Lessons We Can Learn from Bad Drivers That Can Help Improve Our Ratings

If you want to get better at something, no matter what it is, you should first look to the people who are the best at it, succeeding and doing well.

While you’ll learn a great deal from successful people, you should also look at people who may be falling short and in need of improvement.

When you take a look at both sides of the spectrum, you’ll learn what to do from the best and what not to do from the worst.

When it comes to how to improve your Uber and Lyft driver ratings, this is VERY good advice.

Improving Lyft and Uber Driver Ratings

I talk to a lot of drivers who share their frustrations over their low ratings.  They want better ratings but they can never seem to come up with that magical combination of factors that will do the trick.

The reason? They can’t figure it out is because they can’t see what’s wrong within themselves that leads to their low ratings.  It’s understandable because one of the hardest things for us humans to do is to look within ourselves and find fault!

I’ll show you what I mean… let’s look at some of the worst Uber and Lyft drivers and get a few pointers on things we shouldn’t do.

One Trait Bad Drivers Share

There is one major trait I’ve noticed that all the bad drivers I’ve talked to have in common – and that is a complete inability to accept any responsibility whatsoever for their low ratings.

  • It’s always somebody else’s fault
  • It’s a bad passenger’s fault
  • OR… It’s Uber’s fault for having a bad rating system

Whoever’s fault it is, though, it’s never the DRIVER’S fault!

The problem with this thinking is if you’ve done more than 500 trips and you have a low rating, you don’t have that low rating because you had a few bad passengers who never give more than 4 stars.  Because all drivers have those passengers.

On that score, you are exactly equal to all other drivers.

You also don’t have that bad rating because Uber’s rating system is flawed.  Every driver operates under the EXACT SAME rating system.  So, if your rating is significantly lower than most other drivers, it should prompt you to begin looking at YOURSELF to start figuring out what you might possibly be doing wrong.

Related: UberX Drivers: STOP Obsessing Over Your Ratings!

One of the most common complaints you hear from bad drivers is that passengers leave 4 stars when it was really a 5-star trip.  They complain that some people just don’t leave 5 stars no matter what.  And that’s true, but it doesn’t matter because all drivers get those passengers.  So, on that score, all drivers are equal.

When you realize that a lower-than-average rating means that you’re getting low ratings from more people than the average driver – you should begin asking yourself what you’re possibly doing that’s causing more people to give you a lower rating than other drivers are getting.

When you realize that the people who are rating you less than 5 stars, don’t know each other, so they’re not getting together and conspiring against you, that should help you begin to see that it just might be you!

Factors that Can Lead to Low Ratings

There are many reasons why a passenger might give a driver a low rating.

Some passengers give low ratings just because they’re having a bad day.  They jump in your car and traffic is terrible, and they were already in a bad mood, so they give you a 4.  That is understandably not your fault.  But other drivers get these passengers too, so you’re not losing ground to them on this particular kind of rating.

Other things passengers look at are the things we all know about.  They look at your driving ability – are you a safe driver, are you taking the best route, is your car clean, does it smell?

And they may rate you on the comfort of your car.  Maybe it’s clean and you’re a fine driver, but the seat was uncomfortable – they may give you a 4 for that.  You may be doing everything perfectly, but you just happen to have a car that people aren’t comfortable in so you’ll get lower ratings than guys who have cars that people love.

You have to pay close attention to your ratings though.

Once you’ve driven for a while (after you’ve completed at least 500 trips), you’ll get a sense of where your rating should be.  If it begins to fluctuate suddenly and inexplicably, you have to work hard to figure out why.

For example, one weekend a few months ago, I took my family on an outing in the same car I use to drive for Uber and Lyft.  While we were out we got some food and ate it in the car.  I had ordered some chicken, and without my noticing, a small piece of it dropped on the floor and landed under my seat.

A few days later I headed out to drive and the minute I opened the door of my car, I smelled this terrible odor.  I looked all over the car for the source and couldn’t find a thing.  So, I decided I’d just keep the windows open to air it out before I got to my first pickup.

When I got to the pickup I couldn’t smell the odor anymore so I rolled the windows up, turned the AC on and completed the trip with the passenger.  I drove all week like that.  Every time I’d first get in the car, I’d smell the odor, then I’d roll the windows down and air it out and then it seemed fine to me.

After a week, my rating had gone noticeably down.  And it went down a lot more than usual.  I wondered if perhaps it was the smell, so I looked again for a source but came up empty once again.  I figured maybe I just got a bad batch of passengers that week.

I went out the next week and the same thing happened.  The odor was always present when I first got in the car and although I always aired it out between trips, my rating continued to go down.

First Step to Better Ratings: Accept Responsibility for Your Low Ratings

Now, there are two ways I could have responded to that.  I could have begun bad-mouthing my passengers and railing against what horrible people they were. Or, I could have done what I did – which was to ask my wife to come down and see if she could figure out what the source of the odor was!

By asking my wife for help though, what was I really doing?  I was accepting responsibility for my sinking ratings.

I wasn’t blaming my passengers for it.  I knew there had to be something I was doing wrong or all those strangers who had never met and couldn’t have conspired against me, wouldn’t have rated me so much lower than usual.

It turns out my wife can find anything!  It took her about two minutes and suddenly she felt it.  She pulled out that little piece of chicken that had been sitting on the floor between my seat and the center console for two weeks!  Man, that thing reeked – for two weeks it reeked!  But I had gotten used to it and had almost forgotten about the odor.

So, guess what happened after we removed it?  The next week my rating started going back up!  Ever so slowly, but it did make a turn in the right direction.

If I hadn’t been willing to accept responsibility and say, ‘this must be because of something I’m doing wrong’, I never would have discovered the problem and I never would have been able to fix it.

This was all about attitude.  Most bad drivers have a completely different attitude.  When they see their ratings going down, they blame the passengers.

They never ask themselves, ‘why is it so many people who have never met, are all giving me low ratings?’  Instead, they have nothing but disdain for their passengers.

This is one of the most common traits I see in the bad drivers I talk to.  The dictionary definition of “disdain” sums their attitude up very well:

“The feeling that someone is unworthy of one’s consideration or respect.”

If you talk to these drivers long enough – and sometimes it doesn’t take long at all – this feeling that their passengers are unworthy of their respect comes through loud and clear.

Real-World Example – The Story of One Bad Driver

Recently, I was talking to a driver in one of our local online groups and he was complaining about his low rating.  He had a 4.59, which puts him just within a hair’s width of being deactivated – permanently.

What became clear after talking to him for a while was that he put his own personal dignity above his desire for better ratings.

In every situation where he felt his dignity was at stake, he would lash out at the passengers to make sure they knew he was somebody – and that they held him in the high regard which he felt he was due. That is the wrong attitude to have in what is essentially a customer-service business.

At the end of the day, driving for Uber and Lyft comes down to knowing how to please customers, and in this job that takes many forms.

As was mentioned earlier, it’s part keeping your car clean, part being a good driver and part knowing your city well enough to navigate it efficiently.  But the biggest part is your attitude and how you interact with your passengers.

Here’s an excerpt from this particular driver’s rant about a trip he had recently taken.

See if you can spot all the warning signs of a bad attitude.  And notice how obvious he makes it that his main concern was that passengers treat him with respect – while at the same time, showing very little for them.

I am tired of ungrateful customers… I picked up these people today after waiting 15 minutes for them to put their baby seat in and for the wife to come outside and get ready to go to the airport.

So, we’re driving and they asked me to take an illegal left turn I described to them I’m not going to turn that way, that I will not risk my car as well as my own safety so they get pissed off so I take them back to their house to drop them back off then they obviously rate me a one and they marked me for safety, professionalism, navigation, and, cleanliness… I’m tired of uber people.

Man, you customers suck.  Every once in a while I’ll meet some really good people but for the most part you guys are some ungrateful jerkys…

Another commenter replied to him and said, “You can usually control a situation like that so it doesn’t end that way.”  To which he responded:

To an extent yes… But not without compromising my own self and lowering down to the servant attitude they expect.

Well yes, when you’re in a customer-service job, you do have to lower yourself down to the level of a “servant” many times.  And if you’re not willing to do that, then a customer-facing job is probably not right for you.

I wanted to help him because I knew he’s doing this work because he’s in a desperate financial situation.  He needs the money to pay his bills and keep his family going.  But, he’s not about to ‘lower himself’ and swallow his pride and do what it takes to make the customers happy.

How to Turn a Bad-Rating Scenario Around

In this case, he could have so easily turned the situation around and gotten a four- or five-star rating out of it.  But in the end, that wasn’t his primary goal.

His primary goal was to make sure his passengers treated him with the respect he felt he deserved!  By turning around and taking them right back to their house simply because he didn’t like them asking him to make an illegal left turn – he showed them who was boss.  He showed them he was not a person to be trifled with!

He really came out on top.  Except that, a few days later, he got deactivated and now he has no way to pay his bills.  He’s desperately looking for a new job.

He did of course have legitimate complaints against his passengers.  They made him wait for 15 minutes and they asked him to make an illegal turn.  But sometimes you just gotta put the best face on things and keep on smiling and make things with the passenger as pleasant as possible.

A positive attitude helps as well.

When they made him wait 15 minutes, that is definitely annoying.  But, it was for an airport trip which are usually some of the best trips we’ll get all day.

Related: Insta Pings: Skip The Uber Airport Que [Driver Secret]

If he had had a better attitude he could have told himself that yes, it’s bad that they made him wait 15 minutes, but if he hadn’t gotten that call, he could have sat for another 15 minutes just waiting for another call.  And that call may have been a short minimum-fare trip.  So, if you get an airport trip and they make you wait – don’t worry about it!  Just be glad you got a longer trip.

And he made a huge disaster out of their illegal left-hand turn request.  All you have to do in that case is say, “Oops, sorry, can’t turn there!”  And if they insist, you can tell them you’d love to do it, but your livelihood depends on your ability to drive and if you get a ticket and points on your license, it could jeopardize that ability.  Then tell them, ‘let’s just go to the next intersection and we can make a left there, no problem.’

But to bark at them, “I WILL NOT RISK MY CAR AS WELL AS MY OWN SAFETY”, is surely going to lead to a bad rating.  And then to pour more fuel on the fire by abruptly turning around and taking them home – when they have a flight to catch – is just inexcusable.

If he had responded as a driver who was more interested in his rating, than he was in forcing strangers to treat him like a king, and if he had shown them he was on their side by making every effort to make the left turn as soon as legally possible, he could have turned that 1-star rating into a 5-star rating and he wouldn’t have been deactivated.

He’d still be earning money for his family today.

Wrapping Up

Overall, if you really take a step back and think about it, getting a good rating is pretty common sense, and very attainable to pretty much every driver.

As long as you think logically, put yourself in your passengers’ shoes, and put pride aside, you’ll notice your ratings increase.

Key Points:

  • You’re in a customer-service job and it’s about serving the customer, it’s not about demanding their respect.
  • If the income is important to you and your family, always keep that in mind and do whatever you have to do (legally and ethically) to protect your driver rating.
  • Accept responsibility and never blame passengers when your overall rating goes down. Look to yourself and try to figure out what you’re doing wrong.
  • Always treat customers with the utmost respect even when, actually, especially when, they annoy you and are difficult to deal with.
  • Swallow your pride and remember they’re only going to be in your car for a few minutes and you’ll never have to see them again after that.
  • Remember these pieces of advice are much easier to talk about than they are to do. Doing them in real-life is always difficult, so just prepare yourself mentally for that, in advance.
  • Just know that customers are not going to treat you like you’ve given them a million dollars! You’re just driving them to the airport – as long as they pay for your service – be happy!

Do you put yourself in your passengers’ shoes? How does putting your pride aside and focusing on driving help your ratings? Let us know in the comments below!

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