IamA Professional Designated Driver AMA!
My short bio: I am a Professional Designated Driver, I own/work for a service in Detroit Mi that drives people home in the comfort of their own vehicles when they have had to much to drink. (Detroit has no mass-transit system and cabs are unreliable) I've been doing this for 7yrs and I have seen a lot of crazy things (fights, Naked Women, drug deals, sex... etc.) and have been almost killed twice on the road. Ask me anything. I love my job.
My Proof: I started with a company called The Designate in 2007. When they closed they where the largest DD service in the US. Our Company opened in 2010 it is called Detroit Designated Driver or DetroitDD for short. our Site is here http://facebook.com/detroitdd and here http://detroitdd.com
You were indeed padawan.
So you are basically a taxi driver that hangs around bars?
No sir, We are Licensed Chauffeurs. a team of drivers will be dispatched to your location and drive you home in your own car. We do no let people in our vehicles.
I assume your company has a couple people who drive the dd's to jobs?
you would be correct (we call them "Runs")
Man, I'd hate to have a job where I got the runs all the time
I knew I should not have used that term here. I asked for it.
Ahh, that's usually what I call "Two Dollar Taco Night" at the local Mexican restaurant.
So they're Designated Designated Driver Drivers?
that sounds weird when you put it like that.
Where I live there's a similar service, but they ride little foldable scooters that they put in the customer's car. That way you don't need a chase car.
Have you thought about doing it like that so you don't have to split the income across two people?
We have, but the distances we cover and the time it would take to get from A to B would be too great. plus putting a scooter in a clients vette or Porsche really doesn't sound appealing.
plus putting a scooter in a clients vette or Porsche
It would fit. These things fold down to the size of a large gym bag. The only issue I would see in some places - they would be a bitch to ride in snow/ice conditions
people have porsches in Detroit?
yeah, plenty. Oakland county is one of the richest county's in the US.
Are the people usually totally bombed, or just smart enough to know that they'd likely be over the limit if they got pulled over?
Bingo, on the second. People make a choice to use our service. most of them set it up ahead of time and have everything to lose if they get a DUI/
Whats the nicest car you've driven while working
I honestly get to drive a lot of nice cars. My very favorite just from a driving experience has to be The Audi A8. I also have clients that have Porsche Panamera's, Bently's, Astom Martins, Maserati's
A lot of men now envy you good sir, I am one of those men.
Got another client who has an A7 and he insists I mash on it at a light. Love that guy.
You get to drive nice cars AND mess around in them?
Where do I sign up?
upon occasion, I definitely dont make it a habit, Safety First! (Im pretty good at driving cars that move fast)
Of course safety is important, but if I find a stretch of road in my 95 Camaro I'm gonna floor it.
Careful, you cant replace that beauty.
You mentioned that you saw a lot of crazy things, including fights, naked woman, drug deals, sex, etc... Did that happen while you were driving the car? Tell us a little more about those odd situations!
People frequently get busy in the back of the car... alcohol makes things interesting. I've been in the middle of drug deals that i had no clue were happening till they were over (hey can we stop at "XYZ" I need to stop and see a friend really quick to drop something off.) fights that have happened between friends in the car while driving because someone is being stupid drunk. Guys taking strippers home from the clubs. Girls just taking their clothes off for no reason for each other and for me. I've been invited inside on more than one occasion, but i am a married man... im sure some of the single guys have fun with the job. I've carried women into their homes and put them on the couch, Ive left guys in their car in the driveway cause they dont want to go inside and deal with their wives... Ive seen a lot.
PROPTIP: Get AA, pop off your distributor cap, free tow with 25 miles. I ususally give the dude a $50 and only do this in dire curcimstances.
This does work :)
My university had a free DD service where the local rental car companies would allow the organization to use their cars in the evening to take drunk people home. It eventually shut down because the police would follow them from the rental agency,let the drunksget in, then pull them over a block later and give them Public Intoxication citations(for the walk to the car), and arrest the drivers if the drunks were undrage.
Thats bullshit. I have never gotten any crap from any cops around here. all of them are supportive and some of them even use us.
I actually worked for one of your rival companies a while back, Your Designated Driver out of Royal Oak. I had completely forgotten about that job (only lasted a few weeks, got sick of staying up all night for $40 and still having to fill up my personal car's gas tank).
No questions, but thanks for sending me down memory lane, saw some wild stuff during those few weeks.
Ahhh you worked for Johnathan. Last I heard he skipped town with some peoples money. Not a very good business model he had.
He was a strange dude. From what I remember he used his own service most nights.
The fact that he skipped town doesn't surprise me. I seemed to always get his "friends" as clients who never paid or tipped, and Jonathan would never follow through on reimbursing me.
Does using your service work out cheaper of more expensive than taking a taxi to the party and a taxi back?
It will 9 times out of ten be cheaper than going both ways in a cab, but what you have to understand is that cabs in the Detroit area are unreliable to the point where sometimes they never show up. we work on a schedule that our clients pick. we are always on time and the benefit of having your car in your drive way in the morning sells the service alone.. again this is Detroit, People love to drive there cars. Plus everything is so spread out here it is not uncommon for people to drive 30-40 minute to got to an event or the bar.
Cabs not showing or being late up is pretty common. Drives me crazy. I've almost been late to a few flights because if this.
Its the worst.
I'm curious if Nashville has anything like this. Went to a show for NYE and my hotel was only 12 min away, bad time to find out
all most of the cabbies are racist and won't pick up a white guy by himself.
wont pick up a white guy?
Paper or plastic?
Paper for sure...
Any unusual 'tips' from customers?
I got a huge can of peanuts last week, lol odd.
I would say thats nuts...
If I come over to a hockey game, will you drive me back to windsor?
Some of our drivers have their enhanced licenses and are able to do that. I'm sure something could be arranged.
What happens after you drive them home?
We have a chase car that follows me and they pick me up and we go to our next pick up.. we work in two man teams.
You were almost killey twice on road? Any details?
I was once hit by a Drunk driver on the way to pick some one up. she fled the scene and was picked up a few miles down the road. the other I was a split second from being hit head on by a car driving the wrong way on the freeway (just like you see in the freakin movies). it took me a few seconds to process what had happened, it just didn't make sense see a car coming right at you on a divided highway
The first story is ironic.
just a little, but considering the times that we operate and the locations we service... it was only a matter of time.
Did you still make it to the pickup on time?
It was the last Run of the night and another driver was free
I've been almost hit by an oncoming driver on the interstate as well. I had about a second to react cause I didn't know what was going on at first. The driver made a van, semi, and truck(me) get out of the way. So much adrenaline...
Its like it doesnt register correctly in your brain for a second.
Hey! Thanks for the AMA, just have a couple questions: 1. Have you drove any famous/important people? 2. What is the typical economic situation of the people that you drive? I wouldn't imagine you just drive every ordinary Joe home.
I have driven many local Celebrities home (sports, radio, tv). we keep that stuff pretty confidential (part of the service).
The demographic varies from the very affluent executives to the average sales person who cant risk getting a DUI. It really covers everyone. but most of them are 30 and up.
Any chance you've driven one of the Red Wings players at some point?
I'd say there is a really good chance of that :)
- How did you get into designated driving?
- What advice would you give to the people starting out?
it just started as a way to make some money for Christmas one year and then i was going to quit... I loved it so much I never did and its been a great 7yrs. I've made great friends, business connections and flat out just met a lot of cool people.
Advice... hmmm... be reliable and focus on your clients needs. also depending on your state get good insurance and be properly licensed. other than that have fun, know the right things to say to clients and when to say them. Being able to read a room goes a long way.
I'll need to work on my social skills since i don't have any
I'm not normally a very social person, but I'm in my element when I do this job.
Is there a lot of vomit in your job?
Sometimes, thank god its in there own car and i don't have to deal with it..... but the smell, lets just say i can tell what they drank all night
What's your weirdest story?
I posted a odd one earlier. here's another: I've been driving this same dancer home every Friday for almost the past 6 months and its still the same thing every time. Shes coked out of her mind, still introduces herself to me like we've just met, passes out half way through only to awake and ask where she is. she also looks for her keys when we are close and i keep telling her they are in the ignition. Like freaking Groundhog Day. lol
Do you ever feel pity for people like this? Try to help them? Advice etc?
yes, but everyone has there demons... Im helping her by getting her home in one piece and helping everyone by keeping her off the road. I try not to interfere in peoples lives.
Good man. /cheers
how much money do you make a year from this?
we are a for profit company... It pays well enough. and it is a great supplemental income for those who are looking for a part time job on the weekends. This is a service based industry so tips really help.
Do you split your tip with the chase guy?
Great question. Yes. that is why we pretty much hire husband and wives, brothers, or people who live in the same household... it kind of helps get rid of the bullshit.
He didn't ask whether it was a "for profit company," he asked what you make. Either you're doing a legitimate AMA or you're just marketing your company, which is it?
good point... just figured money was a more personal thing. The company makes between a 150k-200k a year. as of right now
What's the worst experience you've had while driving a client? Best?
Worst... Lets go for sad. Had a guy call his wife and say he was going to be spending the night at the buddies house who was in the car with him, but when we got to that buddies house he said he was just going to have me take him home. I start heading towards his house and he says "were not going to my house, were going to the casino. (3am at this point) as were pulling into the parking garage at the casino hes peeling off the sticker on a new credit card and calling in to activate it. IDK why, but that really made me feel horrible. probably one of the worst rides ever, just on principle.
What is your craziest story as a designated driver?
Had two guys and a girl get to the car, the one guy handed me the keys and said "be careful its my wifes car" not even five minutes later they got this girl in "Finger Cuffs" http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=finger%20cuffs
What do you think of the the British company that drives to you in a collapsable scooter and drives you home in your own car?
I saw it on Top Gear UK and wondered why the heck we don't have something so cool and so downright sensible here in America.
There are companies that do that here in the US. We looked into it, but with the weather and the average distances we cover it just would not work for us.
Do you have any funny stories about really drunk people?
most are funny. the funny drunks always want to know who's following us and where there car is even though we are in it.
Drunk to the point where they're trying to prove they're not drunk because they're not going to forget where the car is!
Ohhh. they forget where they park all the time.
No questions from me, just a thank you. I've lost two best friends due to drinking and driving. Wish there were more people like you in the world.
Thank you for sharing that.
How many times have you had a gun pulled on you?
Never. we are not a cab service. We secure every run with a credit card and our clientele are most of the time pretty well off. (I do carry a FNS-9)
Wow, never, Detroit must be getting better than I remember it.
We service all of greater Detroit. basically most of South Eastern Michigan. Yes Detroit has recovered greatly in the past 6 years... We have Dan Gilbert and others to thank for that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Gilbert_(businessman)
How does the company feel about the FN?
I feel fine about it. I'm the only Driver that has a CPL.
What's the ratio of automatic/manual transmissions? You can probably deliver a better answer than most. Also, what are you driving yourself?
98% automatics these days, even the sports cars. most of the Manuals tend to be VW's. for the business we drive a Honda Civic. as for toys... well look at my username and i think you can figure it out. :)
What was the weirdest experience you've had when driving someone home?
Weirdest... Thats hard... I had a wedding I picked up from and a girl got in the car with this long dress as we took off I heard her scream in pain really loud. I stopped immediately but no one else in the car with her could understand what she started screaming about. She was doubled over in pain and not talking for like two or three minutes. she finally relaxes and catches her breath and she explained that the belt from her dress was gone. Well what had happened is it was so long that it came untied and it got closed in the car door when she got in and got caught under the tire while we drove away and ripped it right off of her. Shes lucky it came untied or she would have gotten really messed up.
I work roadside assistance in Detroit and have many interesting stories also. Just last night I went to change a tire at the Manoogian mansion. Stay safe out there man!
Thanks man. tell the Mayor i said Hi.
How often do people have you stop for food or smokes and such?
All the Time. Taco Bell is our #1 request. most people want to stop and get booze too, but never realize you cant buy after 2am
You sir have the perfect story for the sequel to Drive.
yes, but I dont plan on killing anyone :)
Ah, but the story! Or anti-hero can't escape the drive so he's found a little more suitable life style taxiing legitimate and 'law abiding' patrons. Only deals in cash. It's got some potential.
We can work on it.
About what percentage of your clients (that you know of) have had a previous DUI?
i would guess about 20%
Whats the Hardest car you've had to drive?
I have a client that has a Maserati.., its an aromatic, but drives like a stick... it was very odd driving it. drive wouldn't engage with out being at a certain rpm.
Have you ever caused an accident or even scratched a client's car? Who pays for that?
Hit a Deer Once... it was a non issue. I forget what its called, but it has something to do with "no fault"
Want to go have a drink?
Lol, I do still drink, just not on the days I work. Gin and Tonic please.
What's the longest distance you've had to drive someone home? Like, Detroit to Ann Arbor? Ever have to go into Windsor?
Grand Rapids back to Detroit. we've also done a few ann arbor to the East side of town to. We will go where ever our clients need us. Very seldom into Windsor.
I did not know this was a service that existed! That's really cool. Definitely sounds like a unique job. I've never been paid to DD but I've done it for my friends out of the goodness of my heart...always interesting. Do you ever get repeat clients?
We have a huge repeat client base. many of the people we service have standing appointments on the weekends. (bar owners, dancers, bartenders)
How many drivers do you have? How much are you guys making a year?
Number of drivers varies by the season. normally from 5-10 a night. They make enough to keep doing it. (its a good Supplemental income)
There is a bar right down the road from my house. They are a big place that caters a lot to the college aged kids, lots of live music and cheap drinks. They have one of the schools old "short" bus. They will take you home with-in a 25 mile radius, for FREE!!!!
They're doing the right thing, good for them... you cant drink in their bar again if your locked up or dead... Their protecting their customer base. Smart.
How annoying do you find drunk people?
People always ask me that... I dont find them annoying at all. Probably why i can do this.
I seen the response about taking the guy to the casino instead of home. Has there every been a time you have refused to take a client where they wanted to go, and instead taken them straight home? (assuming you know where they live since you have their credit card details)
in seven years I have only bailed on one client. It was a woman and she was horrible. Insulting, loud, belligerent and just a bad drunk. I stopped at a gas station apologized, took the keys out of the ignition and took them inside to the gas station attendant and told him that she was drunk and should not drive and told her to call someone to come drive her and if she attempted to drive home I would call the police. (it was that bad, I can deal with a lot, but this woman got to me.)
Man, did you at least give the gas station clerk a tip or something? That'd suck having a random belligerent drunk dropped on you in the middle of your shitty minimum wage graveyard job.
yeah, no... I could have handled that better looking back on it... I just wanted out of that car and away from that woman.
How often do you have people run off without paying and do you chase them if that happens?
never. we take a credit card before pick ups
I saw a company out here (Los Angeles) that does a similar service, but their drivers use a tiny, tiny motorscooter to get to the client/bar, which rides in the storage-space of the clients car during transport, and then the Designated Drive can return to home base on it. Seemed highly unworkable to me, in that dealing with all the crap in the cluttered cargo area of some drunk at 2am must be a nightmare.
I agree. it also feels intrusive to the clients. Not our bag.
What is the actual revenue structure of this service? How many employees are there? You mentioned something about getting good insurance, can you elaborate on this? Also whats the farthest you've had to drive for a job?
I have answered most of these already. you can visit our site for the cost information: http://detroitdd.com you can even get a quote there. We use what would be refereed to as a "Rider" or "Blanket". Michigan is a "No Fault" state where every driver is required to carry their own personal insurance. You cant trump that so we carry a above and beyond policy on our drivers and clients.
Wanna come up to Clarkston?
What's your best story?
We going to go see Bob? maybe stop at the Union? a Girl licked my head once. Carried another girl dressed up as the slutty Tin Man into her house with her dad telling me thank you.
Do you ever get harrassed by the drunks?
very seldom, most people get why im there even when they are drunk slobs.
This is pretty cool. How much money do you make? Do you work another job? What are your hours for the designated driver job?
I do have a full time career along with this business. Hours are on our website and vary depending on the season. company does about 200k to 250k right now.
Sorry if it's already been asked but what happens after you drop them and their car off at their house? Do you have a second driver follow in their own car to pick you up for the next job?
We actually stand guard at their front door... its included in the service. J/K yes a driver follows us to get us to the next run. (Safety First)
In live in grosse pointe and I went to the auto show. I wondering if you went and how you liked it?
Strolled through... was very impressed. I really liked seeing the small start-ups that were there
So, you're a cab driver that drives other people's cars? Brilliant.
We are not Cab Drivers, we are Chauffeurs. All of our drivers are Professionally dressed and properly licensed.
What would I have to do to get a job with a company like this? Is there much demand for workers or are all the positions already packed?
at the moment we are fully staffed with also drivers on call. one would need a great driving record and Chauffeurs license and a partner.
How many drunk chicks have you banged?
0 and it will always be 0
Ohh. Do other single drivers get lucky?
If they do, I don't want to know and they would be smart not to tell me.
So.. a cab driver? BFD.
Ughh, not even close to a Cab driver. We are not Cabbies.
So, you're a cabbie ?
Not a "Cabbie" not even close.
Dang, in college I would drive people to the Mexican restaurant to get hammered on margaritas and in Exchange they'd buy my dinner. Now I feel like I was selling myself short.
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