Unit 1 – Welcome to Uber

Welcome to Uber! Now that you are approved to drive, what do you do before your first ride?

Ride in an Uber as a Passenger

Our first suggestion is to take a ride in an Uber as a passenger!   If you have never been in an Uber before the best thing you can do is to take a ride as a passenger.  You’ll learn how the app works for passengers. You can watch your driver and see how the behave.  You can learn what works or doesn’t work as a driver just by watching your driver.  Is your driver a 5 star rated driver or is he a 4.6? There is a big difference between the two.  How clean is his car? Does he offer snacks or music or anything for you?

It’s surprising how many people want to drive for Uber but have never actually ridden as a passenger.  You can use a bonus code to get your first ride free.  Why not take a free ride so you can be a better driver yourself?

Clean Your Car

You are an independent contractor and no one is going to force you to clean your car… but if you have a messy car you will get bad driver ratings.  Your driver rating will affect your ability to drive for Uber. You won’t be offered guarantees if you have a low driver rating. You won’t be allowed to become an Uber expert or drive for higher end Uber services like UberSELECT if you have a bad rating.  You may even be deactivated by Uber if you consistently get low ratings from your passengers.

I know it’s your car. I know you may have children.  I know you may be a part-time driver.  However, I encourage you to CLEAN YOUR CAR.  It is shocking to me just how many drivers don’t care!

Clean the interior. Vacuum the carpets. Wash the exterior.  At the very least, pick up the trash.  If an experienced passenger gets in your car and it is dirty they are going to give you a bad rating and Uber may even send you a nasty email.

I invest in an unlimited car wash membership.  They wipe down the seats, vacuum the floorboards, and clean the exterior for a flat fee.  I can visit several times per week if I want to!  It’s well worth it because this is my job.  I take driving very seriously.  I save a lot of money by buying an unlimited car wash membership.  For one monthly fee (about the cost of 4 car washes) I can keep my car clean.

Even if you have an unlimited car wash membership you probably need to keep some quarters in your car. You may need to rinse your car down or vacuum up after a dirty passenger.  Even if a passenger doesn’t get sick in your car they may bring an animal with them. Or I’ve had passengers in evening gowns that had a ton of glitter on them.  Music festival passengers (or sporting events) may have muddy feet.  I’ve also driven through construction zones or even wet paint that was spilled on the road.  (White paint on the bottom of my black BMW!!!! I was in the car wash at 3 AM to get it off!)

You can find airsick bags, or emesis bags on amazon. Emesis is the hospital term for vomiting. Here are some of the bags we recommend. The blue emesis bags were recommended to us by nurses.

One word of warning about vomiting passengers:

When a passenger vomits, even if they have a vomit bag, they tend to set it down in your car when they get out.  Keep in mind that they are drunk and aren’t thinking clearly.  They often just set the bag down on your floorboard as they get out.  They don’t take the bag with them.

It helps to have a way to seal the bag shut with tape.  Pull over and ask the passenger to hand you the vomit bag.  Then tape it shut to seal it up so you can drive away and dispose of it after dropping off the passenger.

A few other must have items for your car

There are a few other must have items for your car.

  • Cell phone chargers for both Android and iPhone.
  • Cell phone mount so you aren’t holding your phone in your hand.
  • Bluetooth headset if your car doesn’t have Bluetooth built in

The above list is pretty much must have items you’ll need every time you drive.  The below list are optional items.  Most professional drivers will use many of the items on this list.  You may not need all of them.  For example, you may not want to hand out gum/mints/water to passengers. It can be expensive. On the other hand, some drivers will want to make that a part of the experience of riding in their car.

  • GAP/rideshare automobile insurance
  • Quarters for the car wash/vacuum cleaners
  • First Aid Kit
  • Roadside Emergency Kit
  • Auxiliary Cable
  • Trash Bags
  • Vomit Bags
  • Towel(s)
  • Umbrella(s)
  • Tissues
  • Blanket
  • Passenger referral cards
  • Driver referral cards
  • Gum/Mints
  • Water
  • Fabreze or air freshener
  • Car air pump
  • Car vacuum
  • Fix a Flat
  • Dashboard Camera

We’ve already discussed the need for vomit bags.  Let’s talk about a few other items from this list.

Charger cables for Android and iPhone users

You need to have both types of chargers in your car. You don’t need to support old iPhones but at least the modern iPhone 5 and 6 series. With chargers the speed of the charger depends on how many AMPS the charger is.  If it is a 1 AMP charger it will charge slowly. A 2 or 4 AMP charger will charge faster.   If your car adapter supports 4 AMPs but has a splitter for 2 chargers, then of course it will basically act as a 2 AMP charger.

Auxiliary cables

Most modern car stereo systems support AUX or Auxiliary cables.  This cable is used to connect your car stereo to your passenger’s phone.  This allows your passenger to play their own music through your car stereo. Offering this option to your passengers can definitely increase your driver ratings and tips.

Other Items

A lot of the items on the list are practical items. Having towels whether or not you get some little hand towels, large towels, or paper towels is important. You never know when it is going to rain or a passenger is going to have some sort of spill in your car. You want to be able to clean it up quickly without having to miss much time.  You don’t want to have to go track down these items during rush hour and miss out on peak driving time.

Other items like Fabreze or air freshener are also important.  I personally like the odorless Fabreze air freshener. It helps remove odors.  Sometimes you have stinky passengers.  Sometimes you have passengers that smell like smoke. You want to make sure you use air freshener to get rid of the smells. I will keep the Fabreze in my trunk and when I stop to use the bathroom, eat, get gas, etc. I will spray a few sprays of air freshener to keep my car smelling clean.

Gum/Mints/Water

Some drivers swear by offering treats to passengers.  They do this because they feel it increases driver ratings and tips. Some drivers even sell treats to their passengers for extra money.

Other drivers don’t.  They have had bad experiences with candy in their car.  For example, you don’t want to give away chocolate. Chocolate melts. Chocolate gets into the carpets and makes a mess. Gum does too. If someone drops gum in your car and it gets stepped on, your carpet is going to be a mess.

If you are going to give out candy, individually wrapped hard candies or mints are the way to go. They will be less likely to make a mess.

I know some drivers who do morning shifts that have antacids or vitamins to give to passengers who have a hangover.

Many drivers no longer give out treats for free. It can get expensive even if the items themselves are a tax deduction.  As Uber prices drop many drivers no longer see handing out treats as profitable.

Dashboard Cameras

Dashboard cameras may be illegal in some areas. If you record the inside of your vehicle (even for safety reasons) you may need to notify your passengers.  Check the laws in your local area before installing a dashboard camera.  You may be allowed to use a dashboard camera but may need to notify your passengers that you have them. (Taxis for example often have a sign saying the interior of the vehicle is being recorded for the driver’s safety.)

Dashboard cameras have two uses.  You can use them to record traffic. If you are in an accident the dashboard camera can be used as evidence to prove another driver’s fault in the accident.

The second use of a dashboard camera is to record the inside of your vehicle.  Many dashboard cameras rotate. They can record the exterior or interior of your vehicle.  Some dashboard cameras offer two separate lenses that can be rotated different directions. You can use them to film more of the exterior of your vehicle or one exterior and one interior.

The theory is that you can record the interior for safety reasons. (Notifying your passengers you have a camera should prevent them from trying to rob you, right?) You may also want to use the camera footage to help prove your case against a passenger who was abusive, violent, or damaged your vehicle (sickness, intentional, accidental, etc.)  You can contact Uber to let them know your vehicle was damaged by your passenger.  Many times Uber will charge the passenger a fee to help you cover your vehicle repair costs.  However sometimes the passenger will fight it or you don’t know which passenger caused the damage.  Your dash cam footage can help in these instances.

If you’re going to use a dashboard camera we suggest you check your local laws to find out if it is legal. We also suggest notifying your passengers that you have a dashboard camera.  They can choose to cancel the Uber and get another driver if they aren’t comfortable with your dashboard camera.

Some dashboard cameras are no longer mounted to your dash. They can be mounted to your windshield via a suction cup. Others serve as replacements for your rear view mirror. They attach to your review mirror and provide a central mount in the middle of your car for both exterior and interior cameras.

Here are some dashboard cameras we recommend:

 

Looking for more?

Return to Module 3 – Getting Started with Uber.
View more Uber Driver Training Modules.