We’ve all been there: your rideshare pulls up to the curb, and your driver pops the trunk for you. You lug your 40-pound suitcase in yourself and then slide into the backseat, where you’re careful not to step on the odds and ends rolling around at your feet. Your driver mumbles a “hello” and then you’re off – where you listen to half of a conversation as they talk to a friend on the phone until you get to the airport. You have a full day of travel ahead of you, so you were looking forward to a quiet, relaxing start to that journey – but your rideshare driver is more concerned about getting caught up on her friend’s drama.
When brainstorming how to get better tips as a driver, don’t take the basics for granted. Most riders just want to feel welcome in your car. A friendly greeting, safe driving, and a smooth ride can go a long way. Beyond that, though, there are scientifically proven ways to increase gratuity, and research shows that establishing a social connection is step one.
Let’s dive into four proven strategies to inspire tips from riders.
Provide a High-End Experience
- Help with their luggage. First impressions matter, especially when riders are calculating tips for drivers. If your rider has luggage, and you are able, step out of the car immediately to assist with loading their bags into the trunk. This demonstrates that you’re attentive to their needs and that you recognize you’re there to provide a service. They may decline your help, and that’s fine – at least you offered.
- Keep a neat, clean car. The second half of your first impression? The state of your car. Keep the seats and floorboards clear, offering your rider plenty of room. Bonus tip: store a small cleaning kit in your trunk to tidy up between riders if necessary. You’re not picking up a friend; you’re picking up a customer. Your car should reflect that.
- Provide inexpensive amenities. Go a step further than most rideshare drivers by offering an assortment of helpful items to your riders. Mints, hard candy, hand sanitizer, a lint roller, tissues, and a high-speed phone charger are inexpensive conveniences you can keep on hand to really wow your riders with a luxury experience. Keep them neatly organized and be sure to explain they’re for your riders’ use when you greet them.
Follow Their Lead
- Don’t force conversation. Not all riders will want conversation throughout the drive. Others will find it rude if you don’t chat with them on their trip. To walk that line, try to gauge their interest in conversation with a simple question like “how’s your day going so far?” or “are you from the area or just visiting?” If they engage, you can continue chatting with them. If you only get a couple of words in response, it’s best to leave them be.
- Customize the experience. You can also follow their lead by letting them set their preferences for music and temperature:
- Offer an aux cord (or Bluetooth connection) to play their favorite music during the ride. If that seems too personal, have a list of curated playlists on hand and ask what music genre they prefer.
- Ask about car temperature (too hot? too cold?) and whether they prefer air conditioning or open windows
Making adjustments to fit their preferences is a step above and beyond just getting them from point A to point B, and it will go a long way in improving tips for rideshare drivers.
- Don’t take phone calls. A rider is your customer. Just like you wouldn’t be chatting on the phone while ringing someone up at the supermarket, you shouldn’t be on the phone in the car, either. Even if your rider doesn’t want to talk during the commute, remain present and keep the phone on do not disturb.
- Use Bluetooth for directions. That said, you might consider keeping an earbud in one ear to listen to your GPS’s directions. That will keep your navigation on point without interrupting your rider’s experience with turn left in 500 feet, turn left in 200 feet, turn left in…
Leave a Lasting Impression
- Get creative. The majority of your customers will tip long after they exit your vehicle. While simple niceties and safe driving might get you a mindless 5-star rating and decent tip, what can you do to remain memorable even after they get inside, drop their bags, greet the dog, and sit on the couch? Get creative! One driver gave out fortune cookies. That’s less than $1 per ride, and he made it up in tips because it was unique and unforgettable.
Ultimately, just a few small tweaks can encourage better tips for drivers. We’ll leave you with one final question to consider: the last time you tipped well for a service – what about that experience encouraged you to tack on a few extra bucks? Start there.
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