I have been an Uber driver for a little more than a year. And as we come up on the end of 2016 I thought it only fitting to look back and share some of the things I wish I had known before I became an Uber driver. This is my list, feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.
- READ ALL THE TERMS OF SERVICE!
You’re going to run into situations that you could solve if you just knew the Uber stance. Recently Uber made a media push to make sure passengers understand that they can be banned and the actions that are unacceptable. Verbally abusing the drivers, overly physical activities in the back seat, ordering rides for unaccompanied minors – all of this is against the rules and can cause pax to be banned. It’s a safety net for you.
- There are certain personality traits or characteristics that will make you successful right off the top. I firmly believe that if I was not a confident, self motivated, self starter I would have not made it. There is absolutely no training other than instructional videos. But there is no mentoring, no direction, nothing. Turn on the app and hope for the best. I was lucky, I got a good first pax, which made the second pax easier and on and on.
- If you get past the no training, Uber is in complete control. It’s their app, they set the rate of pay, they tell you what you’ll get as a cut of the fare. Further, when they decide to cut the rates, you’ll have to just take it – you don’t have a choice. Uber is the only company I’ve heard of that has a “winter warm up sale” and not only drops the passenger rates, they take your rate down as well.
- Don’t count on any recognition or praise beyond the 5 stars and customer remarks. Uber does a very poor job of giving drivers motivation based on a job well done. When the rates get cut, you’re passenger pukes in the car or you just drove 15 minutes for a 3 block fare – hearing that you are doing a great job from big brother is really helpful.
- Having a group of drivers to “hang out” with is very helpful. I drove for probably 2-3 months before I found the local Uber Facebook group. The group helps you know what is “normal,” in the Uber world. It’s a sounding board when things go badly and a what-not-to-do resource. Since then I’ve been able to build a network of friends, resources and sometimes it leads to rides.
- Always, always, always ask for the passenger’s name. Don’t say “are you . . . ” say, “May I have your name.” You would be surprised how many times in a crowded situation the pax will get into the wrong car. Drivers get offended thinking you stole their pax, the “real” pax cancels, you end up with someone in the car who didn’t order the ride… good luck straightening out the fare …. big mess.
- Drive wisely. Don’t spend time chasing the surge or driving around without a pax. This will only cost you in terms of gas and wear on the vehicle. You’ll be putting enough miles with the passengers, no need to add to it. Find a spot, wait for the ping. Oh, and I recommend Hurdlr for tracking miles & expenses.
- Don’t pay attention to drivers who post big bucks when you’re not pulling that amount. Every market is different, not every driver puts in the same amount of hours – too many variables for that to be a benchmark for your success. You’re successful on Uber when you say you are whether that’s an extra $100 on top of your “real job” or $1500 because you caught a couple of after concert surges or chose to work 70 plus hours.
- The airport ISN’T the primary source of fares. And many airports have rules about Uber so be sure you know the rules. But really, if you’re next fare won’t happen unless you wait over 1/2 an hour there is better use of your time.
- You’ll learn really quickly how badly people drive. When you’re on the road more you naturally are exposed to more poor driving skills, more “just happened” accidents, more weather related incidents. And thank your higher power for every day that you are able to drive without being a victim to any of the above. There have been several times I’ve been in the car with a pax, saw something and everyone in the car just says “wow.”
- You only have one chance to make a great first impression. And with Uber, first impressions are important for ratings and tips. So keep your car clean inside and out. Treat your passengers like guests in your home, be confident and courteous. You’ll have a great ride most of the time and you’ll be repaid in kind.
- Don’t obsess over ratings. They will go up, they will go down. Pay attention to any reported “issues” and feedback, work to improve but don’t obsess.
- If you are a good driver, car is clean, you’re able to relate to people well you’ll get tips. It’s all about the people and taking social cues. Know when to talk, when to shut up. Know how to add to a conversation and what topics to avoid. Tips aren’t always given, but if you learn how to provide a good service you’ll get them about 30% to 50% of the time.
- Take frequent breaks. Sitting for long periods of time is bad for your health, causes poor blood circulation and can lead to blood clots which can be fatal. Trying to “hold it” when you have to pee can cause a bladder infection quickly. I know sounds bad but hey just take the time to get out from behind the wheel and stretch between pings. Find the best restroom stops. At least try leg excercises at the stop lights LOL
Is it fun, hell yeah! I have met a lot of great people because of Uber. Is it profitable? Not really, no. It’s a very slim profit margin if any, at least in my market – which is now over saturated with drivers. And it can be dangerous, there are plenty of reports out there about Uber drivers being abused, just as many as pax being mistreated. There are bad Uber drivers and exceptionally good ones too. Bottom line, this has been a good experience and I know I have learned a lot.