If you want to be a winning Uber/Lyft driver and be in the top 1%, which is a constant five-star driver, then follow my instructions and you will easily become such a success.
Now, I am an average guy with an average car, my car is a Volkswagen Jetta TDI with leather seats, working as an UberX driver, but it seems I am doing something right to retain my place. So, here goes, I will now explain the way I drive and the things I have with me at all times.
If you don't have leather seats I suggest you buy leather seat covers, these will save you from stains in the fabric and also make life much easier cleaning up after vomit, mud, and dirty, sticky fingers.
I got mine from Amazon; it's an important item since it makes sure that your phone and your customer's phones can charge during rides. You are going to need more than one charger; I bought two for my rides, one that services my phone and another that I keep for passengers. Sometimes you get a passenger with low battery status, and they are nervous as hell, and if you don't have their model charger, they are even more frustrated. By keeping all the options available you make a good impression on your passenger. Note that the one I display has a USB port, very important to make sure you get one that has a USB port connection and make sure you have either enough ports in your car or have a multi-port adapter. It is also useful for when you take many passengers, and you have a solution for more than one at the same time.
An absolute must. This is useful for car sickness as well as drunks. You will eventually get one or the other, and if you drive nights, you will definitely get a lot of drunks. By keeping this item in your array, and in the back seat close to the passenger you are well prepared to deal with this noxious substance. The worst thing that you can have in your car is vomit; it even outdoes cat or dog poop. Don't forget to take a photo of the vomit before you clean it up; you need proof of Uber's cleaning fee refund.
Always very useful to have a pack of tissues in the glove compartment. You offer them to your passengers when they enter sneezing or sniffling. Just make sure that you clean up with the disinfectant wipe after they touch anything if they rub their noses with their bare hands. You can also use them to clean up the vomit if you don't want to use the disinfectant wipes to start off with.
I have an aux cord since music can be an issue. I keep one channel on my radio; it's usually the underground hip-hop station which covers most bases. I also have an aux cable, so if I get a passenger that wants their own music, I let them jack it in. I control the volume, so issues with volume are sorted out before they start to play their music for safety reasons. Sometimes I play to their voices and ask if they want me to DJ too, which usually gets a laugh.
Buy an Uber/Lyft light signal for night driving. I always attach mine to my windshield for every drive. It works even better at night obviously. It does help to attract new customers since you do get people coming up to you asking what it's like to be an Uber/Lyft driver, or if you are their Uber/Lyft driver. I usually give them my card, which is just my name and my Uber/Lyft referral code and ask them to use that to sign up to Uber/Lyft and to look out for me.
I don't keep
Drinks or Water
I don't keep any drinks in the back of the car, only because I hate the sound of them rattling around more than I consider the cost of throwing out half-full bottles. I drive a car not a bar.
Mints or Candy
The drinking issue leads me to the eating issue. I don't keep candy in the car; you remember your parents telling you not to take candy from strangers? Well, guess what, I'm a stranger, I'm an Uber/Lyft car driver, and I don't want to give out candy. It's weird doing that and anyway, you never know what is in the candy and if the passenger can get an allergic reaction to the candies ingredients.
I don't keep food either, same reason as candy but even more so, I don't want to clean up after they eat all over the place as well as the fact that I am a driver, I drive the passenger from point A to point B, I am not a food stall or dinner.
The first thing to remember, you are now driving total strangers, not yourself or your family. So, you should make the ride as pleasant as possible. This is done by accelerating slowly and breaking properly. No more fast driving and no more racing the traffic lights. You don't want to drive fast because you will need to breakfast, and that leads to a bumpy ride. By accelerating from a standstill slowly, you keep the passenger relaxed, the same with parking. You might get complacent after a few hundred rides, don't stop driving safely and comfortably for your passenger.
Use the GPS navigation features of Waze or Google Maps, you might know the way perfectly, but sometimes shit happens, and there is an obstruction in the road that can block the route or at least slow it down. So, make sure you follow the GPS maps as you drive. You don't need to drive their way but look at the map to see if your route is free.
Regarding GPS navigation, I find that asking the passenger if they have a specific route they prefer me to take relieves the tension of a concerned opinionated passenger. You might not agree with their way, don't disagree with them, point out that the GPS map shows a shorter way and which way do they prefer you take. Since it's a metered ride, either way, is good for you, but point out that the shortest route will always be cheaper than the fastest unless the traffic on the shorter route stops due to accidents or other reasons.
Sometimes a passer-by will try to enter the car without a ride order. It can be an issue dealing with them. At least you have the law on your side. It's a private car, so they cannot just get in line with a taxi. Having said this, it can be problematic dealing with the more physical and angry strangers.
Driving to meet your own target is important. You don't need to drive out of surge area's only, the idea of turning off your app and then on again when you reach a surge area doesn't' work. Just drive, pick up passengers as you drive, and keep on driving around from one passenger to the next.
Know your town well, so you will know where to drive to for the best rides and at what time to get there. For instance, I get to the suburbs around 9 pm which is the time many people want to get to the bars without driving their car. Since I know, I will be downtown after I drop them offsets me up for my next pickup which will be downtown. Always try to be in a bar area when it's closing time. You will always catch a rider after closing time, and this is when the barf bags come in handy. It also leads to a lot of interesting rides, especially the one-night standers and picks up rides.
I find that I choose rides based on how I would act, so I try to think in the range of 21 to 35 years old, single guys and where would they be at night. During the daytime, I think of the early morning workers, and in the afternoons, I think of the mums and their kids dashing around to different places. I plan my day the way I would if I were a passenger.
Avoid sporting events, if there is one, don't get caught up in their traffic. It just isn't worth it. In Boston, Fenway Park is in the center of the city, so that always causes extreme traffic issues. Try to be elsewhere when a major sporting event is about to start, and don't be around when it's over, that can be even worse. If you have to work in that area, take into account a lot of waiting in traffic.
Just be a happy driver, watch out for the crazies and try not to drive when tired, ill, or fatigued. Your performance is lower, your ability to handle unruly passengers is nil, and you will end up as in item in the news, which you don't want.