There seems to be this notion out in the world that Uber and Lyft drivers still make a lot of money. While that may have been true a few years ago, these days one of the most common complaints I hear from drivers is that they’re not making enough money.
New drivers are especially at risk because there is a steep learning curve in this industry. It’s not rocket science being a rideshare driver, but it is a little more challenging than it might seem. And unlike other jobs where everybody makes the same amount from day 1, a more savvy driver will be able to make more than a brand new driver since there are all sorts of tips and tricks that will impact your bottom line.
As you drive more, you’ll gain valuable experience and likely increase your income. But in the meantime, there are a few key things you can do to start increasing your income today.
When/Where You Drive is Key
In my opinion, it’s all about when and where you drive. Now obviously you can’t do a whole lot about the city you live in, but on average, you will make more the bigger your city is. Uber and Lyft are in hundreds of cities across the country, but a majority of their trips happen in just a few limited markets. That’s why you see the biggest sign-up bonuses, guarantees and incentives in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and New York.
If you don’t live in one of those cities, all is not lost, but just understand that the average income in a mid-sized market will be lower.
Follow the Alcohol
I’ve always focused on Friday/Saturday nights and holidays like July 4th and New Year’s since that’s when demand is at its highest and you see the most surge pricing. This strategy isn’t foolproof, but it’s a good place to start if you’re looking to maximize your income.
(I’m not a big fan of sitting in traffic, but weekday commuting hours are also a busy time for rideshare drivers since lots of people use Uber and Lyft to get to and from work.)
It’s not hard to figure out when the busiest times to drive are since Uber/Lyft send out weekly summaries and heat maps, but you have to realize that it’s not just about when lots of passengers are requesting rides. As a driver looking to maximize your income, you also have to consider times/places when there aren’t a lot of drivers out.
A simple example will show you that if there are 100 requests coming in and 200 drivers to meet those requests, you only have a 50% chance of getting a ride. But what if you find an area where there are only 25 requests coming in AND just 15 drivers to meet that demand? You’re now guaranteed a request and you may even get some surge pricing.
When are other drivers not driving?
Now that there are more drivers than ever, it’s important to focus on times when there aren’t a lot of other drivers out. There are always a lot of requests on Friday and Saturday nights, but there’s also a lot of drivers out, so you may not get a ton of requests during these times. But there are lots of times and places where only a few passengers are requesting rides and there aren’t any drivers around.
Here are a couple examples:
- Early AM airport runs from 3-7 a.m. or so. Not many drivers are willing to get up this early and drive and, although there aren’t a ton of requests, when there is a request, you’ll be very likely to get it. And since literally no one is up at that time, there’s no traffic and people tend to travel long distances. No one is going to make a grocery run at 5 a.m. so no need to worry about that 🙂
- Walk of shame rides. A lot of drivers stay up late on Friday and Saturday nights chasing the surge, which is a fine strategy, but it also means that many of them are too tired to drive in the mornings. Passenger demand isn’t high at 8 am on Saturday/Sunday, but there are lots of people who had a little too much fun the night prior and now need rides home. Again, this is a time where there’s no traffic, no pick-up confusion and not a lot of Uber drivers out, so you can come in and make a killing.
The key thing to keep in mind is that these suggestions are a starting point. I can’t tell you what to do since everyone’s situation and location is unique, but if you apply this type of thinking, you’ll start to notice patterns and put yourself in the position to make more money more frequently.
My advice would be to keep experimenting and trying new things and see if you notice an increase in your earnings. There are lots of pockets and times/places you may find that meet the criteria above and will help you make more money!
Bonuses are Big These Days
Most people know about all the lucrative sign-up bonuses you can get as a new driver, but once you check that off the list, it’s important to stay on top of the weekly driving incentives. Not every city has these, but when you do see offers for earnings boosts, or “do X trips and get $Y” type offers, you should take advantage of them. I think Uber has lowered rates to the point where it’s unsustainable long term, and in many markets they have to add extra incentives just to get drivers to come out and drive every week.
It’s important to read the fine print on these programs, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably find they start to make up a sizable portion of your weekly income. As a driver, I would rather see higher rates across the board and none of this incentive crap, but if that’s what’s presented to me, I’m going to try and take advantage of it.
Over time, you’ll learn there is a strategy that can be applied to each incentive program. For example, Uber has been sending me lots of ‘do 20 trips, make $60’ this week type offers. That may not sound like a lot, but if you can bang out 20 quick trips, you’re getting a ‘$3 tip’ on each and every single ride, which adds up. In this type of scenario, I might go down to the college area where lots of students need short rides to the bar and try to rack up 2-3 rides per hour.
Drive for Multiple Services
I usually tell new drivers they should pick either Uber or Lyft to start with, and after a few months add the other. The biggest benefit you’ll see is that during slow times, you can turn both apps on and increase your chances of getting a request. Personally, I prefer driving for Lyft since they tend to have higher rates and allow in-app tipping, but there are plenty of times where you’ll make more money by driving for Uber and that’s why I keep both around.
Most drivers do the same, with 67% of drivers from my 2017 survey indicating they drive for 2 services or more.
Delivery When Rideshare Is Slow
One common strategy is to drive for a delivery service like DoorDash during the middle of the day or when not that many people are going out for the night. DoorDash tends to be busy when rideshare is slow. Think about it, people who are staying inside are more likely to order takeout right? Also, unlike rideshare, most of the orders on DoorDash will pay a tip.
Ultimately, there’s a lot of variability when it comes to pay for rideshare drivers – most are earning in the $10-$20/hour range but there are some who are earning more and some who are earning less. A majority of your pay is a function of the city you live in, but beyond that, there are specific strategies you can use to increase your income.
If you liked this post and would like to learn more about the strategies that are being used by Uber and Lyft’s top drivers, please check out our paid video training course at Maximumridesharingprofits.com
Drivers, what do you think about the earnings potential of a new driver? Have you employed any of these strategies in order to make more money or would you rather just flip the app on and see where the night takes you?
-Harry @ RSG
Want More Tips? Deliver With DoorDashDashers receive tips on 97% of their deliveries. DoorDash has a tip button and encourages customers to setup "automatic" tips. Become a dasher here.
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