Whether you drive for Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare service, you know that to make money, you must know where the demand is.
You have to make the most of your drive time, and that means doing more than just opening the app and completing rides.
Smart drivers know that you have to get a bit creative.
If you want to up your earnings as a rideshare driver, keep reading to learn ways to find the undiscovered gold mines of rideshare.
Plan For SURGE, But Don’t Chase It
SURGE time in Uber, and Primetime with Lyft, is a great way to make extra money on rides, but only if you can catch it in time.
The trick to making SURGE pricing work is to anticipate it, but not chase it.
Many Uber drivers and Lyft drivers, especially new drivers, get excited when they see a SURGE alert. They’ll leave the area they’re in and rush to where the SURGE is, only to realize that they’re too. Once the demand for drivers in a particular area is met, the SURGE disappears.
The trick is to be in the area before it happens or as it’s happening.
It’s possible to predict when people are going to need rides or when rideshare drivers will be short in supply. Before you head out on the road, check to see what’s going in your city that night.
Make a list of concerts, sporting events, and other favorite spots where there will be a lot of people. Then, before the event is about to end, head over to the venue so you can grab the SURGE pricing trips when they happen. And they will.
The idea is to be in the vicinity of the SURGE before people start ordering rides at those higher prices. If you chase it, there’s a good chance you’ll miss it altogether. You’ll waste time, gas and money driving across town for the mere potential of a larger fare.
Know where the major events are happening and plan for it by being in that area. Planning is key.
Chasing the SURGE pricing will only cause stress, waste your time, and drain the gas in your tank. And as you know, all of those factors affect your weekly earnings.
Establish a Go-To List of Hidden Hotspots
It’s important to know where the busiest spots are in your city. If you’ve been driving for a while, you probably already know where the hotspots are.
Local bars, clubs, and breweries are great places to find passengers in need of a ride. But there’s a good chance that the other rideshare drivers in your area are thinking the same thing.
The best way to leverage your time is to scope out places that are busy but maybe aren’t the traditional spots that every driver goes. Compile a list of popular places that you can hang out to get those passengers before other drivers do.
Use your information from previous rides to help you build your list. Is there a new dive bar that’s generated a lot of trips lately? Is there a great new restaurant that’s a little bit out of the way that everyone seems to be trying out?
Maybe there’s a late-night liquor store that’s always busy or a particular street with fast food places that tend to attract a crowd. Use what you know to help you do better every week. As a driver, you know that there is always some downtime.
Whenever you are driving around town (hopefully with a passenger in the back seat), scout out bars, restaurants, and stores that seem to attract a crowd.
If you’re near a college campus, pass by to see where most of the students and commuters are. The trick is to have a few go-to places on your list (or in your head) where you always make money.
If you don’t want to be on the road a lot or don’t want to waste time sitting and waiting for rides to come in, you can head to your go-to spots.
If you want to make the most money possible, it’s essential to have a few hotspots in mind at all times.
Scope Out Prominent Landmarks
Sometimes the most obvious passenger-heavy spots are the most overlooked by other drivers.
Whether you live in a major city or a small town, there’s sure to be somewhere that you think of as a landmark. And you can be sure that there are always people there.
Landmarks vary depending on where you drive. In big cities, they might include significant tourist attractions and museums. In smaller towns, they might be certain hotels or shopping malls. They might even be industrial parks or large company campuses.
You’ve got to be strategic and think about where most people are. Stake out a few various locations, see where the most activity is, and you’re sure to be able to find at least a few passengers while you’re there.
It’s also important to keep track of where you’re dropping people off. If you’re picking up passengers from different locations but always seem to be dropping them off in the same few places, those are spots to keep in mind.
Where you pick your passengers up is just as important as where you drop them off. If you’re heading to the same drop-off point over and over again, it’s worth adding that place as a hotspot on your list.
But no matter how busy a place might be, it probably won’t be that busy all day long. Keep the days and hours of your hotspots and landmarks in mind. For example, if there’s a busy shopping mall that always generates passengers but closes at 10 o’clock, then there’s no need to be there at midnight.
If there’s a particular office building that’s on your list of go-to spots, you probably won’t get much out of it after 6 or 7 p.m. The most profitable drivers know that location is critical – but timing is just as important.
Drive by other transportation spots (not just the airport!) like major bus stops and train stations.
It seems like every Uber or Lyft driver we know is obsessed with the airport. Some love it. Some hate it. But how you feel about it isn’t the issue here.
It can be a great source of passengers and a great way to stay busy, at all times of the day. But air travel is just one of the many ways in which people get from place to place. If you want to put more money in your pocket, build upon the airport pickup by taking a look at train stations and bus stops.
Amtrak stations, local rail stations, and Greyhound bus stations are great places to find passengers. They’re usually busiest in the early morning, during rush hour, and late at night. And they’re often full of commuters and travelers looking for a driver to take them on the next leg of their trip.
Identify the main stations in your area, and you’re sure to be able to pick up a few ride requests. But keep in mind that other drivers are probably doing the same thing.
If you’re in a city with a lot of local neighborhood stops along a train route or bus route, check out smaller stations that other drivers might be ignoring.
Those underserved stations can be a great way to pick up customers and put more money in your pocket. It’s also a good idea to look at train and bus stations that are at the “end of the line.”
If there’s no additional service to get someone to their next or final destination, they’ll need a car to drive them there. Just be careful in desolate areas and be vigilant at all times.
Leverage Coupon Codes and Referral Bonuses
Uber and Lyft are always running promotions for both new and experienced drivers. Taking advantage of those promos can make you a ton of cash. In our opinion, rideshare bonuses and referral codes are the real goldmines of Uber and Lyft.
As a new driver, you can use a referral code from an existing driver to get you started, which benefits you both. The way it works with Uber is pretty simple. An existing driver sends their referral code to a new driver.
This referral code can be found on your Partner Dashboard or in the Driver App.
You can send your referral code to as many new drivers as you like. Once the new driver completes a certain number of trips, you get your referral bonus.
Reward amounts vary from location to location, but they can stack up quickly, especially if you get a lot of new rideshare drivers to use your code. Share your referral code on social media to maximize your outreach.
Uber also has special promotions that guarantee you a certain amount of money for completing a specified amount of ride requests. For example, we’ve seen promos that promised $500 for making 40 trips in one week.
At the moment, if you’re a driver in Philadelphia, Uber has a promo of a $2,800 guarantee for doing 400 rides within the first 90 days of signing up. So how do these guarantees work? For the Philadelphia promo, if you complete 400 rides within 90 days and earn a total of $2,000, Uber would pay you an extra $800.
As long as you meet the specified requirements, Uber will pay you the difference.
In other words, Uber guarantees you will earn a certain amount as long as you hold up your end of the bargain. These promos vary and are different for every city, so visit the Uber website to see the current promotions in your specific area.
Aside from special promotions, you might also be eligible for driver bonuses after you complete a certain amount of trips as a new driver.
Like Uber promos and guarantees, the amounts vary from city to city. Lyft offers a Power Driver Bonus to give drivers a chance to boost their earnings.
It doesn’t exist in all cities, but where it does exist, the qualifications are pretty much the same. Your car needs to be a 2011 model or newer.
You’ll need to complete a minimum number of ride requests each week, including peak rides when rider demand for drivers is high.
Also, you’ll need to maintain a 90% acceptance rate or higher. Uber offers similar bonus programs such as Quest and Boost. With the Uber Quest program, you can get a cash bonus for completing a specific number of rides with a specific period.
With Uber Boost, you can earn more if you drive during the busiest hours of the day. Depending on where and when you’re driving, you can make a “boost” of two times the base ride fare.
If you want to make more money driving for Uber or Lyft, you must know where the passenger gold mines are. Anticipate SURGE pricing by knowing where big events are taking place and planning to be there.
Create a list of hotspots that are always busy and make yourself available near local landmarks. Airport pick-ups are great, but try the train, bus, and local rail stations, too.
The drivers that make the most money are creative and innovative. They know where to be, when to be there, and how to leverage promo codes and referral links.
New driver bonuses are only for new drivers, so once you’re in the game you’ve got to do whatever you can to make top dollar.
No matter what rideshare service you drive for, think of it as your own business.
Put in the time and dedication necessary to build your business, boost your bottom line, and leverage the high demand of rideshare drivers.
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