How to attract and retain ride-hailing drivers
Drivers are the backbone of ride-hailing businesses. Every new and established ride-hailing company should know how to attract drivers, how to retain drivers, and how to grow the taxi network. In this article, we go through top promotion and retention strategies for taxi businesses.
Drivers are at the core of every ride-hailing business, and attracting them is one of the most critical tasks when building a ride-hailing company. Yet, it’s often neglected by business owners. Too often, most of the company’s efforts are directed toward getting more customers. As a result, the company is left with plenty of customers and no one to drive them. By the time the company decides that they should turn their attention to the drivers, the customers are already gone: their waiting times have been proven unreasonable and the app has been uninstalled.
But it’s not just that. If you’ve used a ride-hailing service even once in your life, you know how important the driver is. An angry, unprofessional, and unsatisfied driver will drive your customer away (pun intended) and the latter might never again use your service. It might be different when it comes to established competitors - often enough, the customers don’t have a choice or opt for the lower price whatever the downsides are. The new taxi services, however, must prove they are just as good or even better than their competitors.
To ensure the customer service won’t fall behind, your drivers must be treated like employees. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Yet, this often isn’t the case. Adequate pay and worker rights haven’t always been available to ride-hailing drivers, resulting in drivers’ dissatisfaction with their jobs, protests, and court cases. And, most importantly, resulting in bad customer service and the company’s negative reputation.
So the point of this article is simple: it goes through methods for how to find and retain taxi drivers, top promotion and retention strategies for taxi businesses, and ways to grow and sustain your ride-hailing business. It also tells you how to keep the drivers satisfied with their jobs to the extent that they spread the good word about your company.
Part 1: How to attract drivers
The first thing to do is to target the desired geolocation with online ads, as well as social media posts about job openings. Reach out to local news outlets, and local influencers, and post job openings on local job search websites. If you’re offering a localized service, point out its benefits of being local and independent, as opposed to being a big corporation such as Uber and Lyft. This could be, for example, your business’s ability to better understand the needs of local drivers and care for them, your contribution to the local economy, or your anti-corporate culture.
Take care of branding
The biggest ride-hailing services first became popular with the drivers because they advertised themselves as a community. It takes some talented social media managers and offline efforts, but if you manage to create an active and engaged community for drivers on social media, organic traffic and positive responses to your job offers will come pouring in! The best practices for creating a social media community include:
- Active participation! Engage with your followers by asking them questions, replying to their comments, gathering their feedback, and encouraging the discussion between the drivers themselves.
- User-generated content. The best and biggest social media communities have been built with user-generated content - branded content that customers create and publish on social media. This is usually encouraged with contests, promo codes, or just by the fact that the brand they mention will publish their content.
- Offline events where drivers can meet up and network.
Referrals are one of the easiest and most effective marketing methods. Provide referral bonuses for your drivers, and they’ll be motivated to bring new drivers in. Referrals work very well because of a number of things: firstly, they seem profitable and they create a win-win situation for both parties. Secondly, they make the referred driver feel wanted or even chosen. Thirdly, they come from a reliable source, which makes them more trustworthy.
Part 2: How to retain taxi drivers
As we’ve discussed before, it’s not enough to attract drivers: you also have to keep them in your company and make them happy. You don’t want them to go to your competitors, nor do you want them to grungily stick to your business while scaring away all your customers and spreading bad things about your company. There are really just a number of simple rules to follow, which work as effective driver retention ideas.
Pay a living wage
This seems straightforward enough, yet, in many countries, ride-hailing companies still try to avoid paying their employees a living wage. While this was possible, albeit unethical, thing to do when Uber was just taking over the market, today, after court hearings and policy changes in countries all over the world, it isn’t. Even if the law in your country allows for this, keep in mind that drivers don’t find that justifiable, and are sure to protest the unfair conditions and leave your company once the moment is right.
Provide drivers with an easy, fair, and logical Driver app
Your drivers should enjoy using your Driver app. Any troubles and complications are out of the question. It should be user-friendly, nice to look at, and have features that are important to the drivers. This includes:
- Accept and decline options for trip requests
- Integrated navigation
- Easy online registration
- Fair distribution of orders
- Passenger ratings
- Option to contact the passenger
- Cash and card payments
Make sure the workflow your drivers have to go through is as straightforward as possible. You can also make it gamified to nudge drivers to work more and earn more.
Give drivers resources that help them become better drivers
Provide guides, one-to-one meetings, and events
Being a driver has its challenges. It’s often a lonely profession that lacks community. It might seem (and often is) unpredictable and scary. What should a driver do if a passenger is problematic? What are the communication rules? How should they behave in unfamiliar situations? All of this should be explained during onboarding. The drivers should know they have their back, should understand how to act in an emergency situation and should feel the community that supports them. This is achieved through an onboarding process that includes a detailed guide, one-on-one meetings, and an emergency contact. It’s also beneficial to have regular events for the drivers, where they can ask questions to the management and to each other.
Provide a guide to using the Driver app
You might think of your app as straightforward, but your drivers might not share your opinion. It should go without saying that you need detailed video instructions on how to use the Driver app and a written guide that drivers can refer back to if they have a quick question.
Get to know your drivers
It’s important to know what your drivers value about their work and what they are unsatisfied about. Basically, you need to have feedback. The problems might not be something you intuitively feel and not something you will notice once they arise, and it’s important to act quickly when you do. Keep an eye on your driver’s preferences and issues via feedback forms or one-to-one meetings. Do your best to communicate the solutions or why the solutions can’t be implemented. Often, the drivers understand that not all their wishes will come true. Often, this is not their main issue with the company. The main issue is the lack of communication.
Introduce driver incentives
Every ride-hailing company has some form of driver incentives. The most popular ones include tips from the customer (the driver is motivated to work better if tipping is an option), increased wages during the undesirable hours, and “boosts” that the companies introduce to motivate their old drivers and attract the new ones. For example, in 2021, as the drivers were suffering from the effects of the pandemic, Uber launched a $250 million driver stimulus to boost driver earnings. Not every company should be able to afford that, and not every company should. However, some form of financial incentives are sure to play a role in retaining the drivers.