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If you’ve been driving for Uber and/or Lyft for a few weeks, it has probably dawned on you that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep looking around for extra ways to bring in a little more income. If so, you’re in luck, because it turns out there are a lot of creative and innovative things you can do in conjunction with driving that will help you do just that.
Startups have been created for the express purpose of helping drivers earn income on top of their driving income and hand-in-hand with their driving. Also, if you’re creative and enterprising you can come up with a lot of great ideas on your own!
This is a topic we briefly covered in a recent guest post on fundera’s blog, but wanted to go into greater detail to show you the pros and cons of each additional income stream. Let’s take a look at some of the companies that have sprung up to help drivers earn a little more from their passengers.
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Cargo – Turning Ubers into Vending Machines
This is probably one of the more obvious ideas that was just waiting for a group of people to sit down and figure out how to make it happen. Cargo, promises to help drivers provide 5-star service and earn up to $300 extra each month on top!
That’s a pretty big promise, so let’s take a look at how it works.
First, Cargo provides drivers with a good-looking snack box, filled with products. Snacks, candies, breath mints, things like that. While some of the products are free, in order to entice your passengers to give them a try, some have to be purchased. But, whether free or purchased, the driver gets a commission on everything.
When something catches a passenger’s eye and they decide to buy it – or take it, they have to go to cargo.menu on their phone’s web browser and type in the code number of their particular driver’s box. They then select whatever products they want. If they select any paid products, they have to enter their payment information in order to pay for the products. Cargo then pays the driver a fee for each product. Drivers even get paid for the free products.
“How can they do this?”, you may ask. How can they offer products for free and still pay the drivers? They have a variety of revenue streams that make it profitable for them.
First, there are a lot of companies will pay to have their products placed in the Cargo boxes as a form of advertising and marketing. For start-up companies it’s a great way for them to get their products out to the market where people can try them. For established companies it’s a good way for them to keep their products in front of consumers so they remain top of mind.
Another revenue stream is the selling of the data they collect on the riders who purchase products. In an interview with Maria Bartolomo on Fox Business News, an investor in Cargo, said…
“This is turning into a technology company so when you buy this mask as Jeff was mentioning, they have all this data on you, where you got in the car, what your normal trips are, do you buy this product on a regular basis? So that’s why the big brands love this because they know who their buyer is and how to come directly to you then as the buyer.”
Cargo’s founder and CEO, Jeff Cripe, clarified a few seconds later “…we capture general consumer data that we can then pass back to brands in anonymized and aggregated way. So, we’re not spying on you but we do capture useful data for brands.”
What Drivers Say about Cargo
First, they tell us that they make $0.50 per item that they sell or give out. Half the products are free and the other half are for sale. You can give out up to 3 free items per passenger.
They also tell us they get a $10 bonus for every 10 items they sell or give out.
Cargo sends drivers a fully stocked box, or minibar, and they keep track of your inventory because passengers have to login to Cargo to request what they’d like to have. So, Cargo always knows when you’re running low and they send you additional inventory at that time.
Full-time drivers say they’re making anywhere from $15 to $30 extra per week with Cargo. So, it’s worth at least a tank of gas.
Also, Cargo allows riders to leave tips for drivers. And when they’re getting stuff for free and then come across the little ‘Would you like to leave a tip?’ menu, it seems they may be more motivated to say yes than they are to leave a tip through the Uber or Lyft apps… because they did just get something for free!
One driver complained that it’s a little awkward, because drivers aren’t supposed to give passengers their product until they’ve pulled over and stopped the car. The way it works is, a passenger orders something through Cargo’s website. Then Cargo sends a text message to the driver telling them what to give the passenger.
Obviously, it’s not safe to read a text message and open up a snack box and find the exact product you’re supposed to hand to the passenger, while you’re driving. So, you really do need to pull over.
But, this driver asked, what happens if you’re on a long freeway trip? And you’re not going to pull over for maybe 20 more minutes. Does the passenger just sit there and wait? Presumably when they buy something, they want it right now so they can enjoy it during the ride. It seems this could cause a few awkward moments. And it’s most likely that drivers will ignore the pull-over-first rule and do whatever they can to get the passenger their product as quickly as possible.
Other drivers have mentioned the fact that they have to give up their armrest because that’s where the Cargo box is supposed to be placed.
Another astute driver wanted to know how the sales taxes are handled and whether they’d be in violation of health laws or if they need a health inspection before being allowed to sell food out of their car.
At any rate, Cargo is a unique take on capturing big brands, and being such a new company, it’ll take time to get their systems perfect.
This company wants to wrap your car in ads and pay you for it! Originally, they said they wouldn’t work with Uber and Lyft drivers. But they seem to have softened on that. We can find no mention of it on their website today.
Uber and Lyft both have terms of service that forbid “commercial branding” on drivers’ cars. But they seem to have softened as well. In light of the constant stream of lawsuits trying to force them to declare that drivers are employees, they’re taking a more and more hands-off approach on directing drivers how to run their businesses.
Wrapify will only pay a few bucks a day. But it is additional income that you don’t have to put in any extra effort to achieve, other than taking your car in to get it wrapped – which can take up to eight hours. But once it’s done you’ll earn maybe $100 – $200 extra a month.
A few drivers we know are trying this now – but no word yet on the results or whether it has caused passenger complaints. We don’t believe passenger complaints will be a big issue – as they understand drivers are using their vehicles to make money.
How Does Wrapify Rate with Drivers?
We always like to take a look at the reviews and in the case of Wrapify, sadly, the news isn’t good. Their app is actually one of the worst rated apps we’ve seen. It has more 1-star reviews than 5, 4, 3 and 2 stars combined.
And their total rating with 10,000+ installs and nearly 300 reviews is 2.0 on Google Play.
The biggest complaint from drivers boils down to the fact that they are delivering advertising that they’re not getting paid for. Wrapify limits the number of miles per day that they’ll pay drivers for. They also limit the area you can drive in.
That makes sense because there’s no sense in paying drivers to display advertising in places where there aren’t a lot of people to see it! The hot zones are usually in downtown areas of large urban centers.
They also put a daily cap on the number of miles they’ll pay for per day. So if you end up driving twice as many miles, twice as many people will see their client’s ad – but you won’t be getting paid anything for it.
So they know there’s a good chance these ads will get more exposure than what they’re paying for. But they do tell you this up front. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise.
In this screenshot they’re showing the number of miles they’ll pay for per day as 50 miles. But drivers tell us it’s more often just 25 miles.
They also show, in this screenshot that they’ll pay anywhere from $0.12 per mile to $1.25 per mile. But we haven’t found any drivers who have said they made anything close to $1.25 a mile. Six to ten cents a mile is more like it.
If drivers were making $62.50 a day – that’s $1,860 a month! If they could do that just by driving 50 miles a day, it’s a pretty sure bet a lot of Uber drivers would quit and do this instead! What could be better than going out and driving 50 miles for a quick 62 bucks? Without the hassle of having passengers in your car!
Wrapify’s Target Market
To be fair, Wrapify isn’t targeting Uber drivers for this gig. So they’re not actively seeking drivers who drive 100-200 miles a day. And they are in no way suggesting this is a way you can make a full time living. They are targeting drivers who have regular jobs or who have some reason to drive 25-50 miles a day in an area that Wrapify will pay for it. And who wouldn’t mind making a couple of bucks a day during their daily routine?
It’s not really going to pay unless you live and work in locations that would cause you to drive through the hot zone on your way to and from work each day. In other words, if you have to go out of your way to do this – it’s not going to pay off. But, if the areas where you can make money are on your way to work or where you would normally drive anyway, then it’s an easy way to make a few extra bucks.
Another perennial problem looking for a solution is how to put ads in front of more consumers. With rideshare passengers offering a huge number of untapped eyeballs it was only a matter of time before a company popped up to tap into it!
Vugo has the audacious goal of eventually making all Uber and Lyft trips free in self-driving cars. They say they’ll do this by “monetizing data and creating relevant and contextual in-car experiences sponsored by brands, resulting in an overall increase in trip revenue for fleet operators.”
Vugo wants to put a tablet in every driver’s car and pay drivers for the privilege. But how can they afford to do this and how much will they pay drivers? They will run ads targeted to passengers.
Vugo founder, James Bellefeuille, says, “The audience that we’re approaching is highly valuable. Not only do we know where they are, we know where they’re going and oftentimes we know why.” That is indeed very valuable information and large companies will be willing to pay well for it.
The only problem with Vugo is it looks like you’re going to have to wait a while for them to get things rolling. They haven’t yet officially launched, so how much you can make is still unknown. But keep an eye out because this will be another passive income opportunity for drivers.
Uzurv (pronounced “U-Zurv”) is a very smart company that has quite a few good ideas for drivers.
The original idea behind Uzurv was to give riders a way to request their favorite drivers. Which was a way for drivers to get rewarded for doing a great job. It’s also kind of a way for drivers to get private clients. Although they won’t really be private and they’ll go through all the ‘proper channels’.
With Uber and Lyft now having too many drivers on the road – smart drivers are looking for creative ways to get repeat business from riders who were satisfied with their service. They’re looking to stay busier and hoping this will result in longer trips.
The problem for drivers who have tried to get private clients in the past is that they’re not always available when the private client needs them. With Uzurv that problem is partially solved because riders will have “favorited” other drivers and they can call any of the drivers in the group of drivers who they have favorited and saved.
It won’t just be you – but it will be you plus any and all other drivers signed up on Uzurv’s system that they’ve had in the past and who they liked.
And while you’ll have that bit of competition with other drivers, they’ll also have competition for you from the other riders who have favorited you.
The unique thing about Uzurv is drivers can work with them on the Uzurv platform or through Uber and Lyft as well.
Maybe you’ve gotten to the point where you’re tired of driving and you really want to find other ways to make money with your car that don’t involve so much time on your part. In that case, you may consider renting your car out to other drivers! Let them do the driving and you make a portion of their income.
Hyrecar is the best-known company right now in this space. They are a middle man that connects drivers to car owners who are willing to rent their car out to Uber and Lyft drivers.
They do this in much the same way Uber and Lyft connect riders to drivers. Except in the case of Hyrecar, they don’t have an app.
They did have an app a couple of years ago, but from what we hear from drivers and owners, the app didn’t quite take off, so they stuck to their website.
Where they do excel though is with phone calls! Surprisingly, in this day and age where nobody talks to anybody anymore, Hyrecar is doing most of its business over the phone. They are excellent on the phone.
When a car owner gets a reservation request, if they don’t answer it fast enough Hyrecar will often call them on the phone to ask if they’d like to accept it. It’s the old-fashioned way of doing business, but today it feels so strange.
In fact, it was jarring when I got my first few calls from them! But after a few calls I realized that’s how they do business and started to appreciate it.
Their phone people are really good too. Since the company is based in California, their representatives speak perfect American English and are very easy to understand. And they really want to get your car rented for you.
When a driver rents your car, you’ll contact them and schedule a time for them to come by and pick it up. When they pick it up, you’re supposed to take photos of it to document its condition at the time the rental period begins.
It’s this period where having an app would really come in handy. Because you have to take your phone out to your car, take the photos, then upload the photos to wherever you upload them to to get them onto your computer. And then you upload them to Hyrecar.
Another awkward thing is when you rent the car out, the renter comes to you and drives off in your car. But at that moment, Hyrecar doesn’t know he or she has it yet. So, technically, it’s still under your control and it is not yet covered by their insurance.
Once your car has driven off and you’ve gone back inside, you get to your computer, do all the uploading and downloading you have to do in order to get the photos to Hyrecar. And then, finally, your car is now covered by their insurance.
The problem is – if the driver has an accident in that time before you’ve officially checked him into Hyrecar’s system – you’re on the line for all the payments.
There have been more than a few scary stories related online of trouble that car owners have gotten into. There are several stories you can find in various places of owners telling how the renter never brought the car back. In some cases they’ve used fake IDs, and their intention all along was to steal the car. When these things have been reported to Hyrecar, the owners say Hyrecar was pretty helpless to do anything about it.
Other stories have been told of renters getting into accidents and for one reason or another Hyrecar’s insurance didn’t pay for it. So, these are things to be aware of and on the lookout for.
One of the big problems with Hyrecar is that you can’t see your potential renter’s reviews. And you can’t see your own either! If you do rent out your car, you need to be extra alert and careful when the driver comes to pick it up. Keep an eye out for anything suspicious. Make sure the picture on the driver’s license matches the way they look in person. You have to be extra vigilant at this time because if other owners did leave reviews for the driver, you’ll never be able to see them. For some reason, that seems to be the way Hyrecar thinks things should be. They allow reviews, but they don’t let anyone see them. And that puts a very serious degree of risk into their whole operation.
Another risky situation that does happen fairly frequently is that your renter is caught on camera in some kind of traffic violation – with your car. He doesn’t tell you about it when he returns the car and he doesn’t offer to pay you for it.
A month or so later you get a letter from the city stating that you owe $100 for this traffic violation. Well, guess what? Hyrecar isn’t going to pay it. They’ll “reach out” to the driver and see if they can persuade him to pay it. If he agrees, then you’re fine. But if he doesn’t, you’re on the hook for the 100 bucks. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.
What makes this situation so difficult is that you won’t know this happened usually until about a month later. And your driver could be long gone by that point.
The other common scenario is that a driver goes through toll gates and doesn’t pay the toll. A photo of your license plate gets taken at the time and several weeks later you receive a letter in the mail stating that you owe so much money in tolls. Again, Hyrecar isn’t going to pay it. They will “reach out” to the driver once again, but if he or she doesn’t agree to pay – then you are on the hook.
So, while Hyrecar is definitely worth checking out as an added source of income, you really have to assess the drivers when you meet them and try to get your best quick sense of their integrity.
How Much Can You Make with Hyrecar?
It’s a little hard for car owners to make much with Hyrecar. That’s because they charge the drivers so many extra fees.
They charge drivers an additional $13 a day for the insurance. Well worth it, but that’s a big bite when the owner may only be charging $35 a day.
They also charge drivers an additional 10% on top of the 15% they deduct from the owners.
So, if you charge, say, $35 a day. You’ll actually make $29.75. The best that can be said for that is that it doesn’t add up fast! No one is going to get rich renting out their car these days.
But, check this out… while you’re only making $29.75 and you think you’re getting 85% of the total charge… you’re not. The driver is paying $51.50! Hyrecar is taking 42% – not the 15% they tell you.
Imagine if you could have charged $51 a day and been paid 85% of that. You would earn $43.35 a day which is $1,300 a month. Which is a lot better than the $892 you’ll earn a month now.
The problem is, with the low, rates Uber and Lyft are paying, the guys just aren’t making that much from driving. So they really can’t afford much more than about $50 a day.
You therefore have to make your daily rate low enough that it’s not going to put the drivers much over $50. And that means you have to put your rate at around $35 a day. Because with all the fees Hyrecar adds in, especially their 10% markup on top of the 15% they already take from you, the driver is paying over $50 when you charge just $35.
Driver & Passenger Referrals
Both Uber and Lyft pay pretty good money when drivers refer new passengers or drivers to them. They pay the best money for new drivers. So, print up some cards with your referral codes on them and start handing them out to anyone and everyone you know who might be a good candidate to drive.
You can earn anywhere from $25 to $500 by referring drivers to Uber and Lyft. So, hand those cards out to some of your passengers who you get into a conversation with. Ask them if they know anyone who might want to drive and give them a card. Tell them what kind of bonus their friend will get when they use your code when they sign up.
That’s a pretty good incentive and every now and then you’ll get a reward. Maybe a few hundred dollars on top of your weekly pay!
Promoting Your Own Business
Some drivers promote their own businesses to their Uber passengers. You have to be very careful about doing this though because if you’re too direct, pushy or annoying about it, your passengers may complain. Or they may give you a low rating.
But some drivers have gotten pretty creative with it and have come up with innovative ways to “sell” to their passengers without making their passengers the least bit annoyed by it!
One driver we know has an eBay store and he sells electronics items that he gets wholesale. He came up with the bright idea of putting a tablet computer on the back of the headrest so anyone sitting in the rear seats can see it. He has the tablet open to his eBay store! He electronics offerings have a general appeal. And once or twice a week he’ll make a sale to a passenger!
Sometimes they’ll ask why the tablet was open to his eBay page and that gives him the invitation to tell them it was his own store.
Whenever you can get the passenger to ask you to tell them about your business – that’s a win. If they’re asking you – then you’re not pushing it on them! And they’ll never complain or give you a low rating for talking about it.
Another driver we know has a girlfriend who makes jewelry. She gives him pieces that he “decorates” the inside of his car with! Every now and then, (he says two or three times a week) a female passenger will find them appealing and ask about them. He’ll happily tell the story of each piece and he makes a few sales every week that way. And the passengers never feel he pushed it on them – because he didn’t talk about it until they asked!
Improve Your Odds and Get More Tips
Ridester’s Sam Choi has come up with a great idea for drivers to get more tips that he shares in his video training course. Sam notes that Uber passengers aren’t prompted to tip until they leave a rating for the driver. So a very smart yet subtle way Sam suggests for drivers to get more tips is this: Ask your passenger shortly before the end of the trip if they could do a small favor for you. When they say yes, tell them you’d really appreciate it after the trip ends if they could go into the app and give “an honest” rating for your service.
That’s it. That’s all you need to say. By asking for an “honest” rating, you’re telling them that you’re not asking for any special favors just their honest feedback. Most people will not only not mind this approach, they’ll appreciate it. And when they go to leave a rating for you – they’ll be presented with the “Would you like to leave a tip” screen!
Most passengers don’t rate anymore. So, this is a great way to increase the number of people who will see the screen and get the opportunity to tip you.
PLEASE NOTE: On the above-mentioned app-based opportunities: always check the user reviews in the app store. You can glean invaluable information, tips and warnings from other users there.
Jonathan Cousar began driving for Uber in 2013 when the ride-hail company first began operations in New York City. He has booked more than 7,000 trips. In 2014 he created Uber Driver Diaries, which was the first blog by an Uber driver describing the highs and lows of driving as well as offering tips and tricks and information on the industry as a whole. In 2016 Ridester acquired the site, and Jonathan began writing full-time about the rideshare industry and the gig economy. He has also done extensive research into driver issues related to pay and working conditions.