Harry here. Many new drivers may think they have to push themselves to accept every ride while they’re online, but it can pay to be picky. Today, Atlanta Xcelence offers us a guest post from a relatively new driver’s perspective. AX has been driving in Atlanta for six months, and he’s going to discuss what you should consider before accepting a ride request.
It’s 5 a.m. and you’ve received a request that is 12 minutes away. Traffic is very light, and you guess it’s about 8-10 miles away. Should you accept it? Should you wait until a closer request comes in?
Well, it depends. After driving for a little over 6 months for both Uber and Lyft, I wanted to share 8 critical factors to consider before accepting a ride request. Let’s dive into this example and see what you should look for to help save you time and money.
1. Time of Day
Here in Atlanta, most requests I get around 5 a.m. are either for work or an airport ride. This is not to say that you can’t get an airport ride at 2 p.m. (which I have gotten) but I am more likely to drive that 12 minute distance at 5 a.m. than I am at 2 p.m because there’s a greater chance of getting a longer ride.
Now let’s say it’s 4 p.m. and the request is about 12 minutes away. This is the beginning of rush hour and chances are you will not get a request that is much closer (at least time-wise). Now this can vary from city to city, but here in Atlanta, you can be stuck in some awful congestion. I’ve even asked riders to walk towards me so that we don’t waste each other’s time. I’d probably skip this same request at 4 pm.
2. Day of the Week
This is also a critical factor that can help determine if it would be wise to accept the request. Most of my airport rides that occur at 5 a.m. are on Monday, Wednesday (cheapest day to fly), Friday, and Saturday. I usually don’t work Sunday mornings but here in Atlanta, the airport surges on Sunday nights.
If your request is at a good time on one of those lucrative days of the week, you might consider accepting it.
3. Area of City
Combining the first two tips with this tip will set you up for gold. The chances of the trip being an airport ride greatly increase when you are picking up from a hotel or a suburban area at 5 a.m. It is also highly recommended that you keep note of where you pick up these rides so that way you know where (and when) to be to land these rides.
4. Surge Amount
Surge glorious surge! I use the surge as a simple multiplier when picking up far away requests. I usually pick up requests that are no longer than 3-5 miles away and 6-8 minutes away. However, if I get a request with a 2.0x surge I will happily drive 6-10 miles and 10-20 minutes because it will compensate me (at the very least) for 2 rides.
5. Tier of the Request
I drive for UberX and the regular Lyft tier, which means I am highly susceptible to the dreaded UberPOOL requests. I personally will almost never pick up an UberPOOL request without a surge because it costs me money.
Here in Atlanta, the rate for UberPOOL goes all the way down to $0.10 per minute and $0.68 per mile. The usual UberX rate here is $0.12 per minute and $0.75 per mile plus the $1 base fare. To stay safe, I will only pick up an UberPOOL ride with at least a 1.5x surge, but I will never travel more than my usual distance.
6. Acceptance and Cancellation Rate
Uber and Lyft give you about 15 seconds to touch your screen and accept the request. However you can also accept the ride and cancel later on but be warned: these companies, Uber especially, frown upon frequent cancellations. Uber claims it can issue warnings and deactivate drivers who have a cancellation rate above the city’s “average.” If I have a high cancellation rate (20% or higher), especially if it is early in the week, I will almost be forced to accept the request in fear of being terminated.
7. Pax Rating
Another factor a lot of newer drivers might not consider is the passenger’s (pax) rating. Just as the riders can rate us, we also have the power to rate who rides with us. Speaking from personal experience, I would advise not to give anyone with a score below a 4.5 a ride and expect a pleasant experience. This is not to say a 4.9 pax can be in a horrible mood one day, but looking at the score ahead of time can prevent a lot of problems. Uber will display the pax score at the bottom of the screen when the “ping” comes in.
8. Attitude/Energy Level
Another less considered factor is your personal energy level. How are you feeling? Tired? It might be time to call it a day, unless you want to risk falling asleep at the wheel. If you are like me you might also get a little cranky when you are tired, and it is better to rest and recover than to push through and decrease your driver score.
These are 8 critical factors, but there are more, including the amount of gas you have in your car and special events in your city. If you know of any factors that are pertinent to your city and/or to all drivers, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Readers, what do you think of these tips for new drivers? Do you have a strategy to maximize your driving income like Ax does? How does your city differ from these tips?
You can read more about AX and check out his articles/videos on his website.