Setup a Car

This section provides tons of personal experiences that will make your day to day driving experience more comfortable, increase your daily profits with free marketing, and create 5-star experiences for your guests.  Although this is based on setting up a Toyota Prius, many of these tips can be used for all rideshare vehicles.  Take your time when setting up your car.  This is your most important tool as a driver, you should know it from the inside out.

 

Mandatory Signage

UBER, LYFT and TNC regulations all require specific signage to abide by California law.  Although there has been fines given out to date for not displaying LYFT and UBER emblems throughout the Bay Area, we highly encourage them to facilitate an easier identification and pickup procedure for your guests.  As of June 27th, you are required to have emblems in the front passenger side of the vehicle and in the rear passenger side of the vehicle.  If your vehicle has tinted windows, as of now you are not required to modify the tint, and can still place your logos on the interior of the car.  Below is the 3 required emblems and their placement recommendations.

A few notes on placing your stickers, and TNC requirements for the SFO airport.

  • Your emblems in the front passenger windshield should be furthest out of your field of vision, we use the top right hand corner for the UBER and LYFT emblems, and the bottom right corner for my TNC placard.  The further they are in the corners, the better your field of vision is.  Josh uses Gorilla Glue clear tape for the TNC Placard, the UBER and LYFT emblems are stickers that can be moved, but don’t get them dirty, the adhesive doesn’t work as well.
  • Rear passenger window, we place the emblems in the top right corner of my rear windshield again furthest outside of my field of vision.  
  • Just keep in mind your car is your professional workspace, we don’t recommend placing anything distracting not related to California law requirements on the windshields that will obstruct your field of vision and potentially cause an accident.  
  • LYFT has moved away from the ‘Glow-stache’ and it is not a requirement.  However, the LYFT glow signs and UBER glow signs are a great way to differentiate your car from others during peak Nightlife hours that you may find useful. 

Glovebox - License/registration/accident in envelope, starbucks napkins, pens, marketing materials, business cards, essential oils.

We utilize every inch of our cars for storage efficiently, and the glovebox is not an exception.  For the glovebox, we keep our up-to-date registration, proof of insurance, and a check-list of ‘what to do in an accident’ inside a paper envelope for easy access.  Car manuals are no longer needed, everything is on the internet, how-to videos on YouTube are readily available.  

In regards to road-side assistance, as a full-time SF driver, you will become a Platinum Driver for completing 200 trips per month.  The best perk of the Platinum Driver reward is free Roadside Assitance with Allstate, you can contact Allstate here 24/7 if you need help 844-4001449.  Keep your receipts, and email them to LYFT support, they will handle the reimbursement.  

Starbucks napkins are free, and great to keep on-hand for your personal use, offering to guests, or cleaning up quick spills.  We don’t carry tissues, we have never had a guest ask for a napkin or a tissue.

Front Dashboard

We can’t reiterate enough how important a clean and clear workspace is for focusing on what matters most as a driver:

  1. Your personal safety.
  2. The safety of your passengers.
  3. The safety of everyone else on the road.  

For these very important reason and your largest liability as a driver, we don’t recommended anything hanging from the front mirror, we encourage cell phone placement in the center of the front dashboard near your right hand, and no flashy colors or distracting materials.  

 

Driver’s Seat

Since you will be spending a lot of your day in the cockpit, make it comfortable!  We love the heated massage pad.  Having the massage option helps keep the muscles that you are sitting on circulating blood better, the back massage can ease tension while sitting in traffic, and the heat is amazing for those cold mornings or evenings to keep you comfortable.  We are confident you will love this product, it is even great to use at home!  The massage pad comes with an adapter to plug into a regular wall outlet as well as your car.

We support the environment and reusable grocery bags for shopping at local Trader Joes, Sprouts, or other grocery stores.  It is helpful to keep a small reusable grocery bag tucked under the front seat for easy access when you stop for a bite to eat and some fresh fruit for the day or two.  

Having pure water within an arm's reach is always great to help curb sudden urges to eat.  Drink 10oz of water, and wait a few minutes, the water will fill the stomach and the appetite will suppress.  Again a good rule of thumb is to drink half of your bodies weight of water in ounces, for me it's around 90 oz per day.  If you begin the day with your water containers full, you can easily measure your daily consumption.

Quick snacks that aren’t too messy are great to have in driver's seat as well.  You never know when you will get that hour long ride to the San Jose, or Napa so be ready with an easy to access protein bar or piece of handfruit.  Ask your guests if they mind that you have a quick bite, they never do.  Since we are consistently working out and looking for adequate protein sources, we love having Quest Bars.  They are high in protein, and low in natural sugar and a quick convenience snack to curb an appetite.  Handfruit can be Apples, pears, kiwi’s (the skin is edible and great for you, try rubbing off the hairs when you rinse them and enjoy!), banana’s, or tangerines are easy to peel.  As well, keep a box of washed blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries if they are in season within arms reach!  

Quarters - For parking meters, although most accept credit card, and change for your guests.

Sunglasses - We love to support local companies and Sunski makes afforadable, durable, and a stylish product.  Every pair has polarized lenses that is essential in protecting your eyes during sunrises ans sunsets.  You can pick up a pair at Sports Basement or online.  If you buy them at Sports Basement and sign up for the Basementeer program you receive an additional 10% off, count every dollar!

Headphones are great when you have long rides with guests on the phone or sleeping, and you still want to enjoy music, podcasts, or audiobooks.  This is a great opportunity to listen to free podcasts or audiobooks to pass the time and learn!  Remember to keep the volume at a level that allows you to still hear your guest in case they need anything and pay attention to firefighter, ambulance, or police sirens.  

Fastrak

Time is money, not having Fastrak is wasting time.  Apply here for your device, they are free and take around 7 - 10 business days to arrive at your household.  If you would like to pickup your device in person, you can visit a retail store in person, and continue your registration online to expedite the process.  We recommend setting up your device with auto-refill credit.  Your device will automatically deduct funds from your connected credit card (your bank account will work but you won’t accrue points!).  Your guests pay for all your toll fees weekly in your payment statements.

Rear View Mirror

We highly discourage anything hanging from the rear view mirror. Beads, necklaces,  and smelly tree air fresheners for example are all distracting in your field of vision.  If you look at the front of the dashboard as your professional workspace, these items moving around back and forth during every turn will take your cognitive function away from what matters on the road which is obstacles on the road, other drivers, pedestrians, cops, ambulances, and street signs are just a small amount of examples.  You will have better focus on the road and keeping yourself and your passengers safe without those distractions.  

Cell Phone holder - Mandatory

Hands-free driving is essential for the professional driver.   It isn’t safe, no matter your level of experience on the road, using LYFT Line and UBERPool you need to constantly pay attention to new destination locations on your phone, and looking down in your lap or center console takes your eyes off the road.  As a passenger, we will let our drivers know that driving without a hands free cell phone holder is unprofessional, and we will always rate them a 1.  We recommend the powerful magnets from Scosche.  These cell phone holders use a large magnet on the back of your phone, and the other is on the front dashboard near the center of the car.  

Note on placement - Since 90% of the population is right handed, the placement of your cell phone should be convenient for the right hand. We highly recommended only using one modern cell phone for the job, and placing it near the top right corner of your steering wheel, so it is convenient for you to contact guests and enter new information.  We see a lot of drivers with the phone on the left side of the dashboard, and we invite you to do this quick 30 second test:  

Place your cell phone holder on the left side of the dash, now, using your less dominate hand for the majority of us, try to enter a new address, and at the same time, pay attention to what is going on in the front right side of the windshield with your peripheral vision.  Take note of how hard it is to see what is happening on the right side of the dashboard (Side note, if you decide to place your cell phone on the left-side you now as well have to deal with wiring issues for keeping your phone charged).  Now perform the same task, with the cell phone holder near the center of the car, and using your right hand, enter a new destination for a guest and pay attention to what is happening on the right side of the dashboard.  You will now should understand how placing your cell phone holder near the center of the car will allow you to be a safer driver for yourself and your guests, the last perk, being easy wiring for keeping your cell phone easily charged.   

Treat your front dashboard as your workspace, keep it clean and clear, you only need one cell phone to use for LYFT and UBER concurrently, and a little bit of experience to navigate between the two apps.  If you have an android phone (Iphones don’t have the avatars), become familiar with using LYFT’s “Driver shortcut” (in the app goto Settings in top left corner, swipe driver shortcut to the right, a round logo will appear on your homescreen).  Get to know how this logo functions will really help you when toggling between LYFT and UBER during peak hours.  UBER has an avatar as well, it currently has less features than LYFT but is still useful.  As a professional driver, you only need one modern cell phone, the Iphone 6,7 or Samsung Galaxy S7.  If you are going to take driving seriously, get the best tools for your trade, second to your car, your cell phone is your most important tool.

Cell Phone Chargers

Your cell phone is one of your most important tools, and not having a charged phone could mean missing out on surge periods or having to take the night off because you can’t buy a new cell phone charger late at night.  For this reason, we always recommend having two fully functioning charging cables for your personal phone.  We have made this mistake, and want you to avoid it in the future!

Your guests cell phones are an important tool to them, almost every guest that uses UBER or LYFT requests from a cell phone.  It is a great idea to always have an android (micro USB cable) and an iphone charger in the rear seat for them to use.  A great perk from the UBER hub is they have free cables for your guests, just ask in person next time you visit!  

Depending on your car outlet situation, you may need to purchase a multiple-port vehicle charging station to power your phone and your guests phone simultaneously.  If you have the ports, you never have to worry about unplugging one port for the other which is distracting and dangerous while driving.  A great perk from the UBER hub is they have free outlet adapters for your guests, just ask in person next time you visit!  

Auxiliary cord is an added feature that a lot of guests love.  They can easily access personal playlists and enjoy music on the ride without you having to play DJ.  You can buy a simple cord online, but first try asking for a free one at the UBER and LYFT hubs!

 

Signs

We drive a lot, knowing this, hand written, concise, clear signs in the front passenger seat help to make guests feel comfortable and avoid small talk (that most guest aren’t interested in hearing anyways), and can become very redundant when repeating them as a driver.  Don’t get us wrong, we love driving and taking care of our guest with exceptional customer service, however these simple items should be provided for 5-star ratings and additional tips.  We have a sign in the front that mentions five things:

  1. Hello!
  2. Charge Phone?
  3. Change Music?
  4. Adjust Temperature?
  5. Please ask!

 

Free Marketing Ideas

There are millions of different marketing ideas that can make you additional money when on the road.  The center console armrest is an opportunity to place business cards, referral cards, signs, snacks, drinks, get creative and make extra money!  You can also promote on the back of your headrests, or on the front dashboard (just try to keep the front dashboard un-cluttered for your driving safety).  Maximize your earnings by taking advantage of any of the following free marketing opportunities:

  • Advertise your small business, Josh once heard of a driver passing out carrot cake to support his Mother’s bakery that has been established for 40 years.
    • We haven’t tried the service; VUGO is starting up a program
  • Keep an IPAD with information about your special skills; Photographer, artist, website designer, personal trainer, wellness coach, tutor, endless possibilities.
  • Keep a professional portfolio about your skilled trade with a resume, modern pictures, and intriguing information about yourself or someone you love.
  • Sell food perishable food items, french press coffee after you stop, truffles, candy, chips, beverages, fruits, SF memorabilia, jewelry, make sure to have Square to charge with credit cards and carry a bank of 1’s, 5’s, and 20’s for cash transactions.
  • Pass out business cards, referral cards, event cards, any cards!  This is our business card holder that has 4-tiers you can buy on Amazon. It fits on most center counsels with a little innovation using straps, bungee cords, etc.  
  • Order LYFT clothing and pass out referral cards at outside lands, hardly stricken, a busy intersection during Dreamforce, or a nice day at Fishermans Wharf!

Business Card sources we trust:

  • LYFT new passenger referral cards, Vistaprint does the work for you, just enter your promo code and choose your scheme.  I have made over $1500 with this one business card, and LYFT will send you business cards for free after you have completed a specific ride count milestones!  
  • H & H Imaging is a local SF business we recommend for business cards or signs.  We used H & H for our driver referral cards/website and were happy as a clam.
  • UBER new passenger referral cards, in the link below, replace the ‘1234’ with your uber promo code twice, you will be redirected to Vistaprint’s website to order your cards.
  • Vistaprint has a very simple template to create custom business cards for your business.  We have AIRBNB referral cards in which we receive both parties receive $35.00 credit for each new user, awesome free travel lodging internationally!

 

Free Items

We do not support having any free amenities for your guests.  Times are tough, rent is high here in San Francisco, and to make six figures as a driver, counting the dollars every week goes a long way throughout the year.  If you are getting started, and want a few items to ensure you get higher ratings, here are a few suggestions for cost effective amenities:

  1. Hand Sanitizer - You can hang them from your headrest with this amazon product, or leave a bottle in the center console.
  2. Chewing Gum, Mints, breath fresheners
  3. Hard Candies that won’t melt or shift shape while in the varying temperatures of a car: starbursts, jolly ranchers.

Free Water Bottles

We do not promote free plastic water bottles.  We are grateful to live in the USA, where tap water is drinkable, and encourage drivers and passengers to do the same.  Our clean tap water here in San Francisco flows from the beautiful Hetch Hetchy reservoir near Yosemite and doesn’t need to be modified.  We encourage everyone to drink 1/2 of their total body weight in ounces of water a day, that’s around 90oz of water per day for me.  

Water containers, tea and coffee containers

We are environmentalist and only use steel, glass, or ceramic water bottles. We use 20oz Hydro Flask’s for our tea and coffee to save on paper cups, and 64oz Klean Kanteen for drinking water throughout the day.  You can refill your personal drinking water at any starbucks, grocery store, local gym, the possibilities are endless.   

Car Fragrances

When Josh first began driving, he would use febreze vent clips and airwick products.  He noticed he was having headaches, was nauseous, and the different scents were overpowering for my guests and myself.  One day Josh was transferring airwick products into a container, and unfortunately spilled some on my hand that immediately started to burn.  After reading an airwick label he realized the product was caustic(can not come in contact with the skin) and came to the conclusion that if something we breathe in daily isn’t a topical medication, we shouldn’t be breathing it daily.  We don’t recommend hanging Little Trees on the drivers rear view mirror for cognitive function, and couldn’t find any sources clearly stating what chemicals are inside the mysterious trees.  As well, aerosol can’s if not disposed correctly can cause harm from heat exposure and exploding to our workforce in the Landfill industry.  Here is an ariticle on the Dangers of Febreze and the chemicals found in the product.  Be mindful that as a professional driver you are also driving high-risk illness populations from time to time such as newborn babies, the ill, and elderly.

We care greatly about your health and ours, and for that reason we choose to use Essential oils.  We wanted fragrances that were pleasant, pure, and cleansed the air.  We kept in mind that the scent of smell is our strongest scent (remember your Italian Grandmother's delicious tomato sauce and meatballs?).  One of the biggest compliments I receive everyday is how amazing my car smells.  I have even given gift recommedations that all families and couples love, the Doterra Family Physician Kit.  It is great to know my guests are happy, and I am healthy.  Here are a few tips on using essential oils we use and where to by them.

Peppermint Essential Oil - Known as the energizer this is our guests favorite aroma.  This oil can be applied directly to skin underneath the nose to invigorate the lungs, sinuses, and spark awareness.  It is known as a natural source of caffeine and is great to inhale lightly three times through the nose or mouth by using one drop on the palms and rubbing them lightly together.  Anytime of the day you need an all natural kick, peppermint essential oil is your flavor.  

You can purchase this product online, at the Sprouts in Daly City or another Bay Area location for a great deal (around $12.00) and it lasts months.  

In a 4oz glass Spray Bottle with three cap-fulls(~2ml) peppermint oil and fill with water to the top, this is great sprayed in the car before guests arrive.  I spray the bottle throughout the day whenever I want to enjoy the benefits and pleasant mint aroma.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil - This is a pleasant scent that reminds me of being outdoors.  It is commonly used in sauna, steam rooms, and spas.  The benefits include cleansing properties for the skin, air, and surfaces.  It is also great to inhale during a warm shower.  I enjoy taking a few drops before yoga class, or even taking the bottle into the sauna I use.

You can purchase this product online, at the Sprouts in Daly City or another Bay Area location for a great deal (around $10.00) and it lasts months.

It is great combined with 5 drops Lemon, 5 drops Peppermint, and 5 drops Eucalyptus oil in a 4oz glass Spray Bottle filled with water to the top as a cleansing spray in the car, or to use to freshen your car.  We don’t use any cleaning products for our cars besides essential oils, water, and vinegar.   

Lavender Essential Oil - Although pricier (~$20.00) we love the doTERRA oils.  This is staple for all oil enthusiasts, it is great in the morning to ease feelings of tension, has calming effects, relaxing properties, and promotes peaceful sleep.  The pleasant smell will help during rush hour traffic, or a stressed out guest, trust me.  

You can purchase this product online, or buy the Aura Cacia brand at Sprouts in Daly City or another Bay Area location.

In a 4oz glass Spray Bottle combine 15 drops each of Lavender, peppermint, and lemon oil and fill with water for an awesome balanced air mist for the car.

Lemon Essential Oil - Pure lemon oil has amazing cleansing benefits and a multitude of medicinal purposes.  The smell is reminiscent of a clean house, and will make your guests feel fresh and renewed.

You can purchase this product online, at the Sprouts in Daly City or another Bay Area location for a great deal (around $12.00) and it lasts months.

To make an all natural window cleaner in glass spray bottles combine 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and five drops lemon oil.  We this mixture and reusable microfiber cloths in our trunk to clean our windows on the go.

In the culinary world, lemon is known to ‘push or intensify’ flavors.  We recommend adding a few drops to any of your essential oil mixes.  

Tea Tree Oil - this is in amazing product for the skin, bug (misquito’s all over SF at night) bites, rashes, skin irritation, and acne.  It has an amazing woody aroma and works well with other oils.

You can purchase this product online, or at any Trader Joe’s store for a great price. Tea tree oil is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and an antiseptic that works amazing diluted and sprayed onto the skin combining 2 capfuls (~2ml) with water in a 4oz glass Spray Bottle.  

In addition to having spray bottles with essential oils, having a stationary Square glass Diffuser (only $3.00) secured in our near your center console will always have the car smelling amazing without using the spray bottles.  Affix the glass diffuser to your center console with Adhesive Putty on the bottom, it is easily moved and won’t leave any residue behind.  You can buy cheap reeds, and cut them in half for space efficiency to place in your diffuser.  This is the replacement for all those vent fragrances, or outlet fragrances that are commonly seen.  A great diffuser recipe combine 20 drops lavender, 10 drops lemon, 10 drops eucalyptus oil, 10 drops peppermint, and fill the bottle with water.  The Water will slowly evaporate in the diffuser and when it does, flip the reeds over, add more water, your favorite oils, and your good to go.

Have fun exploring essential oils, having an amazing aroma in your car will always improve your guest experience and make for a great conversation starter about your choice of oils.  Experiment with combining different oils, or do what makes you happy.  I highly recommended taking a visit to Scarlet Sage in the Mission District of SF to become educated on what you like and ask the amazing staff they're for any help.  I hope you take care of your strongest sense, and make the sensible choice to use essential oils.

Backseat

Setting up the backseat and maintaining it is simple to keep looking immaculate.  Always keep the seats clean before your guests arrive.  Wipe down your interior door handles and exterior door handles with tea tree essential oil from time to time.  We keep microfiber cloths in our trunk to clean the windows, and wipe off debris from the seats.  For floor mats, we recommend using universal rubber floor mats.  These are easy to clean(you can spray them with water and air dry them at the carwash), and will minimize the wear and tear on your original car floor mats.  If you're lucky enough to have a prius, you will have a cup holder in the center seat that I always put down for guests in the morning commute hours for coffee and tea cups.  It allows them to enjoy the ride hands free and not worry about spilling hot beverages on  themselves and especially your nice car.

Having a simple backseat setup will keep your maintenance easy to upkeep so you can focus on rallying your ride's back to back in the city.  Less is more.  Clean seats, cell phone chargers, and rubber floor mats are the most important principles.  

Trunk

Encouraging the prius once again, it has an amazing trunk.  You don’t have to bend down into dark places , it is easy accessible, and has plenty of space for upto 4 large suitcases with the hatchback setup.  With that being said, it also has plenty of room to keep you comfortable and eating healthy while on the road.  We take advantage of every inch in our Prius and the back Wheel wells have plenty of space for your personal well being.  On the Trunk bed, we keep a sleeping pad covered in a cheap blanket folded in half.  The sleeping pad is perfect for taking a rest on beautiful Baker Beach, or on top of Buena Vista Park in the Haight.  Trust us, in over 10,000 accumulated rides, no one has ever said anything negative about the sleeping pad, we have even had excited guests comment on us taking time for ourselves between trips and enjoying the city.  You can even store a small pillow and blanket underneath the trunk bed.

The ‘Kitchen’ bag setup over one of the wheel wells is essential to eat healthy on the road.  We recommend keeping the following items on hand to ensure you can process whole foods and eat nutrious meals while driving full-time. We don’t eat fast food, period.  If it is fast and easy, it isn’t good for you.  Take the extra time to make your own healthy meals outdoors and enjoy SF local parks and beaches.  Take care of the body, you're only given one in this lifetime.

The ‘Closet’ is in the other spare wheel well across from the ‘kitchen’ with neatly folded clothes for any occasion.  We recommend the following:

The ‘Basement’ is the area underneath the trunk in the Prius.  It has ample storage for your personal belongings that are out of sight from your guests, we recommend keeping the following down below.