Having driven with Onward for 3+ years, Rigo is one of the most experienced Companion Drivers on the team. He’s conducted over 2000 Companion Rides and is consistently rated as one of the top drivers from rider reviews.
Rigo’s stories elevate the importance of connection in healthcare, translating the otherwise ordinary task of driving to and from medical appointments into something special. His encounters and experience have changed his perception of the impact he has an individual, and we wanted to share that with the broader community.
I sat down with Rigo to underscore what he believe to be the 6 most important tips to creating connection as a Companion Driver.
1. Create Context
When I first engage with a rider, I ask them how they’re doing. That one question is simple and usually gives me enough context to support the conversation throughout the ride. When I know that a rider isn’t excited to do what they’re doing, I adjust.
2. Take the Job Personally
As you drive with the company, you’ll help people and have nice conversations along the way. Over time, people will likely mark you as their favorite driver and you’ll start to see familiar faces. While I have a special spot in my heart for some of my consisten riders, I try to treat every ride with the same level of commitment. If someone was helping one of my relatives, I would want them to be fully committed to helping them, so that’s how I make each ride personal.
I try to keep that perspective top of mind because I know how important it is that my riders reach their medical appointments. I would want that for my family you know...
3. Go the Extra Mile
One thing that I really like about this job is the expectation that you help someone out of your car, up the stairs, and through the door. Sure, its extra work, but going back to our conversation about my relatives, I know that they might need that extra help and while thats expected here, it makes me feel like I’m going to extra mile because I’m making sure my riders are safe. Again, that’s what I would want for my family if they were in that position.
4. Understand Your Impact
To be honest, I didn’t realize how hard it is for a lot of people to get to their healthcare appointments in this country. When I started driving with Onward it was my first exposure to the medical world, so I started to learn how important it is that you don’t miss a Dialysis appointment or something like that. I’m just one person, but I help a lot of people who might otherwise be stuck... I focus on that because it makes me feel good.
5. Build Confidence and Comfort
I’m building trust from the moment I start talking with a rider, whether its their first time with me or their 10th. That’s just how I think this works best. I know I can make them comfortable by supporting them in and out of the car - and with like stairs - but the extra level of comfort comes from the conversation throughout the trip.
I think a lot of people are lonely so when they see a familiar face, it goes a long way. They like the favorite drivers because they don’t have to start from square one with an unfamiliar person. Of course if its a new rider we talk too - basically, if a rider is in the mood to talk, I make a point to engage and make them the center of attention.
6. Go Slow & Smile
For me, I think this whole job comes down to being compassionate, gentle and respectful. If you can do that for your riders, you’ll do great and you’ll make a difference for someone. The people I help don’t want to go fast, so I go slow for them.
The big takeaways to Rigo’s success sound an awful lot like sage life advice: Go the Extra Mile, Understand Your Impact, Create Context, Build Confidence, and Go Slow and Smile. When you look at it that way, it’s easy to see that being a good person is at the core of what it means to be a Companion Driver. Sometimes it just take pausing and reflecting to let it all sink in.
If you see Rigo on the road or at a facility, be sure to give him a wave and say thank you for all that he does for our community.