Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Using a Dash Cam

Many of us now use dash cams; to record what happens outside of the car, and what happens inside of the car. A dash cam is a useful tool to help protect us drivers from false claims or to provide video to an insurance company after an accident.
Rideshare companies are happy for drivers to install cameras, but urge drivers to check local laws to determine what 'consent' is required.
Some states have a "single party consent" system, which essentially means that only one party to a conversation needs to give consent for electronic recording to be considered lawful. As a driver, you are a party to the conversations in your car, and can therefore give consent to record.
However, there is ambiguity as to whether the 'single party consent' provides coverage to record video, or just audio (see this useful pdf).
To overcome this, I have applied these stickers to the doors of my car, which lets the passenger know very clearly that they will be recorded.

If the passenger feels strongly about being recorded, I explain that the video is not kept, and that it offers both myself and the passenger some protection. If they still feel strongly, I invite them to cancel the ride and arrange for a new driver to pick them up. Fortunately, most passengers do not seem to mind the recording - in fact, they appreciate the fact that drivers are vulnerable to the poor decisions of some of our passengers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Using AIDET as a Tool for Good Customer Service

AIDET has been used for a long time in healthcare. It helps clinical staff engage with the patient and structures an approach to facilitate positive interactions that help meet the patient's needs.
The Studer Group created this tool and explain it as:
While keywords are important in AIDET, it is not a script. It's a simple, consistent way to incorporate fundamental patient communication elements into every patient or customer interaction. Below is an example of how to frame communication using this powerful tool:

A - Acknowledge, make eye contact, and smile; verbally greet and offer assistance if necessary.
I - Introduce yourself and explain your role "Hello I am [name], I am your driver today"
D - Duration. I see that our drive is estimated at 15 minutes. Please sit back and relax and let me know if you are too warm or too cold.
E - Explanation - The GPS is directing me towards the freeway, is there another route you would prefer? I see some traffic ahead, would you like me to take the surface streets instead?
T - Thank You. Thank the passenger for riding with you.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Car Cleaning and Proactive Maintenance

Prior to driving for a rideshare company (and as yearly checks afterwards) you will need to prove that your car is in a good working condition, so that your passengers are safe and that their journey will be pleasant. For that reason you will be required to undergo vehicle inspections. The following will be checked:
Brake Lights
  • Head Lights
  • Turn Signal
  • Brakes
  • Emergency Brake
  • Horn
  • Steering
  • Seat Belts
  • Windshield
  • Rear Window
  • Windshield Wipers
  • Doors
  • Seats
  • Bumpers
  • Speedometer
  • Interior and Exterior
  • Muffler and Exhaust
  • Tires and Tread Depth
  • Rear-View Mirrors
  • Stop Lights
You should not wait till this inspection to discover issues. Proactive maintenance will help, by keeping your car in good repair, and providing a routine that will help you learn about your vehicle. Routine maintenance will also keep your car looking pristine, ensuring you present a great first impression to your passengers.
Suggested Monthly Maintenance
  • Tires. Inspect them for wear and tear and check the pressure. Check the tread depth with a penny. Place the coin upside down between the tire treads. Note how much of Abraham Lincoln’s head is covered. Tires with tread that don’t extend beyond our former president’s head may need to be changed out.
  • Check the engine coolant level. If this vital fluid runs low, the temperature gauge on your dashboard will rise. Make sure your engine is cool (2-3 hours to cool off) before checking and refilling.
  • Replace the engine oil every 3-5,000 miles.
  • Check the windshield wiper fluid. Clean the windows whenever you refuel.
When it comes to the interior, a suggested weekly routine is to:
  • Address smells
  • Wash windows (including top edges)
  • Clean leather
  • Polish the dashboard
  • Wash vinyl and plastic
  • Brush the air vents
  • Deep clean the carpet or Upholstery
  • Pay attention to nooks and crannies
  • Polish glass

Tools for Detailing a Car Interior

Between fares, the car should be prepped for the next passenger. For this I used a lint roller – just run it over the upholstery and the carpets, give a quick burst from a ‘new car’ air freshener, address any handprints on the windows, and clean up any spills.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Self Defense for Drivers

It seems that drivers are at risk for more and more violence... see here for a great article. But how far can drivers go to protect ourselves? A quick perusal of the numerous online forums suggest that drivers are not always aware of Uber's policy when it comes to carrying weapons:

Our goal is to ensure that everyone has a safe and reliable ride. That's why Uber prohibits riders and their guests, as well as driver and delivery partners, from carrying firearms of any kind while using our app* 
Anyone who violates this policy may lose access to Uber.
*To the extent permitted by applicable law
So what can we do to protect ourselves from an aggressor inside our car?
There are many drivers who swear by some easily concealed weapons, such as pepper spray, pepper gel, tire thumpers, knuckles, knives, flashlights or any other number of items. However, confronting violence in this way has a realistic chance of escalating the situation.

It appears that the best defense in situations where you feel threatened is to pull over in a well-lit spot, preferably in a place where there will be witnesses, remove the keys from the car and explain that you are unable to complete the trip. If the passenger continues to show any aggression, step out of the car (you have the keys, so the car can't be stolen), and call 911. Tell the passenger what you are doing, and keep as calm as possible. If you have a dash cam, move to the front of the car, so that the whole incident can be recorded.
None of us should be subjected to violence, or the threat of violence, but we must all be prepared to react if, or when, it occurs.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Essentials That I Carry In The Car

One of the most exciting things for me, once I took the plunge and signed up as a driver, was to start planning what sort of facilities I would provide in my car - to my passengers, but also to me!
The following is a list of those items that I carry. Some of these I purchased before I picked up my first passenger, others I have purchased since.... all are used.

Links to the item I use are below the list.

1) Dual Dash Cam -This one is a no brainer - a dual dash cam, that can provide video footage inside and outside the car. This is a great deterrent for any bad behavior and false claims from passengers that could drive your reputation score into the ground.
2) Micro SD Card - You will need this to go into the dash cam
3) Cell Phone Holder - there are many styles of holder, but I would advise that you opt for one that does not use a suction cup. There is nothing worse than your phone falling into your lap while you are trying to follow the GPS! I have used vent clip holders and CS slot holders, and both work great. This is the one that I use currently - because it sits over a vent, it never overheats.
4) High Speed USB Charger  - this one is my all time favorite. Even after a day of driving my cell phone is at 100% charge. Take it from me, you do not want to be in the middle of a fare and have your phone shut off!
5) Charging cables - these combination cables are great. I purchased several of these 10ft cables to run to the back seat. Now my passengers can charge their devices on the road.
6) Font Seat Organizer - I use this to keep air fresheners, sunglasses, pen and folders, snacks (for me), water (for me), paper, log book etc. Not only does this keep everything organized, if you need to give up your front passenger seat for a fare, it can me removed easily and stowed in the trunk.
7) Flashlight - very useful for 2 reasons: a) seeing house numbers in the dark, b) checking the car for trash, lost items etc.
8) Aux Cord - This one was a late purchase for me. After several requests from passengers to play their own playlist I realized that I was missing out on valuable tips because I did not have this simple cord to offer passengers.
9) Vomit Bags - a handy stash of these can avoid Friday night clean ups and keep you on the road.
10) First Aid Kit - I have only once needed to use it, and not for anything more than a broken fingernail, but I would rather have one than not.
11) Nitrile Gloves - should the passenger miss the vomit bag, you will be glad of these. After the fare has ended, you will need to get your car back in pristine order to keep driving.
12) Microfiber Cloths - useful for any number of cleaning jobs.
13) A Car Vacuum - when you have a pet or construction worker in your car, you will be glad of this. Plug into your cigarette lighter and clean away.
14) An Oversized Umbrella - I learned a valuable lesson when I pulled up to a venue in the rain and a parking attendant ran over to escort my passenger from the car to the door with an umbrella. The last words I heard from my passenger were "I guess your tip is going to the umbrella boy"!

Aside from these items, I also keep a bucket in the trunk that contains upholstery cleaners, glass cleaners, a scrubbing brush, a couple of rolled up trash bags, back up air freshener spray and dashboard polish.
Note: Rideshare Rulez has financial relationships with some of the merchants mentioned here and  may be compensated if consumers use the links located throughout the content on this site.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Customer Service

Uber drivers are, above all else, service providers, and that means that as ambassadors of our own businesses we should put our best face on and provide the passenger with a journey that meets their expectations. 
Why? Well 2 main reasons:
1) We partner with our rideshare companies under the expectation that we are representing our partner companies to the best of our ability. If we start to incur poor passenger ratings, we will likely find our passengers will reject us and request another driver, or that the ride share company will sever ties with us.
2) There is no argument about the fact that satisfied passengers are more likely to tip… and that affects your income.
So, here are my tips for drivers who want to provide a first class service to their passengers:
1) Take a few rides as a passenger – take note of the service you are getting. What did you like, what did you not like.
2) Keep clean – not just your vehicle… take care of yourself too. I try to make sure that I am wearing a collared shirt and slacks when driving, with polished shoes. I receive comments, almost every day, from passengers who are impressed by the professionalism I portray in my dress and grooming habits.
3) Little things go a long way – keep a box of Kleenex handy, provide chargers for your passengers, keep an aux cord handy (in case they would prefer to listen to their own music).
4) First impressions count – where safely possible, get out of your car and hold the door open for your passenger as they get in. By the time you get back in the driver’s seat, the passenger will have their seatbelt fastened. As I get back behind the wheel I ask a few simple questions: “Are you comfortable?” “Is the AC cool enough?” “Is this radio station ok for you?”
5) Defer to the passenger’s preferences – “I would usually take the freeway to your destination, is that OK, or do you have a preferred route?”
6) Have a handful of stock conversation starters at hand - but be aware of the passenger’s reaction. Some passengers like to talk, others do not… and you will find your tip, and your rating, affected by the passenger’s impression of you. No-one likes a driver who cannot maintain a conversation, but the conversation should not be overbearing to a passenger. If you get the impression that the passenger is not talkative, then keep conversation professional and unobtrusive.
7) Don’t let the passenger put their own bags in your car - open the trunk and load the bags yourself.
8) At the end of the trip open the car door for your passenger. If they have bags, let them know that you will take them out of the trunk. This is important for two reasons, it shows the passenger that your customer service continues to the very end of their interaction with you, but also gives them a vital couple of seconds to arrange that tip. Take the luggage to the passenger on the sidewalk, extend the handles, and wish them a good day. If the passenger revealed a detail during conversation, try to end the trip with reference to that. For example, I had a passenger who was travelling to see his brother. They had not spoken for some time and the passenger was nervous. When I dropped him off, I brought his luggage to him, extended my hand for a handshake, and simply said “Have a great flight, I am sure that Jim (I remembered his brother’s name) will be really pleased to see you”.
9) Left items - Before the passenger moves too far away from the car, cast an eye around to look for items left behind.
10) Prep for the next passenger – make sure the car smells clean, use a lint roller to give the seats and carpets a quick once over.