The Ultimate Strategy on Upselling Your Uber Passengers

Harry here.  Being a salesman has always had a negative connotation to some because there are so many people who do it poorly. Today, RSG guest poster Jarod Bell shares his tips on how to upsell your Uber passengers by providing value and ensuring it’s a win-win for all parties involved.

I’ve been a career salesman for over ten years now. I spend every day convincing customers to pay a little bit extra for whatever I’m selling. There are plenty of people making a bad name for the sales profession by using cheap and sleazy tactics, but that’s not me.

Making sales is about bringing real value to the people around you and continually looking for ways to guide them toward making the right decisions, which in turn helps you out as well. You have to make sure every deal you make benefits everyone involved. But what does this have to do with being a rideshare driver? Keep reading to find out!

Don't think of upselling to your Uber or Lyft passengers as something negative - upselling to your customers can be a win-win for both of you!

From the first time I turned on the Uber partner app, I found myself with a dilemma. I started driving for Uber in a college town. I quickly found out students use Uber and Lyft A LOT, but most of the time it’s only for these ridiculously small trips, usually across campus to the bar. It’s great if you are just trying to stay busy, but if you look at how much time it usually takes to pick-up, wait, etc, it really drags down your per-hour earnings.

My Uber Experiment

So I decided to create an experiment. Every time I pulled up to a group of “bros,” I would try to convince them that downtown was really the place they wanted to be. That way, I could add about 15 miles to the meter, and still get them what they wanted. But I didn’t just tell them downtown was better so that I could make more money. I studied up and learned which bars had events like “ladies’ night” or “dollar shots” to use them as selling points.

The key to this strategy is to be a trusted adviser to the customer. As a driver, people naturally believe you know the city better than they do. Take advantage of that, but make sure you are right. Study up and find the hidden gems in your city since every town is full of fantastic local places.

Looking for a cool way to encourage passengers to tip? Check out the Rideshare Candy Jar, one of the first tip boxes on the market and the only tip jar that straps to your center console. Drive at night? The Rideshare Candy Jar also lights up! Check it out here.

Related article: How Uber drivers are making hundreds of extra dollars per month

This Strategy Works with Restaurants Too

Another time this strategy works is when you have out-of-town passengers looking for somewhere to eat. A lot of times they get in the car and want to go to a big chain restaurant you can find anywhere. I always start by making a suggestion for a fantastic local restaurant. Most of the time it would be a little further away and more conveniently located in a frequently surging area, which brings up the other positive benefit to you as a driver.

You can sometimes steer people into the area you want to be working in. Most drivers quickly figure out where the most profitable areas are, whether it’s somewhere that surges frequently or people in that area tend to take longer trips. Once you know that, all you have to do is learn a little bit about all the best places in that zone and start recommending them. That way when you do get dragged into a less profitable area, you can try and nudge your passengers to a restaurant that will get you back working in the hot zone!

Consider it your job to know exactly where to go when your pax asks you something like “Do you know of a good Italian restaurant?” After a little bit of looking on Yelp to educate myself, I managed to get several repeat clients that informed me that I was completely right, and they got exactly what they were looking for.

It Works for Food Delivery Services Too

I also tested this strategy on food delivery platforms like Doordash too. When I go to pick up the food, I text the customer saying something like this:

Hey, it’s Jarod from DoorDash, I’m at the restaurant picking up your food. I don’t know if you have tried it, but the cake here is amazing. Do you want me to grab you a piece?”

If they say yes, it drives up the price of the order, which in turn raises the suggested tip or your percentage cut. Even if they say no, a lot of times they tip better just because they see you as a real person now, instead of the mindless back-end of an app.

Don’t Ruin it By Being Too Pushy

jarod-bell-uber-ratingNobody likes a pushy salesman though. So you should use these strategies with moderation and discretion. Otherwise, you could end up hurting your rating. I’ve always been very proud of my ratings on Uber, as they usually hang right between 4.94-4.97.

When executed correctly, this strategy should be loved by whatever platform you are working for since you are offering an extra, value-added service to the customer, which ultimately makes you more money, the company more money, and makes the customer happy and costs absolutely nothing to the company.

You can’t do it with everyone though. If someone is getting a ride home from the airport, you probably can’t convince them to go somewhere else.

There are plenty of other ways to get more out of each job you do. It takes time and practice to learn how to get more out of your customers, but trust me, it’s worth it. I started this off as a little way to try to work myself out of the college campus area and into a more profitable spot without it coming out of pocket for empty miles, but I ended up using these similar tactics on almost all of my customers. I’ve also noticed when you are working for Lyft or another service that encourages customers to tip, your earnings are significantly higher when you get your customer to trust you as their personal concierge.

The main piece of advice is to truly have the customer’s best interest at heart. If you trick your customer into doing something that only benefits you, you’ll only get a 1-star rating. If you become their trusted friend and advise them about all the best places around, you’ll write your own ticket to more money in your pocket, better ratings and higher tips.

Bio: My name is Jarod Bell. I’m a 28 year old who has driven for various platforms including Lyft, Uber, Doordash, Postmates and Favor in both Oklahoma and Texas for a little over a year. When I’m not out driving or selling something I enjoy flying small airplanes with my wife and kiddo. We currently reside in Fort Worth, Texas.

Drivers, what do you think about upselling your customers in a way that is mutually beneficial for all?  Is this a strategy you’d try or does it sound like too much hassle?

-Harry @ RSG