Are you ready for some football!?!
The start of football season is an exciting time. Diehard football fans finally will have something to do on Sunday’s again, casual fans will welcome the return of gameday parties, and everyone else gets to play fantasy football!
For rideshare drivers, football season means saying hello to some of the most profitable and predictable surges that you’ll see all year if you take advantage of them.
But what’s the best way to make the most money during this football season? We talked to rideshare drivers across the country to find out how they are taking advantage of the return of football to maximize their profits, and we came up with this comprehensive guide to football Sunday’s (and Saturday’s) for rideshare drivers.
We’ll go over pregame, in-game, and post game strategy in this blog post, so let’s not waste any more time and dive in!
If you’re in one of the 20+ major cities with an NFL team, you can expect at least eight home games with the possibility of more if your team makes the playoffs.
During these home games, you’ll see an increase in rider demand that will start as early as the following Friday as the away teams fans arrive in the city to watch their teams play.
Keep an eye on airports
Everyone’s first thought during football season is to get to the stadium after the game. While that certainly should be part of your strategy, it’s just a small piece.
For most home football games there is a big influx of fans flying in to see their favorite teams. You’ll usually see a significant amount of flights coming in Friday night and Saturday morning/afternoon and these riders are unlikely to be picked up by friends or family. Make sure that you know the flight schedules and be at the airport during peak hours.
You shouldn’t spend your entire night at the airport as there is money to be made driving the late night crowd in popular going out areas, however, keep this increased airport demand in mind on Friday night and Saturday morning.
Hit the hotels
Most fans that come into your city to watch football games will be staying in a hotel without a car. This means they are going to need rides to the game, and around the city when they want to go out.
These fans will want to go out to bars and dinner just like anyone else, so you can be sure there will be demand around those hotels Friday and Saturday evenings from 8:00 – 10:00. You’ll also see an uptick in demand near touristy locations like “The Bean” in Chicago or near the Monuments in D.C. If you want to drive Saturday afternoon, stick near these tourist centric locations.
On Sunday’s fans usually, head to the stadium about an hour or two before the games. Check your teams schedule so you know when the games start and hang near hotels an hour or two before the game is scheduled to start.
For 2017, many stadiums have officially partnered with Uber to make the passenger dropping off and picking up process much easier. There are designated signs where you should drop passengers off before the game to avoid confusion and congestion. Always follow these signs or risk getting stuck in traffic.
During the game
There is less demand during the game than before and after the game, but if you know where to look you can still get rides.
Focus on the bars
Many locals will watch the game at one of the bars around town and will frequently arrive late, leave early, and generally move from bar to bar.
Focus on your city’s going out area’s and where there are sports bars. You can use Google Maps and Yelp to help you map out the location of sports bars before you head out.
Many D.C. Area sports bars are in DuPont Circle
After the game there is a huge surge in demand at the stadium and across your entire city. Let’s look at how you can be prepared.
Check the Score
It’s important to keep an eye out for the score of the game while you’re out so that you know when it would be best to head over to the stadium. If a game is 49-0, you can start heading over to the stadium midway through the third quarter as many fans will be leaving early. However, if it’s a 21-21 game then you can wait a bit longer and pick up another ride or two in the city.
You can use the Gridwise app to receive alerts to make sure you’re up to date on the score.
A good rule of thumb is to try and be in place at the stadium by the time there are at least 10-minutes left on the clock in the 4th quarter, which is about 20-30 minutes real-time. If you get stuck outside the stadium when a flood of fans are exiting the stadium it’s going to become very difficult to get in.
Picking up from the stadium
When you make a pick up after the game, you should expect a large surge. On Uber and Lyft you can expect anywhere from a 2.5x – 5.7x surge at most stadiums that is 100% predictable. Passengers after the game also understand that their area is going to be surging for more than just a few minutes, so they are likely to just bite the bullet and pay surge pricing rather than try to wait out the surge.
To make sure that you are taking full advantage of the potential surge make sure you’re near the stadium and turn off your Uber/Lyft driver app. Then monitor the passenger app to see when surge pricing begins.
Once you see surge pricing hit 2.5x or 250%, make sure you’re well within the surge zone and turn your app on. You should get a ping quickly from within the stadium.
You can expect some traffic and congestion at every stadium, but most stadiums do a good job of sectioning off a designated area for rideshare passengers to be picked up.
When you have a passenger that pings you from the stadium, immediately text them to confirm that they are heading to the designated pick up area, and aren’t still in their seat hoping you’ll come and find them. You don’t want to be driving around the stadium trying to hunt them down.
Some stadiums are starting to add First In, First Out systems like airports. This shouldn’t significantly affect your strategy as drivers that are at the stadium should see pings coming quickly.
A great alternative to waiting at the stadiums is taking advantage of predictable surges around the sports bars. If your city has a high density of sports bars in one location you can expect that area to surge anywhere from 10 – 30 minutes after a game is over as fans go back home or head to their next destination.
Keep an eye on traffic
Sundays can turn from a cash cow to a big waste of time very quickly if the weather and traffic don’t cooperate with you, so always stay alert to weather and traffic conditions.
Bad weather tends to mean even bigger surges, but that also means A LOT of traffic, and remember that as a driver you make most of your money from mileage and not time. So spending an hour sitting in traffic isn’t going to be worth it even in a 3x surge.
Don’t forget about Saturday
Depending on where you drive, Saturday college football games can be just as profitable as Sunday if not more so. Cities like Atlanta with Georgia Tech, Miami with the University of Miami, Columbus with Ohio State, and Los Angeles with USC are great examples of locations where rideshare drivers can treat Saturday College Football games like Sunday NFL games.
Take advantage of hotel, airport, bar, and stadium traffic for college football games just like you would NFL games.
Enjoy away games!
Driving during a football Sunday can be rough for the rideshare driver who is also a diehard fan, but if you use some of the tactics above, it can be worth it!
And hey, you can always just watch the away games and catch the home games on the radio!
We’d love to hear what tactics you are using to take advantage of football Sundays. Let us know if we missed anything in the comments below!