Your First Week of Lyft Driving
Before you hit the road, let’s go over some common concerns.
- You do not have to schedule hours.
- You do not have to have anybody’s OK to log in to driver mode. You can literally log in and log out whenever you want.
- Once you select the Pink Steering wheel icon, you are in driver mode. You are live to receive calls.
A lot of drivers like to jump the gun and head out on a busy Saturday night in downtown but I recommend a more mellow approach. You should begin in an area where you will receive calls yet be able to pull over and stop easily. This will allow you to switch between the Lyft app and your GPS app with less stress and get you into the muscle and mental memory of inputting addresses and searching for where to drive.
The first few rides I gave were a little stressful. Although I had used GPS applications before, I had not used them to such a degree and could have used some time to figure out how to operate either G-maps or Waze. As you use them more often, you learn when and how to interpret the data that they give you.
Start in the Suburbs: I suggest starting in the suburbs where it is going to be a little slower and easier to pick up passengers. The pickup is the hardest part of the ride and making it easier will help you get in the groove.
Navigation: Navigation is the number one reason for low ratings for drivers so take your time navigating and focus on doing it right. Think ahead about where it is telling you to go. If you know your area and your navigation app is telling you to take a route which will have a lot of traffic, trust your instinct.
Pickup: I recommend checking the actual address that is inputted into the Lyft App. Park outside of that address in a safe area. If you are unable to find a safe area to pullover, go to the nearest safe spot and call your passenger to coordinate.
Be Honest: Let your passengers know that it is your first ride and first day. Most are pretty receptive. When I came to SF I told everyone I was new and they appreciated the honesty. My ratings didn’t even suffer because I was upfront with all of my passengers.
Communicate: Let the passenger know which route your GPS is taking you. See if they agree on its efficiency. In the event that they do not, follow the route that they give you.
Act Natural: It may feel a little strange driving people for money at first. Some people get nervous. Act natural and pretend you are driving a friend or family member. Believe it or not, in addition to making some money for yourself, you are actually helping people remain safe when they party or saving them a ton of money from a standard cab fare. No need to be nervous.
Ratings: You will be given a little bit of leeway for the first few rides that you do. Some people may be brutal with their ratings on you but Lyft takes this into account. Around 30 rides, you will see your rating displayed for the first time. If it is not a 5.0, don’t worry or feel bad. Just keep being a good, safe, and friendly driver.
Candy/Water/Chargers: You can use Candy/Water/Chargers to help with your ratings. Not many drivers (myself especially) carry these items anymore though. You can use these to hedge your ratings against the fact that you are new and inevitably will make mistakes on the road. Once you gain some experience though, it will be time to ditch the extras.
Act Natural and Keep Calm
I put this here again because it is important. Passengers prefer a genuine driver. Don’t try to fake it until you make it. Don’t act like you know about whatever sports or technical programming language they may rant to you about. Don’t act like you are supposed to have the knowledge of a professional chauffeur or feel pressured to do something you do not feel comfortable doing. Just do you.
You Will Make a Mistake
You are probably going to mess something up at some point. You will miss an exit, forget to start the ride (or end the ride), accidentally drive into Mexico, etc. When this happens remain calm and focus on the road. Make sure to pull over when it is safe and you feel comfortable if you need to. Don’t jerk the wheel in a last minute attempt to change course.
If it is a technical issue, make sure to message Lyft through the help center. You aren’t the first to make this mistake. I promise.
To be honest, a lot of the learning experience is trial by fire. The more you drive, the better driver you’ll become.
When And Where To Drive
Everyone has different preferences on the hours and places they like to drive. I am going to highlight some generalizations on when and where to drive once you start to get the hang of things. I suggest trying all of the hours at least once. Of course, you can drive whenever you want to so don’t feel pressured to drive any hours you don’t want to.
Weekday Nights: Evenings have good volume. You will often experience less traffic and this will make it easier to drive. Where you get better traffic conditions though, you generally get drunker passengers. If you are worried about your passengers being wild I would suggest logging off by 11PM.
Weekday Mornings: These hours will generally have a lot of commuter passengers. These are people who commute using Lyft. Often you will get passengers who missed their train/bus or passengers who are going to an interview. These passengers tend to be quiet and more logical/reserved. Traffic tends to start off ok and turn into a nightmare as the morning churns on. Keep in mind less drivers are out in the morning so you may find more success before rush hor. The earlybird gets the worm as they say.
Weekends: Your weekend passengers will generally be more social and in a better mood. After all, it is the weekend. If you drive during a Sat/Sun morning you will get a lot of hungover people going home after a night out. Often these can be great times for Primetime as less drivers are out in the morning.
As the afternoon comes around you will get requests from a lot of places for people who are going out to enjoy the weekend. Many of these destinations will be in the bar and entertainment area of your city. The places that these rides end will be the places that become busy as Saturday night comes around.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are a lot of drivers on the road during the weekends. Drivers with full-time jobs will be on the road when they otherwise would not be.
Saturday Evening: This time will get pretty busy as people continue to go out, begin their night, end their night, etc. It’s the highest volume part of the weekend. However, it is also the time that the most drivers are on the road. As the night comes to a close, you will get a lot of business around bars, events, conventions and concerts. Prime Time pricing tends to peak on Saturday nights whenever the bars let out. This is when the most number of passengers often need a ride all at the same time and there is rarely enough driver supply so prices go up.
Sundays: Mornings begin decently as people return home after crashing wherever they crashed the night before. Expect a lot of quiet rides with disheveled passengers. As the morning progresses people will begin to go out for brunch and other Sunday daytime activities. As Sunday night comes around, business generally drops as people prepare for the work week.
Beaches: If your market has a beach scene, there is usually a spike in business as the sun sets on the weekends. You may get some Primetime rides from the beach. However, you may also get a lot of sand in your car. So bring a towel.
After a few days you will get the groove of where and when to drive and how to operate the Lyft app. Hopefully you will have made a few hundred dollars when all is said and done too. So now that you have jumped through all of the hoops of becoming a Lyft driver, you can begin meandering the streets to earn money as a driver.
If you’re on the fence about signing up, I say just go for it. There isn’t a whole lot of risk to trying it out and in a best case scenario, you could be out on the road giving your first ride in as little as 3-5 days after submitting your application. You’ll probably end up liking it and at least doing it here and there when you need some extra cash. And if you don’t, you’re always free to quit 🙂
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