5 things I wish I knew before becoming a rideshare driver.

Being a rideshare driver means you have to accept a lot of unknowns: where you will be driving to today, how many trips you will have, what kind of tips you will make, what kind of riders you will be picking up, and more. We have to deal with all of these unknowns every day. But what if you were new to rideshare, what things would you have liked to have known before you started driving?

Here are five big things I think every new driver should know where starting out::

  1. Don’t drive around looking for rides – After you have driven for a couple of days, you will quickly learn the busier parts of your city or town. Find a place to park and wait for the app to go off. There’s no need to waste gas and to rack up miles on your car.
  2. Don’t bother waiting for rides at the airport – This is especially true right now because of Covid-19, as there aren’t a lot of rides from the airport. But even when people start traveling again, airport queues for rideshare can be between  30 – 90 minutes. You could have easily made good money during that same time by driving in hotter spots downtown. Too often, airport rideshare lots are just a place where drivers gather to complain about rideshare. They would have less to complain about if they were out working the busy parts of their town or city and making money instead of wasting time in a queue at the airport!!
  3. The secret to high ratings may not be what you think – Too often people who are thinking about becoming a rideshare driver believe that they will be good at it because they have a nice car and they know their way around their city or town. New drivers don’t understand that this is a customer service job. You will be dealing with all kinds of people and you need to be able to read their tone and body language to understand what they want.
  4. Getting your rider to their destination in record time isn’t a rider’s top priority – Yes, most riders want to get to where they are going quickly, but feeling safe in your car is more important than speed!
  5. A clean car doesn’t need air freshener – Riders love a clean car! If you keep your car clean, there is no need for air freshener. People are sensitive to smells like air freshener, and a rider who hates the smell or even gets a headache from your air freshener will likely say nothing to you. Instead, they will jut give you a bad rating. Now, If a rider leaves a bad smell in your car after they leave, just roll your windows down and air out your car before your next trip.

Many drivers may have tips beyond these but these were my top 5 takeaways when I first began to driver.

 

Where to pee?

Rideshare drivers have always struggled with finding a clean restroom while out on the road. Since the onset of Covid-19 those choices have dwindled dramatically. 

One option is the gas station where you fill up. They often have open restrooms but it is not a guarantee. 

The worst situation is when you have to go and there aren’t any choices at all. I’ve started carrying a product I found on Amazon called Mini Toilet. Its single use only and can be used by both men and women. After use, it zip locks closed and comes with a small garbage bag for disposal. Amazon often runs out of this one so here is another option called Coolrunner Disposal Urine bags and basically works the same. I am sure there are plenty of other similar products out there but these work great!

When this is all over, I hope we can go back to using Starbucks with locations on almost every corner. 

Should rideshare drivers be helping riders with their luggage?

Many rideshare drivers believe that they should not help a rider load their luggage. I believe that drivers should be helping their riders with their luggage. This post is not about starting a debate on that issue. Let’s just say you are amongst the group who does and leave it there. However, in the light of Covid-19, should this practice continue? I have held my 5.0 star rating for many years and I believe that we are not just offering someone a ride but we are also providing a service. But what is the risk of exposure?

The CDC has written an article about the Coronavirus exposure through luggage and they say the risk is low but read it for yourselves and make your own decision.

My personal thought is you should continue to help someone with their luggage but in a new way. On a few recent trips, I got out of the car and opened the trunk for the rider but asked if they wouldn’t mind loading the luggage themselves and then the same procedure when dropping them off. So far it has worked. I do suggest having a box of latex gloves in the trunk just in case a rider says they have a disability or some other reason that prevents them from lifting.

Make sure you know how to safely remove latex gloves. Checkout this previous blog post that includes this information.

Your car smells like weed because of your last rider, now what?

Most of us have experienced a rider in our cars smelling of weed. Not only can the smell be unpleasant for us drivers but it can be problematic for our status with Uber. Your next rider may report you to Uber for being under the influence simply because of the smell. This can result in an account suspension and a loss of income. Furthermore, the path to reactivation can involve a lot of time and energy.

So is there anything we can do to prevent this from happening beside not accepting riders who smell of weed?

Windows open – As soon as the rider is out of the car, go offline. Next, spend the next 5 minutes or so driving around with your windows down airing out your car. Doing this right away can help prevent the smell from settling into your car’s upholstery. 

Ozium – People often think that spraying air freshener in your car will fix this problem. However, you may be making things worse! First, you are adding another smell to your car that mixes with the smell of weed, making an even worse smell. Secondly, riders are sensitive to air fresheners and you may be giving a rider a headache and giving yourself a bad rating. Instead, try using an air sanitizer like Ozium. Not only does it kill bacteria in the air like Covid-19 it helps to kill the odor of weed. After spraying the interior, let spray settle in your car for a few minutes. Next drive around for a few minutes again airing out your car with the windows down. Now you are ready again to accept requests.

Following the above suggestions can help you avoid bad ratings and continue driving and making money.