[2021 Update!] 7 Rideshare (Uber/Lyft) Driver Strategies & How They Can Work For You

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Being a driver can be fun, flexible, and often rewarding, but it’s rarely easy. 

Until COVID-19 turned the whole world upside-down in March of 2020, it was at least somewhat predictable. People traveled, went to concerts and sporting events, needed rides back and forth to the office, and enjoyed going out on the town some weeknights. And the weekends? It was hard not to make money driving people around to bars, restaurants, and clubs.

That was before the pandemic, so what about now? Driving for a living has certainly changed. In very few cities, the businesses that kept rideshare drivers buzzing are opening up again. As this happens, we’re seeing that rideshare is bouncing back to where it used to be before all this happened.

Yet many (maybe even most) places are still shut down. Restaurants and bars remain at reduced capacity, kids are not yet back in school, people are still working from home, and many college campuses, once explosive hotbeds of rideshare requests, are deserted. 

These conditions will undoubtedly not last forever, but there’s a good chance that certain facets of our society won’t ever go back to what we used to call “normal.” A January 19, 2021 USA Today article, for instance, carries the revealing headline: “Nearly 30% of working professionals would quit if they had to return to office after pandemic.”

Another glimpse at a possible post-pandemic future comes from an article by Cathy Li of the World Economic Forum. Li cites studies that extol the virtues of online learning, and offer hints that it might be superior to attending school in person, opening the possibility it could become permanent. “With this sudden shift away from the classroom in many parts of the globe,” she writes, “some are wondering whether the adoption of online learning will continue to persist post-pandemic, and how such a shift would impact the worldwide education market.”

All these changes and potential changes motivated us to look for strategies that can work for gig drivers in 2021 and maybe beyond. Here’s what we have for you:

  • The travel trawler
  • The weather watcher
  • The hybrid driver
  • The nighttime shape-shifter
  • The date-saving “pumpkin coach” driver
  • The rescue ride for essential workers
  • The grocery wagon

Uber and Lyft drivers strategy #1: The travel trawler

Even though business travel has largely been replaced by Zoom meetings, and a quick trip to the Caribbean isn’t as easy as it used to be, there is still airport traffic. While you might not have as much luck as you once did sitting in the cell phone lot waiting for your number in the queue to be called, it’s still a smart idea to swing by the airport to see who might need a ride. 

For one thing, people who work there might need a lift home from work. Also, where a decent number of flights are in operation, you stand a good chance of picking up inbound passengers. As always, check Gridwise for airport traffic info—although the airports have slowed down, this handy app has not. You can still find out who’s coming and going by clicking on the “Airports” tab from your Gridwise screen.

Airport driving can be especially effective if you happen to be driving past your local landing pad. But… until more action appears, you wouldn’t want to sit there for long. And don’t forget about all those small airports around you, the regional facilities that service small planes and private jets. In your travels, you might find passengers, pilots, and other workers pinging you as you drive by.

Airports aren’t the only place to find travelers in need of rides. In these days of restrictive air travel, many people are traveling from state to state on trains and buses. Don’t be surprised to find there’s more traffic at your local stations than there used to be, and capitalize on it.

Travel trawling is good for drivers who…

  • Live in or near a relatively large urban area
  • Don’t mind dealing with luggage
  • Can squeeze in and out of tight pick-up and drop-off points competently
  • Know where the travel hubs are and can easily drive by them

Forget travel trawling if you …

  • Live in a city that is fully locked down
  • Are leery of the germs people may carry from out-of-state

Uber and Lyft drivers strategy #2: The weather watcher

Bad weather brings out big volume in rideshare requests. People who are afraid to drive under poor road conditions and low visibility will look to you to get them safely where they need to go. Also, when the weather is bad, those who might normally walk to the corner bistro or liquor store are often willing to splurge and open up their apps so they can ride instead.

While most of the time we think of “bad” weather being wind, rain, snow, ice, and/or fog, many people also seek rides when it’s too hot outside. Always make sure your vehicle’s cabin is comfortable and inviting. You’ll keep your customers contented and be able to maintain your own good health as well.

Bad weather driving is for you if …

  • You drive a vehicle that’s capable of handling rough road conditions
  • Your ride is equipped with a workable comfort control system
  • You don’t mind wet, muddy, or sweaty passengers
  • You have equipment on board for “just in case” situations

Stay inside if …

  • You’re the least bit nervous about losing control of your car in bad weather
  • You don’t have plenty of experience driving in less-than-ideal conditions

Uber and Lyft drivers strategy #3: The hybrid driver

If you’re a regular Gridwise blog reader, you know we use the term “hybrid” to refer to a driving gig that includes rideshare and delivery. The population of hybrid drivers has grown exponentially over the course of the pandemic because so many have turned to delivery as an option for a second or third kind of driving gig. 

The hybrid driver almost always has business because even when traffic for rideshare cools down at suppertime, the delivery business will be hot. One of the good things about freelancing for rideshare and delivery services is they allow you to work for either or both of them, whenever it best suits you. 

That means you can work for as many driving and delivery apps as you wish; when it’s tough to get rideshare trips, you can opt to do some delivery. And don’t believe everything you hear about the lower rates for delivery drivers. In truth, they make almost as much per hour as the average rideshare driver—because these days, people tip much more for delivery than they do for a ride.

You can deliver food, snacks, groceries, and even liquor. If your vehicle is big enough, you could even deliver packages for Amazon. Believe it or not, some rideshare drivers have flipped totally and now do delivery full-time.

Doing double driving is perfect for you if …

  • You have a vehicle that’s suitable for carrying the commodity you choose to deliver
  • You have the patience to park your car every time you pick up and drop off items
  • You are able to carry packages and bags, even in nasty weather

Don’t do the hybrid thing if …

  • Juggling two kinds of work on the same shift makes your head explode
  • You don’t like getting in and out of your vehicle several times on a shift
  • You don’t want to have the smell of food in your car

Uber and Lyft drivers strategy #4: The nighttime shape-shifter

For many reasons, rideshare drivers have often loved to work late at night. The most obvious reason, of course, is the money. This is the time of day when surge pricing was customarily meted out for drivers daring enough to drive around with the drunk, dazed, and confused passengers rattling around in the back seat.

Now that bars are at very limited capacity, the business of driving people to and from those establishments has been drastically reduced. If you want to drive at night for another reason, maybe because it fits your work schedule and allows you to balance your driving with other gigs, there are other passengers to watch for.

While you may have been accustomed to ferrying around misguided and misbehaving passengers, how about doing a full 180? Check out some of the other places that generate riders at night, such as nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. 

The staff that provide love and care to seniors and disabled people often stop working at midnight and later, so you could make it a point to research where their workplaces are, and when the shifts begin and end. They’ll appreciate you, and you’ll love driving around these angels on earth.

Other potential nighttime passengers include people who work in bakeries, grocery stores, restaurants, and the kinds of establishments that operate around the clock. Even if the storefront is closed, there are probably people working inside. They could be emptying trucks, stocking shelves, or doing all that extra cleaning that’s needed for COVID compliance.

For those of you who love working weekend nights, and miss getting your kicks from witnessing the follies and foibles of the bar crowd, there’s still a lot of business delivering midnight meals meant for soaking up the excess alcohol they’re drinking at home. This strategy leaves you lots of room to stick with wee-hour work, and still make good money.

The night shift is for you if …

  • You can be resourceful about finding rides
  • You are willing to add delivery to your gig mix
  • You have to make the night shift work because of the rest of your schedule

Stay home and get some sleep if …

  • They roll up your town’s sidewalks at 8 p.m.
  • You don’t want to deliver food, packages, or bottles of booze
  • Your town doesn’t have the kinds of businesses that generate night riders

Uber and Lyft drivers strategy #5: The date-saving “pumpkin coach” driver

People might not be gathering in large mobs inside bars, restaurants, and clubs, but on most weekend nights couples are still going out on dates. Along with the usual singles out for a night on the town, there are married couples who covet time to themselves, away from the kids. You might also encounter some BFFs headed out for a night of catching up and kibitzing. In all cases, they’re probably headed to a quiet restaurant for some nice food and a few glasses of wine.

They will need you, their “pumpkin coach” driver, to save them the hassle of finding a spot next to the establishment of their choice, and to permit them to enjoy a few drinks while you do the driving. Scope out the restaurants in your area, and see what times they seem to be busiest. Then, cruise the neighborhoods that house the places couples and good friends like to go when they need a few hours away, and can pretend there is no stinkin’ pandemic.

Date driving is for you if …

  • You have a good eye for hot spots and ride-rich neighborhoods
  • You’re available to drive during time periods when restaurants are serving customers
  • You enjoy seeing people have fun, despite the pandemic

Steer clear of the pumpkin coach game if …

  • You don’t have a clear idea of where people go for fun in your town
  • Your schedule keeps you busy during the times people go out 
  • You don’t feel comfortable dropping people off where there might be extra traffic

Uber and Lyft drivers strategy #6: The rescue ride for essential workers

For quite a while the world was hyper-aware of the people who went out there and worked, even if it meant exposing themselves to the risks of the pandemic. Medical personnel, first responders, municipal workers, custodial workers, and home aides are among the people we see in our minds when we think of essential workers.

Because drivers are essential workers too, you probably have a special appreciation for all the people we mentioned above. Have you considered that they could be a great group to have as passengers? 

At one time or another, most drivers have picked up someone at a hospital or fire station and not thought a lot about it. Now, as these wonderful workers are taxed by the stress of dealing with the pandemic, taking extra precautions, and enduring scenes most of us would rather avoid, you, the driver, can come to their rescue.

Take note of when the shifts begin and end at your local hospitals, municipal buildings, or police precincts. Then, make sure you’re in the vicinity when workers are ready for a ride home. Another consideration is that these trips, during which you ferry workers back to their homes, are often longer than the usual jaunt around town, which is always good for your earnings.

This population often feeds the delivery business as well. Most essential workers don’t have the luxury of going out for food on their breaks—if they even get breaks. You’ll find that there is a lot of need for delivery services in all facilities where essential workers hang out, and they’re hungry for your help.

Rescuing essential workers is for you if …

  • Your driving schedule meshes with the shifts most of these people work
  • You know where the facilities are located in your town
  • Helping the helpers makes you feel good 

Don’t delve into driving essential workers if …

  • Your timing doesn’t mesh with their shifts
  • You don’t have many hospitals or public service facilities in your area

Uber and Lyft drivers strategy #7: The grocery wagon

Since the pandemic struck almost a year ago, have you noticed that there are things we drivers used to dread that now don’t seem so bad? So it is with the grocery run. No one here is trying to sell you on dropping passengers off and waiting hours for them to do their shopping so you can drive them back home … but one-way grocery runs are a big thing these days, and they can add to your driving income.

Before you wince, the next time you get a call that’s pinned at the local grocery hub, think about the opportunities. For one, you just got a ride, which isn’t as common as it used to be. And you get a chance to turn on the charm with your customer. You can help load and unload, and make it easier for the person to do the needed shopping even though he or she might not own a car. 

Don’t forget, there are plenty of people doing their shopping at big box stores these days. You might get called to the local strip mall more often than you’d expect to help people tote their fruits, veggies, snacks, and small lamps and mops when they buy all their stuff in one very large place.

What’s in it for you? Well, there’s a warm, fuzzy feeling of doing nice things for people during the pandemic … and there’s also a strong possibility of getting an awesome tip.

Of course, you know there are options for the delivery driver here, but we’ll remind you anyway. You can work for an outfit like Instacart or DoorDash, and do the shopping and grocery delivery for customers who want to get their goods delivered to the doorstep, contact-free. 

Go with grocery work if …

  • You’re okay with your car being filled with bags, bottles, and cans
  • You have the patience to wait for people to load and unload their stuff
  • You have lots of stores in your area, and a population that may need rides

Shun the grocery run if …

  • You really, truly hate having loads of stuff in your car
  • There aren’t enough stores in your area to make looking for grocery customers worth your while

One more strategy that can be a real lifesaver – Gridwise Protection

Now that you know how to make extra money in 2021, how can you keep your income safe? Life happens, and there will be times – a hospitalization, a wait for collision repair – or an unfair deactivation – when you’ll have to be idle for a few days or even longer,

When you don’t drive or deliver, your cash flow comes to a dead stop. That’s why Gridwise put together a way for you to keep your cash flow going: Gridwise Protection! This innovative plan for drivers allows you to collect 80% of your regular income in case the life events we just listed happen to you.

On top of that, you get 24/7 telehealth services, a way to pay for sick leave, and even legal help, should you need it to contest an unfair deactivation. All of this protection for your hard-earned income can be yours for around $7 per month! Click here to learn more, and get a quote.

One of the main beefs about being a gig driver is the companies’ failure to give drivers benefits. Now, you have a way to get coverage, even though you’re an independent contractor. You’ll find that Gridwise Protection gives you a high level of confidence at a very low cost. If you’re serious about your driving or delivery gig, you won’t want to go without Gridwise Protection – it’s the #1 best strategy you can use to create safety and security in your gig driving life. 

And another must: Gridwise

Now that you’re ready to try these strategies, we wouldn’t want you to go out there without the ultimate rideshare and delivery assistant – Gridwise! Download the app to receive airport and weather information, and get your earnings tracked automatically. Link your driving apps to Gridwise, log on at the beginning of your shift, and all your earnings, miles, and time will be collected and tabulated for you. Then, you can look at your performance on every app you use in slick graphs like these:

What’s more, you can enter all your expenses, making Gridwise your go-to app for recording all the data for your driving business. It’s good to keep track of where you’re making the most money, and the whole system is great for tax time!

Click on the Perks tab to get deals and discounts designed just for drivers, plus easy access to our blog and the Gridwise YouTube channel! Join us on Facebook for fun with the driving community, and to get a chance at winning a gas card in one of our giveaways.

We hope you enjoyed the strategies we provided here, and we invite you to share some of yours with us. Just spell them out in the comments below.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t done so already, it’s about time: download the Gridwise app now!

For more discussion about rideshare driving strategies, check out our strategy video below!

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