Harry here. Getting help via e-mail can be frustrating at times so it’s good to see Lyft opening up more in person support centers across the country. Today, RSG senior contributor Christian Perea tours the San Francisco Lyft Hub and tells and shows us what it’s like!
Over the past few months, Lyft has been opening new driver Hubs throughout the United States to offer in-person support for drivers. There are presently a few hubs across the US, and Lyft has big plans for building more.
Each Hub is a little different, but they are all built to help drivers sign up for Lyft, provide support for existing drivers, and improve driver education. Sometimes Lyft will even throw parties or events for drivers at local hubs.
I think this is long overdue from Lyft since it seems like every tech company nowadays tries to solve their support workload though a series of automated and canned email responses. Usually when I need support, I need the type of support that cannot be solved through a canned response.
What Goes Down at The Lyft Hub?
The Lyft Hub serves three purposes, and the last one is where Lyft puts a unique spin on things:
- Support existing drivers in a customer service capacity by providing real-time support.
- On-board new drivers, provide vehicle inspections, and instruction on app use.
- Serve as a community center for Lyft drivers.
Getting Support At The Lyft Hub
The first step to getting help at any Lyft Hub is to submit your request to the person at the front desk. They will take your name and support question down when you arrive. It may help to be specific in the notes, since whoever ends up helping you will get a chance to review them in advance.
After you submit your support question to the person at the front desk, there is an area to hangout in while you wait for your name to be called. You can track your progress on a screen that displays your position in line.
How Fast Does The Line Move?
I actually made sure to hangout in the waiting area over the course of 20 minutes to watch how quickly the Lyft reps were able to filter through the screen. It took about 5 minutes for each person to be called. When I first arrived the room was half-full of drivers and it took them 14 minutes to clear the queue.
According to Lyft, their busiest times at the Lyft Hub are in the mornings when they open. So if you want to get in and out quickly, it may be best to go 15 minutes before they open, the afternoon or during lunch.
Cool Waiting Area
While sitting down, I started to look around and realized there was a lot of information to help drivers (as you would expect). There was actually a State Farm representative who could talk to you about rideshare insurance and sign you up for it.
Click here to learn more about rideshare insurance.
There was also a fancy coffee machine and a Vivreau water dispenser that allowed you to choose between sparkling and regular water (I chose regular water). Near the machine, there was a placard that gave instructions on driving with car seats, transporting minors, and all the regulations for doing airport runs at SFO. I thought that was smart because those are 3 of the biggest questions we get on the blog, and you are kind of forced to read it as your coffee brews. 😉
Apart from that, there was a TV screen showing videos on how to drive in San Francisco. One video, which showed how to deal with bicyclists and bike lanes, was done in partnership with the SFMTA.
Overall, the seats were comfortable, the WiFi was strong, and the coffee was free (and good), which is pretty much what I care most about.
When Your Name Gets Called At The Lyft Hub
When you’re up, the person handling your ticket should walk out and greet you by name. According to Lyft, by the time they do this they have already checked out your support ticket and should have an idea of what to do next for you.
In this case, I actually knew a lot of support people from when they drove full-time. The people who do support at the Lyft Hub in SF are many of the same people who I hung-out with at 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday night, chugging coffee while convulsively checking the heat-maps. They are real drivers. Hopefully this is repeated throughout other Lyft Hubs.
Driver Community At The Lyft Hub
One of my gripes with Uber’s Greenlight locations is that they all seem very mechanical and cold. Don’t get me wrong, they are VERY efficient. However, I can’t help but feel like I’m the sausage in a sausage factory when I visit an Uber Greenlight Center.
Back in the day, Lyft drivers were known for meeting up in random and organic ways. Lyft actually had a budget for each city and invested a lot in growing local driver gatherings. We would often get coffee, food, or take breaks together. When Lyft makes claims to treating drivers better, it stems from this.
Driver Appreciation Events
The first time I visited the Lyft Hub was six months ago for a driver appreciation event. The local GM for Lyft (Mihir Ghandi) brought out a taco truck, raffle, ice-cream, DJ, and a massage table. I showed up thinking it might be cheesy, but it was actually a good time since I got to catch up with a lot of drivers I hadn’t seen in a long time, and there were free burritos :D.
One of the downsides to being a rideshare driver is that you don’t get to interact with your co-workers in person. Sure there are Facebook groups, forums and blogs like this one, but nothing beats hanging out with other drivers in person and that’s something I miss.
The Lyft Hub in SF has an actual classroom where new drivers learn to navigate through the app. Lyft says they have also teamed up with companies to do presentations on driver taxes, finances, and local specific regulations.
Related: Check out our video training course for drivers.
Can I Sign Up To Drive For Lyft in Person?
You can visit your local Lyft Hub to signup in person. Drivers who visit a local Hub can get help with completing their application, have their vehicle inspected, and complete a quick instructional course to get them on-boarded. You will want to make sure to:
- Bring a copy of your insurance.
- A valid drivers license.
- Referral code so you can get your sign-up bonus (ours is HARRY757 or click here)
- ..and to be nice to your instructor.
Further, if you are a new driver Lyft will provide a free vehicle inspection on-site. You may have to make an appointment in advance though. Existing drivers will not be able to get an inspection here and have to use their own mechanic.
My Armchair Analysis
I think that these Hubs are long overdue for Lyft. A lot of drivers really prefer communicating with a real person when they need support. In the past, communication with Lyft has occurred almost entirely through email or via an automated support queue. Even though Lyft’s response times and support quality have improved through these automated systems, I think a lot of drivers still prefer to have their questions fielded in-person.
The Lyft Hubs also bring the company closer to the ground in local markets and this continuity between the company and drivers should make Lyft better for drivers in the long-term.
Can I get my airport placard at the Lyft Hub?
Yes. Most Lyft Hubs will have plenty of airport placards available and you should be able to get one pretty quickly.
Can I get my Lyft Trade Dress at the Lyft Hub?
The Lyft Hub in SF had a few stacks of Lyft Trade Dress emblems just sitting int he waiting area. You should be able to grab one or two of them without even having to wait in line.
Where are Lyft Hub’s Located?
Presently, Lyft Hub’s are located in the following cities (as of 3/1/17). Click the image to see a larger picture.
Lyft plans to expand these locations aggressively throughout 2017.
Can I still get a signup bonus at the Hub?
In order to receive a signup bonus through Lyft you must BEGIN your application by using a sign up link from a driver (here’s ours). It doesn’t matter which driver you use, as it will automatically qualify you for the signup bonus where you signup to drive. You can use our link to get started with your application before you go into the Lyft Hub.
Note: Lyft doesn’t allow retroactive referrals so, even if you’re not sure you want to drive with Lyft, you should still sign up using a promo code first before completing your application.
Is the Lyft Hub open on weekends?
It appears that most Lyft Hubs are closed on the weekends with the exception of the Boston Hub, which is open on Saturday from 10AM to 4PM.
If I get my driver account deactivated, can I go to the Lyft Hub and fix it?
If you were deactivated for having out-of-date documents (insurance, registration, or vehicle inspection form) then you can bring them to the Lyft Hub and they will place them into the system. That should get you back on the road. If you were deactivated due to a Trust & Safety concern, they cannot fix it at the Lyft Hub and you will have to make sure to follow up with Lyft’s Trust and Safety Team.
Have you been to a Lyft Hub yet? Let me know how it went in the comments section below!
-Christian @ RSG