What did you wish you knew before you started driving for Uber and Lyft? And if you haven’t started yet, what do you want to know? I found a great video by Youtuber munchhkym that goes over a solid list of things she wish she had known before she started driving that I think is relatable for all drivers.
Take a look at her video, then check out the video transcript below if you prefer to read.
This video’s going to be pretty long, but hopefully a lot of valuable information in a short amount of time, so buckle up. Things that I wish that I had known before I started driving.
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Make sure to sign up with a referral code
When you sign up, there is money waiting for you. In some places, it’s as low as $10, but in most places, it’s more like $100 to $1,500. Anyone’s code will work because it’s based on your city, not the city of the person that referred you. My code for both Uber and Lyft can be found in the description. If you’ve already signed up, contact support. And if it hasn’t been too long, they will give you the code retroactively.
Sign up for both, but drive for one at first
This leads me to my next point, which is do both. But to start out, just sign up for one. Depending on your city’s bonus, you’ll probably have a quota to meet when you first start out. Sign up for just one, hit the bonus, then sign up for the other one. Once you’ve gotten the bonus for both, then you should start using both apps.
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When you’re driving for both, the way to do it is to have both apps running at the same time. If you have an Android phone, you can use Maxymo or Mystro in order switch between the apps more easily. If you have an iPhone, unfortunately, there’s nothing yet. When you get a ping for one app, accept it, and then go to the other app and go offline as soon as you can. If you get a ping in that time, try to force close the app. Sometimes this will save your acceptance rate from being hit.
Sometimes when you’re doing both, you’ll end up getting stuck in one app doing a lot of trips at one time because it’ll automatically put new rides into your queue. If you get a request while you’re still dropping off a passenger, don’t panic. Accept the request, drop off the passenger, finish that ride as normal, and keep going. It’ll automatically tell you where your next pick up is, and it will alert the passenger that you’re dropping someone else off. This is especially valuable when you’re in a surge area, because you can get multiple surge rides even though the surge is ending soon.
Don’t chase the surge
This leads me to my next point. Don’t chase the surge. Surge and prime time are interchangeable because one of them is for Lyft and the other is for Uber. The darker the area, the higher the pricing. The reason that area is surging is because there aren’t a lot of drivers, but there are a lot of riders looking at the passenger app. Although this means that more people may be looking for rides, it doesn’t mean that more people will necessarily be requesting rides. Most riders are too smart or too cheap to take a surge ride. A lot of people will open up one app, see that it’s surging, and then go to the other app to see if they can get a cheaper ride. Or they’ll wait until the surge is over before they request.
Additionally, when you drive into an area, you are now impacting the number of drivers in that area, which means the surge is likely to go away. If you drive a really long way to get to a surge, you’ve now wasted a bunch of gas and probably made the surge go away. When you can get surges, great. But don’t worry about them too much.
Keep your car clean and your trunk clear
If someone orders a ride because they’re going to the airport and there’s no room in the trunk for what they need, they’re going to have to cancel and get a new ride, and they will not be happy about it.
Additionally, don’t carry a lot of personal items to protect yourself from theft. All you really need is your phone and your driver’s license. If you have a tip box, empty it regularly into an area that can’t be seen.
Ask for the passenger’s name to confirm you have the right person
When you’re picking up a passenger, especially in a busy area, make sure you ask the passenger’s name. This is extremely important that you ask their name, not “Are you” passenger’s name. If you say, “Are you X?” or they’re able to see your screen, a lot of dishonest people will pretend that they are your passenger in order to get a free ride, especially drunk people.
In my first video, I mentioned that I had someone pretend to be my passenger and then puke my car, which meant I couldn’t even charge them the cleaning fee.
Cancel appropriately, and don’t wait too long for stops
Both Uber and Lyft, if a passenger takes more than five minutes to arrive to their destination, you can cancel the ride and receive a cancellation fee. Depending on your market, it may be more or less. In my city on Lyft, it’s a flat fee of $5, and on Uber, it’s around 3.75. Once the app tells you to cancel if you’ve waited too long, cancel the ride. On Lyft, it does require that you contact the passenger before you cancel.
Make sure you leave the area after you cancel, so that you don’t get called back to them. If you pick them up after you cancel, they might not be very happy with you and they could ding your ratings.
Following the same line, don’t wait for a passenger to make many long stops. You will be paid for wait time in these instances, but it’s literal pennies, and it’s not worth it. Politely tell the passenger that if their stop is going to be more than three minutes, then it’s better for you to end the ride and for them to call a new ride when they’re ready. I usually tell them that I’ll sit right there in case I get another ping. If I don’t, then I’m the rider that picks them up. This leaves you free to accept other rides without wasting your time and you’re less likely to get dinged in the ratings.
The passenger asks for another drop off than what’s in the app, first of all, confirm that you have the right passenger. Then you should ask them to the change location within the app. It’s not too difficult. They should be able to figure it out pretty quickly. This is important because it protects you from riders who pretend they didn’t get dropped off where they intended in order to get a free ride. It also prevents you from being picked up for a new ride automatically in the queuing system I mentioned earlier. A lot of people have dash cams for this exact reason. So they can prove to Uber or Lyft that this is where the passenger said to go.
What to do for passengers who are far away
If you get a call for a ride that’s very far away, most drivers won’t accept it. People generally live close to where they shop, drink, and work. So, the long rides, or unicorns as we call them, are very uncommon. If you get a ping for a very far away distance, I recommend calling them first to confirm that they absolutely want to wait for that amount of time. Usually, they don’t, and this will help prevent them from canceling on you when you’re already part way there. You don’t get paid for any of the time when you’re driving to the pick up.
Learn your area. Local knowledge wins
Be smart about your driving and learn your area. Passengers and drivers cluster in specific location. I like to look at the passenger apps to see where other drivers are and avoid them. They’re there because a lot of passengers need rides from there. But if you go just outside of their cluster, then you’re more likely to get rides from the outskirts.
Experiment with GPS apps
Find the GPS that works for you. Uber’s GPS kind of sucks. I personally prefer to use it because I like having the app there. But Lyft actually doesn’t have their own GPSing system. They show you a map with a pink line, but if you want turn by turn directions, you’ve got to do an external app.
Most people in big cities prefer Waze or Google Maps. But don’t turn off your brain. Go the best way, but listen to the passenger if they want you to go a different direction. They’ll probably be wrong, but they’ll rate you better for listening to them.
Learn & follow the law of your city
Don’t break the laws for anyone and do the research about the laws in your city and state. Many places require you to have clear signage in a specific location showing the Lyft and Uber logo, all require you to pick up somewhere that doesn’t block traffic, you cannot take more people than you have seats available, and all require children under a certain age or weight to be in a car seat, which must be provided by the passenger unless you want to be super nice and provide it. Some people warn against that though because you could be held liable. A lot of these are not just legal issues.
They’re also policies within Uber and Lyft, so allowing people to go against them could get you canceled. If someone tries to make you break the law, tell them that you will not. If they refuse to comply, cancel the ride. I recommend waiting until the wait time is up so that you still get that cancellation bonus, unless they cancel it themselves. If you end up breaking the law and have an issue, you could be held liable and your insurance will likely not cover you.
Get rideshare insurance
Many policies now are starting to catch on and will allow you to add it for a small fee per month. Uber and Lyft do have their own insurance policies, but they’re not all inclusive and they have high deductibles. If you get in an accident while driving and you don’t have rideshare insurance, your insurance will not cover you. If they find out that you’re doing rideshare without getting the proper coverage, they will also cancel you and often blacklist you. If you’ve already started driving, contact them as if you’re just starting out and tell them that you would like to add rideshare insurance.
My insurance in Idaho is State Farm and I added it for only $16 extra per month. It is absolutely worth it and the additional fee can be written off on your taxes.
Prepare for your taxes
Every little thing that you buy for your car can be written off as a deduction because you are considered a small business owner. Car washes, air fresheners, candy, even food that you eat while on the job can be written off. Get an app that tracks your mileage. I use ZUS. A really popular one is MileIQ. There are a bunch that you can try. Save around 10% of your income you make through rideshare for tax season. Keep receipts and be smart.
Take car of your car
Rideshare puts a lot of mileage, wear and tear on your car. But also, don’t overpay. A lot of car maintenance and repairs, you can do yourself. Scratches and dents can sometimes come out with toothpaste and hot water. Oil changes and a lot of maintenance can be done yourself. Look up tutorials online. Get to know your car, do your research, and don’t let the car maintenance industry take advantage of your ignorance.
If someone makes a mess in your car that’s going to take more than a few seconds to pick up, especially if it requires a professional cleaning, take extensive photos before you clean it. If it’s hard to see the damage, dab a paper towel and take photos, video, everything that you can to document exactly what was done. People don’t want to pay the cleaning fees and sometimes Uber and Lyft don’t want to give them out, so fight for it. Cleaning fees are not a flat rate. It will be based on the amount of damage, so show as much damage as you can.
Check your car for items after each ride
If you provide chargers, make sure to check the chargers. This is the number one place people leave their phones. Always take a photo and report it to Uber and Lyft so that you are in the clear. Uber will charge $15 for returning the item. Lyft currently doesn’t have this, but hopefully they’ll catch on soon. Try to return it to the person as soon as you can, as there have been some weird cases
of people getting arrested. If your city has an Uber or Lyft hub where you can go into a physical location, bring it there and let them take care of it if you want.
Let’s face it. The perks are fun, but they are not required. It’s your choice if you want to. I find that they increase my tips, but they may actually lower my ratings. It’s honestly hard to tell. The ChapStick and the water are absolutely the most popular. But it’s all about what you want to do. This is your business and you are a small business owner, so run it however you like.
Your car, your rules
When it comes down to it, it’s your car. You can make the rules whatever you want them to be. You can cancel rides or not accept rides at any time, for any reason, as long as it’s not discriminatory for race, gender, disability, et cetera. You are required to take service dogs as that is considered a form of discrimination if you won’t. Both apps have strict nondiscrimination policies, so you can be canceled.
Be sure to balance your acceptance and cancellation rates. Your acceptance rate should be 90% or higher. Your cancellation rate should be 10% or lower.
Keep your own safety in mind
Safety should always be our number one priority. Things that can help with this are getting a phone mount, the link to my favorite is in the description, and not making dangerous moves because we’re trying to get somewhere faster. If you’re driving in a place with a severe winter, make sure you have winter or all-weather tires. I also recommend keeping an emergency shovel and some kitty litter in the trunk in case you or anyone else gets stuck.
As far as your personal safety, both Uber and Lyft disallow firearms. But for Uber, you can carry nonlethal weapons. Tasers and mace are especially popular. There was an incidence where a Lyft driver, however, was canceled for threatening someone with a taser when they wouldn’t exit her vehicle. If you do carry nonlethal weapons while driving for Lyft, don’t tell any passengers or anyone on social media, or you could risk being canceled.
Not everyone can quit their day job
Finally, don’t quit your day job. This may not be profitable for everyone. It’s also not a great fit for everyone. You could have a lot of downtime and you really need to learn your market in order for it to be valuable. A lot of people are able to do this full-time, but it is a huge drain on you emotionally, physically, and on your car. When you take out the taxes, fees, car maintenance, for a lot of people, it’s not profitable. I recommend it as supplementary income, but if you’re able to hold another job, hold another job.
Well, that’s all I got. Check out my channel for some more tips, tricks, and other things in the future.
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