If you ask RSG contributor Gabe Ets-Hokin what happened to his Rideshare earnings in 2019, he will take you to the nearest cliff and point down. Oversaturation of drivers and massive reductions of bonuses as well as the regular fare cuts have made it harder to earn the decent hourly rate he enjoyed the previous five years. How did he work harder, not smarter and help keep his income up? Find out below!
2019 has been pretty rough for me professionally. Like a lot of gig workers – and I’ve been a gig worker on and off since the 1990s – the arrangements you build for yourself work… until they don’t. And so once again I have to reinvent myself, applying my skills and experiences to find some other way to keep my income growing – or at least steady.
Luckily, the U.S. economy is a dynamic ol’ thing, constantly growing, changing and adding new opportunities. The plethora of driving-related gig jobs means there’s probably something out there for everyone, so I looked for something new, lucrative and fun. I found it with YoGov.
What is YoGov?
YoGov is a concierge product for government services. Founded in 2016 by Ryder Pearce (the same guy who co-founded the helpful SherpaShare app), YoGov offers several services. YoGov concierges can stand in line for you at the DMV or passport office and even help you get an appointment for TSA Pre-Check enrollment. In fact, the California DMV investigated YoGov last year for selling appointment slots for $19.99.
But the main service that caught my eye was the DMV road-test appointment. After getting you an appointment, sometimes weeks or months before the first available appointment in the DMV system, YoGov provides you with a car and (patient driver) to take you to the DMV, show you the test route and then lets you use the car to take your test, all for a pretty reasonable price: in California, customers pay about $160 for an hour of testing, including a free ride to any DMV up to 30 miles away. YoGov claims it operates in 20 U.S. states and is expanding: you can see where it operates here.
YoGov’s training materials
What is the Sign Up Process for YoGov?
Onboarding is handled via the YoGov website – make sure to sign up using a referral code with YoGov in order to get $100.
Next, you’ll submit your paperwork and vehicle photos via email. Your vehicle has to meet YoGov’s eligibility requirements (they prefer smaller, easy-to-drive vehicles, and your car needs to pass a safety inspection). I was also invited to a phone interview, which was quick and painless.
However, there did seem to be some trouble processing paperwork. I uploaded mine at least five times in a two-week period and kept getting chirpy “reminder emails,” even though I had submitted all required documentation. Finally, three weeks after applying, I was set up in the system and ready for my first trip. Training is brief: watch some videos, read about the driver test and you’re done. It’s not as sketchy as it sounds; YoGov is NOT a driving school, so we’re really just there to be supportive, get them to their appointments on time, and provide a car so they can take the test.
YoGov in Action
Like other gig work, YoGov works through an app. To get trips, a concierge is notified there are available trips in their area. Once you open the app, you tap on the tab to show a list of available trips. You select and accept the trip, and it’s transferred to your “upcoming trips” queue.
When you see the trip in your queue, you’ll notice the client’s info is there: name, phone number, pickup location and any notes. I usually send an introduction text when I get the trip, a reminder the night before and a final alert when I’m parked out front.
After introductions, I find out how experienced a driver the client is. Most of my clients are young adults, from 19 to 40 and are experienced drivers, even if that experience is frequently in foreign countries. If they’re confident and comfortable driving in city traffic, I let them hop in the driver’s seat, adjust everything to their ergonomics, and direct them to the DMV.
At the DMV, I talk about the test route and the driver test at that particular DMV, and then we head out to practice the route. YoGov has videos and hints about many of the DMVs they service, so it’s easy to figure out and guide the client. Clients can request extra hours of driving, usually one extra but occasionally two or three.
How your state DMV handles the following will differ according to your states’ laws, driver-test, etc. but in general you’ll check in ahead of time, wait together for a DMV examiner, and then wait while your client takes the test. This can be around 10-20 minutes – unless they fail right away, then it will end sooner!
I usually know right away from the body language of client and examiner if they passed. If they did, we take a quick picture of the happy client with his or her score sheet, go inside to the driver-test window, complete a bit of paperwork, and the client gets their temporary license! If they fail, they can make a new appointment, but not the same day. Most clients re-book with YoGov if they fail.
I usually offer a ride back to the pickup point, but it’s not included in the rate. After I’ve dropped off the client, you close out the trip with a few simple steps and you’re done. YoGov pays with direct deposit on the following Friday.
DMV examiner with one of my clients, July 2019.
How Much Can You Make with YoGov?
YoGov concierges are paid a flat rate that amounts to roughly $30 an hour. Most trips offer the driver $80, and if you don’t have to travel too far, and things go smoothly at the DMV, you can in theory finish in under two hours. In practice, there’s usually a wait at the DMV – sometimes as much as two hours – but my average is about $28 an hour, which is better than what I usually make driving Uber or Lyft mid-day.
Should You Sign Up with YoGov?
I really like YoGov. I get to develop a relationship with my clients, which leads to tips: I get tipped almost a third of the time. I also like feeling like I’m making a difference in someone’s life, and I’ve met some pretty interesting people, like the young woman from South Africa who’s joining the U.S. Navy next year, or the French mechanical engineer who fixes U.C. Berkeley’s atom smashers.
What I don’t like is the unsteady nature of the work. Getting rides that make sense to me – rides with minimal drive time to the client pickup and dropoff locations – is challenging, and I wind up doing fewer than one a week. However, if you live in an area where there are lots of rides going on, like Silicon Valley, you can make a decent part-time income doing it. I met another YoGov concierge at the Fremont, California DMV, on the fringe of Silicon Valley, and he told me he’s done over 300 trips in about a year! I think it’d be challenging to get more than one trip a day completed, but he’s obviously pulled it off.
Another negative is delays. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting in my car, waiting for the test with clients, and that sucks. Every minute that ticks along because the DMV examiners are at lunch, inspecting out-of-state cars or out “sick” on a Friday cuts into my hourly pay. However, I’ve never dipped below $25 an hour, and YoGov, on a case-by-case basis, has told me that they will pay extra for circumstances beyond a driver’s control.
I think Ryder and his team are good folks that care about their concierges. However, there is a lot of uncertainty that mirrors the rest of the gig economy’s business model: don’t create full-time workers that grow invested in what they do. YoGov strongly asserts we’re independent contractors, clear language from AB5 and Dynamex be damned. And I’m also unsure if my rideshare insurance (I do have a rideshare rider) will cover me if a client wrecks my car when they’re practicing or out on a drive test.
YoGov’s policy is that you are 100 percent on your own:
“We maintain a simple, straightforward policy to protect both our Concierges and clients. Whenever you are at the wheel, you and your insurance are responsible. Whenever the client is at the wheel, the client is responsible.”
YoGov says it will try to get the client to pay for damage, but who knows how successful they’ll be, or if they will pay if the client can’t or won’t?
So should you do it? If you don’t mind the insurance thing, and there’s lots of YoGov business in your area, I’d encourage you to give it a try. Use this link and be sure to use the code “INSERT REFERRAL CODE FOR RSG].” Be patient with the slow onboarding, and check frequently for open trips in the app. Good luck and don’t drive yourself crazy!
Readers, would you sign up for a service like YoGov as a driver? How do you feel about being 100% on your own with someone driving your car (even if it’s only to practice for a driver test)?
-Gabe @ RSG