Being an Uber driver isn’t just about driving someone to their destination. It’s about offering that customer the best possible experience. In return, we get a chance to earn a positive rating, a compliment, a tip, and perhaps even a new friend 🙂 That being said, there is a multitude of factors that can help maximize the bottom line of your fare and your earnings. The following tips not only helped me become a 5-star driver but earned me a lot of money in tips as well.
1. Keep a pristine car
In a previous post, we covered what was the best car for driving Uber in 2020 based on many metrics. As discussed, if you can rack up the premium fares, it will help boost your earnings substantially. Independently of which car you own, there are a few things YOU MUST do with it to ensure an optimal Uber customer experience.
Your car should be clean, exterior & interior, and should also smell fresh. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. If passengers feel like they’ve gotten their briefcase, purse, or coat dirty because your car was unclean, they shouldn’t feel like they’ve had a top-notch experience. Remember, they’re always comparing you with a previous ride experience, so you need to stand out positively.
I wash my own car every other day for two reasons: It’s faster and it’s cheaper. Don’t go wasting one hour and $30 on a car wash. During that same hour, you could have made $30 driving Uber and saved $30 on the car wash, which would have put you $60 richer! I wash the exterior every 3rd day in the winter and the interior thoroughly every week. After each day though, I use a damp cloth to go over seats, door handles, the backside of my front seats, so that there are no visible snow/mud/rain smudges. For the smell, I like a more neutral scent because some passengers are very sensitive to odors and a strong cherry scent, for example, could be nauseating to some.
Pro trick: I love a great classic leather-scent air freshener, it accentuates the real leather smell of my car seats. A positive visual and olfactive experience for your rider increases your chances of receiving a tip.
2. Invest in yourself
You are the most important factor in your customer’s rider experience. The way you handle yourself directly correlates with your tips. Make sure everything about you is at least neutral or fits the social norm. Your odor, your clothing, your hair, your hat, etc. You can’t wear things that might offend your passengers… A college baseball cap that says “Surprise! I’m drunk” isn’t your best bet. Smelling like weed has also gotten drivers suspended after being reported by passengers… choose your cologne wisely. Staying within the norm will avoid a potential 1-star rating from an offended passenger.
The way you meet and greet your passengers is also very important. A big smile and warm greeting is the only way to go here. We’re all human and some days are tougher than others, but if you’re not on your A-game, you shouldn’t be driving. Take that day off and reset! This might avoid you getting a low rating from a customer who’s also having a shitty day.
Pro trick: I wear neutral clothing that I’m comfortable sitting in for many hours. Comfy stylish sports clothing that’s on the higher end. They’re just like Huggies, super-comfy, super-snug, super-dry. My lower back tends to sweat after a few hours (it’s like swamp ass but on my lower back lol) so I’ll wear shirts that have some sort of dry-fit technology in their fabric. Look good, feel good, play good… the tips will roll-in!
3. Help to carry luggage
This one seems like a no-brainer, but so many times I’ve traveled from home to the airport with heavy luggage and my Uber driver doesn’t even get out and offer to help put my cases in the trunk. WTF! Pop the trunk, get out of the car and offer to help. If the passenger doesn’t want you touching their stuff, you can at least help secure everything in the trunk or backseat.
Pro trick While you’re already out of the car, why not open the door for them! You’re increasing your chances to stand out… almost no one opens the door for passengers.
4. Double-check the destination
Picking up the wrong passenger or driving them to the wrong destination is your fast-lane ticket to a 1-star rating and getting no tip. Always prompt riders with their name first and once you swipe right on the app to start the ride, confirm their destination. 1% of people daydream I guess when they ping Uber and have the wrong address loaded. This could be a disaster if you drive them to the wrong destination which they’ve entered in the App.
Pro trick: Since I have the privilege of owning a Tesla, my main GPS/nav system is a huge screen. While inputting the customer’s destination from the App, I confirm visually with them that not only is it the right address but the right area also. Sometimes customers don’t really know where they’re going exactly (they’ve been given a Rendez-Vous point), but they always have a general idea of where it is. i.e. 1504 Park Avenue could very well be 1504 Park Avenue East or West. I ask them for a confirmation after they’ve seen it loaded on my nav screen. Some customers have even messed up that part, but I was not in the wrong because I double-confirmed with them before driving. By double-checking, passengers appreciate the value you’re giving to their time & money, and they’re more inclined to tip you for a good service.
5. Have a conversation
Are you comfortable talking to people or does that idea terrify you? Both options are fine, just respect what your customer wants. Uber recently released “Comfort” rides where passengers give you their ride preference directly from the App concerning the in-car climate and if they prefer to have a quiet ride. If the preference is set to quiet, you should remain silent after you’ve met and briefly greeted them.
You have a much better chance of getting a tip if you build rapport and trust with your rider by engaging in a conversation. That’s just human nature. If your passengers like you, they will tip you. Again, stay on the safe side with topics such as weather, the car you’re driving, or general headline news. Don’t discuss politics, immigration, or any other topic that may offend someone.
Pro trick: my secret recipe for discussion is as follows. I meet and greet my passenger, confirm where they’re going, and then I stay quiet unless they speak to me first. 50% of the time my rides are completely silent (and I still get 5-star ratings), and the other half of passengers will begin talking to me. Just go with the flow without becoming too chatty and annoying. The beauty of giving rides in a Tesla is that passengers seem to be very intrigued by the car, they have many questions, and we end up chatting about Elon Musk or Tesla for 20 minutes! I must admit that I attribute most of my Uber success in being able to have conversations on a variety of topics. Many amazing business conversations have been converted into huge tips. This talent comes from having been in business sales development for 9 years. This skill can be practiced and mastered. The classic book about How to Win Friends & Influence People is a good start to learn.
6. Offer music
Staying neutral in the music department is also important. It can set the mood for a positive enjoyable ride. I have Spotify directly integrated into my Tesla which gives my riders access to all the music in the world, but I’ll stick to a coffee lounge playlist when my passengers step in the car. If they decide to chat with me, I’ll take that opportunity to mention that Spotify is running and that they can ask to listen to anything they wish. Most times they’ll just stick to the current soft background music, but in other cases, we’re tuning into death metal or hardcore rap. I’m fine with all this but I wouldn’t impose Slipknot to anyone in my car unless they asked. People are grateful to have the chance to listen to their favorite song or artist during the trip. This strategy translates into tips.
Pro trick: As a general rule of thumb, stick to playlists that are smooth and that have no lyrics. It’s much easier to hold a good conversation with the music running in the background if there isn’t someone singing at the same time. Think elevator music or a coffee shop playlist for the perfect ambiance.
7. Offer basic amenities
There is a big myth surrounding the fact that you need to carry a complete inventory of goodies in your car to impress your riders and get more tips. I don’t think that this is necessary. The proof is that all I carry are water bottles in all 4 doors and gum in my center console. The passengers can help themselves directly. I do offer riders the water if they are to be with me for more than 30 minutes. It’s a nice gesture they appreciate. It’s well worth it to invest $0.50 for 15% or more tip at the end of the ride because of positive customer experience.
Pro trick: I have 4 USB ports in my Model 3. If your car has USB ports as well, you can carry Android and iPhone chargers for your passengers so they can recharge their mobile devices during the trip.
8. Drive like you’re carrying eggs
The way you drive will have an impact on your passengers’ satisfaction. Make the drive as uneventful as possible. Stay within your lanes, don’t accelerate or brake aggressively, and respect road signs & speed limits. Many people have fallen asleep in my car and have tipped me for the smoothest ride they’ve ever experienced.
Pro trick: Don’t ever lose your cool at the wheel. Be emotionless when driving someone around. I’ve had several encounters with retards on the road. I just stay cool. I was boiling deep down but never lost control. I’m the pilot of this awesome machine and my mission is to take my passenger safely from point A to point B. Nothing else matters!
9. Find the best drop-off location
Confirm with your passenger a safe drop-off area for them. Sometimes the address is on the other side of the street you’re currently on, with 5 lanes of oncoming traffic separating them from their destination. You should ask: “Do you prefer I go around to drop you off on the other side or are you okay with crossing over at the light?” Your customer is always the person who decides. If they feel like you’ve taken extra care of them, they will tip you.
Pro trick When there are cars passing closely at the drop-off point, I will park and mention to my passenger that I’ll get the door for them. It provides a sense of security that they won’t be driven over by another car when getting out. For me, it prevents my passengers from opening their door and having a cyclist, pedestrian, or car slam into it.
10. End the ride smoothly
When you’re nearing the end of the ride (around 2 minutes), smoothly close off your conversation so you can focus on dropping your passenger off safely. Thank them again for their business and wish them a fantastic day. Don’t forget if they have luggage in the trunk. Help them get it out and some will shake your hand because they are super happy with the ride and your service. Don’t initiate the handshake because some people are germaphobic and it will make for an awkward moment. You don’t want that weird moment to be the last thing they remember you for when they get prompted to leave you a tip on their Uber App. Also, make sure they didn’t drop or forget things in your car. That’s all!
Pro tip: I have never influenced my customers into leaving me a 5-star rating or a tip. As an Uber rider myself, the times where the driver did that, it felt awkward and I was less inclined to trust their actual rating. Just do what you need to do, to the best of your abilities and the rest will take care of itself.
Master the elements of your business
If you master every single item on this list I guarantee you will get more tips and earn more money driving Uber. By taking care of every little detail, you’re not leaving any room for someone to have a negative experience while riding with you. Take pride in the business you run and treat your passengers the same way you wish to be treated. Remember, they are always comparing you to a previous Uber ride they have taken. If your overall service is better, they are more inclined to leave you a tip. Keep in mind though that some people are not conditioned to leave tips with Uber or any other service, so please don’t feel bummed when it happens. Personally, I get tipped about 1 out of 3 rides. On good days I get them on every ride, on bag days I get none. My attitude and professionalism remain the same no matter what.
Hopefully, you’re taking something away from my 10 best Uber driver tips and tricks. If you think more tricks should be added to the list please let me know in the comments section below. If you have any topics or questions you would like me to cover, please don’t hesitate.
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