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Ratings. They can make or break a service, and all it takes is a few dismal experiences for your five-star rating to disappear into the ether. It’s not an easy climb back up either, so whether you’re a Grab, Gojek, ComfortDelGro, or Ryde driver, it’s time to jazz it up! Here are 12 easy tips for private hire car drivers to earn their 5-star ratings:  

1. Serve (Not swerve)

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The very heart of service is to go the extra mile to make your customer’s day better. This means being attentive and listening to what your passenger needs. Are they struggling with heavy groceries? Open the boot and help them load their stuff. You know what? Open the door for them even if they aren’t struggling. Your service could light up someone’s day infinitely, and earn you some gold stars.

2. Have a smooth and spacious ride

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No matter how great your million-dollar smile is, it’d be hard for your passengers to appreciate sitting in your car if you’ve got an old vehicle that’s got weird gear issues and a questionable character. Unsurprisingly, most passengers tend to prefer sitting in newer cars, and appreciate having ample room in the back seat and boot – Enter, SUVs and sedans.   Apart from the state of your vehicle, make sure you do not confuse your passenger’s route with an F1 track. It doesn’t matter if you’re rushing somewhere or not – Drive at an appropriate speed, ComfortDelGro sir –  Don’t misuse your brakes, and keep things safe and smooth.

3. Keep your car spotless

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Passengers do not like entering a car where someone else’s trash already lives – and this applies to both the backseat and the boot. While we know that many private hire drivers regularly take great pains to keep their vehicles clean, some forget to intermittently check if previous passengers have left any impolite souvenirs, such as tissue papers, wrappers and unsavoury stains. While it’s especially important to keep the inside of your car clean, do remember that looks do matter – If the exterior of your car makes you look like you’ve just travelled to Mount Doom and back, your passengers will inevitably feel a little disconcerted on their (cough) 3-star Grab ride. You don’t want to come across as nonchalant, lazy, unhygienic and slightly kidnapper-ish, do you?

4. Spa it up

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Air freshers and purifiers go a long way in making your passenger feel comfortable. When choosing a scent for your vehicle, steer away from strong, love-it-or-hate-it types, and go for calming and widely accepted smells like lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus.   We would also like to add one very important note: Stay far away from cheap air fresheners that are cloyingly sweet. Such smells tend to offend more than pleasing, and could backfire disastrously – we’re not naming names, but we know of several carsick passengers who’ve loathed their rides so much that they’ve vomited due to unidentified strange smells.   Talking about vomit – If your riders have brought stubborn smells along with them (and they will), it’s good to use an air-conditioning cleaner, which will help purify the air. After all, it’s useless trying to mask the smell of durian with essential oils.

5. Provide thoughtful gifts and extras

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There’s a reason the dentist always has a little dish of sweets at the counter – Free gifts make your clients like you just a bit better, and it’s important that you offer these services to them when they get in your car. Whether it’s mints, phone chargers, bottled water, or even tissues, these little bits of thoughtfulness will go a long way in helping you earn your 5-star Gojek rating.

6. Cater to kids

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Child passengers can get fidgety during long rides or traffic jams, and one way to help your adult passengers keep their little demons under control is to have a headrest monitor just for the kids – Simply get your classic Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks playlist on, and voila! You’ve saved a parent from a blasted headache, and have earned yourself a top rating.

7. Make sound decisions 

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Apart from calming children, there are other small little details you could add to your vehicle that could make a big difference when it comes to your passenger’s auditory experience.   Want to make your passengers feel welcome by asking them if they’d like to play their music? Invest in a good speaker system. On the flip-side, have you got a passenger in your car who looks like they could use a nap? Soundproofing your vehicle could help create a serene environment for your passengers.  Note: Please do not blast your own music, and always ask your passengers if they’d prefer silence, or if they would like to play any of their own tunes. Forcing your avant-garde musical taste on your passengers is a no-go.

8. Excuse total safety with small mods

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In sunny Singapore, it’s hard to stay cool wherever you are. One way of keeping your riders chill and happy is to install your vehicle with solar film, and on those rainy days where the downpour never ends, windscreen waterproofing could help calm your passengers whilst giving you better clarity. Ka-ching, you’re a 5-star Grab driver, baby!

9. Earn your basic street knowledge

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There’s nothing worse than a driver who doesn’t know where he’s going. Your passenger expects to have a fuss-free ride, so if you’ve got them whipping out their phones anxiously to help you make sure you’re on the correct route, you can say adios to your five-star rating.   On the other hand, if a driver is sharp about avoiding congested roads and knows a fast and efficient way to get their passenger where they need to be (let’s face it, all passengers are short of time), it’s hard to give anything but a five-star rating.   Having a keen understanding of roads, streets and places also come in handy if you’re picking someone up from the airport and want to have a great conversation with them.  “Tourist Gets off the Plane and Is Charmed by Gojek Driver’s 5-Star Friendliness and Knowledge” – We can see it in the headlines already.

10. Don’t blindly follow your GPS

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Sometimes, even the good ol’ GPS offers round-about ways of getting to a destination and might take you to the back of a building instead of where the usual pick-up point is. Do you know what’s more dependable than a GPS? Common sense. It’s easy to impress your passengers when you show up exactly where you should.

11. Be attentive to social cues

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Some passengers are chatterboxes, whilst others tend to be more stoic – Your passenger could be having the roughest day of their life and totally out of conversational bandwidth, or might really need a listening ear. Your job as a driver is to know which category your passenger falls into. C’mon, if they’re typing intently into their laptop, with their glasses falling off their nose, it’s not the time to be complaining about the government.   If you’re not sure what to do in any given situation, simply remember that courtesy and politeness are key – A simple “how are you?” and “Take care” can go a long way.

12. Have fun with your vehicle

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Dressing your car up for events or celebrations allows for some much-needed cheer, so the next time Chinese New Year or Deepavali rolls by, why not spruce up your ride with some colorful decorations? Obviously, balance and taste are key, and you don’t want your vehicle to come across as garnish. Have fun, and your passengers will pick up your 5-star vibes.   Above all, bring your joy to the table, not your dissatisfaction. No matter how many air fresheners you invest in, it’ll simply be no use if you and your ride reek of unhappiness. So keep your chin up, fight the good fight, and may your ratings soar.    Passengers: Apart from these 12 tips for private hire car drivers to earn their 5-star ratings, do you have any other suggestions? We’d like to know them.  

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