Rideshare driving can be a great way to help you define your life and its path – yes, it’s true! Senior RSG contributor Jay Cradeur shares what he’s learned after giving 26,000+ rides as an Uber and Lyft driver.
I have been at this a long time. I started driving in December 2015. First I signed up with Uber and then a few weeks later, with Lyft. I absolutely crushed it for the first three years, earning $100K in rideshare revenue in each of those years.
This year I have tapered back, working on more of a part-time basis. The rideshare “rules of the road” have changed. The rates are lower. The bonuses are laughable compared to 2016. Gone are the days of the unicorn, that long ride with 4X surge or primetime that could turn your day into a bonanza.
Today I ask myself the question: What have I learned after all these rides, writing all these articles, making all these videos, doing all these podcast episodes? I will tell you my three biggest observations after over 26,000 rides.
#1 It’s Not All About The Money
While it is true that we drive to make money, that is not the only reason to be driving. You see, while you are driving, you have an unprecedented opportunity to learn.
Many drivers don’t understand the real power of their job. Each passenger has the possibility of imparting tremendous knowledge and wisdom. I have been in cars as a passenger when the driver said absolutely nothing. Or I may have made an initial comment and the driver did not follow up with anything of substance.
That is a lost opportunity. Each passenger has something to share. Not everyone wants to talk. But for those that do, take advantage of the opportunities.
During my driving tenure, I have learned so many things, many of which altered the direction of my life. I will give you a good example. Just in the last month, I have driven four different people to a dialysis clinic in Sacramento. Each one of them told me about the three-hour process, which they have to endure two to three times per week.
One man was in his eighties. He was in very good shape with the exception of a bad liver. He had lived a good life, had many children and grandchildren, but due to his condition, he could no longer travel.
This made a huge impact on me. I realized right then and there that there will be a time when I cannot travel. My body will no longer support it. I fear that day. But in that moment, I recommitted myself to travel as often as I can, while I can. As they say, tomorrow may never come.
#2 Work The Hours
I have written quite a few articles on how to drive, when to drive, where to drive, how to maximize your bonuses, and strategies to increase your per hour earnings. While those are valuable tips, the most important thing to focus on is putting in the hours.
Only in working the hours will you learn for yourself what works and what does not work. Only by putting in the long hours will you give yourself enough time to make the money you want to make. Working the hours requires discipline and a repeatable daily schedule. Let’s look at three hypothetical drivers.
Driver #1 knows all the tricks and works the system as well as anyone to earn $30 per hour. However, instead of working 50 hours in the week, he only works 35 hours. He lacks the discipline to go out each day and instead finds excuses for taking a day off here and there. Instead of working on Saturday, the best day of the week, he accepts an invitation to go to the beach. Instead of getting up at 4 AM to begin his shift at 5 AM, he decides to sleep in and then meets a friend for brunch. Then the day is shot so why go out and drive at all? Weekly earnings: $30 x 35 hours = $1,050.
Driver #2 does not know all the tricks. Instead of making $30 per hour, she only makes $24 per hour. She has not yet figured out the best place to start her shift. She has not yet figured out the power of the destination filters to get those long rides on the weekend. She has not figured out how to cancel on trips that will put her in heavy traffic situations. But in time, she will learn all of that because Driver #3 has tremendous discipline. She has a family at home to support. She has a Plan B in her sights and working hard now for Uber and Lyft is aligned with her long term goals. Weekly earnings: $24 x 50 hours = $1,200
Driver #3 is a rare driver that knows all the tricks and works every day. In fact, instead of being happy with 50 hurs, Driver #3 crushes it on Saturday and Sunday, working 12 hours instead of eight. This driver knows how to use all the tools at his or her disposal. The philosophy of Driver #3 is to make as much money as possible as soon as possible. The sooner Driver #3 can get to Plan B, the better. Driver #3’s vision is so crystal clear, there are no distractions that will get in the way. Weekly earnings: $30 X 58 hours = $1,740.
Bottom line: Work the hours, and you will learn all the tricks and techniques to maximize your revenue.
#3 Broaden Your Perspective
The rideshare driving gig has gone from being really great (in terms of earnings) to being only OK. Uber and Lyft now need to become profitable and so we are seeing tactic after tactic to reduce the amount of pay going out to drivers.
We used to be paid a percentage of what the passenger paid. Not any more. We used to be offered fantastic bonuses. Not any more. We used to earn a multiple of a passenger’s fare with surge and primetime. Not any more. And on and on. As a result, we have drivers organizing and going on strike. As a result, we now have AB5 in California in an attempt to reverse the decline in working conditions. Drivers are upset.
I say “Game On!” I invite you to do the same. Instead of getting upset, I suggest you do something about it. What is your Plan B?
You are a driver. You are an entrepreneur. You know how to take responsibility and make things happen. Given the market conditions, it is time to look for a change of venue. I do love driving. But if it is not going to give me enough revenue and freedom to do all the things I want to do in this lifetime, then I will find something else. Broaden your horizons. This country is nothing if not a big basket full of opportunities.
Life is short. Rideshare driving is a tool you can use to do the things in your life you most want to do. Rideshare driving does offer freedom and flexibility, but you have to use it. Don’t be enslaved by it.
I have loved every minute of my rideshare driving career. I will miss it. But I will love whatever I am doing at the moment even more. Maybe I will see you in Buenos Aires and we can drink coffee together. Or maybe I will see you hiking in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and you will say “Hey, aren’t you that guy on Youtube?” Be safe out there.
Readers, what have you learned during your time as a rideshare driver? Have you used rideshare driving as a stepping stone to a better career or starting your own business?
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-Jay @ RSG