How to be a Five-Star Uber Driver
All Uber drivers and most Uber users know that star ratings can have a big impact on drivers and riders alike. For drivers, anything below a 4.6 average is worrying sign. A recent report states that the average for Uber drivers in the US and UK is 4.8 stars – which is great, but it gets no cigar. A school report would mark a score like this ‘can try harder’ – so if 4.8 is where you are, aim higher. The closer you nudge towards 5.0 the better. A top score can mean more riders, more fares and more tips for you.
So how do you reach that gold medal level – and then stay there? We’ve found the best tips and advice from drivers, riders and industry sources to create this all-you-need-to-know guide. Read on to see how a five stars rating can be yours for the keeping.
Five Star Tips 1: Driving
Very few professional drivers would say that their own driving is anything but excellent, however, it’s what the riders think that counts. Certainly, avoiding basic errors like jumping on and off the brakes to jolt passengers, speeding, weaving lanes and otherwise breaking the law are big ‘no-no’ factors, but a rider is more likely to reward you with five stars for other driving reasons – the ones that make their ride a great experience. Here are five suggestions to give them that:
- Know your way around – especially frequent destinations
Sat-Nav has taken the hassle out of finding many places, but no system is perfect. Issues like re-routing for no obvious advantage, and ignorance of road diversions and choke-points can turn your satellite expert into a total dummy. Over-reliance on your GPS can therefore make you look bad too. Invest some time in learning your area of operation. Which are the best shortcuts, where are the usual snarl-ups? Find the fastest routes to all the popular destinations – airports, train stations, hospitals and shopping malls. Riders appreciate a swift, hassle-free and traffic-free ride, so do the legwork and make your GPS your back-up, not your only navigation tool.
- If you must use it, keep your GPS on mute
Do you like listening to a computer voice saying ‘at the next intersection, turn right’? Well nor do you riders. Listening to your GPS telling you the way to the destination is a pet rider peeve. Put it on mute and follow the on-screen map and visual signals. (See here for advice on the best GPS to use for Uber).
- Does your rider have a preferred route?
Back in the bad old days before Uber, taxi drivers would often take a round-about route to ratchet up a fare. That practice is rare these days, but it doesn’t mean riders are unaware of it. Suspicions that a driver is taking a long route to boost the fare remain and it’s a top concern with riders. Put them at ease by asking if they have a preferred route to the destination. If not, let them know in advance which way you intend to go. Make the rider feel that you’re doing your best to take the most efficient course from A to B.
- No road-rage
Driving can be stressful, especially in big cities, where it can make even the mildest-mannered drivers lose their temper. However, riders say they’re not comfortable with drivers who vent or get angry when the traffic is against them. If the going is slow, or someone cuts you up, resist the urge to lash out in frustration. Stay calm and drive on.
- TOP DRIVING TIP: Seamless pick-up and drop-off
The top reason that Uber riders give five stars for driving is when the pick-up and drop-off is easy. This means making it simple for the rider to find you. Don’t leave them searching. If the pick-up point is unclear, or there’s nowhere legal to stop, call the rider to fix a spot to meet. Also, if the rider is on the other side of a busy street, make a U-turn to make their vehicle entry safer. For the drop-off, ask the rider if there’s anything you should know about the destination – such as security or traffic restrictions – and check your GPS isn’t taking you to the backdoor of the destination instead of the front.
Five Star Tips 2 – Rider Experience
Overall trip experience has a big effect on ratings. If the ambience and attitude are bad, there’ll be little twinkle in the stars. Ensuring every ride is pleasant is the simplest way to a first-class ranking.
- Give riders a hand with luggage
Common sense says that if your rider has a luggage to be loaded, you should help them. Not only is it courteous, it’s better for your vehicle. You load the bags how you want them, and you protect your car from dents and scratches.
- Check for left behind items
It’s worth a fast scan of your vehicle every time a rider exits your car. Have they left anything behind? Making sure riders have all their property with them is an easy way to earn a five- stars rating. However, if a passenger does leave something behind, try to reunite them with their property – the Uber app has a process for this.
- Music and temperature
Nobody likes a boiling hot or freezing cold car. Ask your rider if the vehicle is warm enough or cool enough before you set off. Same goes for music. Just because you like rare kinds of folk music, it doesn’t mean your riders do. Ask them if they have any music preferences, or do they want to hear the news or maybe no music at all.
- Stay off the phone
Riders say that listening to the driver take or make calls is highly unpleasant. If it isn’t a real emergency, stay off the phone until you’re alone.
- Let them start the conversation
Some riders want to chat, but many don’t. You’re not obligated to have a conversation with your passengers, but it doesn’t hurt to ask them how their day is going. If they want to talk, then fine, but keep your opinions to yourself and avoid tough topics like politics and religion or any partisan views on sports. You don’t want a heated debate.
- Keep it a no smoking car
Uber has a no-smoking rule for passengers, but for drivers, it’s up to you. However, if you were a non-smoker, would you want to be stuck in a car that smells of ashtray? Smoking for non-smokers is unpleasant and it can also drag down the value of your car. Resist the urge to light up inside your vehicle.
- TOP RIDER EXPERIENCE TIP: It’s all about your attitude
Bad attitude is a major reason that riders give drivers low star-ratings. Rudeness, surliness, and lack of care and consideration really tick riders off. Of all the things a driver can do to make their passengers happy, this is the easiest problem to fix. Be polite, show you care and use your common sense to let the rider know you’re there to make their trip a smooth and pleasant one.
Five Star Tips 3 – In-car Extras
There’s no need for passengers to ride in a limo to get special service. Make everyone feel well-appreciated with a few luxuries to enhance their journey. Simple, low-cost extras that you can buy in bulk from a shopper’s warehouse can go a long way to making a rider think highly of you. See the most popular requests from Uber riders below.
- Bottled water
Keep a few chilled bottles in a cooler in the trunk. A hydrated rider is a happy rider.
Travel packs of paper tissues can come in handy if drinks get spilled or leak.
- Wet wipes
Moist towelettes to clean hands and surfaces are a top-rated choice.
Some riders like to catch up on the news. Buy a couple of different newspapers every day to offer them a choice.
Keep a tin of wrapped mints in the glovebox solely for rider use.
- TOP IN-CAR EXTRA TIP: Cables
Riders place greatest in-car value on a spare USB cable for charging devices, or an extra AUX cable so they can listen to their own music. Consider buying a multi-function cable with differing connectors to cover all the bases and avoid a glovebox wiring jumble.
Five Star Tips 4 – Clean Car
A vehicle that shines like a diamond is the number one choice by riders. They place more value on a car that’s clean and fresh than anything else. Keep your vehicle spotless with regular washing, vacuuming and polishing of windows and glossy surfaces. Remove fingerprints, footprints, hair and other fibres. De-clutter the door pockets, cup-holders, console and seat-back storage slots.
- Keep it clean outside
Once every two weeks, or more often in heavy weather, treat your vehicle to a full foam wash. Buff chrome. Pay extra for waxing and paint protection. If you want to go further, black the tyre-walls and apply a water-repellent coating to windows to reduce rain smear.
- Keep it clean inside
Your car’s interior gets a lot more rider scrutiny than the exterior, so this area deserves special attention. Follow the tips below to keep your car’s inside as shiny as its outside.
Six steps to keep the inside of your car
1. Air Freshener. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many Uber vehicles go without.
Bonus hint: Don’t get one of those ugly hanging things. Invest in a freshener that slots into a dash air vent for an unobtrusive look.
2. Cup Holder Liner. This is more for you than your riders, but who wants a sticky film on the bottom of their cup or on their hand? Line your cup holders with a special liner from an auto-store or go cheap and use silicone cupcake liners that you can buy in the supermarket bakery aisle for half the price.
3. Carpet Cleaner for Seat Stains So, you think carpet cleaner only works on carpets? Think again. Use a 50/50 cleaner/water mix to remove stains from cloth seats. Far more effective than ‘specialist’ fabric seat cleaners, this basic solution makes the dirtiest seats look like new again.
4. Foam Paint Brush The Air Vents Use a foam brush that you can buy at the paint store to clean the gunk out of your air vents. Do this in front and back. If necessary, trim the foam head of the brush with a craft knife to make it a snug fit inside the slots of the vent.
Bonus hint: For tough dust, use a can of compressed-air – the type that you’d usually use to clean a computer. One puff of high-pressure air can blow the stickiest grit away.
5. Put Fabric Floor Mats in the Washing Machine Floor mats take a pounding and if they’re made of fabric, they get very dirty too. Give ‘em a blast of spray stain-remover (the sort you use on clothes) and then put them in the washing machine on a cold cycle to restore their fluffed and clean look. (Don’t be tempted to tumble dry them though).
6. Use a Swiffer Brush on Surface Dust Plastic surfaces like the dash and console show every speck of dust, but they’re what riders always see. Keep them spotless with a fast wipe from the Swiffer brush you keep in the glove-box.
Bonus hint: Also keep a Velcro lint-remover handy for a speedy seat clean in between rides.
- TOP CLEAN CAR TIP: Delicate air freshener
Some drivers like to use a ‘new car scent’ air freshener, but the fact is, that doesn’t make the car small brand new, it just makes it smell like a plastics factory. Riders say they hate this, so don’t do it. Keep the air inside your car as fresh as a daisy with a delicate scented freshener. Go for something neutral or light, like the smell of ocean breeze.
Five Star Tips 5 – Go the extra mile
Finally, you can also generate a five-stars rating by going beyond the call of duty. This means putting in extra service to give your riders an excellent experience. Small gestures can have big impact and create positive memories – which counts when a rider is rating you or considering a tip.
- Suggestions for drop-offs
If you’re taking your rider to a destination that you know is difficult for arrivals, suggest some alternative drop-off spots that make it more convenient for your passenger.
- Don’t leave your rider in limbo
If you arrive at the destination, but it’s not what the rider was expecting, don’t leave them to solve the problem on their own. Keep them in the car until you’ve found the best place for them to exit. You charge by time and distance anyway, so not only does this make your rider happy, it makes you extra money.
- Keep them dry
When the weather is wet, keep a large umbrella in the trunk. Use it to shield your riders from the rain when they exit your car.
- TOP EXTRA MILE TIP: Watch out for the disabled
Riders who use walking frames, canes and wheelchairs are the most vulnerable of all. Get them as close to their destination as you can, even if that means turning into their driveway. Ask if they need assistance to their front door. Help them with any packages. Unless they say they don’t need help, assume they do, some people are just too proud to ask.
- Five-star ratings are important for Uber drivers
- High rankings can mean more rides, fares and tips
- Drivers can encourage five-star ratings with some simple actions
- Give riders the best driving experience
- Positive driver attitude is key
- In-car freebies like bottled water and mints score well
- A clean car inside and out is essential
- Going the extra mile for riders can make all the difference
SOURCES and LINKS:
Uber GB – why riders give 5 stars: https://www.uber.com/en-GB/blog/5-star-driver-according-to-riders/
Uber ratings facts: https://help.uber.com/riders/article/rating-a-driver?nodeId=478d7463-99cb-48ff-a81f-0ab227a1e267&state=1mw53jkfrfT6mMOwDUpppK4z-mm6fJrMa43i5-AOt4M%3D&_csid=J3hItDQNXF7f3WsxNYc15g#_
Best GPS for Uber drivers: https://www.ridester.com/best-phone-gps-use-driving-uber/
Ridester – Uber ratings: https://www.ridester.com/my-uber-rating/
5 star rating tips: http://drivetobefree.com/uber-driver-ratings/