How Sydney’s top Uber driver made $2350 in tips
Mark Owen only took up Uber driving in March, but can already lay claim to being the most tipped in Sydney.
He raked in an impressive $2530 in bonuses - even in the climate of COVID - with passengers rewarding him for his VIP attention and spotless vehicle.
He gives back with "care packages" made up chocolates and a poem penned by his father.
"I don't go out of my way to provide quality service for the sake of receiving tips," Mr Owen said.
"When I do receive a tip, it is generally because of the high quality service I have provided, but I do not do what I do for tips."
For Mr Owen, who mainly covers north Sydney, cleanliness and making the passenger feel comfortable is top priority.
"I take my car for an outside wash every day and clean (and disinfect) the inside myself multiple times per day," he said.
"After every rider gets out of the car, I drive up the road out of sight and vacuum the floor mats and seats, and wipe everything down.
He said he tried to be "as considerate as possible" and ask passengers if they had a preferred route, were happy with the choice of the music and the car's temperature.
Lollies, chocolate, bottled water and headache tablets were on offer as well as the use of fast phone chargers for every type of phone, a feature which he said was extremely popular.
"I always have a spotlessly clean car and I use my portable vacuum after every rider exits my car. It's important to drive safely and smoothly," he said.
"I never accelerate quickly or brake abruptly and always keep many car lengths between me and the car in front when driving.
Mr Owen's largest tip since getting behind the wheel for Uber, which has more than 74,000 drivers across Australia, has been $50. But he is conscious that not everyone can splash the cash in these tough economic times.
"Generally speaking, when I provide exceptional service, as I strive to do each and every time, this generally warrants a tip, however, it's so important not to expect a tip from your rider - tipping is not mandatory as it is in the USA, nor is it expected at all in Australia, which makes it even more special to receive a tip.
"A lot of people don't tip because they probably can't afford it, especially during these extremely difficult times."
Mr Owen said if other Uber drivers wanted to increase their chances of getting tips they should make sure the passenger is comfortable and confirm their location; be personable and chatty but avoid discussing politics and religion; and always go above and beyond with their service.
Amanda Gilmore, Uber's Head of Driver in Australia and New Zealand, was pleased to see drivers being recognised "for going above and beyond" in customer service.
"When the global pandemic hit, we naturally saw a drop in trips, with most of Australia in lockdown," she said.
"Making sure drivers knew we had their backs was our number one priority."
Ms Gilmore said Uber provided drivers with hundreds of thousands of free sanitisers and disinfectant, as well as education for drivers and riders about how to travel safely.
Providing support and peace for mind for drivers and passengers was the most important thing Uber could do, she said.
"As we move into 2021, Uber will continue working closely with drivers to offer more support and benefits to ensure their experience is a rewarding one."
Originally published as How Sydney's top Uber driver made $2350 in tips