Uber & Lyft Driving Tips

What to know before hitting the road for your first time!

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Driver eating sandwich on limousine
What To Know Before Hitting The Road

By Jerry Lambert

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 (tbpc2016@gmx.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 in the near future.  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 choses 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 really 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 actually 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.  In order 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.  In order 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 extreme 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 tbpc2016@gmx.com.

Until next time, may your parachute fully deploy, and may you have a soft landing!

Side Hustle: Uber & Lyft

Is driving for Uber or Lyft right for you?

woman in car on phone with driver
Uber & Lyft

By Jerry Lambert

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 really great news is that you can apply to drive for both of them!  Even greater news is that you can set your own 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 in order to drive for Uber and Lyft.

In order 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 making 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 there are also other special deals that are 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 definitely worth checking out.  YouTube has a lot of videos detailing the pros and cons of driving as well.  You will definitely 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!

Uber

Lyft

The Rideshare Guy