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8 min read

    8 min read

    How can I get more tips? is one question we frequently receive on the RSG blog and Facebook page. While there’s no magical formula to get more tips, there are ways to improve your chances of getting tips. Today, senior RSG contributor Jay Cradeur shares his suggestions for getting more tips while rideshare driving. 

    Recently I shared a video about the fringe benefits of rideshare driving.  In the beginning, I showed my pay statement for the previous week.  Out of $2,800, I had earned over $200 in tips.

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    While that was an unusually good week for tips, I do consistently earn more tips than most drivers.  This article will share the strategies I use to consistently earn a generous amount of tips.  Maybe you can incorporate a strategy or two and make yourself some extra money right away.

    Create A Peaceful Environment

    Have you ever watched the movie Collateral with Tom Cruise as contract assassin Vincent and Jamie Foxx as cab driver Max?  It is an entertaining movie, suspenseful, intelligent and laced with good music. In one memorable scene while Max is driving along sepia toned Los Angeles streets, he talks about his dream to have a ride service called Island Limo, “a car service so relaxing you won’t want the trip to end.”

    I think about that scene often.  Passengers want a respite from their busy day.  I feel the more I can provide a peaceful environment, the more likely I am to be rewarded with a tip.

    At the end of the day, all any passenger wants is a safe and secure passage.  Think about how you would like to experience your perfect ride.  It is not fast, jerky and dangerous.

    Don’t drive like a maniac.  You may be in a hurry, but I assure you, most of your passengers are not.  Take it easy.  It just takes your passenger feeling unsafe once during the ride to obliterate any possibility of a tip.

    Keep Your Car Clean And Smelling Good

    Passengers appreciate a clean car.  I have been a passenger in many Lyft, Uber and Grab cars.  When I get into a car that is dirty (for example, the dashboard is caked in dust) I automatically assume the driver doesn’t take his or her job too seriously.  My expectations are low.  I am disappointed.  I can’t wait to get out.

    Contrast that to a clean car.  When I enter a clean car, with a fresh smell, I feel special.  I feel like the driver is paying attention and doing the little things that need to be done to provide the ultimate ride experience.  First the passenger sees the outside of the car, and then the inside.

    I use a product called Ozium New Car Smell to keep the car smelling fresh, especially after a smelly passenger departs your car.  Keep both the outside and inside clean and smelling good and you improve your odds for a good tip.  And if you don’t think you need something like this, keep in mind that you get used to bad smells if sitting in them for long enough, so your car may be smelly and you may not notice it but your passengers will!

    👉Related article: Essential gear every rideshare driver should have

    Play Peaceful Music

    If you are playing Rap, Metal, Hard Rock, or Hip Hop, you are greatly reducing your chances at a good tip.  Peaceful music is what soothes the passengers.  While you may want music with a strong beat to stay awake and alert, it does not translate well to the passengers.

    I cannot tell you how often my passengers tell me how wonderful it was to listen to jazz in my car.  When I travel as a passenger, and the driver is playing some loud heavy metal in the back seat, I am immediately turned off.  I have paid my hard earned money for a ride and I should not have to be subjected to someone else’s loud and intrusive music.

    Most passengers feel the same way.  If you are a Spotify user, I can recommend both the Coffee Table Jazz and Late Night Jazz playlists.  They are both wonderful for early morning and day driving.

    Watch: The Best Music Apps for Rideshare Drivers

    If you do drive at night when passengers are in a party mood, check out Rufus Du Sol.  Another option is to ask your passengers what they would like to hear.  I do this every once in a while when I want to mix it up.

    Work The Long Trips

    The great majority of my tips come on the long rides, and especially on airport runs.  On these rides, be as helpful as possible.  I still remember landing at an airport, feeling tired, schlepping my suitcase to my Uber and the driver did nothing but pop open the trunk and wait. For me, this translated to no tip and a poor rating.

    I find it is valuable to remember what it is like to take a trip on an airplane. It is stressful.  When I am doing a pick up, I jump out of my car, and meet the passenger at the curb and take their luggage for them and invite them to get in the car (which is clean, smelling good, and playing soothing jazz music).  “I will take care of your luggage.”

    Next, when we are both in the car I will say something like, “Where are you going today?”  This often leads to an interesting conversation about travel in general and their destination specifically.

    Then, at the airport at their gate, I jump out of the car and get to the trunk lightning quick and take their luggage out of the car and put it on the sidewalk.  I always extend the handle as well, so they may begin walking directly into the airport.  “You have a wonderful trip.  It was great chatting with you!”  The long trips can generate $5 – $10 tips fairly consistently.

    Drive For Lyft

    Lyft passengers have been tipping drivers since inception.  Uber passengers have only recently been given the option to tip drivers.  The week I earned over $200 in tips, I drove exclusively for Lyft.

    Related: Why Lyft is Better Than Uber

    I have not had any real success getting tips from Uber passengers.  The Uber culture is different than the Lyft culture.  I went into some detail about this in a previous article in which I compared Lyft passengers to dogs and Uber passengers to cats.

    If you are indifferent about which rideshare service you use, and all other factors are the same, then you will make more money in tips with Lyft.  This is one of many reasons I prefer to drive for Lyft.

    Have A Few Essential Accessories

    When I first started, I offered everyone water and gum. I don’t do that anymore.  However, I do have water and gum available when I do want to offer it, or when a passenger asks for it.

    If I hear someone coughing, then I will offer him or her a water.  If I hear someone sniffling, then I will offer a tissue.  When a passenger needs an iPhone charger, I have it ready to go.

    These items are all I have ever needed: water, gum, tissue, and iPhone charger.  Meet the passengers’ needs with these items, and you will improve your chances at a good tip.

    Listen More Than You Talk

    I saved this for last because it is most important. As drivers, we have to remember that you and your passenger are riding around in a very small metal box. Too much talking on your part can negatively impact your passengers’ experience.

    Sometimes I have received big tips from passengers who said absolutely nothing.  Most passengers want a pleasant experience, and often a quiet experience.

    If the passenger is not initiating conversation, leave it alone.  There is nothing wrong with a long drive in silence.  I always start my rides with “Hi, how are you doing today?”  If I get a lively response, then we will chat a bit.  If not, I leave it alone.

    At the end of the ride, I finish off with “Have an awesome day (or night or weekend)”.  Make a good impression at the beginning and the end of the ride experience.  This is what most people will remember when they think about tipping you.

    Summary

    The trick for great tips is putting all of these strategies together into one smooth ride experience for each and every one of your passengers.  Failure to deliver on any of these could result in no tip.

    It is worth noting that even when you have done everything perfectly, most times you still will not get a tip.

    During the week in which I made $206 in tips, only 71 passengers out of 221 gave me a tip.  That’s about 1 out of 3 during a really great week.

    We are like baseball players.  Most of the time we will strike out.  But when it works, it works well and it feels great.  That is why, each day we will drive our cars and in the words of Max the taxi driver, we will create “a car service so relaxing you won’t want the trip to end.”

    Drivers, how often do you get tips and what are your recommendations for getting a tip?

    -Jay @ RSG

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    👉Read next: Essential gear every rideshare driver should have

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur

    Jay Cradeur, a graduate of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, is a full-time driver with over 26,000 rides. Jay has a driver-focused podcast: Rideshare Dojo with Jay Cradeur. When Jay isn’t writing articles or making videos, he is traveling the world. You can see what Jay is up to at www.nomadjay.com.

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