The Best Times to Drive for Lyft and Uber

One of the best parts of driving for Uber and Lyft is the flexible hours — the fact that you can work whenever you want. Right? Well, hold on…not so fast!

Yes, technically, you can work whenever you want. However, if you want to make good money as a Lyft or Uber driver — you’re going to have to work when there is demand. In fact, not only will you have to work when there’s demand; you’ll also have to work where the demand is.

If you want to maximize your income from driving, neither your hours nor your location will be totally flexible.

In this series of videos, Sam Choi explores the ins and outs of where and when you should drive.

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How Flexible Is Being an Uber or Lyft Driver?

Most people are attracted to rideshare driving because of the flexibility — but if you don’t drive when and where the demand is, you could be sitting around hour after hour waiting for your first trip!

Uber and Lyft cities all have many things in common. But they also have their unique aspects that make them different from every other city. If you want to be the most successful rideshare driver you can be, the real trick is knowing your city.

We can give you general principles to go by, but no one can give specific advice for your city except other drivers who have a lot of experience working there. There is really only one thing that will help you more than anything else — and that is to have an innate sense of your city, its rhythms, and its personality.

Understand the Prime Times for Your City

It helps to have to have a bit of marketing sense, which means you understand the people of your city, what they do, when they come and go, and the types of things they love to do.

Let me give you an example that will help explain what I mean. I’ll use my town, New York City, as an example, because it’s the one I’m most familiar with.

In New York, they do something that I don’t think is too common in a lot of other cities: They love to go out on Thursday nights. Thursday is a big party night. It rivals Fridays in other cities. Friday nights tend to cool down a little and then Saturdays pick up again.

If you understand that particular rhythm, it will have a big effect on your driving strategies. If your goal is to drive on busy party nights and you think those must be Friday and Saturday — then you’re going to miss out on Thursday, which is bigger than Friday! You’ll head out on Friday night and wonder why things seemed a little slow.

Another interesting rhythm about New York is that in the summer, you can forget the weekends altogether. Almost everyone and their brother leaves town. The Thursday night bar scene will be the biggest of the week, but Friday and Saturday will be almost completely dead — because everyone will be in the Hamptons or other Long Island beaches.

So, you really have to have an intimate knowledge of your city, its people, and their habits.

Different City Rhythms Mean Different Strategies

The Best Times to Drive for Lyft and Uber - Location

To give two more rather extreme examples, think about a resort town and a large city that’s a busy regional center. The resort town is going to differ from the regional city in so many ways.

For one, it will have a high season and a low season. Understanding that alone will put you light-years ahead of drivers who don’t understand it. The high season, of course, will be the busiest. During the high season, you can expect the hotels, airports, and tourist attractions to be your primary sources of business. But the high season will probably only be three or four months long.

During the low season, those drivers who really know their resort town well will know and understand the locals. They’ll know what they like to do and where they like to go. They’ll understand their work and travel habits. They’ll know what time most people go to work in the mornings and what time they leave work in the afternoons. They’ll know which nights they like to go out and which nights they stay home. They’ll know if there are people from some distance outside the resort town that like to come in at night for various entertainment options.

The Best Times to Drive for Lyft and Uber - resort towns

One problem for drivers in a lot of resort cities, though, is that they almost completely shut down after the season is over! In those cases, you’ll have to know which nearby cities and towns can function as backups during the low season.

In a larger city that functions as a regional center, it’s a whole different animal. Regional cities don’t really have a high and low season. They will be steadier throughout the year. Things may slow down in the summer a bit as many of its residents take vacations but overall, they’ll be pretty stable throughout the year. Regional cities also draw people from fairly long distances away who live in the suburbs but come in to work every day.

In the mornings you’ll want to position yourself out in the suburbs where they live and get some long trips bringing them in to work. In the afternoons you’ll want to be in the downtown central business district to pick them up from work and take them back home out in the suburbs. Or, they may be going out for dinner and drinks in the city and you’ll be able to pick them up later in the evening from the bars and restaurants and take them back to their homes in the suburbs.

The Best Times to Drive for Lyft and Uber - bar in resort town

The better you know your city and its people the more you’ll know what you need to know about its rhythms and comings and goings. And the more you know about those, the more successful you’ll be in your Ubering and Lyfting!

Learn the Principles for Maximum Ridesharing Profits

Sam will guide you through different scenarios in this series of videos. He’ll touch on things like which days are best to drive, whether you should drive in the mornings or evenings, and whether you should drive on weekend nights. Other questions like whether you should drive in traffic or during morning and evening rush hour will also be addressed.

But remember, the main thing is this: If you want to be a top 1 percent earning driver, your schedule will be a lot less flexible than you’ve been told. It is true that you can work whenever you like, but to be a top earner, the number of hours in a week when you can maximize your earnings are a lot fewer than any of us would like.

There are still a lot of different times that you can work and they are spread pretty nicely throughout the week and over the weekends. You can work early mornings, afternoons, or late evenings. You can also work over the weekends. So in that respect, it’s still more flexible than a traditional job. But there are limits to the flexibility if you want to be a top earner.

One problem that flexible hours brings, for example, is that you may find yourself thinking that you can put off your driving until a little later. Maybe you had planned to drive the morning rush and you had meant to get up early and be on the road by 6:00 a.m. But, you slept late because you were really tired. You told yourself, no problem, you’ll just start driving when you get a couple more hours of sleep.

So by the time you get out on the road, it’s past 9:00 a.m. and there just aren’t that many ride requests. You missed the morning rush hour and it’s not going to get seriously busy again until around 4:00 p.m. By believing that you could work anytime you like, you’ve missed out on the day’s best earnings!

So, it is good to know up front that while the hours of this job are far more flexible than a regular job, they’re not wholly flexible if you want to maximize earnings. It’s best to be disciplined and know what hours you need to be on the road — and then stick to your plan.

Video Transcription:

What are the best times to drive? Now, obviously, you can’t drive 24/7, and so you need to pick, but if you could pick, what would be the best times?

And, you know what?

The best times are when people need rides, and being where they are, so the best three times are Friday and Saturday nights, Monday and Friday mornings, and Saturday and Sunday mornings.

[These are] generally the best times, and I’m going to teach you in these next few videos about them.


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