So you took the plunge after reading, How to Become an Uber Driver in 2019 – The Ultimate Guide. Now you are a fully fledged Uber or Lyft driver. Congratulations! Well before you pat yourself on the back there are a few things you need to know. Particularly when it comes to how you should run your rideshare hustle.
Make no mistake if you are a rideshare driver, you need to treat this like a business. Taxes, insurance, upkeep, and ratings are just a few of the things you need to be aware of. That is why I have stuffed this article with everything I use daily in my rideshare toolbox. So pull up a chair and let’s take your rideshare business to the next level.
Things You Need In Your Car as an Uber Driver
Treating your rideshare gig like a business demands that you have the proper tech installed. From phone mounts to charger cords, portable vacuums to barf bags you need to be prepared. There are many physical and digital tools that you can employ to make sure you are running efficiently.
1: The Phone Mount
First things first, get yourself a sturdy phone mount that doubles as a charging apparatus. Now, you might say why do you need both? The short answer is efficiency. There will come a time that you are low on battery and a rider will request your charge cord/port. What do you do then? If you get a mount that charges your phone you won’t have the problem. For phones that have wireless charging, I recommend the I-Ottie brand of phone mount. I have had my I-Ottie for over a year and a half with zero issues.
2: High Quality, Fast Charging Car Charger and Charging Cables
It is recommended to have a high quality car charger in your vehicle at all times. We’d like to take this opportunity to remind drivers, not all car chargers are made equal. If you picked up your car charger at a gas station, car wash or swap meet, please reconsider your purchase. Poorly made chargers can have a negative impact on the overall health of your phone. Then there are those chargers that claim super fast charging speed, yet, only charge at 5-7 watts. That’s standard, that’s slow. That’s only acceptable for charging your phone over night, when you’re fast asleep!
There are much better car chargers out there and owning one as a rideshare driver is an absolute must. A high quality fast charger will take an iPhone 8 from 1% to 50% in 30 minutes or faster. Seriously, your passengers will thank you for it – you will thank YOU for it.
Car Charging Gear We Recommend
Also, some would disagree, but it’s necessary to have charging cords on hand for riders that need a quick battery boost. I recommend keeping the latest Apple Lighting Cord and the newest Android cord on hand at all times. Some drivers go above and beyond and have a charging cord buffet that would charge a brick Nokia, but I think that is overkill. I rarely get riders who don’t have a charged phone and often they have their cord. It is a great plan, however, to get a multi-USB port adapter to plug into your spare 9-volt slots.
3: Vacuum & Cleaning Supplies
There will be times that a rider makes a mess, either with liquid or solid debris. This is where a good little 9-volt vacuum will come in super handy. You won’t always be able to make it to a car wash and you don’t want to miss out on a good surge to clean up. I recommend getting yourself an inexpensive vacuum (here’s Amazon’s Best Seller) to clean up the mess. Add in a few multi-purpose wipes, glass cleaner, and some air freshener and you are good to go!
4: Barf Bags
Although I have been lucky enough, knock on wood, to never have a puker I am always prepared. Go to Amazon.com and get yourself some medical grade barf bags. No matter when you drive or who you drive around you might get a puker. Nothing will ruin your day more than having this happen, so spend the extra ten bucks for a pack of 25 barf bags. You’ll thank me later.
5: External Apps
Beyond the basic physical gear you need to invest in a number of apps. First and foremost is the QuickBooks for Self-Employed by Quicken. This app is a lifesaver and could be the difference come tax season. Not only does it allow you to track expenses and income it helps you calculate the tax you owe quarterly. Not to mention it syncs up with Turbo Tax seamlessly which is free for Uber drivers! You need to treat this like a business and there isn’t a better tool in the toolkit.
Extra navigation apps are crucial. Occasionally your in-app navigation will not get you where you need to go. That’s why you need to have some backups. Traditionally this would Google Maps or Waze, it is all about preference as both are incredibly functional. Other apps that kickass are Mystro, which allows you to switch seamlessly between rideshare apps, and FarePilot, which gives you hotspots to pick up a ride.
Attitude: Approaching the gig as though it was a business: How to keep a professional attitude.
The biggest key to treating your rideshare gig like a business is the attitude. If you’re attitude sucks, so will your business. Think about it, do you think Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos go into work every day with a crap attitude. No! The gig is what it is and if you are in it, you might as well make the best of it. This starts with being courteous and professional.
What are you wearing? Did you shower? Is the car clean? These are just a few of the things to pay attention to because your attitude is far more than your facial expression or your tone. Don’t get me wrong those two are HUGE, but a lot goes into attitude. Engage your rider when they want to talk, disengage and focus on driving when they don’t. Your primary keys are arriving early/on-time, being courteous, and arriving safely/on-time.
Remember that although Uber/Lyft give you nearly infinite flexibility, you still need to get out there and drive if you want to make money. Attitude is everything and having the right mindset can provide you with the stamina to drive when that little voice tells you to give up.
Expenses & Taxes: Exploring the many things you can and cannot write off, tracking your income and expenses, and saving for taxes.
Look its a business! Keep track of your receipts for gas, cleaning supplies, phone bills, tire purchases, etc. Some of these things you can write off come tax season, some you cannot. This goes back to attitude. If you want to lose money and drive a thousand hours a week then be my guest. I personally keep track of everything I spend for my rideshare gig, thanks to QuickBooks. This helps me see how much I am spending and how much I am earning. Without this knowledge, I can’t make a sound judgment of when to drive or even if I need to drive more.
The other key is saving for your taxes. Articles are multiplying outlining how the tax man is coming for Uber/Lyft drivers, so keep ahead of the game. I know when I first started I was lazy about this. Not anymore, nothing kills your drivetime buzz more than an audit. So keep your receipts and do your research come tax season.
Car Upkeep: Maintaining your vehicle, keeping a log, Car Washes, saving for emergencies
Whether or not you are driving your own vehicle or you got one from an Uber Partner/Affiliate, you need to maintain it. Without the car you won’t have an income. The key is proper maintenance. Keep a log of all the necessary repairs and services your vehicle needs as well as your mileage. The QuickBooks App I mentioned earlier tracks your mileage for tax season, but what about your maintenance miles? Conventional oil changes get you 3,000 miles where synthetic oil changes net you around 5,000. I suggest being on time with oil changes and regularly scheduled maintenance because it is safer to be preventive.
Keep the car clean! Make sure you run it through the wash once every week or so. This is a judgment call, but there is the off chance that you will get a poor rating for a dirty exterior or interior. It seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many jalopies are sporting an Uber decal.
Don’t forget to put money away each time you deposit your rideshare funds for repairs. If you get caught with a bunch of repairs it can be hard to dig your way out. Always be prepared for the eventual flat tire, brakes, and oil changes.
Scheduling: How to make sure you get the most out of your time on the road.
Smart business owners know when to open their doors to customers. Rideshare is no different. Don’t go driving during down times. Schedule your drives during high demand and make sure to get off the road when it dies off. Few things will kill your bottom line more than driving around aimlessly.
I drive during the morning rush each morning and sometimes during the afternoon hours to get my weekly quota. Others drive during the hot weekend nights. Whatever your poison, dial it in. If you find you make more money from the hours of 10 A.M. to Noon, do it up! Just keep an active log of your hours and your income so you can pinpoint where you make the most money!
If you treat it like a business you might just make some money!
Ratings and Protecting yourself: Rating management, Nuances of when to cancel, safety concerns, and protecting yourself from false claims by riders.
The previous sections might seem to be common sense. So for this section, I wanted to cover how to protect your business. We’ve covered how to protect yourself from the tax man and from repair bills, but what about incidental stuff? Many riders lament poor ratings, terrible PAX, safety concerns with minors, and false claims by riders.
Ratings are easy enough to manage if you follow the three big keys, How to Become an Uber Driver in 2019 – The Ultimate Guide to rideshare driving. But what about the nuances of when to cancel a ride. With the advent of the new Uber Pro system, cancelations are not an easy thing to navigate. I rarely cancel unless the rider doesn’t show or the rider appears to be a minor without an accompanying guardian. It is imperative that you be on the lookout for these things. One mistake can lead to a major headache that can not only end your career but seriously stifle the rest of your life.
Important Note: Acceptance rate matters! One of our rideshare pros covered this extensively in: UPDATED – UBER Classifies Their Drivers: The Secret to Why You’re Not Earning As Much As You’d Like and How to Change How UBER Tiers Your Earning Potential
Child safety seats are another hot button. Never ever take a child without the appropriate seating apparatus, no matter if they have an adult with them. Always, always, always insist on the child safety seat.
False claims are another hot button issue that can crush your rideshare business. Although I have never experienced a false claim, they do happen. One of the ways to protect yourself from false claims is to install a dashcam in the car. Dashcams can help you in the event that a ride makes a false claim. Uber and Lyft do not play around when it comes to safety so hedge your bets.
Dashcams can also ensure some leverage in the event of an accident if you have one covering the necessary angles. Many of the available models are inexpensive enough and can save you tons in the event of an accident dispute.
Quests/Promotions: Getting that Extra Money!
Smart business people don’t turn down extra money. So schedule your driving time for maximum efficiency. Quests and promotions can sometimes be a stretch, but if you approach it properly you can hit those goals. If you need seventy rides in a week to get an extra hundred bucks, plan to get ten each day. Some markets that might be a stretch, but you get the idea. The good thing about quests, at least with Uber is, once you get them the boost will help you build up a war chest for car repairs, taxes, or hell even something cool for you!
If you want your rideshare gig to be a lucrative experience you need to put on your business pants. Whether that looks like writing it all out on paper or using QuickBooks. Taking an inventory of your inputs and outputs helps to keep you on track and in the black. The key to making money is to make more than you spend, but if you go about your rideshare gig half-cocked you won’t have a clue what your bottom line is. For me it is all about attitude and mindset, if you’ve got those, you’re golden!
That’s it! Have any questions or anything to add? Please comment below, drivers!