Learning the Rhythms of Your City

Why is it Important to Know My City’s Rhythms?

In this video Sam hits in an important theme for rideshare drivers.  It is about the importance of learning the rhythms of your city.

You have to have a good feel for why people need to move around in your city, when they need to move and where they move to.  Those are things that should become second nature to you if you haven’t lived in the city where you drive or if you haven’t lived there long.  If you have lived there for a while already, then you probably have a very good sense of these things.

It may seem obvious, but let’s look at why this is so important.  Let me give a rather obvious example to make the point.  Imagine a driver who has no idea about how, when and where the people in his city move.  He goes out on his first day and decides he should head to downtown.  He figures downtown is where all the people are so surely he’ll get a trip from there soon.

So, he heads downtown at 6:30 in the morning.  He sits for about a half hour and doesn’t get any pings.  He seems people walking around and decides maybe he’s come too early so he strengthens his determination to wait.

Another hour and a half go by and he still hasn’t gotten any calls.  Now it’s 8:00 A.M.  Around 8:30 A.M. after waiting more than two hours, he finally gets a call.  It’s from a high rise office building on the block where he has parked.  A woman comes down, gets in and the driver finds out she’s just going five minutes away – to the other side of downtown – where she works in a large office building.

But our driver isn’t anything if he’s not persistent!  9:00 A.M. rolls around and he is determined to wait until he gets a decent trip.  So far he’s made $5.00 in two and a half hours!

Around 1:00 P.M. he gets a call from a man who is going from his office building to another office building for a meeting, a few blocks away.  Out persistent driver collects another minimum fare!  And he’s well on his way to having a $15 day!

Finally, around 4:00 P.M., he gives up and goes home.

Can you spot what our driver did wrong?  It was all so wrong, he was literally in the wrong place at the wrong time all day long!  And he left just before it was going to start getting busy in that location.

A veteran driver in this imaginary town would have known that you don’t get trips from downtown early in the mornings.  That’s the area people are coming to from the suburbs at that time.  All the traffic is inbound at 6:00 in the morning.  Very little traffic is outbound.  So he blew it.  He should have been in the suburbs where he would have gotten trips from business people who were headed to the downtown area.

Then, he waited downtown all during the day – which was dumb because everyone’s at work and very few people are going anywhere during those hours.

And his last and probably biggest mistake was that he left right before downtown was about to start getting busy!  He left at 4:00 – just about the exact time that people were going to start heading home and calling for rides.  He didn’t know that at that time in that location people started moving around.  He wasn’t aware that the downtown business district of his city started getting really busy around 4:00 and 5:00 in the afternoons.

This is a driver who was completely unaware of the rhythms of his city.  A more aware driver could have instantly told him – don’t sit downtown at 6:00 in the morning!  And don’t give up and leave at 4:00 in the afternoon!  That’s right about when you’re about to get a good call!

That’s why knowing the rhythms of your city is so important.  Some rhythms, anyone who has lived in a city for a few weeks, will just know naturally.  But if you really want to find tune it, study your city in more detail.

Specifically look at large events that are coming to town.  But also get to know as much about your city as you can.  And not just the city as a whole but all its different parts.  What kind of industries or businesses are the backbone of your city?  And what kinds of work schedules do they have?  What kinds of travel schedules do they have?  The more of this kind of thing you can learn, the better driver you’ll be and the more success you’ll have.

You’ll also want to learn about your city’s hotels and start to get a sense of what kinds of people travel to your city.  Is it business people or tourists?  Are people coming in for giant conventions or are they coming in for meetings with prospective clients or suppliers or both?

Go Where the Demand Is

What all of this really boils down to is that you have to go where the demand is.  But to know where the demand is, you really have to have intimate knowledge of your city.  You have to know its rhythms.

One way to get to know your city better – especially as it relates to rideshare – is to spend a lot of time watching the driver app and seeing where and when the surges are.  If you don’t understand why a particular area is surging at a particular time – ask around and figure it out.  That will really help you get to know the rhythms of your city.

But watch the driver app a lot – at all different times of day and night and on different days of the week.  Once you do this for a few weeks, you’ll start to get a really good sense about what kinds of things make your city surge.  Once you understand why, when and where, then you’ll know you have a good handle on the rhythms of your town.

Also, you’ll see surge patterns and you’ll be able to predict them in advance and be there before it happens.  Remember, when you see surges what you’re really seeing is an area that has more demand than it has drivers.  If you see that happen over and over again in the same area at the same time – then you know that’s a good area to be in at that time.

Video Transcription:

I’ve said this in other videos, but you need to know the rhythms of your city. Every city is different. You can’t be in just one place and park yourself there all day long.

So, for my situation, I want to be in the suburbs early in the morning, to take people to the airport, and take people into the cities. And there are also hotel districts near the Mall of America in Bloomington, and also hotel districts downtown that I can be in the morning, and take people out to the airports or wherever the place they need to be.

And to know the rhythms of your city. Morning, people are going inside, towards the evening people are going on the outside. If there is a ballgame, there’s an event downtown, people are coming from the suburbs, so you need to position yourself out there and go there.

Oftentimes, you can just sit around and wait for rides, if you’re in a really busy time, but many other times you need to be creative and go where the demand is. And so, when I first started doing rideshare, I would just look at my app a lot.

My wife hated it. Just kept looking and kept looking at my old app, looking for surge times, and trying to start to trace in my mind the different demands at different points of the day, and points of the week.

And so, over time, once you get the feel for your rhythms of your city, you’re going to know where to be at the right place at the right time.

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