Is This the Highest Earning Driver in the US?

Senior RSG contributor Sergio Avedian has been in the gig economy for seven years and continues to be impressed by the resiliency of drivers despite the challenges of the pandemic, rate cuts, and more. He continues to find drivers who have beaten the algorithms and made rideshare driving work for them. In this article, he highlights a driver named Boti who has made an impressive earning rideshare driving!

Over the past seven years I have been involved in the gig economy, I have seen it all. The unbroken resilience of veteran drivers all over the country just amazes me. Although 80% of rideshare drivers quit in less than a year, there are a handful who have totally figured this gig out and made it work for them on their terms.

Meet Boti

Meet Boti, an Eastern European immigrant who came to the US in 1986. Boti spent several years working in big box stores, as an electrician, and more recently as a Honda salesman. He enjoyed dealing with customers, loved the personal interaction, and was the top salesman for years due to this customer-first attitude.

He sums up the reason for leaving the automotive industry and starting driving for Uber in one word: “FREEDOM!” He was tired of working on every holiday and missed family gatherings.

Boti signed up to start driving for Uber in August 2018, but he didn’t quit his day job. Instead, he worked on the side, learned about driving effectively, and talked to his fellow drivers. He wanted to be certain that before he quit his job of nine years, driving for Uber would be something that he would be able to handle. After a month of trial and error, he became a full-time Uber driver in September of the same year.

Don’t have a friend you can call on to ask questions about rideshare driving? Don’t worry – you have RSG! Check out this video on Beginner Mistakes to Avoid When Driving for Uber

Around the middle of November 2018, he concluded that he needed to start paying close attention to the details:

“I was everywhere and anywhere, but never consistently. One good thing is that I started keeping journals and debriefing myself every night or day after a shift. Why did I make so much money? Why didn’t I make any money? What could I have done differently? Why did this person give me a tip? 

All these things started making a pattern in my head. I set up some realistic expectations for myself. At the very beginning, all I wanted to do was make $100 net. That means if I spent any money that day, I had to make back that money on top of the hundred dollars. If I had lunch that cost me $12, if I bought gas and that cost me $23 then I would have to make $135.”

Remarkable Results

Boti’s 2021 earnings are probably the highest earnings I have seen for an UberX driver. I am certain some of you will question these numbers, but I can assure you that they have been verified. Some of you are going to say that these numbers are not achievable today, and you are probably correct, but this article is not about what is possible today. It is all about Boti’s story and his weekly, monthly and yearly improvement as an Uber driver.

Boti did put in long hours, but without developing his strategies, he would not have reached his goals. This is definitely proof that every driver can improve and succeed even when times are tough!

Boti’s Strategies for Success

Having worked with customers for nine years at a car dealership, Boti applies his strategies of a top-earning salesman to his Uber driving. He is extroverted and has no trouble starting conversations with passengers after correctly reading the room.

“I started noticing that not every rider wanted to talk, but not every rider wanted a quiet drive either. I try to start the conversation with an open-ended question. Some people answered me with a simple yes and no. I right away knew what that meant. That means they don’t want to talk. Some people not only answered my open-ended question but asked me a question. Now I know that they are willing to have a conversation while we get to their destination. 

These simple little things helped me earn above-average tips. We all know tipping is a big portion of our yearly earnings. I was consistently getting more tips than before using this strategy.“

Boti’s 2019 Honda Hybrid is as pristine as the day he bought it, now with 150K miles. He says it is in mint condition mechanically as well as the interior. He discovered that there was a direct correlation between a clean, well-kept vehicle and tips. He says he takes pride in getting compliments about his car daily.

“These simple strategies were still not enough for me to be satisfied with my earnings. But remember, I said that I wanted to net $100 a day? Well, I am starting to understand a little bit more about Uber but still not quite there yet. I pushed myself up to $125 a day net. I was easily able to crush my goal of $125 and went to $150 and so on… prior to the pandemic, I was easily making $250 a day net…On certain days I made more than other days. 

For example, Mondays were busier than Tuesdays, and Wednesdays were the slowest, and then back to busy on Thursdays. I understood the patterns and adapted to the city’s rhythm, and I was easily netting $300-$400 a day.”

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Then came the pandemic, and everything came to a screeching halt. Boti was scared, as we all were, but he knew that there would be demand for his services. In late 2020 he got his vaccines and was determined to make 2021 the best year as an Uber driver.

He had all the tools for success, but what helped him the most was the driver shortage for all of 2021. Uber offered amazing Quests to get drivers back on the platform, and Boti took full advantage of it. He put some amazing months together by working hard and giving over 6200 rides for 2021. He practically hit every Bonus available to him, stacking them on top of each other.

“Uber was offering crazy incentives in Chicago, like crazy quests, also crazy consecutive rides and with crazy surges simultaneously. Prior to the pandemic, I used to work 40 hours a week, sometimes a little under, sometimes a little over but mainly 40. 

But now, when I worked the 40 hours, I was crushing it. I knew this would not last, so I just had to grind and make it happen. I was never big on the quests, but Uber offered it to me, and I was willing to play the game. Feeling more and more confident, I was determined to do 100 rides from Monday – Thursday and 100 rides Friday – Sunday.”

Boti is so disciplined and detail oriented that he even talks about adjusting his coffee drinking habits to use the bathroom around the Uber incentives such as lucrative Consecutive Ride Bonuses. I have heard of Superman, but I think Boti takes the cake.

“So I started altering my coffee and meal intakes to accommodate my driving habits. If consecutive trip promotions were offered, I always made sure that I used the restroom and I only drank water and as little of it as I could, so I didn’t have to pull over and use the restroom. This was a big factor in how I could stack all the different promotions that Uber offered. After all, time is money.” 

Boti is not just a hard worker; he is also very careful about keeping track of his expenses in a detailed fashion. We are all in this to be profitable; if you don’t know your Cost Per Mile (CPM), how can you accept or decline a profitable trip? He keeps track of all his miles and gas expenditures and other tax-deductible items to keep as much of his hard-earned cash as possible.

“Now, one thing I forgot to say is when I started back up in late 2020: I discovered that I can turn off new ride request rides while taking a rider to their destination. I discovered that 20 minutes prior to me dropping off the rider, I was already being pinged for the next trip. I was clueless on who it was, what their rating was and I was concerned for my safety. I knew that if I could not see the passenger’s rating, I would be unable to adequately review the request sent to me. Chicago has a carjacking problem. I have a personal threshold on a rider’s rating for the day and another for the nighttime. This plays a very big factor for me to stay safe and keep on driving.”

An example of how Boti keeps track of his driving expenses

Takeaways for Drivers

Boti is the sixth driver I have written about. They are all unique in their way, but one common factor stands out. They have all figured out what works in their city more than other drivers.

A lot of people think rideshare is easy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Rideshare is easy if you drive the way Uber and Lyft want you to drive. Accept every trip regardless of your own profitability metrics. Boti is still driving with much success. Is he making money he made in 2021? NO! But he is still in Chicago’s top 1% driver category, grossing close to $100K in 2022.

Here are his two best weeks from 2022; well done, Boti!

I have said this before, and I will say it again, Uber and Lyft are lucky to have drivers like Boti on the platforms; they are all the diamonds in the rough. I will conduct one-on-one interviews for the Show Me the Money Club (SMTMC) with all these drivers for a more personal introduction and for new drivers to learn from them. They will be posted on the RSG YouTube channel within the month, and please check them out!

The biggest takeaways for drivers are to make your own metrics and revenue goals for driving. Don’t drive for anyone else, don’t drive for charity. Drive to earn money, and you’ll be in a better headspace to continue driving and make the money you ought to make as a driver.

What do you think of Boti’s story? Do you have your own revenue goals like Boti does? Why or why not?

-Sergio @ RSG