5 Lessons I’ve Learned After 20,000 Rides And $250,000 In Earnings

Have you ever wondered what separates long-term drivers with high ratings from drivers who burn out after a few months? It comes down to several factors, but one factor is based on how you approach rideshare driving. Senior contributor Jay Cradeur shares what he’s learned after 20,000 rides and $250,000 in earnings.

How time flies!  It seems like only yesterday that I gave my first ride with Uber.  I remember asking my passenger numero uno: “What makes for a good Uber driver?”  She responded with what I still consider to be prescient wisdom: “Don’t talk too much!”  She went on to share how many drivers would talk at her, when all she really wanted was a quiet ride to work and then back home again.

Have you ever wondered what separates long-term drivers with high ratings from drivers who burn out after a few months? It comes down to several factors, but one factor is based on how you approach rideshare driving.

Over the past two and a half years, I have amassed over 20,000 rides and $250,000 in net commissions (basically earnings before my own expenses).  I have also learned a thing or two about being a full time rideshare driver.  Let’s dive into the five most important things I can recommend so that you might be able to up your game and earn more money out there on the road.

Watch: Jay Breaks Down His Taxes Here

20k rides and counting!

How to Become a Top Rideshare Driver

#1 – Focus On Hours

I can share with you many strategies and tactics to improve your per hour earnings.  Over the past two years, I have increased my per hour earnings from $30 per hour to $40 per hour using every advantage that I have learned through trial and error.  While you may not be able to earn $30-40 per hour in your market, you can increase your earnings by 25% by following similar tactics.

But the thing that is most important is putting in the hours.

I work 50 hours each week.  I have been doing this since I began.  This is my natural workweek.  I see many drivers who focus too much on strategy (like where to drive, and when to drive, and which bonus to go after) and not enough on putting in the hours.  The hours add up.  The experience grows.  This is the thing I always focus on first:  Put in the hours.

#2 – Shut Up And Drive Slow

You will notice in the image above that I have a 4.96 rating with Uber and a 4.96 rating with Lyft.  My strategy is to shut up and drive slow.

It is so simple.  If you have never been a passenger in an Uber or Lyft ride, go and do one of each today (click here to get your ride free with Uber and here for Lyft).  It will completely shift how you see yourself as a driver.

Imagine you are in the back seat checking your Instagram account and suddenly the driver starts telling you a story about the last passenger in his car, or starts asking you questions about your work, or laments his breakup with his girlfriend.  It’s not so great.  In fact, it is disruptive and unpleasant.

Imagine you are in the back seat, checking your Pinterest account, and suddenly you feel the car swerve hard right, or the driver hits the brakes hard and your computer case lunges forward onto the car floor.  Not good.  Not pleasant.

👉 Related article: How to amplify your income as an Uber or Lyft driver

Ride earnings last week

This is a ride from last week.  Short ride.  I drove slow while Miles Davis’ Flamenco Sketches played in the background.  The woman said to me at the end of the ride: “Thanks for a nice pleasant ride.”

Listen for conversation cues.  If they are not there, don’t initiate a conversation.   Drive slow and easy.  Unless the passenger tells you he or she is in a hurry, then assume the passenger is not.

#3 – Don’t Play Rap Or EDM

I love music.  I can play the Native American flute, but my real joy is in listening to music.  Fortunately, with my job as a rideshare driver, I get to listen to 50 hours a week of music.  And now with Spotify, I can listen to virtually anything that has ever been recorded instantaneously on my phone and bluetooth through my ample car speakers.

The comment I hear the most from my passengers is: “Thank you for not playing Rap or EDM!”  Here again, you have to be able to put yourself in the place of your passenger.  A calm and quiet ride is the mantra.

Just two days ago, I took an Uber ride from my auto mechanic to my home.  The driver had a 4.84 rating. This is an average rating for drivers, so I was curious to see what could have dinged him in the past.

Once I got in the car, I understood very quickly.  First, he was playing rap music very loud.  He was rocking to the music.  None of his passengers were doing the same.  In addition, he was a talker.  He talked to me for the entirety of my short 8-minute ride.  It wasn’t pleasant.  No tip for him.

#4 – Create And Follow A Daily Ritual

In order to be a successful driver, you must enforce your own discipline.  Unlike a regular job, you do not have a boss watching over your every move.  You are your own boss.  You can work today, or you can go to the beach, eat a nice lunch and get a massage.  It’s all up to you.

One way to support you in working each day is to create a daily ritual.  Doing the same thing day after day makes the doing much easier.  There is less to think about, and therefore, it is easier to decide to get up and do it each day.  You can read all about my daily ritual here.

Create a daily ritual

#5 – Get 8 Hours Of Sleep Per Night

The more I drive, the more I realize how important sleep is to my job.  This advice applies to any job, but especially to our job as rideshare drivers since we are operating large and heavy pieces of machinery.

In addition to being responsible for driving, we also must manage our clientele.  If you are getting 6 hours of sleep or less, you are operating in an impaired state.  I can certainly tell the difference between 6 hours and 8 hours.  When I am sleep deprived, I notice how my passengers, fellow drivers and traffic lights far more easily agitate me.

My priority every day is to get 8 hours of sleep.  If I have to go to bed early to do it, I do it.  I am not alone.  Productivity experts and top performers in all fields are endorsing the importance of sleep and the need to get 8 full hours.  Life works better on 8 hours of sleep.  6 hours, not so much.

Related article: Essential gear every rideshare driver should have

Becoming a Top (and Long-Lasting, Profitable) Rideshare Driver

These are the things that are most important to my rideshare business as I write this article two and a half years in.  I could have written about the amazing value of the destination filter, or how to be in the right place at the right time to get the highest primetime or surge earnings.  But these pale in comparison to the five items listed about.

These items will increase not only your rating, but your earnings and the amount of tips you earn.  Your life will be simpler, more pleasant and enjoyable, and more profitable.  Be safe out there.

Readers, how many rides have you given? Do you agree with Jay’s tips for success as a top rideshare driver?

-Jay @ RSG