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7 min read

    7 min read

    One of the best ways to increase how much money you bring in everyday as a driver is to increase your tips. But getting people to tip isn’t as easy as it sounds. RSG contributor Paula Gibbins breaks down some new research showing what strategies work the best to increase tips – and which ones don’t work as well!

    Everyone wants to make more money as an Uber/Lyft driver, and while you can’t control the rates Uber and Lyft set, you can strive to earn more through tips. And luckily for drivers, Uber and Lyft let us keep 100% of our tips, meaning every extra dollar you make in tips is going straight into your pocket. But are there any surefire ways of making those tips?

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    Fortunately, I got hold of a recent survey from a brand called Trinova, that offers home and automotive cleaning products, and they asked some great questions to see what works when it comes to getting tips and what doesn’t. Now normally, I don’t share stuff like this from random companies on the internet that e-mail me, but I think their questions were well thought out and the data will be useful for all of you.

    So here are the top 3 tips for earning more tips as discovered by their survey of 500 part-time and full-time drivers.

    3 Ways to Best Increase Your Tips

    #1 Having a Sign That Encourages Tipping

    A lot of people have issues with putting a sign in their car asking for tips. It seems needy and signs can clutter up your space. But this is the number one thing that helped drivers out who completed the TriNova survey.

    I know personally, when my husband and I started using our signs, we noticed an increase in tipping, and this was even before it was available to tip in Uber’s app. That was the only change we’d made at the time, so it seemed to directly correlate to our increase in tips.

    Here are some examples of signs you can put in your car, starting with the one my husband and I use:

     

    Looking for more tips on how to increase your tips as a driver? Check out How to Get More Tips While Driving here.

    #2 Offer Bottled Water

    People appreciate when you go the extra mile, and the TriNova survey concluded they will show their appreciation with tips. As you can see from my sign that I shared above, I do offer bottled water. Some people take a bottle, some don’t. In my personal experience, most people who do take a water as if it’s ok first, even with the sign already telling them it’s available for free.

    Pro-tip: If you’re worried about people taking water and not tipping, keep them out of sight and offer them to anyone who looks thirsty.

    Something to keep in mind is during the summer months, be sure to bring the bottle inside when you’re done driving for the day. Otherwise you’ll be serving warm, plastic-tasting water to your passengers, and they likely won’t appreciate that. I have found that you do not need to actually refrigerate the water, however. No one expects you to put that much extra effort into this.

    On the other hand, in the winter months, if it freezes where you live, bring the waters in overnight so you don’t have bottles bursting and melting all over the interior of your car or all over your passengers.

    For a while I offered the mini bottles and now I do full bottles of water. That never seemed to make a difference as far as tipping goes. Just having the bottled water available is enough. I think one of the reasons this helps with tips is because most drivers don’t offer it anymore so it really helps you stand out. Just make sure you’re not spending more on water than you’re earning in extra tips.

    #3 Keeping the Interior of Your Car Clean

    The third most important thing for increasing your tips the TriNova survey found was making sure the interior of your car is clean before you go out driving for the day. As a passenger, I totally agree with this. The last thing I want to do is climb into a dirty car. Especially when I usually order an Uber if I’m going out for the night or doing something special. If I’m dressed up, I don’t want to worry about my clothes getting dirty before I even get to my event.

    This is something that you can either do on your own or pay someone to do, depending on your preferences. My husband and I used to have a subscription for unlimited car washes that included vacuuming our floors as well as washing the interior windows and dashboard. It cost about $55 a month for each of us to utilize this service. We could do it up to two times per day on the plan we were on without having to pay extra.

    Looking for specific rideshare cleaning products? Check out the best car cleaning products according to Uber drivers here.

    Or you can keep cleaning supplies on hand and take care of it yourself for just the cost of those supplies and your time. For vacuuming, a wet/dry shop vac would work. Then of course, depending on your type of vehicle you can find cleaners that will take care of spills, prevent messes as well as cleaning all the surfaces.

    But even if you want to go the cheap route, you can do the following:

    • Shake out your floormats 1-2 times a day when you’re driving pax around.
    • Wipe down the exterior of your car with a microfiber cloth.
    • Wash your windows with a squeegee. Remember pax only see the exterior of your car for a few seconds but they’ll be staring out the windows for the entirety of the ride.
    • Keep your car smelling clean!

    You can find more products to keep the interior of your car smelling and looking good here on Amazon.

    Learn more about their survey results on this infographic they created:

    What Doesn’t Work to Increase Tips?

    While these are all great ideas for increasing your tips, their survey also discovered that there are things you probably do that don’t make a significant difference, including:

    • Cleaning the exterior of your car
    • Having charging cables available
    • What you have playing on the radio, or even silence
    • Driving during the day versus night
    • Having an air freshener or not
    • Offering gum, mints or candy

    All of these things seem like nice things you can do that people would tip for. Personally, I make sure my car is clean inside and out before I leave because it makes me feel better. But, with how long full-time drivers are on the road and the different weather conditions and road conditions, I wouldn’t expect drivers to have a perfectly clean exterior at all times. So, that makes sense in some ways.

    I do have charging cables available, but again, I don’t recall anyone ever being impressed by that. They’re more impressed by the bottled water that’s available for them.

    There is one point there that I disagree with from personal experience. I have been tipped a lot for having good music playing. One time, a guy gave me $20 because his favorite Joan Jett song came on the radio during the ride. Obviously, I had zero control over that, but he still tipped me more than generously because of it. And as a passenger, I find it awkward when someone has blaring music or no music at all. The worst was when all that was “playing” on the radio was the directions for their navigation. At least I knew we were going the right way, I guess.

    Methodology

    TriNova surveyed 500 part- and full-time drivers about their driving habits, including music, air freshener, bottled water, charging cords, etc. and the tips they received (how much, how often). In their poll, TriNova asked if drivers had ever driven for Uber or Lyft (those that answered ‘no’ were disqualified from the survey) and how many rides they had given in the last 6 months (under 25 = disqualified from the survey). As such, this was drivers self-reporting, but the results certainly make sense from my experience driving.
    If you’re interested in running a similar survey or getting insight and access to drivers, heck out our Rideshare Consulting page here.

    What are your experiences? Do they mesh with the survey as posted? What do you do to earn tips?

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    -Paula @ RSG

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins, a graduate of Augustana University, Sioux Falls, is a part-time rideshare driver and a full-time proofreader. She is based in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In her free time, Paula enjoys reading, playing board games and participating in trivia nights.

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