Time to Read (using avg wpm): 9.5 mins
An approach to The First Chute
-Ever wanted to be a taxi driver?
-Maybe you’re sick of always giving your friends rides without ever being paid for it.
-Maybe you want to be your own boss.
-You love driving and need to find a way to be paid for it?
If any of these sound like you then ridesharing is your thing.
There are a few different ridesharing platforms but the 2 most popular are Uber and Lyft. These are the main ones we’ll be talking about throughout this post.
- How it Works
- Pros and Cons
- Gaming the System
- Further Reading
How it Works
Push Go Online button and wait. When a person needs a ride, and you are the closest, your phone will blink and flash and beep, prompting you to accept the pickup. The closest gets the first shot but if they cannot accept the job it goes to the next closest.
If you accept the job, the “rider” gets an ETA (estimated time of arrival) and the app turns on navigation to them.
(If you spend at least 5 minutes going to pick a rider up, and they cancel, then you get $5 from them)
Pick them up and take them where they need to go (either pre-determined or not).
On arrival, payment is automatic (electronically with the credit card on file, $5 minimum) and then both of you rate each other. If you rate a 3 or below (on either side) you will not be paired up anymore.
After the ride, you may go online again and wait for the next rider.
Tolls: rider pays for and Uber reimburses you.
To partner with Uber your vehicle must (as of May 2016):
- Be 2004 or newer
- Have 4 or more doors
- Not be salvaged
- Be owned by you (or have consent from owner)
You must pass a background check.
You must upload your:
- Driver’s license
- Insurance verification
- Vehicle registration
- Vehicle safety inspection
You need to get the app which requires an iPhone 4s or newer or and Android 2013 or newer.
Then finally, you must watch a 15min video by Uber that goes through all that you need to know before you start and then gives you suggestions for a better experience.
The rates Uber charges per mile changes by area so check your area out at https://www.uber.com/cities/.
From there you can choose to drive:
- UberX: The least expensive Uber service. Seats 4 riders.
- UberXL: Seats at least 6 passengers. Higher fare price than UberX.
- UberSelect: A luxury sedan that seats up to 4 riders.
- UberPOOL: Share your ride with another person and split the cost. Only available in LA, SF, NYC, and Paris.
- UberBLACK (Black Car): Uber’s ‘executive’ luxury service. Commercially registered and insured vehicles, typically a black SUV or luxury sedan. Highest fare price.
Then hit “GO ONLINE” and wait for your first rider.
Pros and Cons
- No awkward cash exchange.
- Get to network and meet cool people.
- You can do it anytime you want and as much as you want. No min and no max.
- Bonuses and incentives that pay you more if you complete them.
- The navigation is no good on Uber, recommended to use google maps (Lyft already uses google maps).
- Uber and Lyft take a 20% commission ($1 for every $5 you make).
- You are an independent contractor so there are tax implications and no employee benefits.
- Pay for gas and related vehicle depreciation.
- Occasionally drive a jerk around.
You are an independent contractor so you fill out a self-employed, 1099 form when tax season rolls around.
So one thing to keep in mind is after Uber/Lyft takes that commission, you still pay a 16% tax rate on what’s left.
But you can still salvage some of that by claiming expenses for your Uber partnership, ex:
- Keep your receipts for all the gas that you buy while driving for Uber
- Depreciation, mileage, and repairs on your car
- If you buy extras for your car to improve the rider experience you can claim those as expenses too.
It is recommended to consult a tax professional for all this and also if you have questions and such.
Use any of the popular online tax services like TurboTax, H&RBlock, etc…
If it wasn’t illegal for dogs to drive,
which, to be honest, I don’t see the problem,
making money from driving I know I would thrive,
and meeting new peeps would be awesome.
Uber, a traditional rhyme poem by Doug
End of Intermission.
Gaming the System
Tactics and techniques to get the most $$$ per mile.
This is every driver’s favorite thing.
Surge pricing follows the standard economic principle of supply and demand.
If a certain area has a lot of demand for drivers but there aren’t enough drivers to fill the need, then fare prices increase. This is supposed to give drivers the incentive to go online and start driving so more riders can get rides.
The object here is to take advantage of surge pricing and drive to areas that are surging. This may be harder to accomplish in smaller cities where surges happen less often. Your app will highlight surging areas in red.
Surge pricing can get up to 10x normal fares at times and be very lucrative to drivers.
A 10x surge is not very common and usually it is 1.5 to 2x the normal rate.
Expect surging in bad weather, holidays and after concerts and sporting events.
You will not have many riders between 11-2 pm.
Timing plays a big part in your rider frequency. You will get more riders in the “commuting hours” between 7-10 and you will get more riders at 5, after work, and then later during “party hours.”
You will also find that more peeps need rides on the weekends than in the weekdays.
Plan your Uber-ing around being ‘online’ during peak hours to get the most out of your time.
After each ride you will have to wait until you get another ride request.
Pull over somewhere (with wifi) and park to not waste gas. Come prepared with things to do while you wait:
Watch movies on your computer or play on a portable device.
Or you could write that play you always wanted to write. Or start a website. Or draft an article to send to medium.com.
Just don’t waste this time, this could be boring- but it could also be an opportunity to further yourself along your goal path!
You want to score a high rating with your riders and you also want tips.
Set yourself apart from other drivers by having a focus on the rider experience:
- Keep it clean and nice
- Carry an extra charger and offer to charge their phone while you drive
- Tailor the music to them and make sure they like what’s playing
- Talk to those who want to talk and don’t bug those who don’t
- Mount your phone and use the GPS so your riders can see where you are going and that it is the most efficient route (keep the sound off)
- Get an EzPass, or something similar, for Tolls so you don’t have to stop and you can drive straight through
- You can even offer water or snacks for free in hopes to see dividends in your tip jar
- Keep different air fresheners in your dashboard and ask them if they have a favorite for you to hang up/hook up during their ride
- At the least, do not have any strong smells in your car
Bonuses and Extra $$$
Through both Lyft and Uber, you are rewarded by having others sign up using your promo code that you are assigned. If someone uses your promo code to sign up for the service, they pay you.
The promotion I saw when I signed up was that you would get $100 for everyone you signed up. I would give you my promo code but I don’t really drive Uber- I just signed up to do research, so it just seems weird. See if one of your friends has a code for you to use before you sign up and then advertise your code to others that you think would sign up.
Each service also offers bonuses for completing certain assignments or opportunities. You will get a text or email from Uber telling you about the bonus. I have seen anything from complete 120 trips this week and get a $500 bonus to drive during these specific hours to be guaranteed to make $35 an hour (where they would compensate you up to that amount if you didn’t make it from your riders).
I have seen anything. Could be: complete 120 trips this week and get a $500 bonus. Could be: drive during these specific hours to be guaranteed to make $35 an hour (where they would compensate you up to that amount if you didn’t make it from your riders).
Keep a tip jar in view but never mention it. You don’t want to seem pushy to your riders but you want them to know that you accept tips.
- You can sign into and use multiple ridesharing services at the same time. Once you get a Lyft rider request, turn off your Uber app and visa-vera. This way you have as much driver opportunities as possible
- You can use something like Daily Pay and pay a daily $1 fee and they will send you your rideshare money daily. Normally you get paid every couple weeks, this way, for a fee remember, you get your money daily and can be a little more conscious of how much you have and/or need to make.
- If you are in a small town that doesn’t have much Uber/Lyft use, hang up signs and advertise yourself as an Uber driver and bullet out your ‘rider experience’ features. Get it out there that your town has a rideshare driver. (Maybe leave it at that and don’t compare any to the benefits of ridesharing vs. taking a cab because cab companies do not like ridesharing and you don’t want an angry cab driver mob outside of your house (but if you got guts then let people know that it is cheaper to rideshare, more timely and an overall better experience))
Uber may cease using surge pricing as algorithm predictions become more and more capable. This would make the consumer experience much cheaper but it would greatly hurt the drivers. May 2016 article linked here for further reading:
The end goal of Uber is to have an army of driverless cars to drive you around so don’t plan to do this forever:
Whether you are in a smaller town or a bigger city, ridesharing can work for you. Remember to use the tactics and techniques to get more out of your Uber-ing and Lyft-ing.
Also, I love the Lyft pink mustache.
Thank you for reading, if you have other rider experience suggestions, leave them in the comments!
500 youtube videos; most prominently:
- How Uber Works Step By Step : Alex Castro
- 7 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE Driving For Uber & Lyft : Buck Living
- My 1st week driving for Uber/Lyft. : Chris Kelly84
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