This is a transcript of Episode 18: What It’s Like To Drive For An Uber Black Fleet Owner. You can find show notes, comments and more by clicking here. You can also listen to the podcast in iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.
Man: Welcome to the The Rideshare Guy Podcast, the site that’s dedicated to helping drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder. So whether you drive for Lyft, Uber, Sidecar, or anything in between, we’ve got you covered. Now, here’s your host, Harry Campbell.
Harry: Hey, what’s up guys? Harry here. Thank you so much for joining the show today whether you’re a brand new listener or you’ve been around for awhile. I just want to say thanks and welcome you to another awesome episode of The Rideshare Guy Podcast. I’m definitely psyched to be here today. I actually recently got back from a trip to San Francisco. I went up there for four days to meet a bunch of people in the industry, talk to some reporters. I also checked out the Groove Clubhouse which is a hangout for drivers up in San Francisco. If you’re curious to know what I did and who I talked to and who I met, I actually just put a video up on my YouTube channel that you can probably find pretty easily, or I have a direct link at therideshareguy.com/sfrecap. On there, you can check out basically all that I did in San Francisco and learn a little bit more about my trip.The main purpose of that trip was actually to go up check out the clubhouse. I’ve been thinking about doing some local meetup type stuff. I wanted to see what driver’s feedback was about this in-person meetings because I know that that’s a big part of the community that’s lacking with Rideshare drivers. We go out there and we drive and we don’t really get to interact with at that time with other drivers. Obviously, there’s a lot that we can do online, but I think it’s cool to have that in-person interaction. So that was one of the reasons why I wanted to go up; check out the Groove Clubhouse in San Francisco and see how the drivers were interacting and see if they were even liking it in the first place. So that was definitely a cool experience.
It also helped one of my main advertising partners, YourMechanic, sponsored the dinners. I think they provided all of the free food and all the other logistics side of things. It was cool to meet some of the people there. If you guys haven’t checked them out, they are a pretty cool company that’s basically the Uber for mechanics. With my code RSG15, you’ll actually get $20 off your first service, so you can actually get an oil change done at your house or your business for only $20 your first time. They’re expanding really rapidly right now. I think they just launched in Boston the other day. They’re all over the country and all over California especially, and then Las Vegas, Denver. I think they’re in Georgia, Florida, Texas, Washington, D.C., all of those types of big major cities. If they’re not in your city yet, they definitely will be shortly.
So if you guys are listening right now in this podcast launches, I’m actually probably somewhere in Ireland right now. So I had a big trip planned that I planned with my wife. A few months ago, we started planning for it. It actually comes right at the end of her second year of med school. Now that she’s done with that, she just took a big test and we headed off to Boston to visit some friends, and then Ireland. So you guys might not even notice that I was gone. But if you do, don’t worry. I will be back.
So today’s show is going to be all about what it’s like to drive for an Uber Black fleet car owner. So you guys may be wondering what a fleet owner is and why it’s even important to you. I’ll definitely cover all of that and more today. I want to talk a little bit about why people are actually going out there and looking to drive for other people, looking to drive for these fleet owners. I’ll also talk a little bit about who these fleet owners are. Maybe if you’re interested in it, I’ll tell you how to find these fleet owners and also tell you what a typical deal, what the typical set up looks like between a fleet owner and a regular driver like you or I. If you’re interested in becoming a fleet owner, I’ll even give you a few of my thoughts on that.
So I’ve been researching this topic for a while. I’ve been getting a few questions about it actually, and that’s what inspired me to record today’s episode. So if you have any other questions, you want to check out the show notes, see what links we have mentioned in the show, make sure you head over to therideshareguy.com/episode18 and all of the information will be right there in one handy form.
So let’s talk a little bit about why you might want to drive for someone else. Now, the main reason in my mind where it comes into play is if you don’t have the means to get out there and buy a car for yourself. Now, I don’t see this as a huge problem with UberX especially now that they’re lowering the age requirement in certain markets. So for example, here in Los Angeles, you can actually get on to the Uber platform with an age 2000 or newer car. So that means I can go on to Craigslist and buy a 2000 Camry for probably $2000 or $3000 and I can be out there driving for Uber. That’s not a huge entry barrier, so a lot of drivers that want to do UberX probably don’t need to look to a fleet owner or someone like that. They can probably go out there and get financing or buy a used car or save up enough money on their own to do it with UberX.
You typically don’t see this a lot with UberX but you are starting to see it a lot with UberPlus and Uber Black. Now, for those who don’t know UberPlus, or it’s also called UberSelect in some cities. It’s a mid-level, in-between Uber Black and UberX. You need luxury cars like BMWs or Lexus or Mercedes. So obviously, not everyone can afford that type of car. That’s where it might make sense that you could get an arrangement or, “Hey, I can afford to buy one of these cars on my own, but now I’m going to go to one of these fleet owners and they’re going to have the car for me. I’m going to rent if from them and go that route.” So that’s definitely an option.
The cool thing about UberPlus is that it doesn’t require any of the same licensing that Uber Black or UberSUV requires. The prices are about in-between UberX and Uber Black, so UberPlus rates are about two to three times UberX.
That’s definitely why someone would want to drive for someone else. More so though, when it comes to Black and SUV, registration is actually closed in many markets. Right now, if you’re an individual and you want to become a Black car driver or an SUV driver, you actually can’t get on to almost all Uber markets because registration is closed to individuals. So really, the only way to go is through some of these fleet owners who own cars. Basically, what they do is rent their cars out to individuals like you who want to get on.
You might be thinking, “Hey, I talked to the Black Car guy in one of the podcast back that I can leave a link to in the show notes.” He was telling me that, “Hey, you have to pretty much be ready to go with a nice, expensive car, commercial insurance, limo license, airport permit if you do want to get into Uber Black, or UberSUV when they do open it up.” So for individuals, it really is tough and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to make that jump onto Black Car because that’s really why a lot of these fleet owners have the upper hand. Most of them have partnerships already in place. A lot of them are limo owners, fleet owners already, so their already doing a lot of stuff.
So for them to have, let’s say they have five cars as their Uber fleet, then they can actually go and add another one pretty easily; not onto Uber Black but have it as part of their repertoire basically and they’re off doing other partnerships and other agreements with other companies. So basically for them, it’s a lot easier to get these cars business. Then when Uber Black and UberSUV does open up, they can just put those cars right on there. It’s really tough to compete with a lot of these fleet owners especially if you’re thinking about going to Black and thinking about going to SUV.
Then there’s also the fact that it’s pretty risky because Black Car may not ever open up again. Now, you’re basically competing with all of these agencies that have affiliate relationships with national and international limo companies and travel agencies. All of these limo companies that are on black and SUV right now, they have these established relationships and it’s going to be pretty tough for you to compete with that. So really the only way right now to get added on to Uber Black or UberSUV is if you’re added onto the account of a vehicle already registered to the system.
Here’s a situation. Let’s say you have an Uber Black fleet owner and he has five cars on Uber Black. He can have more than five drivers but it always has to be limited to those five cars that are on the fleet, so he basically has licensing and everything in place for you. Then these renters, basically us, UberX drivers or whoever wants to come and try out Uber Black, they have to rent from him. That’s really the only way right now to get onto Uber Black and SUV. That’s why you’re seeing so many people look into this as an option.
So fleet owners can actually replace cars but they can never add new ones. If a fleet owner has five cars right now and one breaks down or something goes haywire, they can actually replace that car with just a brand new one or used one or whatever they want. So the strategy probably as far as getting on why you do want to drive for someone else, it probably doesn’t work super well with UberX but it might be able to be used to split costs if you’re looking to, maybe you drive nights and someone else drives mornings. That might be a way where you can split it on UberX and where you would drive for someone else. But typically, you only see these fleet owners with Uber Black, UberSUV and UberPlus.
For a lot of you, this might be the first time you’ve ever heard of this term, an Uber fleet owner. For me, I actually only recently heard about it a couple of months ago. When I started researching for this podcast, I found it very hard to find information on these guys and to find how it works. Really, what it all comes down to, it’s this whole underground thing that’s going on with a lot of these, basically, fleet owners that are out there right now renting out their cars to Uber Black drivers, UberSUV drivers and UberPlus drivers. So when you get into an Uber Black or an SUV, most of those guys that are driving actually don’t own the cars.
I don’t take UberPlus and Uber Black too often so it was a little bit difficult for me to talk to a bunch of drivers. But from the drivers that I did find, who I did talk to, it seem like there was a pretty common occurrence. On Plus, you definitely find some drivers who are out there on their own. But with black and SUV especially, I saw almost all of the drivers that I did talk to actually were part of these fleets. So it’s definitely interesting, the whole dynamic, how it works. I think you’re probably wondering who are these fleet owners and how do you find them especially if you’re considering something like this.
Maybe you’re on X or you’re on Plus or maybe you’re not a driver at all and you’re thinking about doing Uber Black and SUV, the one thing that I found was, like I said, there’s very, very few individual private owners on Uber Black and SUV. What I mean by individual owners are people like the Black Car guy who is just a single man or a single woman and they go onto Uber Black and get everything done on their own; all the licensing and information and are able to run Uber Black just like that. What I’ve found was that more often than not, all of these Uber Black drivers are part of the fleet.
My hunch all along was that it’s a lot of these limo and private transfer type companies who all own the cars and licensing and all of that good stuff. I confirmed that too after speaking to some owners and seeing some list. I was actually able to get my hands on a list of Uber DC fleet owners. Basically, right now, Uber, for whatever reason, they are sending out to certain partners. Let’s say you’re a driver in Washington, D.C. and you wanted to go onto Uber Black, you email Uber and you say, “Hey, I want to be a Black Car driver.” They’re telling people, “Well, Uber Black is closed right now. But if you want to get on, we have a list of Uber fleet owners.” So these are all people who already have cars on Uber Black. More often than not, these people aren’t driving the cars themselves, the owners of these companies, but they’re renting them out to people who are looking to drive.
Uber is definitely aware that this is going on and they know what’s happening. I actually have a list on my site. I’ll leave a link in the show notes but it’s at therideshareguy.com/dcfleetowner. I’ll tell you a little bit more about how to find these fleet owners in a second, but I think the key thing to take away is that especially after seeing all these lists, it seems like a lot of Black Car and a lot of SUV fleet owners are all of these limo and private transfer type companies. For a lot of the reasons that I mentioned earlier, they all have established businesses in place. They all have affiliate type relationships with everything from private transport companies to tour companies. They basically have all these business already in place, so all of this private transport business.
For them, commercial insurance; for them, licensing and airport permits really isn’t a big deal. So that’s the one big disadvantage you’ll find with a lot of individuals who have looked into going to Uber Black. That’s one thing to keep in mind.
Now, if you’re actually looking to find one of these fleet owners, there’s a few ways you can try and do it. The first and the best way that I think is going to be to try and go straight to Uber. You can always say there are definitely multiple ways to contact them, but you can send an email and you can ask them on Twitter or whatever you want to do. Or if you know someone at Uber, I think that that’s maybe not the best way but that’s a good starting point. Because Uber for this DC market, I don’t know if they’re still doing it. But when one of my readers contacted them a few months ago, she asked them, “Hey, I’m interested in doing Uber Black,” and they’re the ones who actually sent her the list. Uber local partner support was the one who sent them the list.
I actually went out and individually contacted the ten top Uber cities and asked them and none of them would give me their list. You’re mileage may vary on this. There’s also office hours that you can try. Obviously, there’s a multitude of ways that you can try and contact Uber. But I think that’s a good start if you’re interested in looking into this and you want to find a fleet owner. You can definitely start with Uber, go straight to them. If that’s not working out, I definitely have a few other ways. You can also go straight to the source. I mean, forget about Uber. Just go straight to the source and find these fleet owners.
Now, there are a lot of Facebook groups out there right now. From time to time, I know that they’re feet owners in these groups because they’re looking for drivers. You might be able to find a fleet owner just by joining some of these groups. I would start with a local group. If you’re in LA for example, I would try to find a local LA Uber drivers group. If not, just go into one of these big Facebook groups that has 10,000 members or whatever absurd number. Start posting around seeing if you can find anyone in your market that knows a fleet owner or that is a fleet owner.
Then lastly, you can also always just start calling up Black drivers. If you know any Black drivers personally or maybe it’s worth it for you to take a ride in a Black Car here and there, just a quick short one because it will be pretty expensive. You can ask them, “Hey, how did you get signed up with this? Do you have a fleet owner that you can put me in contact with?” It’s definitely a challenge finding these fleet owners. But if you go out there and you’re proactive, I think you can definitely find them.
So once you’re able to find a fleet owner, you’re probably wondering what’s a typical deal or what a typical set up look like. I was able to talk to a few drivers who are basically renting out cars from these fleet owners. I talked to one Plus driver and a couple of Black Car, SUV drivers. They all told me pretty similar set up. I’m going to detail for you guys one driver in particular who is on the East Coast. He basically gave me a pretty detailed breakdown of how it works.
Basically, how it works when you’re renting a car from these fleet owners is you are renting a car. You get the car, they take care of all the maintenance, and all you have to pay for is gas. The rental fee in this particular case was actually $500 minimum. So whether he work or whether he didn’t work, he owed $500 to the fleet owner every single week.
Hopefully, you guys are with me right now because we’re about to get a little bit mathematical, but I’ll try to keep it simple. Now, Uber Black has a 25% cut and 28% for SUV. This guy actually got an SUV. But just to keep it simple, we’ll say that it’s not going to be a 25% cut.
How it works is basically the fleet. They get 40% of your earnings after Uber takes their cut. So after Uber takes their 25% cut of your gross earnings, the fleet gets 40%. You get to keep the rest so that’s 60%, but you have to pay gas from it. Most of these rentals are unlimited miles, but really the only caveat is that you have to pay gas. So they’ll take care of all the maintenance and all the work and things like that, which makes sense because they have a fleet of cars. Let’s say they own four or five cars, obviously they have their own maintenance guys or guys that they trust and they can save a lot of money doing that way.
If you need a quick example, let’s say in one week, you earn $2000 in total fares. Uber would get $5 of that or 25%. Then you would get 60% of the remaining 1500, so that’s $900 total minus your gas. The fleet gets to keep 40% of that 1500, or $600. Since you are over the $500 minimum, you wouldn’t owe anything extra. But let’s say you made half of that, if you only made $1000 in fares, then the fleet would only be getting $300. In that scenario, you would have to pay an extra $200 out of your earnings.
So this driver actually told me that he got a pretty good condition SUV and he was pretty happy with the arrangement. It’s just the matter was he needed to figure out, “Is he better off making 45% of a Black Car fare, plus paying the gas, or are you better off getting 80% of the x fare, the Uber x fare minus the fees and all the gas and maintenance on your own car?
My thoughts on this was obviously I don’t think it’s going to be a landslide in favor of the renting option. So if you’re out there and you’re thinking about renting a car from a fleet owner, it’s not going to be a no-brainer because the market basically sets the price for these things. The market is out there determining, “All right, if I have 100 UberX drivers and they’re all working and making x amount, if I offer them a spot on Uber Black, I’m going to offer them just enough where it convinces them to come over from UberX but not enough where they’re going to be making a killing compared to UberX.”
This driver in particular, he’s a really savvy driver and he ended up deciding that this wasn’t a good deal for him. He actually told me that he makes significantly more driving UberX. I think if you’re out there, it’s really tough to say it can depend on every one single person situation. But if you’re able to get yourself in a scenario where you can try this out, I think it definitely makes a lot of sense, because the nice thing about Black and SUV is that it can require a lot of strategy. But since the rates are so much higher, it is a little bit more like, “Hey, I can flip on the app and I can drive around and make good money.” That’s the benefit about the Black and SUV, so it’s definitely something to consider. I mean, the rates are just so much significantly higher.
I have heard from some Black Car drivers that there’s actually been a significant decrease in business especially in cities like San Francisco and LA where they’re testing out UberPOOL and they’re basically doing all these $5 and $7 promotional rides. That’s actually cut into the Uber Black market. But still, I think if you’re interested in going into Uber Black, this could be a really interesting potential option where you don’t have to take on a bunch of risk getting commercial insurance and getting licensing and getting a really expensive car. But going out there and still being able to drive, obviously, you won’t make a ton of money as if you were doing it on your own since you have to pay 40% to the fleet, but I do think that it presents a lot of room for opportunity.
One of the real reasons why I was so interested in what it’s like to drive for an Uber Black fleet owner was because I was looking at ways if, “Hey, maybe I can become a fleet owner myself.” I talked to quite a few people about this. To do it on UberX, I know that there are some people out there that are doing it on UberX, but it’s a little bit more difficult because the rules and regulations are different for every city and state. But at least in most markets, if you drive with only your regular passenger plates, for example on your UberX, only the names on your personal auto insurance can drive your car in UberX. For example, if your personal insurance is only in your name, only you can do UberX with your car so you aren’t able to add anyone else on.
But if you do go and get commercial or livery plates and commercial and livery insurance, then you can basically add drivers onto your account, thus being able to rent out your car to other drivers. I know there are some drivers out there who maybe do a morning shift and then give their car to someone else at night and they do the night shift. That’s how you would have to work it. If they’re your wife, for example, you could probably add them onto your personal account. If not, then you would have to go with the commercial option.
I don’t really see this a super viable option right now because the profit margins are so much lower on UberX than they are on Plus and Black. What I mean by that is it’s very difficult to be able to pay after Uber’s 20% cut the 80% remaining. Then you have to pay 40% to an owner, and 60% you get to keep. I just don’t imagine that you’d be able to make a ton of money. The nice thing about that is that you wouldn’t have to pay for any of the maintenance. All you would have to do is cover the gas.
But I do think there are some real opportunity for people who are looking to go out and maybe become a fleet owner on the Plus level or if they can get their hands on an Uber Black Car or an UberSUV car. I know that I’ve talked to a few of individual Black Car drivers about possibly taking a step back. Instead of them driving, them going and turning themselves into a mini fleet. What I mean by that is let’s say you’re an individual Black Car driver and you go out. Now, you can basically turn yourself into a fleet owner. Let’s say if you drive the mornings, since you already have commercial insurance and since you already have all the licensing and everything, it’s easy to add one person on and it’s legal too so that’s a nice thing.
I think if there are any individual Black Car owners out there or SUV, then it’s definitely something you want to consider. Even on the Plus level too. I think that the profit margins would be high enough. Where you could consider this is where you drive in the mornings and then rent your car out to someone else at night and do a similar 60-40 split where you cover all the maintenance and maybe they clean it and provide gas.
I definitely think there’s a lot of opportunity out there if you’re already in that level where you have a car on Black, but that goes back to the problem that it’s very tough to find these individual owners. A lot of parallels I had with researching this into episode 16 where we had Zach on the podcast and he told us all about his fleet of cars that he’s renting out. I think it’s definitely important to start thinking about it from this business perspective because you can only do so much work on your own, right? You can only drive so many hours on the day.
The way that really successful businesses and really successful business owners scale up is by leveraging a lot of these assets like Black cars and SUVs to scale up. Because now, they can hire two people, for example, to drive their car. They can basically move one step up the ladder, and now they’re just managing. For example, let’s say you’re a Black Car driver and you decide that you don’t want to drive anymore, now you can rent your car out to two people and maybe take a slight pay cut as opposed to if you’re doing it all yourself. Or maybe you’re only making 80%, but now you can make 80% but with 40% or 50% less work. That’s really an effective way that a lot of businesses scale up.
One of my favorite books actually, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, they talk a lot about that. Figuring out ways to make your assets work for you, instead of you having to do all the leg work. That’s the one thing that you guys definitely want to consider going forward especially now that you’re all business owners. It’s always figuring out ways to leverage your capital because there’s really only so much work that you can do as an individual. That’s my thoughts on if you are interested in becoming a fleet owner. There’s some options out there available. We’ll definitely be able to help you going forward if you have any questions.
All right guys, so there you have it; a nice, quick, short episode today. I didn’t hit the one hour mark, but I think there’s a lot of interesting points brought up. As you guys know, I’m always looking for ways to increase driver’s income. I think that strategizing and the maximizing income part of my site in all of my podcast, those are the most interesting for me. I see that they get a ton of views and they’re always the most popular with my audience. That’s one of the reasons why I like to focus on these income-type podcasts and articles, because I know that you guys care about how much money you’re making.
Like I always said, if you can work smarter and not harder. You’re out there, you’re working less, and you can make just as much if not more. That’s one of the reasons why I launched my video course. It’s to really help drivers earn more money. If you guys haven’t checked it out yet, actually it’s at maximumridesharingprofits.com. I’ll leave a link in the show notes.
That’s really just one of the things that I think is super important. There’s so many drivers coming onto the platform right now. If you expect to just go out there and flip on the app drive and make a bunch of money, that’s really not going to happen. Uber is signing up 30,000 drivers every single month. That’s why I’m creating all of these resources like my video course and doing podcasts like this; to really start think outside the box, get those wheels turning, “Hey, what are the other ways of making money?” Whether it’s business and networking opportunities or starting to own fleets of cars to rent them out to other people or whatever it is, I think there’s a lot of opportunity if you go out there and you’re very entrepreneurial and you take that spirit.
If any of you guys out there are considering checking out these Uber Black fleets or whatever, the thing to keep in mind is this isn’t going to be a windfall. You guys aren’t going to go out and all of the sudden make a killing on renting a car from someone else. But it might be something that you try out and make as a better situation than what you currently have or it might be something you can try out and then leverage or use to start a little fleet of your own.
I think the opportunities are pretty limitless. Right now, it really behooves all of you drivers out there and everyone in general now that you’re business owners to really look at it from the perspective of a business and be thinking about all these ways to diversify your income and start having your assets work for you.
Hopefully you guys enjoyed this podcast. You can definitely check out the show notes, subscribe to the email list, get notified of all the new articles and podcasts. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. All right guys, take care and talk to you soon.
This is a transcript of Episode 18: What It’s Like To Drive For An Uber Black Fleet Owner. You can find show notes, comments and more by clicking here. You can also listen to the podcast in iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.