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7 min read

    7 min read

    After 180 Days of Change, drivers have been asking for more from Uber and now it looks like Uber is finding innovative ways to reward these highly-rated drivers. Senior RSG contributor Christian Perea explains Uber’s new Rider Preferred program and how drivers can use it to increase earnings.

    Recently, Uber drivers started to receive mysterious black boxes in the mail from Uber Headquarters. They weren’t expecting it.

    New Lyft Driver - Earn 1500:week

    Upon opening it, they were treated with a Thank You from Uber for being a top 2% driver and were given access to a new special promotion that rewarded them for having high ratings. Drivers who received this status will receive an additional $1 anytime someone tips them through the month of August! On top of the tip from the rider.

    What’s In The Rider Preferred Box From Uber?

    The box shows up covered in black but upon opening it, it’s a white box with a giant white star on the top that opens to reveal its interior contents. The box itself is actually quite nice, good quality, and it opens via a lid that is secured by a magnet.

    The Rider Preferred box includes the following:

    • A thank you note from Rachel Holt (VP and Head of New Modalities) at Uber
    • A video greeting card
    • A “Rider Preferred” sticker for your vehicle
    • 1 Actual US Dollar announcing eligibility to have Uber add a dollar to each tip you receive in the following month
    • A custom black Uber travel mug

    The Rider Preferred Box

    It actually arrives wrapped in black paper, but once you unwrap it, you’re left with this before opening:

    A Special “Thank You” Note

    The note comes from Rachel Holt, Vice President and Head of New Modalities at Uber. She’s been with Uber since the beginning and may very well (my speculation) become Uber’s CEO one day.

    “You go the extra mile to provide outstanding service-and your riders have noticed. From delivering consistently clean and comfortable rides, to great conversations, to the perfect playlist, you’ve received an exceptional number of 5-star ratings and compliments for all that you do.

    So on behalf of all your grateful riders, we’d like to recognize you as a RIDER PREFERRED driver – a new designation given to our most frequently recognized driver-partners. As RIDER PREFERRED, you’re part of an elite group of favorite drivers, representing fewer than 2% of all drivers nationwide.

    Congratulations, and please accept this custom package with our heartfelt appreciation for everything you do.”

    👉 Related article: Essential gear every rideshare driver should have

    Video Greeting Card

    On the right side of this note, there is a special video player that plays an animation showcasing actual passenger compliments that  congratulates the driver on being a Rider Preferred driver.

    A Sticker To Show Passengers You Are Rider Preferred

    This sticker is more important than it initially seems. I’ll explain why at the end of the article because we are going to use it to optimize getting more tips while the promotion runs.

    An Actual US Dollar

    Uber announces your eligibility for the $1 tip matching by giving you an actual dollar. This is my preferred method of beginning an Uber promotion as a driver.

    A Custom Black Uber Travel Mug

    It looks cool and holds liquid while keeping said liquid hot or cold and preventing spills with its lid.

    Note: Special thanks to RSG reader John C for sending images of his Rider Preferred unboxing!

    Drivers FINALLY Get Something For Having A Good Rating!

    Up until this point, there has been very little benefit to being a highly rated driver for either company. [Editor’s Note: This was pointed out during Harry’s Q&A with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi]. Uber is finally doing something about this and even throwing some money down to allow drivers with a high rating to earn a little extra on the road by adding an extra dollar to each tip a Rider Preferred driver receives during the month that the promotion applies.

    Generally, my advice for new drivers has been to only vaguely focus on their ratings because taking them to heart could result in a bit of anxiety watching the rating go up or down. If this were to become a permanent fixture of the driving experience, that would change my calculation on the importance of ratings a lot.

    A Strategy For Making the Most With Rider Preferred Promotion

    “Not a lot of people tip, but I’ll take that dollar” – YouTuber, Mein S

    I recommend placing the Rider Preferred sticker INSIDE your car where it is visible to passengers. This isn’t to look cool. It’s to stimulate conversation – and tipping.

    Passenger: “What’s this thing? It says you’re “Rider Preferred.” Does that even mean anything?

    Me: “Yeah. Uber sent that out to its top 2% of drivers last month who have the best ratings. Right now, they’re adding an extra dollar to each tip I get until the end of the month. It’s really nice because I’ve never been rewarded for having a high rating and it’s helping me with [insert reason you are driving for Uber].”

    My Logic: This might encourage some people to tip when they otherwise would not have tipped. Even if they tip only a dollar, Uber still adds another dollar. I’m sure many still won’t tip but the goal should be to increase the volume of tips you’re getting by informing your passengers that Uber will magnify their tips, so a dollar from your passengers pocket gets you $2 in return.

    DO NOT: Hand out dollars to passengers who show you they are tipping a dollar in the app. This might result in you getting flagged for fraud and banned from the Rider Preferred rewards. Also, if you get caught, then Uber might pull all those dollars back out of your driver account.

    How Do I Qualify for Rider Preferred?

    Uber hasn’t published any set metrics for who qualifies for the status. However, according to their blog less than 2% of drivers nationwide qualify. In addition to high ratings, they say that they take into account the number of rides given, and the frequency of feedback received from passengers in the form of in-app comments and notes left by passengers.

    Further, Uber plans to announce Rider Preferred drivers twice a year, and those who get the label will not be eligible later in the year, so you won’t get Rider Preferred status twice in a row.

    In What Cities is Rider Preferred Active?

    Uber is only running this promotion in the following cities as of July 25th:

    • Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis – St. Paul, Nashville, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York City, Orange County, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, OR, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, and Washington D.C.

    My guess is they will probably expand the program in the future, but for now it is limited to the above cities.

    👉 Related article: Essential gear every rideshare driver should have

    My Take

    Most drivers seem to have an overwhelmingly positive reaction to just getting an acknowledgement from Uber that they have a high rating or are considered special among their peers of other drivers.

    Uber is also putting some money where its mouth is this time by offering a monetary promotion that applies to those who got the award. I think that makes this most meaningful because otherwise it would just be a box with a note and a mug (albeit a nice box).

    I don’t think anybody expects to earn a lot of extra money with the promotion. The last day I drove, I was tipped a total of 6 times over 13 rides. I also consider that a “good day” when it comes to tipping (especially on Uber). If I worked 24 days in August (a 5 day work week) that would add up to an extra $144 for the month. This also assumes I cannot increase frequency of tips.

    Again, I think most drivers who get it are just happy to be humanized.

    (Also, I didn’t get a box. Just in case you were wondering)

    Did you get a box from Uber? Are you Rider Preferred? What do you think of this box? Get crazy in the comments section below!

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    -Christian @ RSG

    Christian Perea

    Christian Perea

    In 2014, Christian left his job at a mental health center to drive full time for Lyft and Uber. Since then, he has driven for mostly Lyft with a little bit of Sidecar and Postmates thrown in for experimentation and Uber when he doesn't feel like talking to people. He likes to talk about Politics and Economics over a good beer to whoever will listen to him.

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