You have finally received a job offer as a private hire driver, your checks have been done, you’ve passed your medical and you’ve sorted out your public hire insurance. Your next task is to find a fee-paying customer. But what happens when your first passenger gets in the car? You need to find some small talk. This can be one of the most daunting tasks for a new taxi driver. Here are some tips on overcoming the barriers to talking to your customers:
Not everyone wants to talk
First of all, recognise that some customers just don’t want to chat. You can begin with your ice breakers and a little bit of small talk but if your customer is just happy to sit back and enjoy the ride, look at their phone or take part in their own phone conversation then you don’t need to make the effort. If they’re happy not to talk then you should respect that.
Open ended questions
On a longer journey you may have done really well with your small talk but then you begin to run out of topics. In this situation try open questions. Use the word ‘why?’ often. Everybody likes to talk about themselves and asking your customer about them and their lives is sure to elongate even the most uncomfortable of conversations.
Keep it local
Experienced taxi drivers suggest that talking about local interest is always an easy way to pass the journey. You can chat about new landmarks, important events that have happened in the area recently and if the passenger is new to the area, you can pass on some helpful hints and suggestions of good places to visit.
Find some common ground
Finding some common ground is a good way of having a conversation that has some mileage. It may take a couple of questions to find that connection but once you realise that your children attend the same local school or you both enjoy watching the same sort of films at the cinema then you have something to work with. If they work in insurance, ask them whether they know any ways of getting good PCO insurance – you never know, they direct you to a site that could save you some cash!
Great icebreakers include talking about a song on the radio and what your passenger’s plans are. Don’t ask anything to probing that they may not want to share but brief, polite questions about where the passenger is going can open up a conversation. Airport runs are always helpful because you can ask about where they’ve been and perhaps where they’d like to go in the future.
With these tips and tricks, you are much more likely to have some friendly chat with your clients, and you never know, it may make your shift go much more quickly.