There I sit in the gallery at city council on May 5th watching them debate new taxi regulations surrounded by a packed house of taxi drivers wearing yellow and white shirts, waiting to find out what will become of the standard plate licenses. Without going into too much backstory Toronto wants to eliminate the Standard Taxi License that would remove plate owners who are not operators out of the picture. This would effectively push them to a new model of ownership that you must be a driver to own a plate. The issue before council was to revert to the old model thus ensuring owners would keep their plates intact. Regardless of whether you drive or not. So in a packed gallery of owners I decide to check my email.
Here is what I got
This week, City Council will review a number of measures that can have a big impact on Uber, so we need your help!
Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 6, at 12:30pm we will be holding a rally to support ridesharing at Nathan Phillips Square, just outside Toronto City Hall. We'll be handing out 'Toronto Loves Uber' t-shirts and signs which you can personalize to show your support. Join us!
CLICK TO RSVP
WHEN: Wednesday, May 6
WHERE: Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. West
DURATION: 30-45 minutes
Thank you for fuelling the exceptional growth of ridesharing in Toronto. We wouldn't be here today without the commitment of Uber riders and driver partners.
We look forward to seeing you at Nathan Phillips Square,
Team Uber Toronto
Vijzelstraat 68,1017 HL Amsterdam
View Online Unsubscribe Uber Technologies Inc., 1455 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94103
What interesting timing. It come is as a motion from the Mayor is passed where they will not make a decision till the court system has had a go at the injunction that has been filled from the city that is to be heard on May 19th. The mayor said that until that time no decisions should be made until the status of Uber is decided by the courts. This does not sit well with the drivers there. They wanted answers. The motion passed by a large majority and now the issue won't be up again till June at the next council meeting.
With that now out of the way we turn to the Rally and what it represents. Uber has claimed all along it does not fall into the standard Taxi model issued by the city. But this week they also applied for a Taxi license to operate UberTaxi legally in the city of Toronto. (No application has been made for Black, SUV or UberX service).
So what was the rally about? It was to showcase both drivers and riders in the media that there is face to the machine called Uber.
This was a show to Toronto that they are very much a company that wants to stay in the city. And to show that there are faces to the driver segment with real stories behind why they do this. Also from member of the traveling public who for the most part have sided with Uber as the better transportation option compared to Taxi's.
For the most part it was not unlike any other small rally gathering. And it did gain notable attention from the media. The right things were said and the media posted it al up.
But the question is did it make a impact with city council? Well lets face it most counselors are in support of Uber either publicly or secretively. The ones who have ben vocal and apposed to Uber in Toronto sit on the Taxi licensing board and have gone on record to say that the Taxi industry people have supported their campaigns in donations. They favor the existing industry because in their mid it works.
I think council right now is waiting on the big May 19th date for Uber to have it's day in court. That alone will decide what will happen to Uber going forward. If Uber is kicked out of the city of Toronto, I think you will see the turnout go from a few hundred people to a few thousand. Reason is people don't react till they feel pain. And people will accept varying degrees of pain before they react.
The event itself did the job of getting Uber in the spotlight yet again. What it didn't do was move the conversation forward with either the city or public. It delivered the same message to the public as they always have. The only thing new was the free t-shirts.
What Uber needs to do is close the loopholes in their product here in the city. That does not mean bow down to regulators or the industry. But it does mean they need to respond accurately to the criticism of the public. The topic of insurance was on everyone else's tongues in the press group. It was the number one ask by the media. But the answer was as canned as it always is. The media were asking the same questions and they were getting the same answers.
The problem is everyone has heard them before. Drivers were even answering the questions of the media using the same responses Uber has stated. Any deviation to that was met with email us and we can tell you directly. But nothing in public.
I would like to call the rally a success but there is no real way to measure this objectively. The court case scheduled for May 19th will be the most likely measure of how Uber continues to operate. In speaking with Ian Black GM of Uber Canada he has stated win or lose they have prepared for both scenarios.
As for the drivers I spoke with, most have said they are happy working on the platform. It has given their independence and has been a great way to make money. When asked about the expense side of things most account for it and in the end said their prospects for finding a job in the city were low. Most have been out of work for a while as Uber gives them a great way to make some money on their terms, and has given them back their independence.
From the passenger side of things they say it gives them more options to do things in the city they were not able to do with how expensive taxis have become. And the service is far better.
After all the t-shirts and bottles of water were handed out in the end it was not as disruptive as Uber itself. And when the decisions are made later this month in court, we may see where the public loyalty will sit. Will this be considered a test run for something bigger?
Either way council will have it's hands full in the coming months and right now the big battle is set May 19th.
So for this blog post I wanted to talk about some of the dangers we can find out there as drivers. Some that may not be as obvious to those getting into driving for Uber. Let’s face it Taxi drivers have a great understanding of some of these things and have dealt with them for years. They may have their own secret ways to combat them. But as Uber drivers like myself I found myself unprepared for what these dangers that could come up as I put in a few hours behind the wheel.
I’m not talking of a gun wielding passenger, or an assault on a driver. I’m also not going to talk about weather conditions that can put us in harm. Nope not even going to bring up the fact that driving in general on the streets with all sorts of problems out there can be dangerous.
Those are way too obvious.
What I find that could be far more dangerous to an Uber driver career is a case of the Farts.
That’s right, they hit just when you least expect it, and they can cause your ratings to plummet faster than any other item in your quest to get your passenger safely to their destination. And let’s face it, we have all been there, sitting in an empty parking lot for 20 minutes waiting for the next ping on a quiet night. You feel one coming on, you think to yourself no one is around. You crack a window or open the sunroof. (Please tell me you do that) let it go for some satisfaction and then the moment you dread. BEEP BEEP BEEP. In horror you look at the screen, and realize the passenger is across the street less than a minute away. Then the panic sets in, there is no way to clear it out before they get in the car. And if they smell it you know you are going to get a hit on your ratings.
Yep not a pretty sight that’s for sure. But what has caused this? Well like most people who drive diet is not always the best. We flip between readymade fast food and quick liquid power shakes that will do wonders for your digestion. And the results are gas.
But there is hope for this. You can leave the car is the easiest. But why not try some other things that can cut back on the methane emissions. A good digestive enzyme can help as well as a number of products come to mind like Beano. All will help relieve gas pains and save your passengers from dealing with that 2AM Burrito.
The next danger is a little more serious and may not be evident to most, stress. Yes Stress can be a deadly and a very real danger in the driving game. You need to be able to unwind during times of stressful situations. Again no one like driving for 10 minutes to drive a passenger across the street. Or having to deal with that drunk who won’t stop screwing with your radio. But one needs to find ways to decompress after stressful situations. Some have found stress relief on Uberpeople.net by going into the forums and venting their issues. But how about a more productive venture. How about trying some breathing exercises (Huffing airplane glue is not a breathing exercise) that can relieve stress. The internet is full of many exercises that can help you deal with stress. Most without leaving the comfort of your car.
If all else fails just go offline and grab a coffee or tea. Take a break, your health will benefit from it and can prevent circulation issues from sitting long hours in a car.
The final danger I want to talk about is diet. Yes I eluded to a bit of that before but let’s take a look at this more seriously. I know when I drive I’m looking at the quickest meal I can on a Friday night so I can get back to driving. But you can still eat healthy and you will find your energy level will be increased when you fuel your body with the right nutrients.
For the quick and easy instead of an energy drink or a power shake you may want to try a raw juice. They are packed with nutrients and can with the right amount of green stuff can be a meal replacement. The key is you need to keep them cold and always fresh. They can be found just about anywhere and found in most major cities. You may need to do a search on the internet to find locations closest to you.
If you are looking at stopping for a real meal, you will find many places offer healthy menus. Even McDonalds offer salads and grilled options. Eating right doesn’t require much if you care to look at as a choice you want to make. Just be sure to ensure you give yourself time to eat it and digest it properly. Eating in the car is ok but in the end why not take a break from the office for 20 minutes. You deserve it.
The last hidden danger I would like to speak of is boredom. Yep boredom may not sound dangerous, but it can lead one to do some drastic things like run to a 15 or 20 minute ping 30 miles away because you are bored. This is a danger to your livelihood because it will hit you in the pocket book. And I can tell you sitting in the car for 30 minutes you can be tempted to take anything on a slow night.
With that in mind read the latest information on uberpeople.net, or watch a movie, or get some of that homework you been putting off for school. You can even find time to write a blog post and offer some humor and advice to other drivers out there. Any way you look at things keep your mind active in the down times. It will keep you sharp when communication with your customers, especially when they ask “What’s that funny smell?”
So you can’t help but watch the news and find Uber and the Taxi companies going at it every week in some local paper across the country. I know I been following the story long before UberX graced our streets here in Toronto. Back then we had Uber but they were all licensed Taxi’s using the platform. We also had Black cars and SUV’s as part of the platform. Life was good then. Uber even offered discount of 25% off Taxi rides when you used the service. Everyone won. Taxi companies got additional fares during times when demand was reduced and Uber got a loyal following of customers.
I no longer needed to wait for a Taxi wondering whether it was going to show up. I never had to try and make change and sit calculating a tip. And most of all it was still a taxi but cheaper. I could rate the quality rides high and the poor cars and drivers low hoping not to get them again. This is what Toronto needed badly.
Then in comes UberX, allowing regular people like you and me to pick up passengers and be paid to do it. It was new, it was controversial, and in some cases crossed the line with regulators to introduce a whole new rulebook and terminology that took the existing transportation model and turned it on its head.
So what is the issue here? Let’s evaluate.
So I don’t come from 20 years in the transportation industry so by far I’m not an expert. But sometimes experts are so sunk in with the status quoe they can’t see anything else but what was and not what is. Many other industries fell prey to this when they lost touch with what the customers wanted. The music industry comes to mind when many average people turned to piracy with the dawn of the internet, they filed lawsuit after lawsuit, and tried to stop what was happening. But it didn’t and for every hole they plugged 2 more sprung up. And there was nothing lawmakers, regulators or politicians could do to stop it. The power of the Mob was greater than that of the police controlling the crowd.
Fast forward a bit, iTunes and other media services proved that people will still pay for music if it’s affordable and on their terms. Gone are the days where you need to buy an album to get the 2 or 3 great songs and deal with the rest of them that were not to the liking of the general fan. We have all in the past been there. Loving those choice songs but wonder where the other crap came from, even asking even if this was the same artist. People were given choice and convenience and for a buck everyone could live with that ,and the service thrived. Artists however now had to count on other revenue streams for a living and couldn’t just count on album sales. The industry changed and the music keeps coming. Now you have more independents releasing their own titles without the big labels sucking up all the money.
But this article is about the Taxi industry fighting something they most likely can’t win. Again the Mob is bigger and the people are already switching to Uber style services over traditional Taxi companies. Even with all the warnings by the Taxi industry, (some warranted and some not) people are looking away and doing it anyways. It’s the dawn of a consumer rebellion. Uber’s greatest strength is they can play to this mob very well. Little dos everyone knows for every negative news story published by the taxi industry and city council, Uber grows its ridership base. People who have no idea what Uber is now knows who they are. Next step is they want to know why this is a bad thing. Ultimately most will try it and then they are hooked. I felt magic the first time I used the service to order a cab. My reaction was “Is that my car on the screen coming to me?” I was convinced this was a hoax or an animation to keep my eyes occupied. But no it was there and on time like the map said. This is the power of Uber.
Now what about our Taxi industry, it is under threat of a very real danger. But most are working the wrong way at helping themselves. Most are taking the stance of trying to Ban Uber from markets. But the Mob will ultimately win out over this mentality. You can’t stop what’s already started and keeps getting more and more support from riders.
So what can the Taxi industry do? Well to start they can own their problems and play to their strengths. Keep in mind as much as people may think, the Taxi industry is going nowhere. They are established, organized and they have many advantages right now over Uber.
Street hails are still key business
They can accept phone orders and have phone customer support
Real full time knowledgeable drivers
Easily identifiable cars
But what Taxi companies need to stop doing is publicly going after Uber. The public doesn’t respond to that as it comes across as an industry protecting itself instead of growing up.
If Taxi wants to keep people happy they need to start adopting public campaigns highlighting the following.
Own their issues and apologize to the public for falling behind on the consumer needs and requirements. (Talk to any Food industry CEO who has gone through an incident)
Talk in their campaign the new technology that will modernize their fleets and dispatch times.
Offer a guarantee of a clean friendly ride every time or it’s refunded
Simple feedback option on their rides with some sort of discount off then next ride for answering.
New payment options that are quick friendly and efficient. Without surcharges passed on to the consumer.
The thing is Big Taxi companies do have an advantage, but they use the rates as a crutch as why customers are leaving. Most customers don’t complain about the fares as being the main gripes of a taxi. Payment methods offered and drivers who refuse rides tops higher than cost in most communications I have made with those who switch.
Again it comes down to Taxi companies owning the problem and moving forward to win the consumer back with an all new makeover service.
So where does this leave Uber, are they the powerhouse that can’t be stopped at any cost? Definitely not. They are a new company with a product that can be replicated by someone else, and has. They have very keen and eager staff with some very good ideas and the MBA’s fresh out of university to match some of the bigger companies like Google and Facebook. But they are also trying to run it like a tech company. In many cases the spreadsheets don’t match the emotion on the streets. Many drivers in some markets feel that they are betrayed by rate slashes and lowering standards.
As seasoned drivers leave the platform for greener pastures what you have left is sometimes the bottom of the list, where Uber needs to keep some of the bottom performers to avoid missing out on the ride itself. This lowering of standards is why people left Taxi’s in the first place. Compound the inexperience of a driver in a city it will add up to people also looking for a better method of transportation. Uber can only run as the cheapest for so long.
Then there are the standards we see across some of the driver operation teams. Reports of deactivation because paperwork has not been validated or drivers accounts being allowed to pass without some paperwork being submitted in advance may be speculation at this point, but myself I have gotten into Uber’s where the license plate did not match the car or a picture did not populate in the app. With all the concern about security there can be no margin for error in this. The city is watching for the first miss step and any sign of trouble it will be dubbed an unsafe provider. Then the public will start to think twice.
So what will the future hold for both methods of travel? Well it’s still too soon to call a clear cut winner in all of this. But one thing is for certain the consumer like you and I will have some unprecedented choices going forward. And with choice comes competition.
Taxis have a battle ahead that they are losing ground. But it’s still not too late to carve out a spot where it can be happy and profitable. As for Uber they are riding high on their success, but there is only so much hot air you can put into a balloon to keep it a float. I just don't want to be around to see it explode.
So one of the most talked about questions that we see on the forums, is from new prospective drivers asking if they should drive for one of the prospective ride share companies. The answers can be from the supportive to the "You must be crazy" situation. So what's the answer? Well both can be valid. Most will come down to a few simple things you need to consider.
I'm sure most of you would say everything I need to know is on Uber's web site. Well that's actually not the case. Uber will tell you their requirements, but that's no way to make a decision. You need to take many more items into consideration before you make the plunge.
Here are a few items to consider that will prepare you for life as an Uber driver.
1. Take a look at your car
That's right, take a good look at the car you drive, ask yourself would you have a problem getting into it and paying for a ride. Are you prepared for your car to have it's doors slammed, garbage left on the floor, people dropping stuff on the seats. Or better still that 3AM Burrito making an encore appearance all over your car because the owner couldn't hold it down after a night of tequila shots.
Then there is the wear and tear you will put on it. You will see noticeable increases in your mileage for sure. This could have your car's value drop like a rock.
If you are a 1 car family subjecting the vehicle to the abuses of public transport is risky. That car you have now in one years time will never be the same. The TLC you give it now will be almost daily to keep up with what it will be put through.
2. Take a look at yourself
Ask yourself are you of the right mindset to deal with customers. There will be times when you will deal with difficult and annoying people. You will be dealing with drunks, people with flirtatious behavior, and demanding people. Individuals who couldn't give directions to save their life, and in some cases don't even know where they are in their own city. You will need to deal with people who give directions that will expect you to be psychic.
If that kind of thing frustrates you just don't do this job. There is a high degree of fake smiles and ass kissing to keep your customer happy to some degree. This is not to say that this is the norm. Most passengers you meet will be genuinely happy. But for the 5% who will drive you crazy you need to exercise a level of cool you may not be accustomed to. Most drivers can pour on the charm, they tend to do better than the ones who look at every pickup with a $ sign attached to it. (Not that the $'s aren't important but we will get to this later)
3. Look at your Location
You probably are saying "I'm in a big city, this will be easy"
Well you need to take a few factors before going into this.
a) What are your rates - Look at the current rates in the city for rideshare and do a real life cost breakdown of what you will make for every mile driven. Ask if you will be making money. I won't get into great details on this as there is an excellent Blog post on this here by UberHammer
b) Do you know your City - Knowing your city is important. If you don't, learn first by driving it before taking passengers. Also know the street rules and restrictions inside the city. they could be different than what you are used to during busy times like rush hour.
c) Know the laws - Just because Uber says you can do it you need to do your own research on the by-laws in your area. Be sure to ensure you are not doing anything illegal. (There is a difference though between being no laws to support and not being legal)
4. Weigh in on the Risks
Be sure you know the risks with driving. You have many things you need to consider.
The biggest and most talked about is insurance. Know what you are covered and what you are not covered for. Read your policy and understand most personal policy's in place have a clause you can not operate as a hired Taxi. Since I have reviewed about 4 policy's so far none of them are ever written the same way. When in doubt talk to your insurance provider. If you feel that they are not being forthcoming talk to a lawyer to read the clause. They will guide you in what you should do.
The other risk is regulatory risk. There may not be regulations in place and could be problems for you even if no laws are broken. Any officer can charge you with an offence, and while you may have done nothing illegal, you still may be fined, car impounded, or worse. You will still need to take the time to fight it, regardless you are the one taking the time and there may be costs associated with dealing with the issue.
There is also the income risks to consider. Rideshares control your income flow, not you. If you have expenses that you are incurring to drive, and the rates are slashed in your area, you may find it hard to make enough to earn a living. We have seen that this happened in many markets. The margins can get very tight in any market, and without a clear understanding or exit strategy you can find yourself in a financial mess.
There are many more risks I'm sure that are not covered here but this is some of the more common ones. And they are big enough that if any apply to you and are not willing to accept the risks the other points won't matter.
There is a silver lining
So for all the concerns out there and things to consider there are some benefits to rideshares. They are new and the cool thing for many customers. Being popular and well liked by the masses is never a bad thing.
One of the big draws is you can make your own hours. Turn on the app anytime you feel like it. Got an hour to kill, make some quick money on the side. Want to work only the busy rush times, go for it. There is no commitment.
The other thing that you will find is you can make a difference in your community. If people have been slaves to the Taxi industry in your area, your contribution could help make change. I know in our neck of the woods since Uber showed up, the Taxi industry has been feeling the pinch. They are working to modernize their fleet and most drivers are trying to get better, to take Rideshare head on. You become an activist for change and don't even realize it.
And the one thing everyone can agree on is you make some money on your vehicle that does nothing but suck all the money you can throw at it. I know rideshare has helped me get off the poor public transit in our city and in the process pay for my commute every day to work. In my city there is a predictable traffic pattern in the city and my flow works to that advantage. I take one or two individuals every morning to work and one or two home every day. The money made pays for the parking and gas. It offsets the cost of my car that would just be sitting in my parking spot costing me regardless of it being on the road or not. Rideshare can give you that flexibility. Also you can write off those expenses on your taxes at the end of the year. Something you may not be able to do in your current role.
With all that said everyone needs to do their research. The forum is full of some great information by many members. Most who have been doing this a long time. Take the advice to heart as this will work for some, for others there may be better alternatives like full time Taxi or private Limo service. (And more money in it) Don't discount all options that are out there.
You too can find driving others out there rewarding and profitable.
So this Blog post I wanted to share a meeting I had with Uber this weekend as I was asked to participate in a focus group of Drivers to give feedback on some changes on both the driver APP and the Rider APP.
In walks this guy with a number of iPhones and hands them to me and 10 of my fellow drivers.
The First was the Driver App load up where we were presented with an updated interface with bigger buttons similar to what we see today. The app instead of the swipe bar at the bottom horizontally it's a single bar that can swipe from top to bottom. When you swipe it down the map and address shows up as well as the star rating of the passenger is a lot bigger against a white background. The passenger will easily see it from the back seat now.
When we got to the passenger app there were a few differences that worked a bit different than before. When a ride is ordered and confirmed the Drivers picture is a bit bigger on the screen than currently. There was also a button that say cancel ride with a countdown timer that starts at 5 min. The representative said that it will now have a flexible timer for canceled rides. Longer distances the timer will be 50% of the quoted time they have given to get there. Minimum will be set to 3 minutes for all short distances. He also said that a driver must show movement for the timer to start. (Any movement).
The other big feature that was a huge shock. After a ride is completed above the star rating there was a tip your driver option. There was a pop up that gave you an option of % or $ with preselected 5% to 25% and for $ it was $1 $2 $3 $5 $10. There was feedback from the group on why not just let the person type the amount. He said they didn't want to deal with errors with people typing,
It was said the rider will receive an updated invoice by email if they add a tip.
Over all the feedback received was very good on the changes made. I could not get screen shots off but it is said that they have it slated for release in June where there may be some additional rate cuts. The hope the Tips will offset that.
I for one am looking forward to the new changes. and if you read this post to the end you will realize what the day is today and that this is an April fools joke and none of it is true.
Ever get one of those text messages or emails from Uber that sound something like this?
UBER: As you know, we've seen a spike in requests during the morning commute. Specifically, from 6am to10am across the city. If you're looking to increase your trips and average over $40/hr, jump online and have a great day
UBER: It's been a busy Sunday so far. Looking to make money today? Head downtown where the demand is HIGH!
I always get a chuckle when I see these. I have visions of drivers running out of the house leaving dinner on the table, scrambling like a fireman to put out that huge fire. People in a panic on city streets wondering where their faithful Uber drivers are running with their hair on fire.
Fact is, this is all a way to get you out on the road when someone has looked at their screen and felt it may be a good idea to see if they can get more drivers out. It's a subtle way to schedule you in if you aren't on line by marketing to you the potential to earn.
But is it true, will I make more money dropping everything for Uber?
Well from personal experience I can say it does not make you more money. Most times the following has happened.
1) A good percentage of drivers have run out to the area and now have flooded it because Uber has said there is potential. This is very typical of new drivers. I know I did it the first few times when I first started. I would run downtown to just sit in my car for 1 ping every 30 minutes asking myself how was this different than a typical night I had the week before. Or even worse.
2) It's in Ubers best interest to have more drivers than riders. That means there are more riders that get served. It's not always in alignment with your interests. (Drivers need to drive more not sit more)
3) Not all results are typical. Think weight loss ads. They market the best case scenario not always the typical result.
The point is this is marketing to drivers, no different than how any company will market to any individual. You need to be think before you make the plunge. Great marketing puts a sense of urgency on getting you not just to buy, but buy right now.
That said it's not to say the demand is not there, the question is when you get out there will it still be the case. Here are some tips to ensure you are picking the right messages and the right strategy before leaving your life behind to drive.
1) Check the rider app for cars in an area before you head out. Look to see if there are cars in an area, is it surging, does it look like there are lot's of cars disappearing in the area you want to go to. This is by far a good way to gauge if it's worth heading out. Check back 1 hour after the text came out. The environment could be very different than before.
2) Know your city and the trends that happen. You should be able to tell if an area will be busy during certain times and the flow of it's people. I know that there is a Dinner rush and an evening exodus from the city on weekends. If Uber is marketing that trend see how it fared out on your weekly statement emails. See if the times of demand match up to the alert. If they don't then you need to adjust for the next week.
3) Sometimes doing the opposite can be profitable. If Uber tells you go downtown and everyone does. There is a ripe market for people who need rides outside of the city. You can be just as busy because there are fewer cars. You may even go into surge as people follow what Uber has said and leave an area under serviced. Even picking off times can be a great option.
In the end the Uber messages should never be gospel. But can be used as a guide to plan your strategy. Sometimes breaking from the crowd can be equally rewarding.
Good luck and remember the world will not end with you not out on the streets when Uber tells you to. Everything will be moving just fine.
One of the most questioned items from the TNC model that has come up many times is the “Star rating System”. For the most part the system works to keep riders happy and good drivers driving. It’s not without its issues but this article should provide some of the items that can help keep your customers happy and the driver ratings up.
We are going to break this down into 3 parts that comes into play with ratings.
1) Your Car
2) The Driver
3) The Ride
So when it comes to your car there are a few items that can either help or hurt your rating. Here are a few things that can ensure your place of work gives you the most possible chances of success.
Keep it clean- Both inside and out. This is the customers’ first impression and a clean car shows pride. You show you care about their comfort. Also if they are showing up to an event no one wants to be seen leaving a dirty car. Most customers do understand that on a muddy rainy day that a dirty car to some extend is acceptable. But if it’s been 3 days after a rainstorm and it still hasn’t been cleaned then you may get dinged for it. Interior is the same thing. No one wants to sit in mess or a big stain on the seat. Keep the car looking as new possible in the area they sit. Wipe down your doors periodically and ensure after every ride a quick scan to get rid of any debris left by a poor rider.
Always in good repair – Get squeaks and crunches looked at. Riders do hear them and if it construed as a safety issue it could affect the rating. This also holds true on dashboard lights. Make sure that big red warning light is not on. People will be on guard getting into your car that’s unknown to them. Adding a level of stress just hurts the experience.
Clutter to a minimum – Those fuzzy stuffed animals in the window may give you a sense of identity on the road. But the riders don’t want to be part of that. Religious symbols, political messages and your kids toys stuffed in the rear window ledge does not make a rider feel comfortable. They don’t want to be part of your life, they just want a ride. Keep it clear like it came from a car lot or a rental agency. Less is more. Tip jars and advertisements also don’t give riders a welcome feeling.
Radio – I always leave the radio on the local pop station at a low level that’s not overpowering. This is a personal thing for most drivers. I can tell you having your gangster rap, or death metal, or hard core Techno is not a good start. Think again like an office or a store. What is neutral to the environment is never a bad choice. Quiet is also acceptable but can get awkward on long rides. Always ask the rider if they wish a particular station but not something you need to bend over backwards for. Not many do care about it long as it’s at a respectable volume.
2. The Driver
As a driver it is your job to be professional even under the most demanding of circumstances. People are putting trust in you a complete stranger to get them to their destination. And for some trust is difficult and nervousness is always something riders deal with. Especially those not familiar with the TNC model. That sense of familiar they have had in a Taxi is gone with people in their own cars coming to pick people up. These are just a few points that a driver can do to help with ratings.
Be clean – Clean appearance is something that’s sounds simple. But body odour and stains in your clothes could be a contributing factor in a rider’s negative feedback.
Be professional – A rider may engage you in conversation from time to time. Be polite and treat your office no different if you worked for a large company. Avoid the same topics you would not want in a real office environment. Sex, religion, politics are never good ways to engage a customer. If they engage in that type of conversation be polite but try and sway away from the topic at hand. I use my good standby question “How do you like the Uber service” That can easily fill up a ride. Not to be fake but sometimes just playing the customers’ side can prevent negative ratings. Even if it’s not what you believe. Don’t worry no one else cares what you say when the customer is gone.
Connect with the rider – Greetings are always good. Start with a hello and ask for their name. Get the destination if not entered ask if they have a preferred route and you are on the way. Once moving simply ask the rider if they need the temperature changed or radio changed. You are here to help.
Quiet please – Some riders prefer a quiet ride.It’s nothing personal but some just prefer it that way. If you engage the rider and you are met with short answers or areas of quiet don’t continue to engage. Nothing is worse than a chatty driver when all you want to do is gather your thoughts or get some emails done on your phone.
3. The Ride
Safety first – Always drive safe and to the law. Running reds and weaving in and out of traffic are never good ideas. People are looking to arrive with little risk. You may be a skilled driver but the customer doesn’t know that. Drive like your parents do.
Know you’re City – Knowing your city is important, yes we have GPS in the car but knowing traffic patterns and how to move around your city is very important. Missing turns and going the wrong way undermines the very job you have been asked to do. Get there safe and efficient. We all make mistakes from time to time. If you do apologize and make it right by telling the customer you will write Uber and have the fare adjusted to reflect the error. It’s your error but making it right always leads to positive response from riders and 5 stars. Not acknowledging and arguing the route it goes the opposite.
Arrive where asked – If the rider asks to be picked up at a building pull up to the door. Nothing is worse than having to cross a busy 4 lane road to meet your driver. If the person is on the other side of the street meet them there. Just be sure to follow the local laws in your area. You come first in the safety equation, just communicate to your rider the concern and make alternate arrangements if the pickup is not safe. Be accommodating and you will have no issues.
Be conscious of the drop of – Always watch where you drop off a passenger. Stopping in a huge puddle or at the side of a snowbank may give you entertainment watching a woman in high heels and a skirt navigate it. But it’s a sure way to get her pissed off and will affect the rating. Even if it is not directly in front of the location requested, just communicate to the passenger you are looking for a better spot for them to disembark safely. It shows care and they always rewarded for you thinking of their best interest.
This is just a few tips from my playbook. I have kept a 4.9 rating going since I started and hitting almost 800 trips. And don’t worry if you get the odd hit here and there. Sometimes there is no way to avoid it. If you do your best and not worry so much, you will carry yourself with the confidence that will reflect to the customer. Key is treat people like people and you will continue to keep your rating high without even thinking about it. I don’t give any freebies (No water no candies). I have not found it necessary to keep a rating up. Sometimes I find drivers can use it to their advantage but in my experience it has not been required.
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