-8 grams of fiber at breakfast. If you need help adding fiber to your diet you can also consider fiber supplements like gummies and powders.

  2. Stay away from fast food. It is so easy to get and so delicious to eat. But one meal can be more than your entire days worth of calories, and if you are seated all day you are burning next to nothing. Consider this, in general, a sedentary male burns about 1,800 calories a day, and a female burns about 1,500 calories a day just to exist. So anything you eat above that is being converted into fat.

  3. Save your back and get some lumbar support. I have a back injury in my lower back and need support in my lower back and middle back. I have tried many back cushions and this one works best for me. If you suffer with any back pain, it makes a huge difference.

  4. If you sit for longer than 4 hours at a time, you should consider your risk for blood clots. These clots can form in your left leg if you drive an automatic car from sitting for long periods of time. If you have had clots before, smoke, are obese or have varicose veins, consider speaking with your doctor about how to prevent blood clots in your leg. At the very least, consider wearing compression socks when you drive.

  5. I won’t recommend you join a gym, because if you are a gym person, you already do that. Instead, get a pedometer like a Fitbit and shoot for a daily walking goal. Then, before your shift or after your shift, walk a mile or so. If you have a dog, take a long walk with your dog. The recommendation is usually 10,000 steps a day, which is about 4.5 miles. Don’t overwhelm yourself, and just try to get some walking in. Then try to beat it the next day.

What are your tips on staying healthy in rideshare?

Desired Service

A couple weeks ago we talked about the Expected level of service that your customer expects every time they order an Uber. Sometimes these expectations are unreasonable, such as expecting a bottle of water in every ride. Sometimes the expectations are not unreasonable, a clean car, pleasant driver, and a safe ride.

Desired service is a little better than the expectation, and if you deliver on all of the expectations and do something the customer desires you will get better ratings and better tips.

Here are some things you can do to be a little better than the expectation:

  1. Introduce a pleasant smell. People like things that smell good, and memories and emotions are highly tied to smell. Pick a pleasant scent that you are ok with smelling the entire day, but also is not offensive to the masses. Pick something like lemon, jasmine or lavender (Spa Scents), over things like black ice, new car smell and strawberry shortcake. Those scents can be polarizing and can backfire.

  2. Tailor your music to your customer. You can compliment the ride by playing soft music for the working businessman, top 20 hits for the party girl, or chill music for your airport pickup. Build profiles for your customers, and then start the music when they get in. If you need help, check out our Spotify playlists. Or, you know, you can just ask them what they want to hear. Just remember, you control the volume!

  3. Consider surprise amenities. This is not the box that sits on the center console that has gum, mints, shout wipes, etc like the ones we sell. Instead, keep a small kit with you in the front seat. Did you just overhear your customer say to her boyfriend “Do you have any gum?” Surprise them with a pack of gum. How about a “Damn, I just spilled coffee on my shirt!” Toss a shout wipe to them. What a lasting impression you will leave with them, and in turn will earn you tips.

Desired service is just a little bit better than the expectation, and doesn’t take much effort. Just remember, it is all for nothing if you do not meet the expectations everywhere else.

Why Isn't Tipping Customary in Rideshare?

You’re probably saying to yourself “I tip service people all the time, why is it not expected for me to get tipped”?

The answer has many folds, and speaking to both drivers and riders, I came up with a couple common trends.

  1. Wait staff get tipped, why don’t I? It is common knowledge that restaurant wait staff get paid below minimum wage, often as low as $2.13 per hour. This is because in the USA, tipping is expected in food service, and with tips included they will earn more than the minimum wage. Everyone knows this, and understands the deal.

    On the flip side, most people do not understand the plights of being a rideshare driver: maintenance, insurance, gas, dead head returns, upkeep, etc. Your customers think you are making more than you are.

  2. Most of your riders have worked as wait staff before, and can relate to it. Ever go out to eat with a former waiter? They tip way more than the usual because they have empathy and compassion for the job.

    Ever driven a former or current Uber driver? Did they tip you? How about this one, do you tip your driver when you use Uber?

  3. No one treats rideshare as a service industry, but instead as a transportation industry. We all know it is a service industry. At least the good drivers do. But that perception still exists, and every lousy driver that says “that’s not my job” hurts our collective chances at making tipping the standard.

  4. … But taxi drivers get tipped. That is mostly a result of the face to face, cash/charge transaction. In general humans avoid confrontation, and so if I make the decision to go against the social norms and not tip a taxi driver, I am more likely to get into an altercation.

    By the time we get tipped in the app, the customer is long gone. No accountability.

    One of Uber’s biggest benefits to its customers (transaction-less service) is one of the biggest weakness’ for the drivers.

So what do we do about this?

First, change the perception of the industry one customer at a time, by highlighting what we are providing is a service. Recognize that just getting from Point A to Point B is not going to get it done. Take Action to Create Value for your Customer and you will earn tips. Period.

Next, educate your customers through social media. This isn’t the sob story of how bad it is to be an Uber driver, and how little you make. Instead, journal your day to day life as a driver. Remember that last repair you had to do on your car? Talk about it. Got your car washed today, post it to Facebook. How about that awesome customer that you had? Talk about how you helped them and maybe throw in a little “thanks for the tip” at the end. Then, give your customers a glimpse of it while they are on the ride with you.

Last thing: If you do not have a tip sign, get one. Also consider getting a tip jar or something to show tips are normal, and to encourage cash tips.

You Need a Dashcam

Six months ago we talked about the 5 reasons you need a dashcam. Seriously. Before you purchase anything else, get yourself a front and rear facing dashcam.

Here’s three more reasons you need a dashcam.

  1. Did you say to your passenger “please make sure you get out curbside for your safety”, and they ignored you and opened out onto the street? Did that door crash into an oncoming car, bicycle or person? This footage will help you prove your case and possibly be the evidence you need for small claims.

  2. Have you ever seen the videos of someone acting like they got hit by a car, maybe jumping on the hood and then lying on the street writhing in pain? Usually it is a video from outside the United States, but believe it or not, it happens here too. These claims will be resolved much more quickly, with less (no) legal fees if you are able to prove they were faking with a video.

  3. Did your passenger threaten you? Are they threatening to make up claims about you? Obviously, the video protects you, but go one step further and report and share the video with Uber/Lyft. This will protect future drivers when they ban that customer.

Some additional tips:

Know your budget. You do not have to get a fancy $200 GPS and Wifi enabled dashcam. Those are a great investment, but a $50 one is better than nothing.

Save as much footage as you can, and be disciplined on how you file it. It will make it that much easier to find what you are looking for if you need it. Cloud storage is so inexpensive right now, try to shoot for 2 weeks to a month of videos. Always save something where there was an incident or “incident” for 6 months or longer.

Be careful of dashcams that have a battery if you are in very hot climates.

If you can afford it, get one with night vision. Especially if you do a lot of night time driving.

Remember dashcam ettiquette, and either have a sign or verbally mention you are using a dashcam (I prefer a subtle sign).

Have a few bucks to spend? Take a look at this Vantrue N2 Pro Dashcam. It is crazy high rated, and used by everyone I know.

Go ahead and share what dashcam you use and how has it saved you?

Expected Service

The 6 levels of service are the keys to understand where you stand with your service offering, and what you can focus on to improve it. It is your ride, you have total control of the in-car experience, whether it is the cleanliness of your car, the aroma of your car, any amenities you offer and all the way down to how you talk to your customer. You have total control of this. If you are not receiving tips, stop blaming your customers and start looking at what you are doing.

You will not receive tips for just driving your customer from Point A to Point B. I wish this was the case, but that culture doesn’t exist yet. So you have to take action to create value for your customer in order to earn those tips.

An expected level of service is just that, what your customer expects. Here’s five things your customers expect in every ride:

  1. Clean car: This is a must and the expectation. This means it is clean both inside and out, smells neutral and is free of any damage to the seats, seat belts, etc.

  2. Polite interaction: Your customer expects you to greet them (hopefully with a smile), and not make them feel like they are a burden to you. Being polite also includes recognizing when your customer wants to talk with you and when they do not. Polite does not mean you have to be over the top friendly. It couldn’t hurt, but that’s not the expectation.

  3. Help with bags: Even if you can’t physically help with the bags because of an injury or disability, at least act like you can. Get out, pop the trunk and guide your customer to where they should put the bags. Don’t say “Trunk’s open” out the drivers window.

  4. Safe driving: This is often overlooked as important, because the culture of cab drivers is that safe driving doesn’t matter. It is just about getting from Point A to Point B quickly. In the world of ratings, safe driving is king. Your customer expects you to drive politely. That is not slamming the brakes, or gas, making hard turns, excessive speeding and tailgating. Check your road rage at the door, and don’t even react to that car that cut you off. It will pay off in better ratings.

  5. Pick up and drop off where they want: Drop off is easy. Hey, “drop me off on this corner, over there, in front of the restaurant”. Pick up is the tricky part and confusion is often unavoidable. Maybe they requested the Uber on the other side of the building, or in a place where cars cannot get to. Maybe they are drunk and aren’t doing a good job keeping track of time. Either way, if it is a location I am not familiar with, I send them a message asking if there is anything I need to be aware of. Something like “Hey, this is Mike your Uber driver. I’m on my way. Anything I need to know about where to pick you up?”

  6. Bonus: While waiting to be picked up, your customers expect your vehicle to be moving inside the app. Uber doesn’t do a perfect job updating the customers map on the app, but it is close enough. If they don’t see your car moving, you can expect a message like “You on your way?”. If that happens, you are toast before you even started.

Ok, so I met the expectations, give me tips. As I said before, that just isn’t the culture yet. In order to earn tips you need to do just a little bit more. Next week we will talk about one step above this, giving your customers something they desire.

Do Tip Signs Work?

The answer is a resounding maybe. Some people swear by them, and some people swear their tips plummeted from having one. I don’t think this is as simple as “It works” or “It doesn’t work”. The language on the sign, what you are asking for and how you present yourself all matter much more than the tip sign itself. If you would like to give one a go, try to include the following on your sign.

  1. Offer something first. This does not have to be something that costs you money. It can be as simple as “Too hot or too cold?”, “What radio station do you like?” or “Charger available!”

  2. Include your objective. “It is my goal to deliver a great experience” or “It is my goal to get you to your destination safely, quickly and pleasantly”. Come up with your objective.

  3. Now ask for them to rate you. Please remember to rate me after this ride. If I <Insert your objective here>, please rate me 5 stars.

  4. Now subtly mention the tips. Remember, tips are not for just doing the job. SIDEBAR: If you want tips for just doing the job, become a server or bartender. Sadly, ride share culture hasn’t caught up yet. Include a statement like this “If I exceeded your expectations, tips are greatly appreciated.

  5. End with some thank you like, “Thank you for riding with me today” or something along those lines.

Be careful not to make it a sob story by including things like “Please tip me, I am supporting two kids” or “Tips help me buy diapers”. Some people have had luck, but others say it has backfired. You want to share your story, but not make people feel uncomfortable.

Some people have had success with jokey signs like “Your tips help me buy beer”. It might help, but I think it has diminishing returns.

You could also try adding “I make my living through tips”, to help build awareness that tips are critical to our pay.

A tip jar might also help get more cash tips. Just make sure you secure it tightly, and put some seed money in the jar. No one tips an empty jar and no one tips a bursting jar. Somewhere in the middle is best.

Last thing, track everything. The day you put the sign in, track your tips. Take it out one day, track your tips. Change the wording? Track your tips.

Don’t have the time or the creativity to create your own sign? Just google it. There are plenty of signs to buy, or check out our customizable one.

Tire Warranty?

Your tires are one of the most important consumable parts of your car. We often run them into the ground, because until they go flat, they work. That is, if you can make it that far. Driving around for a living means you are more likely to encounter a flat. Every minute you have a flat, you aren’t earning. As a professional it is often worth it to purchase the additional warranty for your tires. Next time you make a tire change, see if it is worth it. Take a look at these types of warranty’s:

  1. The biggest and most expensive warranty you can purchase is a road hazard warranty. This will often cover your tires for damages that cause a flat, such as nails, glass, or even sidewall damages from hitting a curb. Read the fine print, they might just prorate you for the miles you already drove.

  2. Some warranty’s are for the age of the tire. If it is less than the rated years and has gone below the tread count, you might be eligible for a replacement. Replacement is usually necessary at 2/32”

  3. Same thing goes for mileage. Make sure you document your odometer before you replace a tire, and if it goes below the tread count in fewer miles, you might be eligible for a replacement.

Two things to be careful of. First, make sure you do proper maintenance on your tires. If your tire place can tell you didn’t rotate and align your tires, they could void the warranty.

Also, places like Walmart have recently been denying obvious rideshare cars for warranty. Make sure you remove any obvious signage before you call in your warranty.

Do you have any additional advice on maintaining tires? We’d love to hear it.

Customer Complaints

I often see and hear this comment from driver friends: “I haven’t heard any complaints”.

About their driving: “No one has complained about my driving”.

About the smell: “No one has said anything about my new air freshener”.

About your attitude: “No one has said I am rude”.

Most people do not like confrontation, so you are unlikely to get a complaint to your face. It’s too easy for a customer to just complain to Uber and get a refund. This is really unfortunate because it doesn’t really tell you if that change you made, that conversation you had or that erratic lane change ended up costing you.

That new tip jar/sign you put on your console, is the wording too aggressive? That new air freshener tree you got (cotton candy), is it giving your customers a head ache?

If you have recently had a run of bad reviews and bad tips, don’t just brush it off as bad luck or blame your customer. Look at yourself first and see if there is something you are doing that you didn’t realize was causing the poor service. Then make a change for the better.

Pro Tip: Keep a journal of everything you do. Put a sign in the back seat? Added a new air freshener? Removed the phone charger? Got a car wash? Write it down and put a date and time on it. At the end of the day, write down your daily earnings and tips. See any trends?

If your earnings are going up, keep doing what you are doing. If your earnings are going down, make a change.

Change 3 Challenge

I would never advocate to make a change just for the sake of change, that is counter productive. However, mixing it up a little will add a fresh perspective to your day, and hopefully open your eyes to new ways to earn more money.

The challenge is simple, just for today, make a positive change to three things before you hit the road. Put all your energy and effort into the change, and see if it works. The good news is, you are only committing to one day. Who knows, you might find that groundbreaking change you were looking for. The bad news is, change is hard and will likely take us our of our comfort zone.

  1. Wear something slightly nicer than you usually do. I’m not suggesting you wear a suit, but whatever your normal attire is, wear something slightly nicer. Take notice to the way your customers treat you. Did they notice? Did they talk to you differently? Most importantly, did you get better ratings and tips?

  2. Work in a completely different location. We are creatures of habit. Every Monday I do the same routine, because it works. But what if there was something that worked better? How would you know? Try something a little different and see if you learn anything. Its a low risk, high reward thing to try. If it was a clunker, just don’t do it again.

  3. Add one prepared comment to every ride. Just one. Make it either in the beginning like “Hey, I’m Mike, welcome to my car”. Or during the ride “Is there anything I can do to make this ride more comfortable for you?”. Or how about at the end, “Nice meeting you, thank you for riding with me today. Enjoy your day”. Whatever, just make it something that shows kindness.

What worked? Repeat. What didn’t? Remove.

Basic Service

The 6 levels of service are the key to understand where you stand with your service offering, and what you can focus on to improve it. It is your ride, you have total control of the in-car experience, whether it is the cleanliness of your car, the aroma of your car, any amenities you offer and all the way down to how you talk to your customer. You have total control of this. If you are not receiving tips, stop blaming your customers and start looking at what you are doing.

You will not receive tips for just driving your customer from Point A to Point B. I wish this was the case, but that culture doesn’t exist yet. So you have to take action to create value for your customer in order to earn those tips.

A basic level of service is sub-par, minimal and below expectations. Here’s 5 things you might be doing, which your customer considers as basic:

  1. Did not admit your mistakes. We all make them. We will make more. We might even make some serious ones. But ignoring it will only make things worse. Too many of us are afraid to bring to light the mistake for fear it will be held against us. Your customer is not stupid and they know you missed that turn, almost collided with that car or turned right on red. Admit it, apologize and move on. Watch that 2-star review turn into 5 just by admitting mistakes.

  2. Answer your customer with one word answers. The expectation is not that you are a great conversationalist. You are paid to drive your customer safely. But if they are communicating with you, put in the effort to communicate back, and not seem annoyed by the conversation. If you don’t like to talk, try creating a Facebook page for your rideshare driving and mention it as soon as your customer gets in the car. This will keep them busy for a while as they read about your fascinating life.

  3. The flip side, you keep blabbing about something. Is your customer giving one word answers to you? Perfect time to turn up the radio a little and focus on the road. They are clearly not interested in talking to you.

  4. Talk poorly about Uber/Lyft. Yes, we all have our beef with the rideshare overlords. Things should be better. But, complaining about how hard it is to be a driver, and how we’re getting screwed falls under the ‘Don’t make your problem my problem’ category. Take your message to the “streets”, local government and social media to make your voice heard.

  5. Grease smear on the window. Yes, the obvious car cleanliness things like is your car covered in salt, smell like a barn, have holes in the seats are all obvious things. The less obvious thing is the grease smear on the back windows where that drunk guy rested his forehead, and then smeared it into a smiley face (true story). At a minimum, check that every night or morning before your start. Or just take a peak in between rides to see. Real easy to clean with a Clorox wipe.

Are you doing any of these things? If so, consider making a few changes and see if it works.