Rideshare Guy here, and I want to share a video for you that has my number one rule for new Uber drivers, and don’t worry, I’m not going to hold the suspense too long. The number one rule that I have is: Don’t chase the surge! If you guys are a new driver, you’ve probably seen the maps in the driver app that show surge pricing.
The darker the color you see, the higher the surge pricing. And often, when new drivers start, they’re pretty tempted. They know that when they go to that surge zone, they’re going to make more, right? Wrong. That’s actually the number one mistake I see that new drivers are making all the time. If you guys are an experienced driver, or you’ve been around for a few months, you’ve probably realized that by now.
Chasing the surge is tempting, but the wrong thing to do
This is a mistake I see all the time, and it’s tempting, I understand. I used to do the same thing, but once you get the hang of things, you’ll see why it doesn’t make sense to chase the surge. It rarely, rarely, pays off, and honestly, generally isn’t worth it. We have some data behind it, and I can talk a little bit about that.
See a surge on the map? Here’s why you shouldn’t drive there
When you guys see a surge out on the map, you actually don’t want to drive there. Surge is really good at redistributing drivers. If you have a bunch of drivers on the south side of the city, for example, and you have one driver on the north side, that north side of the city might be surging. It might be red, and that indicates to other drivers that, “Hey, come drive here,” right?
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Let’s say two or three of the south side drivers decide to go up there, and they notice on the map, north side of the city is surging, “All right, I’m going to go up there. I’m going to see if I can get some rides,” the surge starts to go down. Surge is based off passenger demand and driver supply, so if there’s not very many drivers, obviously it’ll mostly likely surge. Well, as drivers start to go and fill in on that area, then surge starts to go down. We obviously don’t know both sides of the puzzle, but that’s kind of the basics about how it works.
Another reason why you don’t want to chase the surge is because since Uber is constantly hiring so many new drivers, they always see the surge. I can guarantee if you think back, even if you’re an experienced driver, you think back to when you first started, and you saw that surge, I bet you you chased it, just like I did when I was first being a new driver, because it’s tempting. You see that, “Hey, I want to see that surge, and I want to go and make more money.”
Other drivers chase the surge and cause it to drop
You have a lot of new drivers who are always going after that surge, and by the time they get there, it’s going down because drivers are being redistributed, and supply of drivers is going up, which means surge goes down. That’s really how you have to think about it. The surge works really well as a tool for redistribution, but it doesn’t work that great for drivers.
If you’re already in a surge zone, you don’t need to do anything. You can go, sit there, and hopefully, you’ll get a request and make money, but that also leads to another point, right. I’ve been in areas before where it’s high surge, two, three, four X, and I’m not getting a single request, and to be honest, I still don’t fully understand how that’s always possible, but I can guess that it’s because there’s no drivers available.
If I’m one of the only drivers available, even if passenger demand isn’t that high, since the surge algorithm is made up by passenger demand and driver supply, if driver supply is low, and passenger demand is low, you could still surge. I would suspect that if passenger demand is really low, and supply of drivers is really high, that’s when it doesn’t surge.
Advanced Lesson: Surge Pricing Strategies
Surge rides can transform a break-even shift into a lucrative one, but if you’re not supposed to chase the surge, what are you supposed to do? In Lesson 2 of our Gold Course, we share advanced tactics on how to find the surge and how to maximize the surge without chasing it.
It makes sense to chase the surge when…
It does make sense to chase the surge when it’s a predictable surges. The most obvious one is when bars close. When the bars close, you know that area is going to surge.
For example, here in California, the bars close at 2:00am, but usually the surge is a little earlier, closer to 1:30. It’s when people cut off the last round of drinks and everyone has to get out. Sometimes they even kick them out earlier than that, and so you know that at 1:30, it typically starts surging. Maybe it usually goes up to two or three X, and then at that point, it’s a waiting game, so you can drive over to that area, and that’s when it’s going to make sense to chase the surge.
If you think about it for the big events, for those with a sustainable surge where you have a ton of people, and even though a bunch of drivers go over there, the passenger demand is going to so greatly outweigh driver supply. You know that it’s going to be a sustained surge, so you can spend 10 or 20 minutes driving all the way over there, because you might get a long ride on the surge. That’s when it really makes sense to chase the surge, and I think that you can actually make some pretty good money.
Chasing the surge is a topic that I cover in my video course, so if you’re interested in learning some more about that, definitely take a look. Let me know what you think.
An update — Up front surge pricing is beginning to replace multiplier surge
In many markets, Uber is testing and implementing “Up Front Surge Pricing,” which uses a flat-rate surge bonus rather than a multiplier. So instead of the fare being multiplied by 1.5x or 2x, you’ll see exactly how much the surge bonus is. This can be good for short surge rides, but terrible for long surge rides. I wrote more about it in the article below.
I’m curious to know — Do you guys agree with me?
What do you think about chasing the surge? Is there stuff that’s even more important for new Uber drivers, or maybe there is even a few situations where you found that it does make sense to chase the surge? I’d love to hear from you.
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