When I started on this rideshare journey nearly 6 months ago, things were good. All I had to do was flip into driver mode and I could almost guarantee myself $20/hr in take home pay. If I drove during peak times or the party hours, $30/hr was well within reach.
A lot has changed since then though and some drivers have actually given up on rideshare altogether. I guess I’m an optimistic one though, because when a certain challenge or problem arises, I’m going to figure out a way to make the most of it. I’ve already talked about how I use things like my passenger referral strategy to increase earnings but today I’m going to talk about how to build a network of passengers.
Take It From The Taxis
One of the things (maybe the only thing) that taxi industries actually did a good job of was establishing loyalty between certain passengers and drivers. Obviously most drivers were pretty terrible but there was always one or two drivers who knew what they were doing. They would establish a relationship with a group of people and use that passenger base for additional rides on top of the normal calls they got.
In my younger days, we used to party, a lot. I don’t ever remember calling a cab but I know that my friends all had cabbies they trusted who they would often call whenever we needed a ride. Even if the guy couldn’t pick us up for 20-30 mins, we were still loyal to him and we would always wait (it probably also didn’t hurt that we had plenty of ice cold beers at the house). These drivers treated us with respect and provided good service so we tipped them accordingly: it was a win-win.
Get a Familiar Face
One of the benefits of providing exemplary service and establishing loyalty with passengers is that they can call upon you whenever they need a ride. I actually stumbled upon this strategy accidentally on one of my first nights out driving. I was just going about my normal routine and a group of girls asked me for my number so they could call for a ride later (and they did) and another couple asked for my number too so they could get a ride back home. I didn’t really do anything out of the ordinary, I was just providing great service and I was rewarded.
This is a good strategy on slower nights since you can effectively position yourself in front of other drivers. And if you’re not near the passenger it shouldn’t be a big deal to just let them know they can call another driver. This wouldn’t have worked before with taxis because it was a PITA to call a taxi.
Take Advantage Of Your Great Service
One of the reasons why I think ratings and tips are so important is because they help incentivize drivers to be the best that they can be. At the end of the day, we all respond to incentives and if there’s no incentive to provide a 5 star experience, drivers aren’t going to follow through. If you’re the type of driver who goes above and beyond for their passenger, it’s about time you start taking advantage of that fact and building your network of passengers.
Get A Google Voice Number
As soon as I accept a request, I have a short cut set-up that will text the passenger, “Hey, this is Harry your Uber (or Lyft) driver. I’m on my way, see you shortly. -Harry XXX-633-3174″ That does two things for me: first, it tells the passenger that I’m on my way and second, it gives them my Google Voice number. The best part about giving out your phone number this way is that most passengers don’t even realize that you included your number.
Since all calls to passengers are over a VOIP line, there’s no way for you to know the passenger’s phone number and vice-versa unless you tell them in a text message. Once the ride is over and I’ve dropped off the passenger at their destination, if I feel they would be a good person to add to my network of passengers, I’ll let them know, “Hey if you guys ever need a ride to LA or want to set up a long ride in advance just text me, I included my cell phone number in that first text I sent you. That other number is an Uber (or Lyft) number.”
Sometimes I don’t say anything though. If they were wasted, obnoxious or just dull human beings in general, I won’t even tell them about my phone number. But if I feel they’d be a good candidate to add to my list, I casually mention it on their way out. If you live out in the suburbs and have to drive in to the city to rideshare you should always be on the lookout for people who live in your neighborhood since that way you can secure a paid ride home.
Pass Out Your Business Cards
One thing I’ve noticed using the ‘text message’ strategy is that people will hit you up for repeat rides that night but I have never been contacted by someone after that. I think it’s because it’s easy to lose the information that’s inside of that text and people tend to delete messages, etc. So when I find someone that I really think would be a good candidate for future rides, I give them my business card (that also has the same Google Voice number).
Any time I pick someone up near my house, I’ll almost always give them my business card and let them know that I live nearby so if they ever need a ride just give me a call. A lot of times, I’m just hanging at my house and if I can get a ride with no drive/wait time, that is a good opportunity to make some easy money.
Once you’ve established a network of passengers and you start giving out rides, you’ll probably notice that these passengers also tend to tip the best. Any time you can develop a rapport with someone and they know they’re going to see you again, they’re much more likely to leave you a good tip.
You can order premium rideshare business cards here.
Want to build up a loyal pax base? Consider signing up for UZURV, which lets pax make ride requests ahead of time and then ‘favorite’ their preferred drivers – meaning you’ll be partnered up with your favorite pax in the future. For more info, check out UZURV here.
Logistical Side Of A Passenger Network
I’ve had pretty good experience leveraging my passenger network but there are a couple things you’ll need to know. The Uber passenger request system is a proximity based algorithm so the closest driver to a passenger will almost always get the call. So unless you’re in a super high demand area like a concert, music festival, etc you should have no problem with your passenger requesting the ride once you arrive at the destination.
Lyft’s passenger request algorithm works a little differently though since it’s based on a combination of proximity and time without a ride (I explained it pretty well in my first podcast). So it’s very possible that you could be sitting next to your passenger and they request a ride but get another driver. In that case, just have them cancel the ride and do it again. That should reset the other driver’s pick-up request radius and put you next in line. I’ve never had to repeat this process more than 1-2 times but I suppose if there are a bunch of drivers within a few miles who have been online for a significant amount of time you may have to do this a few times.
Is It Ok With Uber and Lyft?
The last thing to consider is that setting up a passenger network is likely not ok with Uber and Lyft. I reached out to both companies for comment but you know how they are with customer service and all 🙂 To be perfectly honest though, I think setting up a passenger network is now more important than ever (and if you use the Sidecar method I don’t see how Lyft/Uber could boot you off). Fares have gone down over the past few months and there is more and more competition every day from other drivers, cab companies, etc and it’s up to you to do what’s best for you and your business. Remember, we are all micro-entrepreneurs now so you need to think like one.
Let’s face reality: driving people around for $20-$30/hr is a good job so a lot of people want to do it. Lyft and Uber are capitalizing on this and reducing fares to the tipping point where it may/may not be worth it for some drivers anymore. As a rideshare driver, it no longer pays to be just average. If you want to make the big bucks and stay happy, you have to exceed expectations, go out of your way to be a great driver and think outside the box.
Drivers, I’d love to hear your feedback on my latest strategy to help you guys make more money as drivers. Do you think the effort of building a passenger referral network is worth the hassle or would you rather just sit back and wait for the rides to come to you?
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-Harry @ RSG