Thank you for checking out The Brown Parachute Club. This week’s topic is the Side Hustle: Uber & Lyft.
If you haven’t heard of Uber and the lesser-known Lyft, they are ridesharing services that have exploded in popularity over the past 5 years. How they work is relatively simple. The passengers install an app on their smartphone that enables them to request a ride. The GPS in their smartphone allows them to pinpoint their location for the driver. The driver has an app that pings when there is a rider in his area who needs a ride. It’s that simple.
The great news about these services is that they are always looking for new drivers. Uber is the more popular of the two services, but Lyft is more popular in certain cities. The great news is that you can apply to drive for both of them! The even greater news is that you can set your schedule. You drive when you want to earn some extra money, period. You don’t have to drive the “Drunkmobile” in the wee hours of the morning. That can be profitable. However, the late hours, along with the possibility of having your vehicle’s interior redecorated with late-night nachos and beer, is a turn off for many drivers. I have found if you drive during the morning and evening rush hours (6am-9am & 4am-7pm) you can still do quite well.
You can apply online using your PC. Just click on the following link for the company you want to apply to Uber or Lyft. You will also need to launch Google Play or Amazon on your smartphone, to install the Driver app for Uber, and the combined Rider / Driver app for Lyft. You do not need a Commercial Driver License to drive for Uber and Lyft.
To drive for Uber, your car has to be 10 years old or less and with Lyft it has to be 12 years old or less. Uber requires you to take your car to your mechanic and have him fill out the Vehicle Inspection Form and you send it to Uber. Lyft takes a different route. You are contacted by a “Mentor”, who walks you through the app and the basics of picking up and dropping off your rider. The Mentor then inspects your car and takes a picture of you and your car for the Lyft Rider app. This way people will recognize you and your car when you arrive.
For Uber and Lyft, the issue of safety is a major concern for both riders and drivers. The rideshare system works because of the information that is available to the companies. From the passenger side, the rider’s home address, along with billing information is put into the app, so the rider can be picked up and automatically billed for rides. From the driver side, each potential driver is certified with a background check that reveals any red flags that the companies need to be concerned about.
Once you’re approved by one or both companies, you’re ready to hit the road! There is something very exciting about getting your first ping from Uber or Lyft! You are now one of the many drivers who are setting their own hours and making great money by driving for these companies. Now for the bad news. You are NOT a cab driver! You cannot expect the kind of money a cabbie makes during a 2-3 hour shift. Because Uber and Lyft provide an alternative to taking a cab, they charge their passengers less and therefore you will make less.
The good news is that most people who take advantage of these services are very nice folks and very appreciative that Uber and Lyft are available in their areas. Whether you currently have a full-time job or not, I recommend that anyone looking to earn some extra money should consider becoming a driver. This is a great, low-hassle way to earn money. I chose to write about this Side Hustle first because it is easy to get started and you can be earning money relatively quickly. This is a major consideration when you have been given The Brown Parachute. It’s pretty depressing when I think of all the money I could have made driving for Uber and Lyft if I had just signed up right away when I was laid off. Instead, I went through Plans A, B, and C to replace my income, when I should have been bringing in money every week with Uber and Lyft.
There is certainly a hit to your pride when you go from managing the data backup operations for a major law firm to driving Tiffany up to the Mall. However, there is no shame in honest work. Also, I have found that driving can become “Networking on Wheels”. I got the idea for this blog while driving and talking with one of my riders. I almost forgot to tell you the best part. As I mentioned before, both companies are always looking for new drivers, and this is where you can cash in. If you recruit a new driver, and they drive the required number of rides in the first month, you get a Referral Bonus that can be $200 or more! This offer changes frequently, so be sure to check it out with each company once you sign up.
Also, both companies offer rewards programs for their drivers that offer special discounts. These are usually automobile-related, but other special deals are also worth looking into. Once you have racked up the required number of rides, many of these deals are “unlocked”.
There are also many resources out there to help you find out more about ridesharing, and whether it is right for you. One of the first websites I found was The Rideshare Guy. This is written by a guy named Harry Campbell. He used to be an engineer, now he blogs about Uber and Lyft and other available services. It’s a great website and worth checking out. YouTube has a lot of videos detailing the pros and cons of driving as well. You will want to watch some of those videos, to see if driving is right for you.
Well, that’s it. I plan on following up this article with a list of what I have learned as a driver. What to do and what not to do. It should help any newbies to learn the ropes much faster. If you decide that you want to give driving a try, please click on the Uber or Lyft names below to sign up. Also, click on The Rideshare Guy name below to go directly to his website.
Until next time, may your parachute fully deploy and may you have a soft landing!