When things are busy, it’s pretty easy to be a rideshare driver. You turn the app on and wait for requests. But when things are slow, that presents a whole different set of challenges if you still want to make decent money. Today, RSG contributor Scott Van Maldegiam takes a look at some helpful strategies to help combat low demand.
Over the last few weeks, I have had the “opportunity” to work some lower demand areas and lower demand times. I helped one of my driver referrals complete his 30 rides in 3 days while driving in the middle of the day during the week while other new drivers were also trying to complete their 30 rides. In other words, it was a challenge. After helping this driver earn their bonus, I drove in lower demand areas on a couple of weekends that are covered by Lyft and Uber guarantees. This has given me the opportunity to try out some new strategies and better understand some of the challenges with low demand.
Longer Pickup Distances / Acceptance Rate Requirements
What is the longest pickup request you have received? My longest was 15 miles and 27 minutes. The only problem is that it was during a snow storm and rush hour so it would have taken me over an hour to get there. Long pickup requests can be a challenge and jeopardize your profitability. No one wants to accept a ride with a far away pickup point only to drive someone less than a mile.
Obviously, you can turn down these requests, but you can decide to accept the request in the hopes the rider will cancel the ride when they see where you are coming from and your ETA. If they don’t cancel, you can always call the rider and ask them to cancel saying they should be able to get a closer driver if they request another ride. If there is a surge rate associated with the ride, you can state that the surge rate will most likely drop before you arrive, so the rider is better off requesting another ride once the surge rate has decreased. Using these strategies will help to keep your acceptance rate up where it needs to be.
With the current rates being so low, it is difficult to make a lot of money when there isn’t a Surge or PrimeTime (PT). Some drivers are not logging into the driver app until they see a Surge or PT rate in the passenger app. The more drivers that implement this strategy, the more likely a Surge or PT rate will appear.
Meeting Minimum Ride/Hr
With guarantees, drivers must meet a certain number of rides per hour in order to qualify for the guarantees. I won’t go over all the details on how this is calculated since we covered that in other articles already though.
One particular challenge with regards to meeting this requirement is when you get a far away pickup. In order to meet this requirement it may not be so bad to accept this request unless, of course, the rider cancels when you are almost there. It is imperative to always call if you decide to accept a far away pickup.
Use Multiple Services
If you decide to work low demand time and areas, you can gut out a decent living by working Uber, Lyft and Sidecar at the same time. It can be a bit of challenge to work all of them on a single device but it is possible. Restarting your device before starting to drive can help keep all the driver apps active.
Related Article: How To Drive For Uber And Lyft At The Same Time
Work the Guarantees
We have been talking a lot about the guarantees the past few weeks. I have found the best guarantees to work for me are Sidecar when driving in the city and Lyft when driving in the suburbs. With that said, I have had mixed results working the Lyft guarantee in the suburbs because there are a lot more drivers online in the suburbs than there used to be and so the same number of rides available for a much larger number of drivers. During times where I wasn’t planning on working, I may get a ride or two and earn a $30 guarantee during an hour I didn’t plan on working with a small number of miles driven.
This doesn’t always pan out, though, especially when you get a cancellation. This past Sunday, I had three ride requests and two ended up with cancellations. Shame on me for not calling first for both cancellations. Both cancelled just after I arrived at the pick-up point. I was not happy especially since I thought Uber riders were the only ones that did that. I did collect the cancellation fees, though, which are a full five dollars for Lyft since Lyft doesn’t take a commission from cancellation fees like Uber and Sidecar do.
This is the most important concept that experienced drivers understand. Being in the best place to find rides will lead to more income. This comes with experience. When I was driving with my referral (he had a 6 passenger vehicle), I pointed him to the best areas to find rides. Finding areas that temporarily have fewer drivers will almost always lead to a quick ride request. Here is what I would look for:
- Low number of drivers – You want as much open space around as possible in an area that normally has ride requests.
- Disappearing cars – Looking at the rider apps and looking for areas where the cars are disappearing.
- Do not travel to heat map areas – This is what less experienced drivers do. Don’t do it. By the time you get there, there are a bunch of drivers already there and there are too many drivers for the demand.
By following the first two items above, you will identify and arrive at a hotspot before the heat map makes other drivers aware of it.
Referral Cards / Flyers
If you are looking to be more productive during hours where there are few ride requests, try something different. Try helping to generate more demand by making good use of your referral code. Generally, you can earn $5 per referral that takes their first ride when using your referral code (or $20 free rides). Here a few good places to drop off your referral cards or post your tear-off flyers.
- Hotels – It can be difficult finding riders who have never used Uber or Lyft. Your best bet is to drop off referral cards at a hotel as they are more likely to have out-of-towners who have never used a rideshare service before. Finding hotels around business parks or corporate campuses can be some of the best hotels to drop off cards.
- Bulletin Boards – These are great places to either put referral cards or flyers with tear-offs. Certain restaurants, grocery stores and college campuses have bulletin boards that can be productive.
- Restaurants/Bars/Clubs – Providing referral cards to the appropriate people at the club like bouncers and bartenders can provide results. You could even put up flyers on the poles/walls/etc surrounding these areas and on the sidewalk.
These are just a few obvious ideas. Be creative. One creative idea I haven’t implemented yet is dropping off referral cards at senior centers and retirement communities.
Create a Hotspot for Yourself
If you live in a low demand area, focus your referral card and flyers effort in one specific area near your home. Many retailers have space to display business cards and some may be willing to give you some of that space. It never hurts to ask if they are willing to display your cards. Here are some areas to concentrate on:
- Shopping Malls – lots of hotels, restaurants, entertainment and retail.
- Downtown areas in outlying areas – Finding suburban areas that lack parking and have lots of shopping, recreation and/or nightlife are great places to place your referral cards.
I suspect heading into summer, Uber and Lyft will enhance their referral rewards in some markets in an effort to increase ridership. It is a good time to plant some seeds not to mention helping you score a few additional ride requests near your home.
New Lyft Drivers Get Up To $250!
-Scott @ RSG
Scott Van Maldegiam
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