Top 10 Tips for Uber Drivers in 2017

As a former Uber driver myself, I know I was always looking for ways to keep my ratings up, make the most money, and of course not crash in the process. While Uber training is a little on the minimal side (as is the management), allowing for plenty of variation, new drivers sometimes feel lost on how to keep a good reputation. Here, we take a look at the top 10 tips for Uber drivers.

10. Know a good detailing shop, and at least one 24 hour car wash.

While number 10 on the top 10 tips for Uber drivers, this was one of the first lessons I learned. Working in a city with 3 colleges nearby, more nightclubs than I could be bothered to know, and my habit of driving at night, it became inevitable I’d have to be a customer at a do-it-all carwash due to a rider (or in my case, multiple riders) having explosively ejected their previous meals on both the outside of the car and inside. This is one of the only real downsides with the job, it’s high risk, (usually) high reward. But as a result of this incident, I did have to call off the rest of the night’s driving, and find a place to do at least a minimal clean before I could go to a proper shop. This is where the 24 hour carwash comes in: It may not be the best scrub down for your car, but it with plenty of baking soda and a mop to clean the mess in the back can hold the mess over until daybreak. Due to such scenarios occurring often enough, Uber has a system to reimburse for car wash costs, which is encouraged. But also regularly visit a detail shop, even if no such incident has occurred, to keep your car smelling and looking fresh, which can turn into higher ratings. Most have a day of the week where services are discounted, so do so, but also remember to tip these people well, they can at times be complete life savers.

9. Drive during times where you can handle the rider set

Following up on the previous tip, be sure you know yourself well enough to know what kind of customers you would prefer, and when to head out. If you’re willing to go a little lower on average for surge prices, doing a 7am run until about 11am, then another set from 3pm to 7pm may be your best bets, with plenty of time in the middle to rest and take care of whatever needs be done. The patrons in this group tend to be overall significantly more sober, and while they tip less, they tend to likewise be a bit more lax upon arrival (though the exception to this are those going to work between 8 and 9am). Otherwise, running from 8-10pm and then again from around 1am to 4am will yield typically higher surges, higher chance of a tip, but likewise an increase in occasional lewdness and intoxication. While this can be the source of many laughs and stories later, keep in mind that this can be draining as well. All things considered, I often cycled “day shift” during Monday through Thursday as appropriate, then switched to night on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This gave me a good mix of different customers, and a pretty neat split in terms of tips (or in a few cases, a few free slices of pizza from a place near a string of nightclubs).

8. Keep water and gum in the vehicle

Besides being asked about my story as an Uber driver, the second most frequent question was if I had any water or gum handy. Passengers are much more likely to rate you highly for keeping such items handy, and though not always needed, it can also save you from the headaches that come with having a passenger puke in your car (water can help keep their stomachs settled, and the mint of the gum can be soothing). My suggestion is keeping a tin of gum up in the front you can hand back, and water in each place made available for it. Also, keep something to drink for yourself while driving, as even though it may not be physical work, dehydration can still happen and make you tired and prone to accidents. I would usually buy a 24 pack of water and have it last a little over 3 weeks, and a big tin of gum last around the same time.


7. Carry a first aid kit

This is just a good general rule to driving. Whether in an accident, or having an injured person come into your car (which has happened to me several times), it’s always handy to have local antibiotic, bandages, and even some gauze. You don’t need an entire mobile hospital of course, but the basics stashed in the back of your car or under the passenger side seat may come to be of use.

6. Learn how to repair your own car

It is not uncommon to hear of Uber drivers complaining that repairs, oil changes, new tires and the like can absolutely eat their profits if they are full time on the road. One way to work around this is to also become a bit of a part time mechanic. In my experience, I was lucky enough to previously have worked at an auto-parts store, so I was able to see first hand how shops can sometimes drastically overcharge for what can be simple repairs. Checking out your local parts stores can yield the tools (often loaned for free or with a deposit) and parts to do your own work, and with the help of experts there and on the internet, you can easily find yourself saving hundreds in a matter of months. Obviously, in case something happens that only experts should be trusted with, knowing a good mechanic in your area is a fine idea.

5. Explore your city

As anybody who has ever ran through their towns with any amount know, sometimes Maps simply doesn’t know the best route every time. While it is usually recommended to either follow maps guidance (or asking the patron if they prefer a route), sometimes, particularly during rush hour, a knowledge of side streets can benefit you. I have found exploring the area you dropped off your last patron, or taking an alternative route into town while waiting for one may be a great way to multitask in positioning yourself for another ride and getting to know the city. Just be sure to get to a pickup location as quickly as possible; having a rider wait while you explore is not recommended and may cause a loss of ratings.

4. Take Breaks

This tip may seem obvious, but its importance cannot be overstated. When working for Uber, I would occasionally run solid shifts until I gained around $100 to $120 dollars. While the first few hours would go great after class (usually between 3pm to about 6pm), longer shifts that went into the early morning would be taxing. You may not always realize when you are tired and driving. I know for myself, I would clench my jaw without realizing, only noticing when talking to a customer and noticing that dull buzz of pain. Likewise, especially near 2 or 3 AM (a poor time for most weekday drives, but killer weekend hours if you are near a club-heavy region), mistakes in driving would begin to occur. While only occasionally forgetting to turn on the turn signal, or missing a turn, it was more than once where I was woken up by a near collision due to nothing more than my own exhaustion and idiocy. Plan out your day with at least a 15 minute break to stretch, drink or eat every 3 hours or less if you feel it’s needed.

3. Keep Phone Chargers Handy

Similar to the gum and water tip, this is for both you and the rider. Uber, and the apps used for navigation can run your battery dry quite quickly, as well as overheat your phone. So, it makes sense to have a phone charger on deck, and a phone mount near a cooling air vent isn’t a bad idea either. Also, on the off chance that your rider’s phone dies before making the destination, this can get you a near 100% chance of a 5 star rating.

2. Look into Audiobooks

Let’s face it, while the riders and their companions may be quite entertaining of their own rights and be great conversationalists, there’s plenty of time where it’ll be you, the road, and that’s it. While this may be enjoyable the first few dozen times, you will undoubtedly get a bit bored. So, why not use that time to learn something new? I used to use Audible to listen to audiobooks (Philosophy audiobooks being particularly good for between pick-ups), though you could certainly use others as well with Uber in the background.

1. Engage Your Riders

The number one tip for an Uber driver is to engage with your riders. Similar to bartenders, therapists, and cab drivers, many riders expect you to often be a sounding board of sorts, or a “friend” to talk to for however long the ride is. My specific recommendation is aside from an initial greeting, try to engage your rider in conversation at least once during the ride if they don’t start up a conversation first. This usually makes the ride more enjoyable for both riders, but also leaves a chance for the rider to be left alone if they so choose, which does happen. One unexpected perk from this job is plenty of practice on picking up social cues and how to carry conversations, thus making this a keystone for being a good Uber driver.