Blog shared from www.businessinsider.com
A long time ago, I thought seriously about becoming an Uber and Lyft driver. It was a big decision to make and left me with many questions — and hardly any way to find the answers.
Would the people be weird? Is it safe? What's it really like? Would I make a profit? Would it be worth it?
You've read outrageous Uber and Lyft headlines where some drivers are harmed by passengers. You also hear about how much money an Uber and Lyft driver can make in a short time. It all left me curious, and really wondering what was real and what was overblown.
Needing to make some money for my upcoming wedding, I eventually convinced myself I could do this. The next day I signed up for both Uber and Lyft.
I've learned a lot about driving since then. And, through trial and error, I've found out a lot myself too. While some of the things I've learned are specific for only certain regions, other aspects of the job are universal.
So here are 10 things I wish I knew before starting driving for Lyft and Uber.To make the most money possible, you need to avoid traffic
Something universally loved by Uber and Lyft passengers — and is a reason why so many people dislike taxis — is that the rate quoted in the app is generally exactly what they pay.
This is because the "per-minute" rate a driver makes is very low, while the "per-mile" rate is pretty decent. The fare won't suddenly jump up to an unexpected amount just because the driver hit traffic along the route.
While this is a great thing for passengers, it's not so great for drivers. Getting caught in slow-moving or stopped traffic will absolutely kill your dollars-per-hour ratio. In my area, a driver makes about $0.12 per minute, which is the equivalent of $7.20 an hour. In some markets, a driver makes even less.
To keep making the most money possible, you have to keep your car moving. Down in South Florida, there is traffic seemingly everywhere at peak rush hour times around 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., so I try to avoid driving at those most congested times. I also keep a mental note of areas that have lots of construction and try to avoid those routes.Don't drive around looking for a ride — let the ride come to you.
A good fisherman is a patient person. He picks what he thinks is a good spot, baits his hook, casts his line out, and then he waits. It might take 30 seconds for a bite or it might take 10 minutes, but the fisherman remains patient. The bite will come.
To remain a profitable driver, you must become like the fisherman. Find a good spot. Be patient. Wait. The ride will come. I used to drive around between rides, trying to make myself somehow more available to the next rider. Don't do this. All driving around did was put unnecessary miles on my car and ensured that I ruined my profit margin by wasting gas.
Now, unless I'm on a ride or heading to pick up a passenger, I try not to drive around aimlessly. My car is my business and I try to treat it as such. Soon after I drop someone off, I will try to pull over to a safe area like a parking spot in a public plaza and wait there. A podcast or an e-book keeps me entertained between rides, but it's usually no more than a few minutes until another request comes. If I don't get a request within 15 minutes, I'll start driving toward a busier area, and I'll almost always get a request shortly after.
The real trick to getting a ride request is to make sure you have to use the bathroom. As soon as you get the urge to go to the bathroom, you are guaranteed a 100% chance of immediately getting a ride request, every time.The closest driver to a passenger usually gets the next ride. Position yourself accordingly.
Driving for Uber and Lyft is a lot like a game. The goal is to earn as much money as possible per hour.
The best way to play this game is to have a paying passenger at almost all times inside your car. Your opponents of this game are the other drivers on the road, as they are your competition fighting for your ride requests. You can see these other drivers on the Uber and Lyft passenger apps. Yes, those little cars around your location when you open the app are real.
Sorry, fellow drivers, but I have a wedding I'm saving for.
No one knows exactly how Uber and Lyft calculate which driver gets the next ride, but after driving for a while, you get a feel for where you need to be positioned to get the next ride. The ride-hailing apps use an algorithm that calculates your position with traffic patterns and who can arrive to the passenger first. Then the apps will offer that ride to whichever drivers can arrive at the request first.
What does this mean? In short, the closest driver gets the ride.
If you know there's a popular hotel that people frequently travel from, don't wait a half mile away. There are likely drivers between you and that hotel, so they will most likely get the requests first. Get as close as you safely and legally can, and wait. You will almost certainly be rewarded with the next ride request.Contrary to popular belief, the airport queue is generally not worth waiting in.
Many people believe that the airport is where you can make the most money as a ride-hailing driver.
Some drivers around the US do rides only coming from the airport. Most airports have a dedicated waiting area for Uber and Lyft drivers that the apps will direct you to. It's called "the queue." You can see how many people are waiting before you arrive. Upon entering, the apps automatically add you into this first-come, first-served queue and will tell you your position in line.
Deciding if waiting in the queue for airport rides are a heavily market-dependent area. In my area, and a lot of other areas, the majority of the time it is not worth it to sit in the airport queue and wait for a ride.
I have seen up to 250 drivers in the Uber queue at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport. On average, that is at least a two-hour wait. Drivers aren't paid when they're waiting for a ride in the queue. They're not paid for sitting in the 10 minutes of traffic before they arrive to you in the pickup area. And there is certainly no ride in the world that can justify a two-hour wait.
I remember the first time I tried out the queue, just to see how it worked. I hopped in with 80 cars ahead of me. Nearly an hour and a half later, I finally received a ride request. I arrived, loaded my passengers' heavy luggage, and started the ride. Their drop-off location was a hotel a short distance away.
Ten minutes later, I dropped them off, completed the ride, and received my cut: $5.82. I still remember the number because I didn't think it was right, but $5.82 is all I received after nearly two hours.
I waited in the airport queue about 10 more times because I didn't learn my lesson the first time. Each time, I completed the ride with a sour taste in my mouth. The only time the airport seems to be worth it is late at night, when there are very few drivers and possibly a surge.
Unless you like taking hour-long naps between rides that may pay very little, don't wait in the airport queue.You need to take breaks often, for your health and for your sanity.
As a driver, I'm my own boss. I can set my own schedule and stop working whenever I want. With that much control, it's easy to forget to take breaks while I'm on the job — but they're extremely important for both your physical health and you mental health.
Sometimes the rides come back to back so fast that I lose track of time. I'll look down at the clock and realize, wow, I've been cooped up in this car for five hours. I used to try to push myself to keep driving. "Power through," I would tell myself. "One more ride." Don't do that. Take a break.
While driving isn't very intensive, it can be a very mentally taxing and stressful job. Your eyes are constantly focused on the road, your arms and legs are constantly in some type of motion, and your brain is constantly trying to think "what's next?"
You need to get out of your car. You need to drink lots of water. You need to use the restroom. You need to stretch your back and legs. And you need a few moments of clarity so you can remain a fresh, positive person for the next passenger.
This gig offers a lot of personal flexibility compared to other jobs out there. Take advantage of that. Take a break, and do it often.
To be continued...
Stay tuned for the next five tips!