As much as we at the Top Gear Philippines office love to drive, we appreciate being passengers every once in a while. It's a chance for us to stretch our legs, recline, and relax for a bit through the unrelenting Metro Manila traffic. That's provided our driver knows what he's doing of course.
Now, when it comes to hiring drivers, there are a few qualities you should definitely keep an eye out for. My family has hired more than several over the course of my life, some good, others not so much. But we've had drivers who've become practically family and remain integral cogs in our business and day-to-day life. Here are a few things you should look for:
1) He's punctual. This is number one. Well, next to actually knowing how to drive at least. You and your family have places to be and schedules to follow; it's one of the main reasons you hired a driver in the first place. If he consistently shows up to work late, it's time to find a replacement.
2) He knows his cars. No, he doesn't need to be a walking automotive encyclopedia. But at the very least he should know how to deal with a flat tire, an overheating vehicle, and the like. Even better if they have a little grease on their hands. From experience, our longest-tenured drivers were former or part-time mechanics. Frankly, they become invaluable as they save you more time and even more money.
3) He drives smoother than silk. Brake modulation and gear changes are seamless. There's no jerking, and body roll is kept to a bare minimum. Bumps are easily spotted and avoided. All this means you and your family can sleep soundly as passengers while in transit. Both you and your car will thank him for it.
4) He keeps his vehicle neat and tidy. Keep an eye out for this one. The moment you and other passengers alight from the vehicle, the first thing he does is scour the cabin for any trash you may have left behind and scans the seats for any debris. No loose change, no scattered receipts, no caked mud on the floor mats.
5) He knows his way around town. Put that phone down because you won't be needing Waze with this one. To him, the fastest way from point A to B isn't through the accelerator, but through his knowledge of alternate routes and rush hour traffic. Another quality to look out for in a driver.
6) He dresses properly. We're not talking about having a uniform. Even the mere fact that he makes an effort to look presentable is worth noting. His daily outfit consists of a clean shirt or collared polo shirt and jeans, and he always wears suitable footwear while driving.
7) He knows when to take a break. Being chauffeured by a sick/fatigued driver won't do you or your passengers any good. He knows when to take it easy and takes a day off from time to time. Likewise, you should know when he needs one. It goes both ways.
8) He's more than just an employee. You trust him to pick up your kids from school and get them home safe. You trust him to handle money and deliver important documents. You trust him to drive you and your family over long distances, road trips and unfamiliar territory. There's a mutual respect here. He's not just a driver, he's practically family.