Getting started with Uber or Lyft for the first time can be overwhelming at first. You have to navigate the app, your city – and your passengers’ moods. If you stick with it, driving inevitably gets easier, but making it through your first days/weeks/months can be rough. Today, we have new RSG contributor Paula Gibbins sharing her tips for new drivers.
How to Maximize Earnings as an Uber Driver or Lyft Driver
I’ve been a driver in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for a little over a year and have a few tips for new drivers. I’m mainly a part-time driver and therefore still a bit of a newbie myself, but there are a few things I’ve experienced consistently and think could be helpful for someone starting out to keep in mind.
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1.) Drive When It’s Best for You
First, it’ll help you tremendously to learn which times of the day are the best for you — both money-wise and comfort-wise — by testing the waters a bit. You might find you enjoy early in the morning better than late afternoon, or that the drunk riders at bar close are far more entertaining than the daily commuters — and therefore worth the possibility of a cleaning fee.
Personally, I set a destination for my office in the mornings and for my home in the evenings during the week and then work a little later on Fridays. I also try to work at least one full day on the weekends or two half days, depending on what my plans are. I tend to avoid late-night rides but that’s mostly because when it’s dark out, it’s harder for me to locate the correct address and I don’t want to stress myself or my passenger out if I can’t find them quickly and efficiently.
My husband, on the other hand, is a full-time day driver. He starts his day when I leave for work in the morning and goes for about 8 or 9 hours, sometimes more if he’s having a killer day and doesn’t want to break his streak. That’s the beauty of rideshare — you get to do what is best for you!
2.) Use Destination Mode Wisely
Second, the destination mode is not always a great option. I know, I know, I mentioned that I use it almost daily. But, here’s the deal: I use it to fill in the gaps and not for any other purpose. If you’re heading home for the day/night, or if you’re utilizing rideshare as a means to make a few extra bucks when you’re not at your regular 9-to-5 job, then go ahead and set your destination to pick up a ride or two along the way. Otherwise, it might not be a fruitful endeavor.
There is the exception to the rule, of course, and that happened to me just this morning. I picked up someone who was less than one mile away from my house and they were dropped off about a mile from where my office is. Best yet, it was a 1.2X surge.
Worth it! So, that brings me around to my first point again; you’ll want to play around with what works best for you and your schedule. One way to best utilize setting your destination is to find a way to go through downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul to get where you’re going. Going around the city is less likely to get you a rider. I’ve taken 45-minute trips with my destination set and came up with nothing to show for it, and those trips all have one thing in common: I didn’t go through the city.
3.) Learn How to ‘Read’ Your Passengers
Third, let’s talk about your potential passengers. They can be an interesting group of characters, that’s for sure. Some riders will want to talk with you, while others would prefer to keep to themselves — and both are perfectly OK! As you go along and give more rides, you’ll get a feel for which type of rider it is within the first couple of minutes. If the person is going for silence, they may even tell you this up front.
Don’t be discouraged by the ones who aren’t very chatty. That might just not be their cup of tea or they may have just had a supremely long and exhausting day and just want to get home. As for the talkers, some will initiate the conversation and others may expect you to start the chit-chat.
I usually start with the easy “How’s it going?” or ask if they have any fun plans for the weekend/evening/holiday — whatever the case may be. That will usually lead into them talking about what they are planning on doing and if they are excited about it or nervous or what-have-you, and next thing you know, you’re having a meaningful conversation with a complete stranger that will help the day go by a little easier.
I love when people have a fun story to share or even a rowdy group of bar-goers. It entertains me, makes the ride feel like it’s going quickly and therefore makes my day a little more enjoyable.
1.) Be Yourself
Piggybacking on my third point, make sure to be yourself. No one likes a fake person pretending to be interested in what they are saying and you might find yourself getting low ratings if people think you’re being rude or insincere. On the flip side, I do try to avoid political conversations just because I don’t want to get a low rating if we end up disagreeing on something. Otherwise, I’ve had some of the best conversations of my life with my passengers.
2.) Take Care of Your Vehicle
Lastly, take pride in your vehicle. I get so many compliments on how clean my van is. People are really impressed — and often relieved — to be climbing into a clean vehicle, and who can blame them? Would you want to get into a stranger’s car that has a funky smell or that is messy? Probably not. So, take care of your vehicle. It is one of the reasons you’ll get a good or bad rating before you even opening your mouth to say, “Hello.”
While these tips are aimed at those in Minneapolis/St. Paul, many new drivers could take these tips and use them to improve their rideshare driving. Whether you drive for Uber or Lyft, driving strangers can be overwhelming at first. It pays to get comfortable with your city, your vehicle, and the Uber/Lyft apps. Use the above strategies to get ready – and good luck out there!
Readers, what tips do you have for new drivers in your city?
-Paula @ RSG
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