What makes a good Private Hire driver?

Written by Benedict Harrison

Published on

It takes more than being safe on the road.

Ask most drivers if they’re a ‘good’ driver and they will probably say yes. But driving as a private hire driver is entirely different from driving as a private citizen. Piloting a taxi and carrying passengers for payment requires a different set of skills. How you operate your vehicle can boost your income or have negative impact on your business, or even hurt your licence. So, what does it take to be a good private hire driver? Let’s take a closer look:

Keep a clean vehicle

First impressions count. Nobody wants to pay to ride in a dirty car. Keeping your vehicle clean and presentable is required by most taxi operators but doing the bare minimum to keep them happy is not enough. Passengers who are presented with an unclean car are less likely to give you a tip or give you a high star rating on apps like Uber – and they’re more likely to complain to the firm you work with.

Keeping your vehicle clean can pay off financially. Cash in with these easy actions:

  • The vehicle outside should be washed, and the windows clean from grime
  • The inside should be vacuumed, and hard surfaces wiped with disinfectant
  • Discarded rubbish, such as newspapers or food wrappers should be removed between rides
  • Mislaid items like umbrellas or mobile phones should be reported immediately
  • Use a neutral air freshener to keep the car smelling sweet

Keep a well-running vehicle

Your car is your business tool. If it’s not working, you’re not working. All private hire vehicles undergo regular checks for road-worthiness, but a well-running vehicle starts with the basic checks:

  • All lights work
  • Engine oil level
  • Brake fluid level
  • Windscreen washer fluid level – especially in winter
  • Water level in your radiator or expansion tank – and anti-freeze in winter
  • Tyre pressures are correct and tread depth of all tyres is at least 1.6mm – don’t forget the spare if your vehicle has one
  • Stay on top of servicing – when the miles say the car needs maintenance, get it done

Simple checks can prevent a breakdown. Don’t lose time from making money because of something easy to take care of.

Drive safely

Obviously, safe driving is essential for you, your passengers and everyone else on the road. But it’s also a good way to generate a tip and high star ratings. The riders in your car don’t want to be jolted, tossed from side to side, or worried about an accident. Give them a ride that’s incident free and so smooth they barely notice that they’re moving:

  • Soft braking
  • Easy cornering
  • Smooth acceleration
  • Stick to the speed limit
  • Keep your eyes on the road
  • Keep a safe distance
  • Drive to the conditions – be extra careful at night or when it’s wet, or icy
  • Stay alert – fatigue can kill. If you’re feeling tired, take a 30 minutes break

Be polite

Private hire drivers are providing more than a ride, they’re offering a service. Customers will typically reward good service and penalise bad. It doesn’t take much to be courteous:

  • Listen to any special requests your passengers may have
  • Offer advice if it’s relevant
  • Don’t treat riders to your choice of music when they just want peace and quiet
  • Help with loading luggage or large items like wheelchairs

Be efficient

Private hire drivers aren’t just driving, they’re also running a small business. An efficient taxi is a successful taxi. Stay on top of costs such as maintenance, fuel, and insurance. The price of Private Hire insurance can vary enormously. Depending on your vehicle and personal circumstances, the price difference from one insurer to the next can add up to hundreds of pounds per year. Getting the best quote is essential.

Discover competitively priced Private Hire insurance with Zego. Buy 30 days or annual policies. Or choose Zego Sense, the policy that rewards good taxi drivers with lower prices – the safer you drive, the more you save. Get your quote in under a minute now.