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There aren’t a lot of requirements to become an Uber driver, but one thing that often holds new drivers back is an eligible vehicle. We’ve talked a lot about Uber’s Xchange Leasing Program and Lyft’s Express Drive in the past, but there’s another vehicle option that doesn’t get talked about very often and that’s driving for a private fleet owner.
My definition of a private fleet owner is someone (individual or company) who owns at least one car that they rent out or lease to an Uber driver. Private fleet owners have always been common on UberBlack and UberSelect (and on UberX in New York) because there are high start-up costs to owning a vehicle on those platforms.
UberBlack requirements include commercial insurance and TCP licensing while UberSelect requirements are similar to UberX but you also need a mid-level luxury vehicle. Since not many drivers want to go through the hassle of getting signed up or can even afford a luxury car, they often turn to UberX. But over the past year, we’ve seen a proliferation of fleet owners starting to offer UberX eligible vehicles to new drivers.
We do have a list of recommended fleet owners by region on our vehicle marketplace, but there are thousands of fleet owners out there and they advertise everywhere from Craigslist to Facebook or even in person flyers. If you’re considering driving for a private fleet owner, it’s important that you understand what you’re getting into and that you compare your options to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
A private or local fleet owner could make a lot of sense if you don’t have the credit to get approved with Uber’s Xchange Leasing program or if it just isn’t available in your city yet. There are private fleet owners in every city in the US, but it can be tough to find them.
Sample Uber Fleet Owner Deal
Here’s an ad I found on Craigslist from a private fleet owner looking to hire a driver. A typical fleet owner deal will require the driver to pay a weekly fee to rent the car and the driver will be responsible for all the gas. The fleet owner covers all maintenance and ensures basically that the car is in drivable condition.
So let’s see how this deal stacks up:
You can see that ‘Ken’ is looking for someone to take the day shift and on the surface, it sounds like a pretty decent deal. Here are a few things to be on the lookout for:
- Deposit: I would hesitate to give anyone that I met on Craigslist a deposit, but if they are a more reputable or legit fleet owner with a website, online reviews, etc then it may be part of their standard policy.
- Free maintenance: Since you’re going to obviously be putting a lot of miles on the car, you will want a fleet owner who covers all the maintenance from small stuff like oil changes to bigger repairs like brake jobs.
- Mileage Limits: Renting a car from a fleet owner is always going to be more expensive than buying on your own but it’s important that you take note of the mileage limits, if any.
- Weekly Fee: Most fleet owners require you to rent a car for the whole week or even months at a time but if you can find one like this who gives you some flexibility in the number of days you have to work, that is a bonus. If you’re on a daily rental program like this, I’d try to work all 12 hours of the day while you have the rental as to maximize your return on the rental fee. If you’re on a weekly fee, the same applies but obviously you may want to take at least one day off so you don’t overwork yourself.
- Insurance: You’re going to want to make sure you have an insurance policy that covers you at all times while you’re driving. Uber won’t even let you add the vehicle onto the platform if your name isn’t listed on the insurance card so this shouldn’t be an issue but just make sure that you understand the deductible, coverages, etc.
- Vehicle Already Approved for Uber: Since Uber allows one vehicle to be added to multiple driver accounts, you should look for a fleet owner that has already had the vehicle you’re going to use approved to drive on Uber. That way, once you sign up as an Uber driver, you can use the fleet owner’s vehicle inspection form and be ready to drive much quicker.
- Extras/Perks: I like that this fleet owner offers unlimited car washes and water, gum and mints. Might even be a good idea to add a ‘tips sign‘ since you’re going to be providing all these extras compared to a regular Uber driver.
- Independent Contractor: You don’t want to be locked in to any type of deal with a fleet owner so it’s important that you are an independent contractor and track all of your expenses so you can deduct them come tax time.
A lot of fleet owner deals require you to rent the car a week or even a month at a time which works but obviously you won’t be able to utilize the car 100% of the time since you need to take breaks to eat and sleep. The nice thing about this deal is that two drivers are actually sharing the same car, so you’re able to effectively lower your operating costs.
Here’s another deal I found on Craigslist that doesn’t look nearly as appealing since it’s a revenue split as opposed to a flat rental fee. That means the more you work, the more you pay to the fleet owner. Ultimately, this may be something you could still try out, but I would definitely ensure that there are no upfront fees or out of pocket costs.
The worst thing that should happen with a deal like this is that you try it and don’t make much money and then look for a better fleet owner.
Hyrecar Vehicle Marketplace
There are lots of big fleet owners out there that have dozens or even hundreds of cars on their platform, but HyreCar is a unique model since they are actually a marketplace for vehicle owners and drivers looking to work with Uber and/or Lyft. And the nice thing about HyreCar is that their rentals are a lot more flexible than a traditional fleet owner.
Becoming a Fleet Owner
If you’re a current Uber driver, you’ve probably already realized that there’s only so much you can make by driving for Uber. But if you were able to rent out your car to another driver during your off-hours, you could hypothetically make money while you sleep. Now it’s not as easy as that but there is some real opportunity to become a fleet owner if you’re interested in turning your car into an income producing asset.
HyreCar lets you rent out your vehicle to other drivers
As mentioned earlier, HyreCar also allows individual drivers to list vehicles on their platform as a mini fleet owner. So while some drivers use them to rent cars, others will actually list their vehicles on HyreCar’s marketplace. The nice thing about this option is that they take care of all the heavy lifting since they provide insurance, they find potential drivers for you and more. So if you’re not sure if being a fleet owner is right for you, this is a great way to test it out.
Become a fleet owner on your own
If you decide to look for renters on your own, I think there are a few things you can do to enhance your listings whether you go the Craigslist route, Facebook ads or other method of marketing. The first and most obvious would be to set up a website, since that will immediately lend your name/brand more legitimacy. You can get a cheap domain name and hosting for just a few dollars a month from BlueHost, install WordPress, pick a template and then have your website set up in just a few minutes. It really is a lot easier than most people realize.
Next, think about the type of deal that you yourself as a driver would sign up for. You probably don’t need to provide hourly rentals but maybe a semi-flexible schedule like the first Craigslist ad we featured above would be a good fit. And finally, you’ll also need to get commercial insurance or talk to your current insurer about getting another driver added to your policy.
Drivers, what do you think about the fleet owner deals I’ve found? Have you thought about listing your vehicle on a rental car marketplace like HyreCar?
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-Harry @ RSG