16 Tips For New Uber & Lyft Drivers
Starting out as a new Lyft or Uber driver can be a little nerve wracking. Here’s a list of things you can do to make your first week driving a little easier. Hopefully, the advice below helps you drive more profitably from the moment you start.
1. If you’re driving part-time, drive during the busiest hours.
Uber & Lyft are busier during the morning and evening rush hours, and on weekends. If you plan on driving five to fifteen hours a week, you should try to drive during those times. You are likely to make more money than if you drive from 1pm – 4pm on a few weekdays. Weekend nights tend to be the busiest and most lucrative driving times in most markets. Weekend morning and afternoons are also quite busy.
2. Don’t Chase The Surge
At some point, you’ll see a part of the map in the driver app turn red. If you’re not already in the red area, you will be tempted to rush over there to get a surge or prime time ride. Don’t. If you’re already in the surge zone, stay there. If you’re not, don’t try and rush over. Most surges only last a few minutes. By the time you get there, it will likely be gone, or that 2.3 surges will now be a 1.2 surge. Even worse, you will have wasted a bunch of gas rushing to get to the surge zone.
3. Expect to make some mistakes, and don’t be to hard on yourself when you do.
You may be a little nervous when you first start and will likely make a few mistakes in your first week or so. Odds are, you’ll make a wrong turn or something of that nature. Don’t sweat it. Every rideshare driver made a couple of mistakes during their first 50 to 100 rides. Even veteran drivers sometimes take a wrong turn. However, the more you drive, the quicker you’ll get better at rideshare driving. After 10 rides, you’ll feel more at ease and be better than you were after 1 ride. After 50 rides, you will probably chuckle at how nervous you were giving your first ride.
4. Join Some Facebook Driver Groups
There are a ton of driver’s groups on Facebook. Some of them are huge, with more than 5,000 or even 10,000 members. Don’t join the big groups off the bat. There’s not a ton of useful info in those groups and many of the members are not tolerant of newer drivers. Instead, you should join a local driver’s group from your area and a new driver advice group. Local Facebook driver groups are better sources of information about driving rideshare in your area. Drivers in those groups tend to be friendlier and will post tips, warnings about construction, and events that are happening in the area. For new driver questions, Rideshare Central runs a driver advice group on Facebook. Feel free to join and ask questions. We’ll try to help as best we can. If you don’t join our group, there are other driver advice groups that are also great sources of information for new drivers.
5. Get a decent phone mount & charger
Your phone should be mounted at or near eye level. It’s not really safe to drive while looking down at your phone. This means you want a mount that sticks to your window, rests on your dash, or clips to your air condition vents. You can see a number of recommended mounts on our essential products page. A lot of new drivers start out without a mount, and hold the phone in their hand, or stick it in a cup holder. Do not do this. It’s a sure way to get low ratings and complaints from riders.
Get a 2 amp charger. Newer phones tend to use a lot of battery, especially if you’re running a rideshare and map app. A 2 amp charger is sure to charge the phone while it’s being used heavily. A 1 amp charger won’t always do the trick.
6. Look around your backseat as passengers exit.
People leave purses, phones, keys, and all sorts of other things behind. While Uber pays drivers $15 for returning lost items (Lyft is testing a similar system in Chicago), you still have to waste time driving the item back to the passenger. By the time you notice the item, or get a call from the passenger, you could be 10 miles away. So, when passengers are exiting, remind them to take their belongings. Then give the backseat a quick look to make sure they did.
7. Take a ride as a passenger
If you’re going to drive for Lyft or Uber, it helps if you know what the passenger experience is like. For one thing, the passenger experience begins when they requests a ride, not when they get in the car. If you request a ride as a passenger, you’ll receive notifications when the driver is on the way and when they’re arriving. As a driver, you want to know when those notifications arrive and what they say. You may find that the notifications don’t always come in on time. This often results in a situation where the passenger is not outside waiting when you arrive. When this happens, after a minute or two, politely text your passenger to let them know you’re outside.
8. Take breaks
If you’re going out for a full day of rideshare driving, it’s important to take a couple of short breaks. Sitting for eight hours straight is not good for the body. So, every few hours, pull over, get out, and walk around or do some stretches for ten minutes. Some drivers stretch a bit before they start and after they’re done for the day. It really helps your body in the long run.
9. Get Rideshare Insurance
Rideshare insurance is pretty widely available now. More than 12 different insurers offer coverage, and at least 1 insurer offers coverage in 48 of the 50 states. In most cases, you can get a rideshare insurance policy for an extra $6-$20 per month. While Uber & Lyft provide coverage once you accept a ride, they don’t provide collision coverage when you’re waiting for a ride request to come in. Regular personal auto policies don’t provide coverage during that time either. So, if you want to be fully covered, please get a rideshare insurance policy or have a rideshare endorsement added to your current policy. For more information, see our Rideshare Insurance Guide. To find rideshare insurance in your state, check our 50 State Rideshare Insurance Database.
10. Track Your Expenses
If you drive rideshare, you get a tax deduction of $535.00 for every thousand miles you drive ($0.535 cents/mile). So, it’s important to keep track of your mileage, and your other expense. You can either track them in a spreadsheet or use a mileage & expense tracker. Here’s a few good ones.
Read more about the Best Mileage & Expense Trackers For Uber & Lyft Drivers.
For more information on what you can deduct as a rideshare driver, see our Tax Deduction Guide For Uber & Lyft Drivers.
11. Don’t Drive Around Unnecessarily
The fewer miles you drive without a passenger, the more profitable your rideshare driving will be. If you’re waiting for a ride request to come in, and you’re in a pretty busy area, pull over if you can and turn off the car. To make doing this easier, when you’re driving, start to make mental notes of where Standing Zones are, and larger supermarket parking lots.
12. Start noting where Starbucks, supermarkets, gas stations, and large convenience stores are located
When you’re driving, you will have to go to the bathroom. Places like CVS or Walgreens usually have bathrooms you can use, as do Starbucks. It’s important to become familiar with the best places to stop and go to the bathroom while you’re driving. This is more difficult to do in downtown areas where parking can be scarce. So, you want to try and find the closest bathroom that’s just outside the downtown area.
13. If you’re going to drive nights, get Carebags.
Driving nights means driving intoxicated people around. There’s a chance that one of them may get sick in your car. While this is not a common occurrence, you want to be prepared. Carebags are vomitbags that seal up. I highly recommend them. Now, ideally, it’s better to pull over and have them open the door and puke on the street. Sometimes, that may not be possible, so you want to have the carebags handy. That way, if you think a passenger looks a little woozy, you can hand them a Carebag, so you don’t have to clean puke up.
14. Keep your car clean and your trunk pretty empty.
It’s pretty simple. Passengers like a clean car, so wash your car or get it washed about once a week or so. Also, you’re going to have passengers who are going to the airport, and may have a lot of luggage. So, don’t keep a whole lot of stuff in your trunk. Most veteran drivers keep a bag with some supplies (paper towels, some plastic bags, Carebags, maybe a small vacuum) and that’s it.
15. The city is busier than the burbs
In almost every market, Lyft and Uber are busier in the city than the suburbs. The reason is simple – population density. You have more people in a smaller geographical area when you’re in a downtown area, so you’re more likely to get a ride. This doesn’t mean you can’t make money in the suburbs. However, you are likely to get more rides per hour in the city.
16. Learn how to use the destination, and last ride settings.
Both the Uber and Lyft apps have destination and last ride settings. If you set a destination, you will only receive trips in the general direction of that destination. Uber limits the use of this feature to twice per day. Lyft lets you use it six times. It’s a great feature if you’re in the suburbs and want to get back to the city, or when you’re trying to get home.
The last ride setting stops new rides from coming in. Sometimes, when you have a passenger in the car and you’re getting close to the destination, another ride will be added to your queue. Usually, that’s great because it means less downtime. However, if you’re looking to take a break, or you’re done driving, you may not want another ride. To activate the last ride setting in Lyft, simply push the “Online” button at the top of the screen while you’re on a trip. The button will change to “Last Ride” and you won’t receive anymore requests. In the Uber app, to pause incoming requests, you can also hit the online/offline button. Alternatively, from the trip detail page, there should be a button that says “stop new ride requests”.
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