So you want to jump on the rideshare train…
You are not alone! Millions of drivers across the globe have hopped into the driver seat to make a little extra cash. It is an enticing side hustle and depending on the area you live in, might even be a solid full-time gig. Whether you are looking to quit your job or just need a little extra cash on hand, driving rideshare can be a rewarding experience if you enjoy driving, talking with people, and don’t have major road rage issues.
So, if you’re convinced that you want to do it, but you are most likely unsure of what to do next. That’s ok, because at Uber Driver Things have crafted the Ultimate Guide for How to become an Uber Driver in 2019. As the title suggests this guide will focus on the process of signing up for Uber, however, much of what follows will be helpful to a Lyft driver or any other rideshare platform.
I have been driving for Uber and Lyft for over two and a half years now, ranging anywhere from full to part-time, and I can tell you I wish that I had done just a little more research before jumping in. You see the thing is, signing up and getting down to driving is absurdly simple, but there are quite a few nuances that if paid attention to will allow you to hit the ground running and avoid some of the more common mistakes. So before we get into the nitty-gritty let’s take a look at the basic requirements.
Basic Driver Requirements to Sign Up
- You must drive a vehicle that is either a 4-door car, truck, or minivan. Manual transmission is accepted. 2004 Model or Newer in most states.
- You are required to be 21 years of age or older (23 in certain cities).
- You must have a valid driver’s license issued in the state where you want to drive for Uber.
- The intended driver is required to be on the insurance for the vehicle used.
- You must pass a background check, which will look for any criminal history such as violent crimes, sexual offenses, and other offenses that can disqualify you from driving for Uber.
- A minimum of three years of driving experience is mandatory.
- Your vehicle must be fit to pass an inspection from Uber.
- You are required to have a clean driving record.
Things to consider before taking the leap (to become a rideshare driver)
Before you sign up there are few things to consider and I can promise that if you do them, life will be infinitely easier. Whether it is the ride you plan to use, how you plan to save for taxes, figuring out your insurance requirements, or even just how you want to set up your ride for the premium rider experience, there is much to think about. UBER and Lyft try to make the signup system as foolproof as possible, but the onboarding doesn’t provide you with enough information to truly succeed. That’s where I come in!
1: Your Ride: How to choose a vehicle.
Chances are you have a ride that is ready to go, however, before you decide to sign up there are few things you’ll need to know. First up, your car will need to pass a twenty-seven point inspection with Uber and similarly with Lyft. The first thing that the rideshare giants are looking for is whether or not your car is new enough, as of 2019 (dependent on the state or country you are driving in) cars that are 2004 or newer. So if your ride is newer than that, you are golden. Keep in mind part of the inspection requires the body to be in good shape without dents, dings, and chipping paint–sorry to all the beater drivers, part of the gig is being presentable.
What to do if you don’t have a car?
If your vehicle passes all of the above requirements you are good to go. But what happens if you don’t have a car? Don’t despair, there are multiple programs that Uber provides for its drivers. From renting, leasing, and purchasing Uber has many programs that can get you on the road. Depending on your area you can rent a vehicle through Hertz, although this is not the most favorable approach, in my opinion. In 2018, Uber released the Fair program, whereby drivers without a suitable vehicle could lease a car with a flexible plan that didn’t lock you into a long term contract. I personally use and love Fair and the service they have provided me and my 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport.
Ultimately there are multiple avenues and a fair amount of research should lead you to the proper avenue for you. I will speak to this more in one of the sections below.
2: Taxes and Insurance
Before you even go and sign up be sure to understand that as a rideshare driver with either Uber or Lyft you will be considered a contract employee. This requires drivers to keep good records, particularly when it comes to taxes and insurance. Taxes could take up an entire post, so I won’t spend much time here, however, it is important to note that you will need a way to figure your taxes and pay them quarterly. I suggest using QuickBooks Self-Employed App which tracks your expenses, income, and helps you calculate your taxes for each quarter. There are many other options like Stride Tax calculator, but nothing beats QuickBooks, in my opinion.
Look its a business! You need to treat driving rideshare (Uber or lyft) as 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. I personally keep track of everything I spend for my rideshare gig, thanks to QuickBooks.
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.
Insurance can be tricky, so be careful!
As far as insurance is concerned, you need to be hyper-aware. If you currently have a loan on your car, the chances are your insurance will not allow you to drive it for rideshare, but it is a case by case basis, so be sure to check with your insurance company. The good news is that when you are driving to and from a pickup, you’re covered under Uber and their umbrella policy, which is good but beware of the strings attached. It is always a good idea to make sure you are covered in the event of an accident, so don’t skimp on this, it may save you thousands of dollars and a ton of headache.
3: Safety and Technology
Safety is key and one of the things many drivers need before they sign up is a good mount system to place their phone in. If you already have the ride and have prepared yourself to save and pay taxes and know your insurance is good to go, then the next step is a car mount and phone charging system. Safety is your number one priority when you are driving and a place for your phone to be visible and out of your hands is key. You can find one on Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, etc. Beyond the safety feature, it appears that you are a professional driver and puts your riders mind at ease.
Do you have a newer phone?
The other thing to consider is having a newer phone, beyond your car the phone is the second most important part of the equation. You will need a phone with good battery life, a screen that isn’t cracked and has plenty of memory to run a host of apps that will eventually make your life easier. If you can go out and get a new model phone, I promise in the long run this will save you countless dollars and a whole lot of frustration. I use the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 for the screen size, battery life, and absurd memory reserves that allow me to run multiple apps at once without interruption.
Which Service Provider to use?
Your service provider is another key consideration in being a successful Uber Driver. While most service providers have pulled even with companies like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint I cannot speak enough to the fact that having strong service is a must. There will be times where you will lose a ride because of spotty service and eliminating this will save you money on gas, wear and tear, and frustration.
There are many other tech-gadgets that you can consider but your basics are the phone mount, chargers, and a decent phone. Beyond these three, everything else is the icing on the cake and should only be considered once you have the hang of things.
How to Sign Up for Uber (the Process)…
Let’s look at the process of signing up. For this article, I am covering the Uber sign up process, which Lyft follows pretty closely.
Signing Up for Uber: A brief walkthrough of the process from (Signing up online, Vehicle Safety Inspection, Medical Certificate, Uber Greenlight Hubs, etc)
Uber makes the signup process super simple whether you are on the computer or on your mobile, all it takes to get started is your name, phone number, and email. Plug those in and your account is started. Your next step will be to download the Uber Driver App, where you will complete the majority of the signup process. In the app, you will be required to upload photos of your drives license, proof of insurance, vehicle registration and you will need to provide sensitive information like your social security to begin the screening process which includes a background check.
UBER Greenlight Hubs
Once you have passed the background check, which looks at felonies, misdemeanors, and your driving history you are prompted to finish the process at an Uber Greenlight Hub or an approved third part facility to acquire your vehicle inspection and medical certificate. Most major cities have an Uber Greenlight Hub where you can get both done in the span of an hour or less, however, on the off chance you may have to find an approved facility for both.
After you have passed through the screening process and your vehicle and health have been checked you are just about ready to hit the road, but don’t go just yet.
Determining your schedule: When to drive? Where to drive? How to drive?
Many drivers hit the road as soon as they are able, however, I would advise you don’t rush in. One of the key aspects of being a great rideshare driver is knowing exactly when, where, and how to drive. Your first drive will undoubtedly reveal a number of kinks that will need to be ironed out if you want to be a five-star driver, so how do you set yourself up for success?
By planning the best time to drive. This is largely depending on your comfort factor with driving in your city. Do you know your way around? Do you hate rush hour traffic? Can you drive well at night? How about in inclement weather? There are almost always rides available, but picking your time is crucial if you want to make money. Rush hour, nights, and weekends are the primary three go-times and you can be successful if you just follow that simple model, however, you also should consider where to drive. Different areas have a different volume of riders and because of this, you might want to consider where you choose to turn the app on. Pay attention to local events like concerts, professional sports venues, and of course airports and figure when they are busiest then head in that direction.
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!
How should you drive?
How to drive is a mixed bag altogether. Some people are aggressive drivers and others are more cautious, either is fine in my opinion. However, it is the rider that you need to convince, not me. Part of the gig is appeasing riders who can sometimes be finicky, so be aware of the subtle hints. My policy is simple, keep a healthy distance between you and the car in front of you, keep it near the speed limit and don’t try anything you wouldn’t do with your grandmother in the car. Do that and you should be good to go. It is common sense. You will be graded, make no mistake.
Taking your first ride: Navigating the app and the process of being a 5 Star Driver
Once you’ve set up your ride with a phone mount, stocked it with quality fast charging car charger, mints, gum, water, cleaning supplies, and whatever else you deemed necessary and you’ve picked a good time and area you can take the plunge. Your first ride will give your nerves a jolt, but just breathe. Navigating the experience will become second nature in no time.
Turn on the app and get ready to rock and roll. If you see red, orange, or yellow you’ll know its a good time to drive. This is what we call Surge or Primetime Pricing, depending on the platform you’ve chosen to drive for. The app is simple, push the button to go online. Your next step is up to you, you can drive around until you get a request or sit. Most drivers recommend sitting in one place for about five minutes and then relocating if you don’t get a rider request.
What to do when you get your first request?
Once you get a rider request you have ten seconds to accept or decline the request. I suggest taking all rides until you know the more nuanced aspects of driving with the different passengers. Rookie drivers should take as many rides as they can to get the hang of it all. After accepting the request the Uber app will lock in your route. The app provides navigation to the rider via the blue line and turn by turn directions. Many drivers suggest using an outside navigation app like Google Maps or Waze. This is a preference due to their accuracy and efficiency. New drivers are encouraged by Uber to use in-app navigation.
I personally us the Uber Navigation system, not for its accuracy (because wow it can be so wrong). I use it for app stability, as many times swapping to another nav system has cost me a ride. Few things are worse than losing a ride because your phone crashes. Follow the blue line to your destination. Be sure to park the car in a visible spot. Preferably right in front of the address listed in the Uber Driver App. Now you wait for the rider.
The Three keys to a five-star ride
The key to a good ride is simple:
- 1: Be sure to arrive on time.
- 2: Be courteous to the rider
- 3: Arrive safely at the destination.
Beyond those three aspects, there really isn’t much more to do. If you arrive before the estimated time you’ve already given yourself a healthy shot at a five-star rating. In my territory, many riders tell me that they are surprised at how quickly I arrived at their destination. This suggests to me that there are a great many drivers who take their time. Do not take your time. Be safe of course, but be sure to arrive as soon as possible.
After arrival, you will need to wait for the rider to walk to your car. Remember it is your job to be in the appropriate spot and that is about it. However, if the rider needs help you can win yourself some points. Examples include opening doors or helping them with luggage, etc. With that being said, it is not required that you do this for any rider. Many riders will test your patience and we will discuss how to handle such things in the following section.
Always identify the rider by their name!
Be sure to ask the rider for their name and make sure you have the right person. There will be times where someone who is not the rider will try to get into your car. Often this is a rider who is not paying attention. Uber provides the driver and rider with sufficient information to find each other. However, it is up to you as the driver to be sure you have the right passenger. If you take the wrong passenger you won’t get paid.
If the rider is ready then it is time to slide the green bar and begin the trip. The app will spool up new directions to the location and you are ready to go. It is always a good idea peek at the directions before putting the car into drive. Be sure to have a good idea where you are going. This can help you avoid incorrect directions and puts the rider’s mind at ease.
Drive to the location and find a safe place to pull over and park. Thank the rider and wish them well. That’s it! You’ve just had your first Uber drive.
Nuances: Dealing with poor ratings, rowdy riders, and frustrating navigation
As you get started you will be subject to an entire array of experiences. These include poor ratings, rowdy riders, frustrating navigation and more. Uber tracks your rating based on the last five hundred ratings you’ve received. This means that right off the bat you have no room. Anything below five will hamper your score immensely. Low ratings happen from time to time. Finicky riders or a misclick by a rider in a hurry do happen. The key is not to attach emotion to the equation. Even the best drivers will end up with a one-star rating that drags the average into the dirt.
How to handle poor ratings?
The best way to avoid poor ratings is to follow the big three we talked about above. Be on time, be courteous, and arrive safely and swiftly. If you do all three you are more than likely to receive a five-star rating. When you receive a rating below five stars, which is rare, it is often accompanied by tips and tricks provided by Uber to help you. I have only once received negative input from a rider. Ultimately, I think that most riders are ready to click five stars and be done with it. That does not mean you won’t get a rider who is having a bad day.
How to handle rowdy passengers/PAX?
Sometimes the rider has a bad day, is intoxicated, or is just being rowdy. Remember it is your car and you can refuse the rider. Examples include inappropriate advances, threatening you or another rider, or being a danger to themselves or others. There is a specific protocol to follow and you should become familiar with them on Uber’s website. I will not prescribe any course of action here. However, I will say that the best way to avoid such issues is to simply be aware. Be sure to notice the rider’s condition as they come to the car. If they are arguing, stumbling, or belligerent it might be best to cancel the ride. This is however wholly up to your best judgment.
Navigating the Rideshare Community
You will find that there are a ton of fellow rideshare drivers. Despite the fact that many hoarde their secrets like dragons, there are some who are helpful. Check out the Facebook Groups in your area or read up on all the blogs here at Uber Driver Things. You really cannot do enough research when starting. Keep in mind that with the current climate there are mixed feelings from rideshare drivers. But don’t let that discourage you! There are many benefits to driving rideshare, including my new favorite, Free Tuition to ASU Online.
Driving for Uber/Lyft is simple and yet there are a number of complexities. My advice is to do your research. This Ultimate Guide has given you a number of tools, but don’t stop here. Check out our other blogs that feature key topics in the rideshare industry. Including, Everything you need to do to treat your Uber (or Lyft), as a business. Driving is a unique experience that can help you pay a couple of bills per month or give you free time for pet projects. Ultimately, you get out of it what you put into it. Now get out there and drive! For more information on how to run your Uber/Lyft like a business check out, Everything you need to treat your Uber/Lyft like a business.
Post your questions and comments below!