The two qualities that set top-rated drivers apart are transparency and punctuality. To guarantee customer satisfaction, you need to provide proper route-planning, accurate estimates, and additional services such as location-sharing that put their minds at ease.
Tracking your location in real-time is essential to your customers’ satisfaction. They want to make sure that you will be able to meet the agreed-upon deadline, and they'd also like some insight into the route you’re taking. Location-sharing is also important for you. Should you run into any issues on the road, it provides you with a valid justification for potential delays. Depending on the device you’re using, there are several ways to share your real-time location with a customer.
To share your location in the Messages app, open up a conversation with the person you want to share it with. This can be an existing conversation, or you can create a new one. Tap the i icon in the top right corner, then tap Share My Location. In the popup panel, choose how long you want to share for. The options range from one hour, to all day, to forever. If you choose a timed option, a countdown begins. You can share your location with an individual or with a group, which is also helpful in situations when a person sending the pet is different from the person receiving it.
(Photo: Cult of Mac)
As long as you keep sharing your location, other people in the conversation will be informed of that. A map will also appear in your Messages info panel (the one you got to by tapping the i button), with your avatar marking your location.
The easiest way for Android users to share their location is the Google Maps service. You can get a detailed overview of ETA- and location-sharing options in Google’s Help Center. To visualize the process described there, check out the screenshots below:
Your ETA (estimated time of arrival) is one of the most important parts of your agreement with the customer. To help you avoid raising unnecessary anxiety by missing an agreed-upon deadline, here’s how you calculate the proper delivery time below:
Even though the speed limit for most interstates is between 60 and 70 mph, your actual speed will vary depending on the time of day, day of the week, season, weather conditions, and other factors. So try to make a realistic calculation when giving your customer an ETA. Some of the veteran transporters we’ve interviewed suggest that assuming your average speed will be 50 mph is the safe option for this purpose, as it usually covers the time needed for meals and fuel stops. Coupled with that, the majority of pet transporters take breaks every 3-4 hours to stretch their legs, feed their passengers, or take them out for potty breaks. Estimate about 30 minutes for each stop, plus 15 minutes per additional pet. So the first part of your calculation should be as follows:
1 hour per 50 miles + 30 minutes per 4 hours + 15 minutes per pet
The second part of your calculation is estimating your “daily drive capacity” - the average number of hours per day that you plan on being behind the wheel. This should account for all the breaks too, leaving room for you to estimate your desired rest time as well.
For the purpose of this sample calculation, we’ll assume a daily drive capacity of 12 hours.
Sample ETA Calculation
So let’s take an 800-mile trip. Divided that by 50 to get the base number of hours it should take you (850 miles / 50 mph = 16 hrs). Add to that 30 minutes for every four hours, let’s say those are three half-hour breaks and one fuel stop. That gives you 16 hr plus 4 x 30 min, a total of 18 hours on the road to complete the trip.
Then, if your daily drive capacity is 12 hours, you divide those 18 hours by 12 and get 1.5. This means the 18 hours of driving will stretch over a duration of 1.5 days. So your ETA is 36-48 hours, or a day and a half.
A flexible and realistic deadline provides your customer with a certain expectation, and at the same time leaves you room for unexpected delays. If major delays become an issue, location-sharing should clear any doubts from the mind of your customers about your current situation.
If your customer wants a very strict delivery date and time, make sure that you set it within a time frame you’re confident of meeting. By sharing your live location, you can adjust your delivery time as you get closer to the delivery. Experienced drivers report that arriving a bit ahead of schedule is almost always welcomed.
One last thing on ETAs – please don't forget to account for the time zones! When updating your customer on the time of departure or arrival, keep in mind that they might be a few hours ahead or behind. These simple misunderstandings are more common than you'd think, so just remember that avoiding them will be your responsibility.
Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is route-planning. We have plenty of resources available discussing proper route-planning from a perspective of winning shipments: our search tool, our trip notification settings, advice on “thinking outside of the box”, etc. But route-planning from a delivery standpoint is slightly different.
Since ridesharing along the same route can cause your travel time to deviate, it is important to be transparent with your customers when sharing your location and setting a realistic ETA. The calculation outlined above does not account for any additional pick-up or delivery stops along the way. If these do occur, you’ll need to adjust your ETA accordingly and notify your customers as soon as these adjustments take place.
That’s why we say that route-planning as related to completing shipments is different from the route-planning related to winning them. You set the expectations your customers will have regarding their transport request completion. Those transporters that proudly wear the “zero cancellations” badge tell us that they open this conversation ahead of sending a quote:
- They let the customer know how many pets they usually travel with.
- They explain the price difference between shared and VIP transport
- They provide accurate ETAs within a number of hours of each delivery, explaining that the ETA accuracy will vary by type of transport (shared or VIP)
- If the customers want location-sharing, they’re immediately informed about all the stops the driver will make along the route, so that they aren’t concerned about deviations from the shortest route.
All of the above can be summed up as transparency. And a transparent approach, combined with basic math skills, results in punctuality. These two qualities lead to positive feedback, referrals, and tips. That, in turn, gets you more shipments, more profit, and more satisfaction living the driver lifestyle!
What to read next
For other best practices of successful transporters and how much they reportedly earn, check out the CitizenShipper Knowledge Base. And if looking for assistance from our driver onboarding team, schedule a coaching call today!