If you’ve been driving around much lately, you might have noticed that Uber has been posting up at gas stations across the country trying to recruit new drivers. You may have seen signs like the one above that says ‘free gas’ or you may have even been solicited to become a new driver.
Rideshare drivers are already familiar with Uber’s referral bonuses aimed at recruiting new drivers but now it seems as if there’s a new approach – guerrilla marketing. It looks like Uber is taking to the streets to recruit anyone and everyone with a car and in true Uber fashion, they’re also paying out some pretty hefty bonuses for new drivers.
Today’s article will delve into why Uber is hiring more drivers, how the Brand Ambassador program works and how much you can earn from becoming a Brand Ambassador.
Aren’t There Enough Drivers?
I know some of you are probably asking yourself this question right now but the thing you have to keep in mind is that Uber’s best interests are rarely aligned with what’s best for drivers. Uber has struggled with driver retention, customer service and just keeping drivers happy. And when it comes to the number of drivers it has on the road, Uber’s goals are at the opposite end of the spectrum as drivers’ goals.
Uber really wants as many drivers on the road as possible at all times of the day. But drivers actually want the opposite, surge pricing anyone? So right off the bat, you have to understand that Uber is always going to be at odds with drivers in regards to this part of the business. I know some drivers don’t like to recruit new drivers because that increases the number of active drivers but do you think that’s going to stop Uber from figuring out other ways to recruit new drivers?
Let’s face reality, all the reasons that you enjoy driving are the exact same reasons why thousands of new drivers are still signing up every single month. If you’re looking for a stable 10 year career as a rideshare driver, you’re in the wrong industry. So instead of sitting back and hoping that more drivers won’t join, it may be time to start looking at ways to take advantage of the fact that Uber is so desperate for new drivers.
Uber’s Marketing Channels
Traditionally, Uber has relied on three different methods to recruit drivers:
- Word of Mouth – This marketing channel has effectively dried up in my mind. In 2013 and 2014, you had people quitting their jobs to drive full-time for Uber, taxi drivers leaving their cabs to drive for Uber and so forth. Those days are long gone though and while it’s still a viable opportunity for some, I don’t think many drivers are calling up their friends these days and telling them they have to sign up for Uber!
- Driver Referrals – We obviously don’t know the numbers, but if I had to guess, this has been and still is one of Uber’s most successful marketing channels. Granted, they have paid out some pretty outrageous bonuses over the past year but driver referrals are still going strong today. I know that I personally am still signing up hundreds of drivers a month through the various referral links on my site but the conversion rate is very low. I’d say less than 5-10% of people who sign up using my links actually end up becoming full-fledged drivers. Uber recently added a feature that allows you to follow up by e-mail with drivers who have signed up using your code but it’s basically unusable at this point (lots of bugs).
- Paid Marketing – You’ve probably noticed that Uber does a lot of paid marketing on channels like Google Ads and Craigslist. You may have even signed up to be a driver through a Craigslist ad but hopefully you signed up using my link 🙂 Craigslist is great for companies like Uber though because it allows them to target people who are in the job market (and they’ve probably also heard good things about driving for Uber). But the problem with Craigslist is that there are only a limited number of people searching Craigslist for jobs every day. On the other hand, Google Ads can reach way more people and allow for re-targeting (ie you visit Uber’s site and then see a bunch of Uber ads everywhere you go on the internet for a month) but those people might not be as motivated as the Craigslist types.
Many of the smaller on demand companies like Washio, Instacart, etc have struggled on the supply side to recruit enough drivers because they don’t have the budget or the capability to go outside of traditional paid marketing channels. Uber doesn’t have that problem though and that is one of the reasons why they created the Uber Brand Ambassador Program.
How The Uber BA Program Works
The gist of the program is that Uber hires ‘Brand Ambassadors’ to stand at gas stations around the country and recruit new drivers. They offer perks like free gas cards for signing up and of course sign-up bonuses once you hit X number of rides. You get paid out once drivers hit their first ride and then another bonus once they hit their 10th or 20th ride.
The program may vary slightly from city to city but the general idea is that you are trying to do everything you can to recruit new drivers and sign them up for Uber on the spot. Uber really likes to emphasize a frictionless experience and they’ve even partnered up with gas stations so that there is a mechanic on site to facilitate that. The BA goes through the application process with the new driver (15-20 minutes) and then the mechanic will inspect their vehicle.
At the end of the sign-up process, the new driver only has to wait the standard 3-5 days for their background check to process and then they are ready for their first ride. Talk about an easy sign-up process.
My Experience Signing Up For The Uber BA Program
I decided to give this program a shot so I did some research and found two different links where you could apply:
I received the first link from a fellow driver so I applied and within a few hours, I had a response from someone at Uber. Uber actually contracts out the BA program to a third party company so even though you’re technically recruiting for Uber, you’ll get trained by CW, and paid through them as well.
Within a few hours of applying, I got an e-mail and then a call from an Uber rep. This Uber rep turned out to work for CW and he gave me details on the program and asked if I was still interested. I said yes and within a few days I got an e-mail from another CW/Uber employee with info on the training session I would need to attend.
The training session was held in Anaheim at the same place and time as Uber office hours. I was paid $50 for the training session and while it was supposed to last two hours it ended up only being around 75 minutes.
(I never ended up getting paid for this session but after a few follow-up e-mails, CW/Uber took care of it).
There were supposed to be six of us total but two people didn’t show. Of the four of us, I was actually the only driver. The other three had seen ads on Craigslist and were all working full-time or part-time but wanted some extra income.
The training consisted of a short powerpoint but the key takeaways for me were the following:
- New Promotion Terms: When this program launched, new drivers were getting $50 gas cards just to sign up and BA’s were getting $40 just for signing drivers up on the spot. But it turns out that many of these new drivers were never giving their first ride and there were also some issues with fraud (certain drivers just kept signing up and getting multiple gas cards – awesome haha). I actually initially signed up to be a BA because I figured it would be insanely easy to give away $50 gas cards and get $40 myself, guess I was too slow though 🙂 The new program pays out $250 for every driver you sign up but they have to give at least one ride. The new driver will get a $100 bonus after their first ride and another $100 bonus after their 10th ride.
- Guaranteed Minimum Wage: If you really suck at this job and never sign anyone up, you’ll still get paid minimum wage. BA’s are required to do 8 hour shifts but I would push for four hour shifts because the thought of standing around at a gas station for 8 hours seems pretty terrible.
- Tracking: Your sign-ups are actually tracked using your passenger referral code so if you don’t have a passenger account that is separate from your driver account, you’ll need to create one. You’re not allowed to use your driver referral code 😉
- Follow-up: You’re ‘supposedly’ given a VOIP number for each person you sign-up and a daily summary that lists the status of each of your sign-ups so you can follow up with them.
- Multiple Places You Can Get Assigned: There’s no guarantee you’ll get the gas station next to your house but they do have quite the coverage area in LA/OC at least. Here’s a list of all the gas stations in LA/OC: t.uber.com/lagaslinks
The program definitely seems intriguing considering BA’s get $250 for each person who gives one ride but it’s nearly impossible to say how many people you’ll be able to sign up and how many of those will ultimately give that first ride and convert for you. If you’re a good salesmen, you like talking to people and you like convincing people to do things or to sign up for stuff, this could be the perfect job for you.
In a best case scenario, you probably wouldn’t be able to sign up more than a few people per 8 hour shift but at $250 a pop, you can see how that would add up quickly. Especially on a weekday where you may not make much driving, a $250 sign-up could be a huge payday.
I haven’t done a shift yet but I suspect there is also a lot of following up type work that needs to be done to try and coerce drivers onto the road. New drivers also tend to encounter lots of problems getting signed up (documents missing/unreadable, background check issues, etc) so you’ll probably need to help with all of that too.
This probably isn’t the best opportunity for me personally since I’m not a very good salesmen. And I would also be very honest and up front with new drivers saying things like, well it’s a decent job but there are all these problems, issues, risks, etc that you need to watch out for. At least I could pitch them on my blog though 🙂
I actually found it strange that Uber doesn’t try and recruit more drivers for the BA positions but after thinking about it some more, I think they’re worried that drivers will be too honest with potential drivers. Remember, during my training session I was the only driver in the room and I honestly couldn’t believe some of the things the BA manager was telling us about what it was like to drive for Uber.
I don’t think the BA manager thought she was lying but it really does reinforce just how large the disconnect is between Uber employees and its drivers. Uber employees really do feel that driving for Uber is still the greatest job in the world and there is literally no downside!
I actually wrote some of the sales points down because I thought they were pretty amusing.
- A lot of people find it very addicting – Ok that one is kind of true.
- Uber is a good place to find your next job – Ok that one is definitely true if you know what you’re doing.
- Make new friends – I haven’t made any new friends but I have been hit on once or twice.
- We have doctors and lawyers who drive for Uber – WTF? I almost laughed out loud when I heard this.
- I don’t see anything bad about driving for Uber – Clearly she hasn’t read The Rideshare Guy.
- Everybody’s doing it – Ok now pass the Kool-Aid
Drivers, what do you think about Uber’s continuous efforts to hire more and more drivers? Do you think drivers should not aid Uber in its quest to hire drivers or do you think drivers should take advantage of opportunities like the Brand Ambassador Program?
-Harry @ RSG