Using stories to help recruit,
empower, and retain drivers

If you’ve ever taken a ride with Lyft—and given that the company has provided more than a billion of them since its founding in 2012, you probably have—then you know that behind the wheel of every car is a driver with a story. Lyft engaged Godfrey Dadich to help the company find new ways to tell those stories in an effort to recruit, empower, and retain drivers.

There’s stiff competition in the rideshare space over drivers. Lyft wanted to develop stories to better connect with its driver community. The company was particularly interested in helping new drivers with onboarding.

We began by studying Lyft’s brand strategy and interviewing key staffers for background and context. But we knew that the most important task was getting into the minds and lives of the drivers themselves. It is no small task: Lyft has more than 1.4 million drivers who give a million rides a day in 300 (and counting) US cities.

To tell their stories, we would talk to drivers across the country. But first, we felt we should take the plunge ourselves: several members of the GDP team signed up with Lyft. We went through the registration process like any other would-be driver, got behind the wheels of our cars, flipped on the app, and started to pick up and drop off riders around the Bay Area to better understand the experience.

We hit on the idea that the number one trusted source of information for drivers is other drivers. The decentralized nature of ridesharing means that there’s little onboarding. The best way to encourage skittish new drivers is to share the voices and stories of experienced drivers. We would promote best practices, but we also wanted to capture the pleasures and rewards of driving for Lyft.

To identify people to profile, our editors took a cue from the reporting adage that if you want to find some good stories, you should knock on some doors. In this case, that meant hopping into Lyft cars and asking questions. With our deep connections to the best feature writers in the country, we recruited top journalists in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Denver, Houston, and Atlanta to criss-cross their cities in Lyft rides in search of drivers who could share their stories.

In order to better determine the wants and needs of Lyft drivers, GDP interviewed scores of them in multiple cities. Several of our staffers even became drivers themselves.

From talking to these folks—and driving ourselves—we came up with five storytelling forms that would enable our writers to demystify the process of becoming a driver, share tips, and highlight some delightful ways in which Lyft has enriched drivers’ lives.

Given GDP’s wide-ranging storytelling capabilities, we also told compelling stories via video. In one, our producers put out a call for someone who would let us follow them on their first week on the road. We found a new driver for Lyft who agreed to let us capture her experience in a documentary video. None of it was staged, it was all real time. The resulting 5 1/2-minute ride-along video was insightful, funny, and well received. Most of all, it provided a true and accurate depiction of what it’s really like to start driving for Lyft.

We delivered all of our stories with original art in formats that could be deployed on Lyft’s driver portal, as well as in email newsletters and on various social media feeds. Together, they told a story of how Lyft has changed lives behind the wheel and in the passenger seat.