It’s Time for Holiday Cheer and Better Tips

In many markets, drivers are noticing a decrease in demand and earnings, as reported to the hosts of the Show Me the Money Club on the RSG YouTube channel. Is this a harbinger of what’s to come for gig work in 2023? It doesn’t have to be! Recently, we shared an article from driver Jeff, who gets tips from 46% of his riders – an incredible number that has earned him an extra $1,000! How does he do it? In this article, Jeff shares his outlook on life and how you can potentially boost your earnings this holiday season.

Life can be unpredictable, but December is here, and we have a very good idea of what will happen in the next few weeks.  The stores have been decorated for months, the Christmas music has been playing constantly, and customers are ready to do some serious shopping. People will be traveling to friends and relatives locally, and the airports will be hectic.  This is where we come in.

This is the month to spread good cheer and enjoy yourself driving. This is the month you can benefit from riders who are in a good mood and more generously tipping. Will you take advantage of it?

What can you do in the next few weeks in your car to make this a good month for you?

The other day a friend of mine who drives for Uber and Lyft came over to my house and asked me about driving the last two weeks of the year. I hit record on my tape recorder and have shared our conversation below.

A Conversation About Getting More Tips

Ebeneezer: Do you really think I can get more tips this month?  I’m not so sure.  I think sometimes riders see my name and think of Scrooge, won’t that be a problem?

Me: Don’t worry about it, you don’t look like Scrooge.  You have a big smile on your face and besides, at the end of every Scrooge movie is a very happy Ebeneezer.  Memorize a couple of lines that Scrooge says and get some laughs?

Ebeneezer: That’s easy for you to say, you’re always joking around; I’m just not that outgoing.  You could probably have a conversation with yourself.

Me: No, that wouldn’t be any fun.  Let’s talk about what some drivers do for the holiday season. They decorate their car; some put lights on the inside and outside, they play Christmas music or maybe wear a Santa hat while they drive. They create a festive mood for their riders to enjoy. You could dress up as an elf. I bet you always wanted to that! Do you think your riders could keep a straight face if you were dressed as an elf?

Takeaway for drivers: Go out of your way to spruce up your car for the holidays, play holiday music, or even wear a Santa hat.

Riders Who Are In a Good Mood Tend to Tip More

Ebeneezer: I’m not sure I want to do any of that.

Me: Be creative-you’re right, it’s important to do some things you are comfortable with. If you’re driving at night and do some karaoke, get those Christmas songs going! Take a survey; what’s your favorite Christmas song? What is your least favorite song?

Ebeneezer: What do you do during the holiday season for riders?

Me: Spreading good cheer and putting riders in a good mood, is something that I do all year long. I don’t decorate my car for the holidays, because I already have a bunch of things displayed to entertain riders. I’ll put up a sign that says, “Happy Holidays,” and I’ll wish riders a good holiday or Christmas.

I’ll ask if they have any special plans, and we’ll talk about it. I’ve never even played Christmas music in my car. (I did write a pretty good Christmas song once) But I do give out a little gift to some riders. I always come out with my list of favorite rider comments of the year mid-December. Many riders start laughing when I tell them I’m going to give them a gift.

Takeaways for drivers: If you don’t want to decorate your car or dress up, simply wishing your riders a happy holiday season or sharing some of your favorite (positive!) driver stories can be enough.

Riders Enjoy Getting Something They Don’t Expect

Ebeneezer: You’re not going to do anything different?

Me: I’m going to get creative and make a big effort to show you there are a lot of possibilities.  An easy thing to do is to have Christmas music playing in the background, and I’ll ask if they’ve heard too much of it or if they’d like to hear some Christmas music.  I will get a few gift certificates from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts of $3-$5 and give them out on Christmas weekend. I’ll hang them in my car so riders can see them and tell them what it is. I have not heard a single good holiday story from a rider over the years; maybe the riders with the best holiday stories will get the gift certificates?

I’ll ask some riders, “What does the holiday season mean to you?” Since I’m Jewish and celebrate Hannukah and Christmas, I have a different perspective to share. (Hannukah is from the 18th-26th.) I’m going to borrow an idea from a driver in Las Vegas who writes a personal note to each rider and I’m going to write in advance some special wishes and give them out, maybe to all of my riders Christmas weekend?

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Takeaways for drivers: Having unexpected, inexpensive gifts like coffee gift cards is one way to delight your passengers, but thoughtful notes are just as good and free!

There are Many Ways a Driver Can Make a Better Holiday Season in the Car – The Key is to Do It

Ebeneezer:  But how can you help me get my riders in a good mood?

Me: You can make that happen. If you’re not in a great mood, act like you are and it will lead you in the right direction. How many good things happened to you this year? What were some of your best moments? What were the funniest rides you had? Bring these moments with you on every ride. What is your favorite music? Play your favorite songs for yourself.  Bring your favorite snacks and have a holiday feast between rides.

Takeaways for drivers: Having a good holiday season is dependent on your mood, too, so play music that makes you happy, think of funny or positive things that happened this year, or bring your favorite snacks to cheer you up.

The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Set the Mood in Your Car – You Need to Be in a Great Mood

Ebeneezer: What if someone is not in a holiday mood?

Me: Good question-for some people, the holidays can be very stressful or lonely if they are not going to be around family or friends, or if they have to work.  Don’t underestimate your power to show kindness and compassion to a stranger.  One of my riders, Angeline Wellington, wrote this great advice, “Don’t forget to slow down just enough to be aware of those strangers who need a bit of extra love along the way. You never know the impact you might have.”

A few years ago, I picked up a young couple sitting on a curb. It was a cloudy morning and they looked depressed.  They had slept at the police station and had a very bad week.  Their car was in the shop, and they had a friend give them a ride the night before and something went very wrong. The ride was only a few minutes long, so I gave it my best shot. I told them that I picked them up because my business name was “The Sunshine Man” and I gave them a short motivational speech.  I said, “Yesterday is over, today is a new day, you are together, and you’re about to get some rest that you need.

As I pulled into the rundown hotel they were living in, the sun came out at the right time and I told them, “You even have sunshine now.”  I got out of the car to clean my mats when I dropped them off. The guy walked around the car, put his hand out, and said, “Thank you.” The tip he gave me was his handshake and a thank you. It was worth more than any monetary tip he could have given me because I gave him something they needed.

Takeaways for drivers: Everyone has something going on, and being kind on a short ride when you’ll probably never see the rider again doesn’t take much effort. You never know what impact you could have on someone this holiday season.

I’m going to challenge you that every ride you give is your very best for the next few weeks, and you give those rides with a big smile on your face.

What can you do these next few weeks to spread some holiday cheer?

-Jeff @ RSG

Jeff Hoenig has been a rideshare driver for 4 1/2 years and has lived in South Carolina for five years with his wife of thirty-nine years. He will hit 10,000 rides in February.  He’s a “number’s guy” who loves to read and talk sports and politics and writing his blog, “Becoming A Southerner.”