Harry here. As you guys know, I’m a big fan of diversifying your income. But it’s hard to stay on top of the options available in your city and to know which ones are legit and which ones are a waste of your time. Today’s guest post comes from Rob at Dispatcher, and he talks about all the things you should consider when trying out a new service.
A driver’s life is filled with choices. Think about it: how many jobs are there where you’ll make hundreds of decisions over the course of a few hours, and actually have those choices impact how much you earn? This freedom of choice is what many rideshare drivers love about their jobs, but it can also make life pretty complicated.
Between choosing which company to work for, which times to work, and which locations to go to, you’ve got the ability to make or make or break your week depending on whether those decisions are the right ones. Turning left instead of right can impact which fare you get next, which then affects which fares you’ll get for the rest of the night, and, if you believe in the butterfly effect, could lead to a hurricane happening somewhere. A lot is at stake!
With the number of companies that hire on-demand workers growing at a rapid pace, it’s important to have a strategy in place for testing out a new platform. You want to diversify your income sources and be open to new platforms, but you also don’t want to waste your time if the opportunity isn’t right for you.
Conduct a Controlled Experiment
When it comes to choosing a network to work for, obviously Lyft or Uber aren’t the only options for on-demand work. Driving for a delivery service like Postmates or DoorDash is a natural choice to consider, but there are a growing number of options to choose from, with some not even requiring a vehicle. So how should you go about deciding which ones are worth your time to test out?
First, you need to know what your opportunity cost is. If you’ve been driving for Uber or Lyft for a while, you should have a good idea of what your average hourly rate is or how much you make in a given day. You can try to figure out what people are making in a given network by asking them, but it can be difficult to get accurate information about newer platforms. If you’re really interested in testing out a network, you’ll have to do it yourself.
Second, it is important to understand your operational costs for each service. A car costs a lot of money to operate. So even if you are earning more in gross fares using a car, you can actually make more money by eliminating your expenses. For example, it’s much cheaper to do delivery on a motorcycle (which also allows you to put “Professional Motorcycle Rider” on your resume) than with a car.
One awesome aspect of on-demand work is the ability to test out a new network without making any kind of long-term commitment: if it doesn’t meet your standards, cross it off your list and move on. If you’re going to deal with the fluctuating pay and schedule that on-demand work requires, then you should expect the networks to have to compete with each other for your services.
Realize that testing out a platform will be a little different than just trying to make the most money possible. You want to test one variable at a time, so it’s a good idea to focus just on the new platform for at least a few hours and log off of all the others.
Give it an honest try at a time when you expect things to be somewhat busy and then see what your earnings look like. Also consider whether you vibe with the type of work and the particular network you’re trying out. You might have to conduct a few different experiments to get an accurate picture of what you can expect to earn. You may find a platform that takes you back a little more toward the salad days of Lyft or Uber.
Find a Spot in Your Rotation
Even if a new network doesn’t pay as well as Uber, it might still deserve a place in your rotation. Just because you’ve got one or two solid platforms to work with, doesn’t mean there’s no place for a few more.
You know never when you could lose access to one or when rates will change, so you want to avoid relying on just one network. This puts you in a stronger position if some unexpected things start happening with your favorite platform.
You should also consider if you’re able to stay logged into to multiple different networks at once to minimize time between gigs or if other platforms have different peak times than ridesharing does. At the very least, always have at least one or two backup networks that you can use if need be.
It’s also possible that in the future newer networks may offer bonuses, rate guarantees, or some other method of trying to keep drivers on their platform. Being aware and ready for these things could give you an easy chance to snatch up some extra cash. It will also position you to be able to take advantage by already being on that platform.
Dispatcher aims to make applying to multiple on-demand jobs faster and easier. We’ve built a free app that allows you to input your application information once and apply to multiple on-demand networks in your area. It’s also a cool way to quickly see which networks are available in your city because many of these companies are rapidly expanding into new markets. Instead of researching a ton of different websites to try and figure out which companies are in your market, just log into the Dispatcher app and the list of companies in your area will pop right up.
If you want to simplify the process of applying to multiple on-demand companies and tracking referrals, check out Dispatcher.
Drivers, what do you think is the best way to test out new platforms? Have you had any luck trying companies other than Uber, Lyft, Postmates and DoorDash?
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-Harry @ RSG
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