By Christine E. Springer
I started to post a more "fun" picture of what it's like to be a rideshare driver but this image sums it up nicely :)
If this is your first visit to my site, welcome! This is the website for my legal business. I'm an entrepreneur that lives in Phoenix, and I have all sorts of creative interests. Rideshare is a side project that I may turn into a separate website - but for now, I'm posting it here.
I became a rideshare driver in April 2016 because of a major shakeup/falling apart of my work life. A long term work contract came to a sudden end in October 2015. I had started a “backup business” in 2014 with the intention of having something to fall back on. I started an online Amazon business in late 2014, which did very well and should have covered most of my monthly expenses. I may write more about my Amazon business in a later post, because that too has been an interesting journey for me.
The Amazon business did get me through the holidays, along with a contract legal job that lasted about eight weeks. And then, in March 2016, things came to a halt. I just couldn’t seem to earn enough money.
I began driving for Lyft because I needed to make some money, and honestly, it seemed like my car was the only resource I had. (This isn’t true, of course, but my self-confidence was at an all-time low following my inability to dig out of a financial crisis.) It’s a four door 2010 Hyundai Sonata. It had just 80,000 miles on it, which was below average, and it’s comfortable, looks great and gets great gas mileage.
I’m also writing this post for a few other reasons.
First off, there are very few resources that offer a realistic view of what it’s like to be a rideshare driver, and none of those resources offer a female perspective. The industry is in its infancy and women need to be involved in how the service is shaped so that it benefits EVERYONE.
Women’s #1 concern when it comes to rideshare is SAFETY, both as a passenger AND driver. No one, not even the rideshare companies themselves, talk about safety on these platforms beyond driver background checks. Passengers are not vetted to use the services.
Second, I bought a domain name earlier this year, and I’m seriously considering a new blog that will teach people in Phoenix how to drive as a rideshare driver without getting frustrated and quitting.
I’m also posting this to gauge how much interest there is in Phoenix, especially women, who would be interested in becoming a rideshare driver for whatever reason. I have learned a few things and can help people get the most out of rideshare without getting frustrated. There is zero training from Lyft and there is a definite need, because a lot of people will be using these platforms to earn extra money in the coming years.
Finally, there is no realistic portrait of what’s possible in the Phoenix market as a driver.
Lyft tells people you can make $800 a week in some of their ads, and $35 in others, and those are simply NOT realistic, unless you want to spend 70 hours a week in your car and have no time for anything else.
By the way: I only drive for Lyft. A lot of people drive for both companies, though, and no judgment on that. I would probably make a lot more money if I did both, but I don’t want to live in my car.
I doubt most women (and perhaps men too) want to spend this much time working, especially if you already work a full time job and/or you have a full plate at home with your kids.
Also, Phoenix is different than other cities when it comes to rideshare because it’s seasonal. We all know that when the temps go up, school lets out, and everyone leaves town because of the heat. Rideshare is REALLY SLOW here in the summer. Next summer may be a different story now that rideshare companies can pick up and drop off at the airport, and concerts can be a good way to make money, too.
I may come back and add more to this list later as I think of stuff I missed.
I will start with the ugly and bad about being a Lyft driver.
UGLY: The first thing is to remember Lyft and Uber are corporations that care about profit, first and foremost. Uber is more cutthroat than Lyft. I personally don’t drive for Uber for that reason, and don’t need to experience driving for Uber to tell you that it won’t work for me. You can read the headlines and easily understand their company values.
And from personal experience as a driver for Lyft, their statements about valuing diversity, inclusiveness, community is a lot of hype. These “values” only apply to passengers, frankly, and that’s because some of their "values" (eg., service animals, for example) are required by law.
They don’t apply these same “values” to drivers. The reason both of these companies treat their drivers so poorly is because in another 10-20 years, there won’t be any Uber or Lyft drivers. These companies will own fleets of self-driving cars that will show up just like they do now, except there won’t be a driver.
At this time, they are just focused on customer acquisition. They will become ubiquitous in the public, a household name, and drivers will be a thing of the past.
This is, in my view, the MOST IMPORTANT thing to understand before you become a rideshare driver.
You are the CEO of your rideshare business (set up an LLC already!) and it’s important to make business decisions that align with YOUR goals, and not necessarily what the rideshare company wants you to do.
I could write an entire blog post about how these companies manipulate drivers into doing what they want instead of what’s best for the driver. I’ll save that for later.
BAD: You are driving your own car, so maintenance, gas, insurance (rideshare insurance is a thing now) is your responsibility. The pay is still low, because these companies are locked in a childish battle over market share (Uber is presently winning) and their rates are too low to pay you a living wage.
BAD: There is presently not enough demand in Phoenix (and probably many other cities, too) to sustain any real quality of life unless you don’t mind being in your car for 50-70 hours per week, or you live very simply without a lot of overhead. It’s best for supplementing your existing income or as a part time job.
BAD: People will trigger you. Rideshare is similar to waiting tables, except they are getting in your car. If you are having a bad day, you can count on attracting nasty people into your car and having a frustrating experience. This happened to me repeatedly in the beginning until I released my resistance.
BAD: Zero control over most of your experience with the application. You have no control over the timing of your requests, the efficiency of the navigation applications, the passengers you get, where you are on the highway, and traffic. Lyft's policies don't necessarily take this into consideration, and shockingly, some passengers get really upset over things like the route you take and if you are delayed by three minutes.
And now for the GOOD and AWESOME things about rideshare:
GOOD: It’s not as dangerous as it might seem. I have given 818 rides since I started in April. I am happy to report that I haven’t had any issues with any men acting inappropriately. Of course, you have to use common sense when it comes to where you drive and on keeping yourself safe, and the same strategies that will earn you the most money will also keep you safe. And, this leads me to my next point, which may surprise you….
AWESOME: It’s FANTASTIC if you are a single woman. Delete your dating app profiles and get off the couch, ladies! Go drive for Lyft on the weekends! Hang out in the party areas and you won’t be single for long ;) Oh, and you’ll make some extra money, too.
GOOD: If you work from home or spend a lot of time alone, rideshare is a great way to get your social interaction with other adult humans in measured doses. If you’re already seriously extroverted, you’ll really enjoy meeting all the new people and chatting them up. Rideshare is a pretty social thing, and this can work to your advantage when it comes to earning more while driving.
AWESOME: Rideshare is a lot of fun most days and you can make it fun-ner! For example, on Halloween, I decorated my car with cobwebs and those little plastic spiders, had fun little spiders on the windows, dressed up in costume and gave out out candy to my passengers. I also had some epic singalongs with a couple of fun guys on a long ride listening to Halloween radio. We sang Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” on the highway to their destination. It was a TON of fun and passengers totally appreciated the extra effort.
AWESOME: Sometimes YOUR LIGHT is what other people need. For example, there were some people who really wanted to celebrate Halloween but were not, for whatever reason.
Chilling in your car might be just enough for them to feel like they participated in the season without missing anything. We are so isolated these days, and a lot of people told me how they appreciated the extra effort.
GOOD: It can be a decent part time job if you pay attention to strategy. I have been obsessed with rideshare strategy, and have put all my earnings into a spreadsheet to look for patterns. I don’t have a year’s worth of data yet, but some surprising patterns are developing, along with some things that are pretty obvious.
GOOD: There is flexibility, but your flexibility is limited to working when there is enough demand. If there is no demand during the time you are available, it's not going to work out very well.
I hope this helps you better understand the rideshare industry, and helps you make a better decision about becoming a driver OR a passenger.
There is much, much more to say beyond this post about being a rideshare driver!
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