[2020 Update!] 7 Rideshare (Uber/Lyft) Driver Strategies & How They Can Work For You

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Everyone’s first experience as a rideshare driver goes a little bit like this…

You clean and prepare your car with water bottles, gum, and other random candies for your passengers and proceed to set up your heads up display with your phone. No need for Waze, the Uber Navigation system will be great.

After you finish, you turn on your app and you’re off!

Five hours later you’ve completed six rides for $33… Not exactly the cash cow that you were hoping for.

The hard truth is that being a rideshare driver isn’t easy, and it isn’t going to get easier anytime soon. If you’re going to be successful, you need to adopt a strategy that will work for you.

That’s why in today’s blog post we’re going to dissect 7 rideshare strategies and discuss how you can make them work for you. These will include:

  1. The Airport Driver
  2. The Event Driver
  3. The Rush Hour Warrior
  4. The Late Night Driver
  5. The Surge Chaser
  6. The Surge Avoider
  7. The Data Junkie

Let’s dive in!

Uber and Lyft Driver Strategy #1: The Airport Driver

The first time you drive to or from the airport, you’ll see that airport rides generate pretty big numbers. 

A premium ride can net you a trip of more than $60 in some markets and even higher if you catch a surge. If you’re extra-accommodating, help with luggage, or in any other way show your desire to do the best job possible, a nice tip is probably coming on top of that big fat fare.

Sounds excellent, doesn’t it?

But … there’s one obstacle to instant success. That’s the queue of drivers sitting in the cell phone lot, hoping for the potential passengers to land. It can be a long wait at times, and it’ll seem endless if you don’t know how many flights are coming in, and how many drivers are already there.

You don’t have to stay in the dark, though, because the Gridwise app gives you all this information and more.

You can see how many Uber and Lyft drivers are in the queue, how many flights are coming in and going out, their arrival and departure times, and peak times for departing and arriving passengers at the airport.

Gridwise can help when you’re going in the other direction, too. That $65 ride can come in from the city and go to the airport just as easily. And it can be yours if you head for a hotel, university, or convention center when an event is coming to an end, or during one of the peak times shown in the Gridwise app.

If you use Gridwise when you do your airport driving, you’ll avoid the pitfalls of working the airport. For instance, you won’t be waiting in a long queue when there aren’t a lot of flights coming in, nor will you miss out on a major event on the other side of town while hoping that you’ll find one of the few potential passengers heading to the airport during a detectable lull in flight activity.

Airport driving is best for those who …

  • Live in the suburbs and can use that airport ride to get into the city
  • Have children or other duties that keep them otherwise occupied during rush hour(s)
  • Are early birds who can be ready and waiting for those red-eye flyers
  • Drive full-time and have the luxury of using up some time on the queue

Airport driving might not work for those who …

  • Drive only a few hours at a time and don’t want to wait for flights or spend an extra hour driving passengers even farther away from the city

Uber and Lyft Driver Strategy #2: The Event Driver

Do you love big crowds?

If so, you’ll want to drive for big events that happen in and around your city. 

Just like airport driving, event driving moves in both directions. If you know about a college festival or a rock concert or a hockey game that’s about to happen, this could be a prime time to cruise the ‘burbs as people are coming into the downtown areas for the concert.

There is one drawback to driving passengers to games, concerts, festivals, or any event that generates traffic jams–you’re going to get stuck in one.

Make sure you have enough time, driving skill, and patience to work your way out of it, and that you’re carrying someone whose destination is far enough away from the venue to make the time you’re spending in traffic worthwhile.

Picking up passengers from an event can get you into an even bigger traffic jam, but it’s often worth it because this is prime time for surges.

Know your drop-off and pick-up points, though. Large venues often direct rideshare cars to a designated area, and will come down hard on you if you try to drop off or pick up anywhere else.

Above all, be aware of what’s going on in your town and what time events are likely to end. That way, you’ll know when the most people will need your driving services.

And guess what? Gridwise can help with that too. You can find out what’s up in your area, and the app even sends alerts when an event is about to let your potential passengers out and spilling into the streets. You can also use the app to filter events you want to see by size, time, and distance.

Driving for events is best for drivers who:

  • Don’t get stressed out in crowds
  • Have enough time to deal with traffic jams
  • Have someone to watch kids or cover other responsibilities during evening hours
  • Know what’s happening in and around town

Do not drive for events if you can’t handle a little traffic every once and a while!

Uber and Lyft Driver Strategy #3: The Rush Hour Driver

The first thing you should know about this strategy is, there’s not just one rush hour. In any town there are multiple rush hours, and it will benefit you to know where and when they take place.

Most people are on the way to work or taking kids to school in the early morning; that’s a given. Yet there are other times when riders will be out there pinging away at your app, and you won’t want to miss them either. 

One of those times is after school. From about 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., many parents take rideshare services from work to their child’s school, and from there to after-school activities.

Around 3:30 or 4:00 p.m there are shift changes at hospitals, factories, and universities, which is another heavily trafficked time. And of course there’s the traditional 5:00 p.m. mass release from office buildings. 

Rush hour driving is your thing if …

  • You can handle crowded traffic conditions
  • You don’t feel pressured by the words, “I’m running late.”
  • You’re in touch with your town and know where and when people are coming and going to work and/or school
  • You know how to gauge when people want to talk, and when they want you to quietly take them where they’re going

Avoid driving during rush hours if …

  • You wilt under pressure
  • You can’t stand the smell of coffee
  • You have to get your own kids to school or work your day job

Added note … don’t forget the laggers! Many people work beyond their assigned hours these days, and they’ll want you to be there for them more than you may realize. They might be mixed in with the happy hour crowd at around 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. Will your rider’s eyes be bleary from over-work or one too many margaritas? If you know how to work this crowd, the tips are always good.

Uber and Lyft Driver Strategy #4: The Late Night Driver

They don’t call these drivers Late-Night Heroes for no reason.

As anyone who drives the late night shift knows, it’s not for everyone. Only certain kinds of drivers are cut out for it, especially on weekends. You’ll need to have lots of tolerance for silly (and obnoxious) behavior, establish healthy boundaries, and not mind missing out on all the fun you could be having. In other words, if you decide to drive late-nights on a regular basis, say goodbye to your own social life–and maybe to some part of your sanity.

But … because of rideshare drivers like you, one of the best things that’s happened to society is that many would-be DUI arrestees are not behind the wheel. Good news, right? The not-so-good part is, they’ll be in your car.

If you don’t like dealing with people who can’t find where you’re supposed to pick them up, forget where they live, talk in LOUD VOICES, use foul #%&#$%! language, or could potentially “lose it” all over your perfectly cleaned upholstery, you probably should call it a night before the bars let out.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind watching other people have fun and stay safe because you’re driving them from place to place, you could be a great late-night driver–one who is very well paid.

The number one reason you would want to do this shift is the money it can bring you. The late-night is when more people need your services than just about any other time of the day.

And this is not limited just to weekends. Along with the usual Thursday to Saturday late-nights, two other opportunities are just before holidays when people have the next day off, and celebrations after big wins at sporting events. These festive times can create quite a rowdy riding crowd during the late-night hours.

You’re perfect for driving the late-night partiers if you … 

  • Have a great sense of humor
  • Have strong protective instincts
  • Are impervious to loud voices and the smell of intoxicants
  • Want to make a lot of money in very little time
  • Don’t mind giving up your nights and weekends to the cause
  • Can keep a straight face when you swipe to the right and discover your passenger’s destination is Helsinki, Finland. (True story!)

Don’t even think about driving the late-night shift if you …

  • Can’t bear to give up your own late-night fun
  • Have very little patience with people
  • Are paranoid about what might happen to the interior of your car

One more note about late-night driving: If you need a break from rowdy revelers, or you just want to do something really gratifying, consider the people who are coming home or on their way to night shifts at hospitals, nursing homes, police stations, prisons, bakeries, and other businesses that operate around the clock.

They need your services too, and having them as passengers can help make your night in more ways than one.

Uber and Lyft Driver Strategy #5: The Surge Chaser

Every driver wants to make as much money as possible, and surge pricing is an excellent way to sweeten the odds in favor of your greater financial good. The first time you see that surge and the promise of bigger earnings pop up on the app map, it’s pretty hard to resist driving straight there.

But before you peel out to head that way, be advised that surge areas come and go faster than you might imagine.

You might drive 20 minutes out of your way only to watch the surge area disappear just as you cross the line. Or, you could get there and never get a ping–because everybody else drove there too.

You’re also likely to find out why there’s such a high demand for drivers. You could be headed straight into a monstrous traffic jam or a loud and unruly group of college students on the prowl in one huge mob scene.

To chase or not to chase?

In one word, don’t. If you follow one or more of the strategies discussed here, and use your Gridwise app the way you should, you won’t need to chase the surge because you’ll already know where all the riders are.

Uber and Lyft Driver Strategy #6: The Contrarian

This is a non-aggressive way of getting business, and sometimes it works. There are parts of town where you might know people need rides. You may even be aware of a regular customer or two who’s just about to leave for that 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. shift at the factory.

Refusing to chase a surge and sticking to low-traffic areas where there’s no oversupply of drivers isn’t the least effective strategy in the world, but it’s not the best one either.

You may or may not get any riders. If you’re doing this driving thing for fun, or you’ve had one fabulous week and can afford to take it easy, driving far away from the herd could help you out.

Want to play the wallflower game?

This is for you if you know where you’re going and what’s happening in your area. Be ready to accept less money for more time and gas consumed while you’re just cruising for a ping. 

Uber and Lyft Driver Strategy #7: The Data Junkie

This is the Uber driver who is obsessed with driving data. Not only are they tracking all their mileage and earnings, but they’re making decisions off that data that are helping them make more money.

Gridwise’s free earnings and mileage tracker is the way to go for the Data Junkie to do this. By simply toggling on the “Start Tracking” button, the driver can easily track his or her mileage and earnings.

After you’ve finished a shift, you’ll be prompted to input your driving statistics for your session.

And you’ll be able view your weekly, monthly, and yearly results in the earnings tab so you can understand your earnings per hour, mile, and trip broken down by service.

Note: We recently updated the earnings tab. Gridwise users will see this updated UI in the coming weeks.

What’s the best strategy?

The smoothest recipe for success will take a little from each of these strategies and apply it to a diverse, fun, and lucrative driving schedule. Remember: always know your town, and use Gridwise to stay up to date on airport conditions and events in your area.

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

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