If you’ve been following this site for any reasonable amount of time, you’ve probably realized that I’m all about maximizing my opportunity as a rideshare driver. You don’t make any money when your car is empty so it’s important to think about ways you can drive as efficiently as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I love driving, but there are other things that I would rather be doing with my free time. So with that in mind, I’m always looking for ways to work smarter, not harder.
And although there are lots of great times to drive in cities across the country, as a general rule of thumb, you can’t really go wrong working the party hours (around 10 pm – 3 am on Friday/Saturday nights). Demand will almost always exceed supply (especially when the bars close) and you should spend less time waiting around for requests and more time driving around and making money.
The Biggest Complaint
The biggest complaint I see though (other than the occasional puker) from Uber and Lyft drivers who work these late night shifts is that their ratings take a hit during this time. Just imagine a horde of drunk college kids and 20-somethings descending upon your car. It would make sense that these intoxicated passengers will be more easily agitated, quicker to 1 star you, etc right. But in reality, I don’t think that’s the case at all.
Uber’s Rating System
Before I bust out my empirical evidence, let’s think about how the ratings system works for a minute. If your hypothesis is that all drivers are rated lower during ‘party hours’, then the average night time driver will be rated lower than the average day time driver. So when you think about it from Uber’s perspective, now they have a bunch of good drivers who are at risk of deactivation because of when they drive.
Deactivating good drivers just doesn’t make sense from a business point of view. If a 4.6 night time rating is the same as a 4.8 day time rating, Uber would be losing a whole slew of good drivers. This trend would be very easy to recognize since they can quickly compare the average rating during the party hours to the average rating during the day. And if that was the case, they could give some leeway to night time drivers and basically grade them on a curve. Since we know Uber has some insanely talented people working on the business side of things, I just can’t see them making a basic mistake like this.
Party Hours Actually Lead to Higher Ratings
Up until this point, I’ve only laid out subjective evidence. So if you guys are anything like me, you may still have your doubts. But I recently got my hands on a ratings PDF from the Uber SF office that had a lot of interesting data on how passengers rate their drivers.
Two graphs stuck out in my mind though since they actually showed that the average driver rating in SF is higher during ‘party hours’ and big events like Outside Lands Festival compared to the weekend average rating.
If you look closely at both of these graphs, you’ll see that the average rating during party hours and ‘end of concert’ is actually higher than the weekend average rating. So if anything, driving outside of these hours is a detriment to your rating.
How Could Ratings Be Higher?
My experience actually lines up with this data since I primarily drive the party hours and big events and I’m still a 4.9 rated Uber driver and a 5.0 rated Lyft driver. Even during one of the busiest weekends of the year, I still managed to get all 5 star ratings over July 4 weekend, when every ride I did was surging on Uber at 3.0x.
Related Podcast: My Best Weekend of Rideshare Driving Ever
I think the reason for higher ratings is because at the end of the night or at the end of a big concert, riders are appreciative of your service. In the past, it was nearly impossible to call for a taxi and now people are happy just to have a ride home. They may have to pay surge pricing but in a free market no one is forcing them to pay 3-5x. Most riders know that drivers don’t control surge pricing (and if they don’t you should remind them and empathize with their plight) so they don’t normally take it out on drivers by rating them lower.
Now I know some of you will say that you were getting low ratings driving nights and once you switched to days your rating improved. And that is completely fine, but you have to realize and accept the fact that it’s not the passengers fault you were rated lower during nights. No doubt night time passengers are different than those during the day but you have to be able to adjust your style depending on the passenger.
It’s Not Them, It’s You
If you’re one of those drivers who feels that your ratings take a hit at night, then the first thing you have to admit is that it’s not anyone else’s fault but your own. It’s human nature to want to blame other people for your problems but it almost always comes back to something you’re doing (or not doing). So if you can accept that fact, then you’re already on the path to improving your ratings.
In a future article (scheduled for Monday 1/12), I’m going to talk about the specific strategies you can use and things you need to be aware of to improve your ratings. I will also reveal the number one complaint that riders have about their drivers (and it may surprise you!). If you haven’t subscribed yet, please sign up for our e-mail list and you’ll get an e-mail as soon as this post goes live!
Drivers, have you experienced lower ratings during ‘party hours’ and special events? Or do you think my reasoning makes sense and that the ratings are actually higher during these times.
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