Driving full-time for Uber and Lyft can be both challenging and tiring. If you’re not prepared mentally and physically to be a full-time rideshare driver, it can overwhelm even the most enthusiastic drivers. Today, we have a guest post from Jay Cradeur, a full-time driver from San Francisco who’s completed over 12,500 trips. Here are tips for new and current drivers based on what he’s learned over the last 12,500 trips.
I began driving for Uber and Lyft in January 2016 and since then, I’ve completed over 12,500 trips. I have driven in both the Sacramento market (one month) and San Francisco markets exclusively.
I moved to San Francisco early in my career in order to capitalize on this market’s unique qualities. San Francisco has both high rates and high demand. During this time, I have learned quite a bit about how to not only maximize my earnings, but also make this job enjoyable and repeatable. By repeatable, I mean you don’t need to overexert yourself or stress yourself so that you don’t want to drive anymore and quit. The turnover rate among drivers is ridiculously high.
Let me share five tips and techniques that will keep you making good money while also keeping you joyfully on the road regardless of where you live.
Drive for Multiple Companies
Last year in San Francisco, Uber was king. Two out of 3 rides came from Uber. Uber also offered a nice $500 bonus for 120 rides per week. Flash forward to this year. Now Lyft is king. Two out of 3 rides come from Lyft. Lyft has a reliable $415 weekly bonus. Uber has changed its bonus structure so that you don’t know what they will offer until the night before the week starts. Put both companies in your arsenal.
Last year, Uber’s system malfunctioned for a few hours. If you had Lyft, you had no problem. If you only had Uber, you were stuck. Another time, Uber took me off the road due to a paperwork issue. I needed to go to a local Uber office to get it sorted out. No problem, I drove for Lyft until I had the time to stop by Uber.
However, the most pertinent reason to drive for multiple companies is that you will make more money. I spend most of my day with both apps running at the same time. This allows me to take the first ping that I get. This makes me more efficient. I spend less time waiting for my next ride. I get more rides done in a day. I get to my bonus goals faster.
Drive in the Daytime
I saw all the YouTube videos about guys making a big score on a fare when driving at night due to a high surge, so I tried the night driving. I drove by the bars at 2 in the morning and drove very intoxicated people home. I did not like it. I didn’t like the prospect of someone puking in my car. I didn’t like listening to the conversations akin to gibberish. I didn’t like it at all.
From a purely safety standpoint, driving at night, in the dark, is not as safe as driving in the daytime. It is harder to see. There are more intoxicated people behind the wheel. The people in your car are more likely to try to touch you, or make sudden movements in your car. I say it’s better to be safe.
My biggest fare was a woman driving from downtown San Francisco to Foster City on a rainy weekday morning. She had a surge of 5.2. The ride, due to traffic, took one hour. She paid $230 and I earned $170. My point is there are good fares to get during the daytime if you know where to drive.
It is busy in the morning because so many people use Uber and Lyft to get to work. But in the end, I choose to drive during the day because I prefer to sleep at night. It is my natural rhythm. I stay safe, earn good money, and avoid puke in my nice little blue Prius.
Incorporate Exercise into Your Daily Routine
I drive from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. straight through. Then I stop, work out and eat some lunch. Then I resume driving from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to maximize my revenue by achieving bonuses and getting high surge fares. The exercise is so very important. It revives me. I feel good that I am working out. I sit in a hot steam room and let all the stresses of the day seep from my body.
It is tough to drive 10 straight hours. I did it for over a year, and once I began exercising, my days seemed shorter, more manageable and enjoyable. Cutting out exercise is a sacrifice I am now unwilling to make.
Manage Your Rides: Learn to Cancel Stressful and Non-profitable Rides
This is a powerful lesson. If you take every single ride that comes your way, you will, simply put, make less money and unnecessarily stress yourself out. I still remember like it was yesterday, going for a bonus during the morning rush hours, and getting a fare from the Marina district in San Francisco all the way to San Jose.
That fare cost me a bonus. That fare made me angry. I remember feeling an anger arising in me as I drove down Highway 280. I was a lousy driver for that passenger while I stewed in my own suffering. I vowed to never again take a ride that was not profitable and pleasurable.
Learn how to screen your rides, and only take the ones that make sense for you. Learn to say no to long rides during rush hour. It will absolutely enhance your driving experience and add several thousand dollars per year in your pocket.
Relax, Relax, Relax
If you have not been a passenger in an Uber, Lyft or taxi, go out and do it now. You will learn more about what makes for a good driver and what makes for a bad driver. I have taken hundreds of rides during my travels, and continue to recognize that a calm driver, a driver that is not in a big hurry, is the superior driver.
Passengers do not want an Indy race car driver experience. They don’t want someone who darts in and out of traffic to save a minute or two on a ride. 99% of passengers want a pleasant, easy, calm ride. They want to sit back, relax, sometimes talk, sometime play on the smartphone, and not be distracted by aggressive talking or driving.
You can learn by reading these words, but the best way to really get it is to be a passenger and feel what a good driver delivers, and also what a poor driver delivers. Plus, it is fun to talk shop with drivers.
I just took a few Uber rides in Lisbon, Portugal. There, Uber is technically illegal, so the drivers don’t have any decals in their car. Both my drivers were experienced. They talked just the right amount, told me when we were going to pick up other passengers (I usually drive UberPOOL), and drove very calmly and steady. Go, be a passenger and learn by doing.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Looking back, these seem like obvious recommendations. However, while driving, it is easy to settle for the simpler options, like just driving for one company, or driving at night to chase after some high surge fares, or skipping the exercise while your body struggles with 10 hours per day in a prone position, or taking every ride even if it means sitting in traffic on a bridge, or rushing to get a passenger from point A to point B.
I have been guilty of all of these temptations. Pain is a great teacher. Skip my pain, learn from someone who has seen and done it all, and enjoy the rides. Be safe out there.
Jay Cradeur is a full time Uber and Lyft driver with over 13,000 rides under his belt. He specializes in optimal driving techniques and tactics for generating maximum revenue in San Francisco. Jay’s motto is “Drive for Uber, See the World!” Jay has visited ten countries in the last year, thanks to the revenue opportunity and flexibility of rideshare driving. Jay is a graduate of UC Berkeley where he earned a BS in Business Administration. You can read Jay’s blogs and see his videos at www.nomadjay.com.
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Readers, do you have any advice for new drivers? Leave your advice in the comment section below.