Even though there are some passengers who like to stare at their phones the whole ride, most drivers would likely prefer to talk. It makes the job a little more fun and the hours go by a little quicker. Today, RSG contributor, Scott Van Maldegiam takes a look at five topics that can help you stir up some great conversations and enjoy your time as a driver just a little bit more.
The most interesting part of being a rideshare driver is the people we meet and the conversations we have with them. But some of our passengers may not seem to be very talkative at first glance. And while it is easy to just let it go and drive with no conversation, that isn’t as interesting or as fun. And it isn’t a way to help generate more 5 star reviews. Hopefully, this article will help you to prime the pump.
Topics of politics and religion are good topics to stay away from. If the passenger brings it up, it is OK to discuss, but the quickest way to get your rating lowered is to disagree with a rider on something they feel strongly about.
All of the questions can just be asked, but if presented as a poll, they are more likely to express their opinion.
I know this topic seems obvious, but I would be negligent if I didn’t mention it. With the way weather has been in this country, it is a topic that almost everyone has an opinion about. Here are a few sample questions:
- What is that thing in the sky called again? – If it has been rainy, snowy and generally cloudy for a long time and is now sunny. This usually gets a good chuckle and they open up.
- Build an ark yet? or I didn’t realize I moved to Seattle. – If it is a rainy day and there has been a lot of rain.
- When is summer going to start? or Hot/cold enough for you? – When temps are significantly different than the norm.
- What are doing today to enjoy this beautiful weather?
Since my son is studying Meteorology in college and the head of the department is a good friend of mine, I have a bit more information to share about this topic. I have many riders say they didn’t realize they were going to learn something when they got into my car. I have also referred a few people to the storm chasing trips that the college offers every year.
Weather is a versatile topic that most everyone will comment on and the conversation can lead many different directions. Weather affects everyone especially when it is out of the ordinary. Everyone knows someone who has been affected negatively by it. Whether it is a tornado, flood, lightning or drought, weather affects us all and creates stories that are both negative and positive.
Sports is another topic that most people will talk about if you find the right sport. It isn’t as versatile as weather, but pretty close.
- Do you think da Bears should get rid of Cutler? or Do you think Rose will ever get through a season without being injured and miss games? – find your most controversial player in your market and ask a question about them.
- Did you hear Lebron James opted out of his contract? – Ask a question about a nationally known sports figure.
- How many different local sports teams have you seen live? – I have learned a lot by asking this question or a similar questions including how to get a ticket for the lowest price.
While conversations regarding sports are not very deep, they are an easy way to get the conversation going. There are so many different questions to ask so be creative.
This is what we do so it is only natural for riders to talk about it. There are the typical questions like “How long have you been using Uber/Lyft/Sidecar?” but that is a little too obvious.
- What is the best/worst/strangest rideshare experience you have had? – I would generally stay away from the “worst” version of this question, but if you can get the conversation to go there, it can be therapeutic for the rider to vent about it. Hearing what their best experience was is a learning moment for all of us drivers. We can all strive to be better. Asking about the strangest ride usually leads to the question being turned around on us. At that point, feel free to entertain your rider with your best stories.
- What is your favorite rideshare app and why? – You will get so many different responses but will usually turn the question back to you. Be positive in your answers but, obviously, mention that you like Lyft because it allows tipping on the app while Uber doesn’t.
Most people enjoy talking about themselves. Since our jobs are so much of our lives, this is what most people feel comfortable talking about.
- Did you just get off work? – If you pick up from a business or retail location, this question works well. Follow up with “how do you like working at…?” and “what do you do for …?” There are so many reasons why this makes sense.
- Good to be a Friday? and follow up with “What do you do for a living?” – Sometimes you have to share your background because some riders assume drivers are uneducated idiots. Yesterday, I had a SAP consultant in my car, but he didn’t share that with me until he found out I used to work for Motorola and Tellabs. He figured I just wouldn’t understand what he did until he understood my background.
We all have a network of people we know and you never know what you may find out about this person. Maybe they aren’t happy in their current job. Ask them what they want to do. You might know someone that could help them. Maybe you are looking for another job and this person knows someone who can help you find your ideal job.
Small business owners are always looking for more business. Maybe you know of someone that could serve one of your riders needs or vice versa. Just this past weekend, I had a rider who owned a lawn maintenance company. He mentioned that he charged $25. My next rider was talking about how she needed to find someone who would cut her lawn for less than $45 which is what her current person was charging. Too bad I didn’t have the previous rider’s business card.
On a personal note, I have gained health insurance clients while driving. I never push for business, but I just mention what I do when it comes up in conversation. If they need my help, they ask questions and it eventually leads to swapping contact information.
This category is about people’s plans and locations. These can be great topics.
- What is your favorite local pub/restaurant/craft brewery? – In Chicago, craft beer is very popular and elicits strong opinions. I have learned a lot about beer while driving without ever taking a drink. During one ride, I explained to the rider that I like session style beer and he suggested a number of Chicago craft beers that were this style and which ones were the best.
- Do you have anything fun planned for the weekend? – If asked the right way, people will share their plans with you and might even ask for suggestions. Also, people will share a lot about themselves, their familes and their friends while talking about their plans. This is a great time to find things you have in common with your riders. Even more, you may learn where a hot spot for riders will be that other drivers may not know about.
- How long have you lived here? – It is always good to find out if your passenger is new to town. A recent passenger was new to town and I found out they were looking for a house. I mentioned that I knew a great real estate agent. He then mentioned that he needed a new agent since his agent had just died. Of course, that is horrible news, but it was an opportunity to help make a connection.
In having these conversations, you will learn about the rider and the rider will learn about you. I have made so many connections but one that sticks out was an endurance athlete with connections. I mentioned my daughter was a triathlete, but still had a ways to go. I explained that she was tall and very slender. He made some suggestions and then offered to be a contact when it was time to choose a college. He said he had contacts at a number of colleges and would help us get in contact with them.
Most of our riders are great people and driving for them puts my faith back in humanity after hearing all the awful stories on the news.
These question suggestions are here to help you connect with your passengers. This makes it more fun for them and for you, as a driver. Not only that, you can find opportunity or help someone else find opportunity.
Do you have a great question you like to ask your passengers? We would love to here them. Please share in the comments below.
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-Scott @ RSG
Scott Van Maldegiam
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