It’s finally arrived! You have jumped through all the hoops. Your car has passed inspection, your medical requirement was met, and your background check is completed. Now you are ready to pick up your first passenger and complete your first trip as a rideshare driver!
But are you really ready and do you have what it takes to be a professional driver?
That is a question most new drivers ask themselves before jumping into this new adventure. It’s perfectly normal to have doubts. I’ve even known a few drivers who put off their first trip for a week or two because they were afraid of the unknown and felt something might go terribly wrong.
The 10 tips below will help you push those fears aside and power through your first couple of weeks and be well on your way to becoming a great rideshare driver!
- Pick a time and place where the traffic is light.
- Learn how to use your navigation system.
- Use a phone mount.
- Make sure your car is clean.
- Tell your passengers you are a new driver.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your passengers for advice.
- Start with a positive mindset.
- Learn how to tell if your passenger wants to talk.
- Don’t ask your passengers for a 5-star rating.
- Drive like a professional with a passenger focus.
Pick a time and place where the traffic is light
The best way to start off strong is to start off slow! Make sure you don’t start driving during rush hour or peak traffic times.
If you follow this tip there will be less chance of missing a turn due to merging into traffic and lane change issues. You won’t have to deal with traffic congestion stress on top of getting used to the Lyft or Uber app, pick up and drop off sequences, and the needs of your passengers.
Make it easy on yourself!
Then if you do miss a turn, chances are your passenger will be more forgiving since they will probably not be worried about their commute to work during rush hour traffic.
Learn how to use your navigation system
Whether you plan to use Google Maps or Waze, make sure you have made a test run or two and learned to read the pages and are familiar with the software interface. Also, make sure you have your navigation settings set up properly in your Lyft & Uber Apps.
I prefer the Auto-switch to Navigation mode because then there is less to think about when starting a ride. I recommend starting out in this setting configuration and then testing out other settings after you get comfortable.
In the beginning, automation is your friend because simple things like starting the ride in the app after pickup and remembering to press unlock on your car doors as you pull up to drop off your passenger will be awkward and won’t flow easily. Never fear though, you will soon do those simple things without thinking and that will open up time for finding your own system.
Use a phone mount
This is really a safety issue! As a rideshare driver, you want to be a professional and make your passengers feel they are safe and in good hands at all times.
The last thing you want is to be looking down at a phone that is sitting in your lap! You can purchase a phone mount for as little as $10.00. It will separate you from the novice drivers who have to take their eyes off the road and stare at their lap to see their navigation map.
If you really want to step up your game purchase a Bluetooth earpiece and wear it in your left ear. That way you will hear turn-by-turn voice instructions and almost never have to look at your map for guidance.
Your passengers will think you are a pro and have the city streets and route memorized!
Make sure your car is clean
This will give every passenger a great first impression.
Wash the outside of your car, vacuum your carpets, wipe down your seats if needed, and have sparkling clean windows.
I found a local carwash membership for $10.00 a month and they have several locations in my city. This makes keeping my car clean easy and almost free! I can run through the car wash, spot vacuum, and touch up my windows in 10 minutes.
Quick Pro Tip: Get an empty spray bottle and fill it with 1/2 Isopropyl Alcohol and 1/2 Water. Then use with a clean microfiber towel for spotless, streak-free windows! My wife Karen gets full credit for this pro tip since she is a fused glass artist and shared her trade secret with me!
Tell your passengers you are a new driver
People almost always react well to this approach. You will find that it shifts the entire focus of the trip because suddenly they will be on your side and rooting for you to succeed! They will be much more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt when you do make the inevitable newbie mistakes.
You will also find, as I did, that you receive great tips during your first couple of weeks if you let your passengers know you are new! It’s human nature to root for the underdog and tipping is a great way that passengers show encouragement!
Just make sure you don’t use this tactic after the first couple of weeks since the passengers will be able to see the number of rides you completed.
Don’t be afraid to ask your passengers for advice
This serves several purposes:
First, it can be a good conversation starter. You will know right away if your passenger wants to chat or not. Most passengers have a story or two about a bad driver or great experience and they are thrilled to get to tell it.
Second, it helps get the passenger on your side. They will be invested in helping you succeed. If you give people a chance they will step into the role of mentor and help you avoid mistakes.
Finally, you will learn quite a bit about what people like and don’t like about their previous drivers. Chances are you will pick up great tidbits about how you can improve as a driver.
Start with a positive mindset
This is really important! If you follow this tip it will get you off to a great start and long term it will help you enjoy rideshare driving.
Make an effort to keep a positive outlook throughout the day. Part of this is wearing nice comfortable clothes and making sure you have something to drink and a few snacks with you.
Keep your car at a temperature that makes you comfortable. Play music that helps you stay in a good mood. Take short breaks from time to time that allow you to get out of your car and walk around a bit.
Most importantly, if you happen to get a grumpy passenger or have a bad driver experience make up your mind to quickly shake it off and don’t let it affect the experience of your next passenger.
You will find if you greet every passenger in a positive way it will lead to a more pleasant experience for you both, and it will greatly improve your chances of getting a nice tip at the end of each trip!
Learn how to tell if your passenger wants to talk
This is an important skill to develop and it’s also important not to take it personally if your passengers don’t want to talk. It’s not about you at all but more about the passenger and how their day is going.
Start every ride off with a simple ice breaker. Something like, “how is your day going so far?” This is an opened ended question and their response will let you know if they want to have a conversation or just ride quietly to their destination.
I usually follow up along the way by asking them if the temperature is good for them and maybe a quick comment about the weather. This way they know I’m not ignoring them altogether while respecting their right to not have a lengthy conversation.
Every passenger is an individual with a unique personality. Some like to chat you up and others will want to be quiet with their thoughts.
I try hard to remember that it’s all about providing the best possible passenger experience.
Don’t ask your passengers for a 5-star rating
Some drivers do this at the end of their trips and I think it is a bad idea. It sounds needy and desperate and more often than not it will backfire.
You will often find that your passengers rate you lower if you make a point of asking them to rate you than they would if you didn’t ask.
Most of the time people who are irritated will just not leave you a review but if you ask for a 5-star review and they happened to be in a bad mood it might prompt them to leave a bad review when they hadn’t even planned to leave a review in the first place.
If you follow the tips above (proper use of phone holder, great navigation, a positive mindset, and learning to read your passengers) your high ratings will take care of themselves.
Drive like a professional with a passenger focus
Always keep passenger comfort at top of mind!
In many cases, your passengers will be used to driving themselves. This means they are used to being in control and will, therefore, have some apprehension when it comes to being a passenger and giving control to you. For this reason, always try to drive as smoothly as possible.
Stay at or close to the speed limit. Leave plenty of room between yourself and the car in front of you so you can smoothly stop when needed.
Make lane changes slowly and smoothly so your passenger feels you have taken the time to ensure you are clear of traffic.
Even if your passenger states they are late when they enter your car you should still take it slow and smooth. You had no control over how quickly the passenger got ready to go or when they decided to put their ride request in their app.
The only thing you can control and the commitment you should make is to be the most professional driver you can be once you pick them up.
Obviously this list isn’t all-inclusive. Hopefully, you will always approach your new profession with a willingness to learn and become better.
As you gain experience you will learn a ton more about the best routes to drive to get your passengers to where they want to go. You will also learn how best to position yourself to get better-paying trips and stay as busy as you want during each period you drive.
For now, just focus on getting comfortable and becoming the best driver you can be. Everything else will come with experience. Be safe out there!