As I mentioned in my previous article regarding Uber & Lyft, this is a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” I have picked up in my past year as a driver. These tips are meant to show you the ropes if you decide to become a driver. I drive in the Detroit Metro Area. You may find that some of the items listed here are not a problem in your neck of the woods. Instead, you may run into an entirely different set of issues where you drive. If you do, please contact me (email@example.com) and I’ll share them with the rest of our readers!
I am assuming that you have already signed up with Uber and/or Lyft and you are now driving or will be driving soon. You already know that you have to be at least 21 years old (not a problem for our age group) and your car has to be 10 years old or less for Uber and 12 years old or less for Lyft (this number may vary by city). Now for the list.
Driving Times: As I mentioned in my previous article, I like to drive the morning and evening rush hours. From 6am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm. Outside of the late-night bar pickups, this is your best shot at making some good money.
Surge & Prime Time: These are the Supply and Demand features that Uber and Lyft use to pay their drivers more during peak driving times. It is my understanding that 100% of these bonuses go directly to the drivers. It is a carrot to get more drivers out on the road during busy times.
The Uber and Lyft apps: As you may know by now, there are two apps for Uber and one app for Lyft. Lyft chooses to combine their Driver and Rider apps into one app, with mixed results in my opinion. Both companies are constantly updating their apps. In true technological fashion, they fix one problem with their latest update, then cause two more. This can be very frustrating as a driver. However, you don’t have any choice but to roll with it (pardon the pun). Be consoled with the fact that a team of code monkeys is hard at work, fixing the mess they just created!
Getting Paid: This is one of my major beefs. Both companies pay you by direct deposit, late Wednesday or early Thursday. However, there is a huge difference in how they let you know how much money you are owed. Uber lets you know immediately after each ride how much money you just made.
Lyft also lets you know, but they do so in what I like to call “Lyft Money”. You see, there are three different amounts that Lyft uses. The first amount is the fare the rider is charged on the rider app. The second figure is the fare that pops up on the driver side of the app when the ride is complete. But is that how much money you just made? Of course not! Lyft still has to take a cut out of that amount.
Good luck finding out what you made on your last ride! To find out that amount, wait until the next day for your Daily Driver Summary email. This will give you all sorts of info about your previous day, EXCEPT HOW MUCH MONEY YOU MADE! For that, you will need to click on a link in their email, then logon to their website and maybe you will find it there! Honestly, I have no idea why Lyft Drivers haven’t gone on strike over this one issue alone! Can you tell this gets me a little steamed?
Pickup Times: This is one of the biggest decisions you will make as a driver. What is the furthest distance, in minutes, you will drive to pick up a rider? I use the pickup time of 15 minutes. That means the amount of time I accept to pick up a rider is usually no more than 15 minutes.
After you accept the request, Google Maps (or another map app) will update the pickup time with the current traffic conditions. This means the time to pick up Tiffany at the Mall just went from 15 to 18 minutes. Not bad if Tiffany lives 30 minutes away from the Mall, but more than likely, she lives 5 to 10 minutes away. This is the risk you run as a driver. To maximize your profits, try to keep your pickup times to 15 minutes or less. More riders equals more money!
Map Apps: This brings me to your most important new partner in your driving career, the Navigation App. Most drivers use Google Maps or Waze. I prefer Google Maps. It comes as a pre-installed app on Android Phones. However, it may not come pre-installed on an iPhone. If not, it can be downloaded for free from iTunes.
Google Maps will drive you crazy at times, but for the most part, it is very reliable. To use this app effectively, be sure to learn as much as you can about it. Practice using it whenever you are driving yourself around town. Put in the address for your destination and use the map to get there. Practice muting the audio directions. Touch the time estimate at the bottom of the screen for turn by turn directions. This will show you the next turn and give you a better idea of where you are going. Learn this app backwards and forwards and you will be a much more confident driver!
Also, consider getting a phone mount, so you can have the map app in easy view while you are driving. I use Clever Grip which attaches directly to the vent in the dashboard for easy viewing.
Potty Breaks: This is a major concern for people in the 55 – 65 age group. Especially us guys. I drink one large cup of coffee in the morning before driving. I go to the bathroom twice before leaving the house and there’s a good chance I will still have to find a pit stop while I am out driving. I know too much information. However, this is a major concern for us mature drivers. Trust me, you don’t want to be on a run to the airport with an urgent personal problem going on. I speak from experience!
The solution: fast food restaurants. McDonald’s, Burger King, Tim Horton’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts can save your life. Contrary to popular belief, not every gas station will let you use their restroom. I found out that one the hard way! Keep an eye out for these restaurants while you’re on the road and you can head off trouble before it starts!
Well, that’s it for now. I have given you a lot to absorb and there’s much more to learn. I will cover more of those items in a future post, but for now, those are the basics. If you have a question that I haven’t covered, please feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!