Navigating Bar Closing Times as a Rideshare Driver

There is most definitely an art to driving for Uber and Lyft at bar close.  Bar closing times can be some of the most lucrative times to drive and at the same time some of the most frustrating and annoying times to drive.

If you drive bar close, you will know that there is nothing worse than a group of demanding drunks hopping into your car who proceed to ask you for anything and everything Uber has ever told them drivers might have on them.

  • “Do you have any water?”
  • “Do you have an aux cord?”
  • “Can you plug my iPhone into your speakers so we can blast it out on the way home?”

These are a few examples of the demands you’ll get from the late night inebriated.

But, a lot of drivers actually make their whole week driving late nights in bar and night club hot spots.  We have a few tips and tricks we’d like to share with you in order to make it a little easier and more profitable.

How to Avoid the Most Common Annoyances When You’re Driving Drunks on Uber

It’s always annoying when a drunk person, or group of people, get into your car and start asking for things.  One of the most common things they ask for that annoys drivers to no end, is an auxiliary cord (aux cord) that they will then use to plug their music into your speakers!

Why does this annoy drivers so much?  Several reasons actually.  One is, while a driver may well have an aux cord, he most likely has it stored away somewhere.  He may not even remember where it is because it may have been a long time since anyone asked for it.  Is it in the glove compartment?  Or is it in the side pocket?  Who knows!  He’ll have to check each spot one by one to find it.  That is obviously annoying because all of this takes his attention off the road.

But probably the main reason this request annoys drivers is because they know the passengers are going to play their own music, which most likely the driver will hate, and they’re going to crank it up really loud.  And what’s worse than music you hate playing at full blast!?  That’s why drivers hate the aux cord request.

To be honest, the whole aux cord scenario is a dangerous one.  It not only takes a driver’s attention off the road while he roots around to find the cord, but once the passengers crank up their tunes, that’s a distraction for the driver too.  And any distraction makes driving less safe.

Because of that, we have a tip that can eliminate this whole scenario.  When the passenger asks if you have an aux cord, just say no!  And in fact, it’s better to really not have one.  When you say no, some unruly drunken passenger may decide to root around in your glove compartment and pockets to find it himself.  And there’s nothing worse than getting caught in a lie.  Except of course, having to listen to music you hate cranked up to full blast!

So, the best way around the aux cord nightmare is to simply leave your aux cord at home.  Problem solved!

Will they down rate you for not having it?  Possibly.  You know, if they remember to rate you at all.  But the upside is a much safer ride and a much more pleasant trip for you, the driver.

How to Keep Drunk Uber Riders Calm

The best way to keep your drunk passengers calm is for you to stay calm.  Calm and quiet.  Be very polite and respectful, but don’t speak unless you absolutely have to.  Remaining calm and quiet will have the effect of de-escalating their natural tendency to get loud.  Remember, you always want to “de-escalate” with drunk passengers.

The slightest provocation can excite them, agitate them, or otherwise get them into a hyped up and excited state.  And that’s what you want to try and avoid.  You when to avoid exciting them or in any way getting them hyped up.

And you have to remember, when people are drunk, even normal things can excite them.  For instance if you greet them in an overly friendly way, that might just be the trigger.  Or, if they try to engage you during the trip and you ignore them, that might be the trigger.  They may feel insulted that you totally ignored them.  Or, if when they try to engage you, you respond too enthusiastically, that might trigger them as well!

The best way to respond to drunk Uber and Lyft passengers when they try to engage us is politely, and very calmly.  Not too enthusiastic and not too dead pan either.  The more neutral you can be the less likely you’ll excite or agitate them.  If they’re screaming at the top of their lungs, the best advice is usually to ignore them.  But, if they’re making so much noise it’s causing a safety issue, then pull over at a safe spot and very calmly and politely tell them you need them to be a little quieter because it’s making it hard for you to drive safely.

Test Your Passengers for Inebriation Level – Before You Arrive

Sam has a great way though, to avoid passengers like this altogether.  The best way to avoid getting into a nightmare trip with a drunk is to not have picked up the drunk in the first place!  And Sam shares some great ideas about how to do this in this video.

One of his smartest pieces of advice, is when you get a call from a rider who is at a bar late at night, just send them a text and tell them you’ll be there in however many minutes it will take you to get there.  Then just wait and see if they respond.  If they do, and if their response is coherent, then you’re probably not going to have much to worry about.

On the other hand, if they respond but their response is incoherent or just sounds a little off, then you could be forgiven for cancelling the trip right then and there.  You know they are going to be trouble.

If they don’t respond, then that doesn’t really tell you anything.  There could be a lot of reasons why they’re not responding.  Maybe the bar is too noisy for them to hear that they received a text.  Or, maybe they’re just occupied saying good-bye to their friends.  But it could also be that they’re too drunk to respond to a text message.  So, you should consider a non-response a yellow light and proceed with caution.

In the case of a non-response and in the case where they respond and sound fine, still proceed with caution though.  Because it is late at night and you are picking up from a bar.

When you get near the bar, try not to park right in front.  If there is a line of cars, get in the line so you can hang back and see who’s coming toward you.  Text them and tell them where you are and what car you’re in.  Then, wait and watch.  If you see somebody coming toward you with his arms flailing and he’s screaming, “THERE’S THE CAR!!  THERE’S THE CAR!!”  Then Cancel & Run!  And don’t even think twice about your cancellation rate.  It doesn’t matter.  Keeping people who are this drunk out of your car is more important.


Bar Business Comes in Waves

Times may differ in your city, but we’ll go with Minneapolis times since that is what Sam is talking about in the video

12:00 – 2:00 a.m.  is your first wave of bar closes.  Plus even if bars aren’t actually closing, a lot of people start leaving around that time anyway.

Later bar close: 2:00 – 2:30 a.m.  This is your second wave of bar closes and people leaving.  Again either bars are closing or people are leaving anyway because they’ve been out a long time and they’re drunk and they just want to go home now.

3:00 a.m. – 4:00 a.m. This is the third wave and it is when the bar employees are leaving.  And they are usually pretty good tippers.  They live off of tips so they usually understand.

Resting Up for a Productive Night

Late night bar business is really a business unto itself.  It’s totally different than the week day morning rush hour business.  And very different from afternoon rush hour business.  So, if this is a time you can and like to work, you should think about specializing in it.  There really are a lot of little tricks you can learn as you do it that will help you earn more over time.

And one of those tricks, Sam shares with us in the video.  And that is, if you’re going to drive late night, commit to it.  Which means, schedule your day around it so you can be wide awake and alert.  If you’re awake and alert, you’ll really be able to give it your all and make the most out of it.

Don’t go into the night tired, where you may feel like doing the first two waves but you might give up on the third wave because you’re so tired.

Plan your day around your night.  Rest up ahead of time so you can put in a whole night and get the most out of it.


Video Transcription:

How do you navigate bar close? Now, this is something that’s really important to master, because it’s going to be something that’s going to happen every week.

It’s a lot of the principles that I just talked about in the previous videos, you can apply here. Here let me add a couple of things. When you’re picking people up, something’s that important to do is text ahead, like I’ve said before.

And when you text ahead, see if they respond back. If they don’t respond back, that’s a little yellow flag. A lot of people don’t but it’s still worth noticing.

Are they the type of person who’s all there? When I’m showing up, I’m not going to go right to the front and usually you can’t because there’s a long line.

I’m going to call ahead and when they pick up, I’m going to get a feel for how they are. If they are absolutely just wasted, or if I see that they’re just stumbling and people are like, “Hey, over there. ” And they are pointing to my direction, cancel.

And that’s going to hurt my cancellation rating or my cancellation rate, but it’s worth it. I don’t want them to throw up, I don’t want them to be a bad passenger, I don’t want them to forget not to tip me.

So I’d rather cancel and boom, I’m right in a hot spot anyway. Boom. Turn back on, I get another passenger. And I’ve done that a handful of times and it’s worth it.

So that’s a really good way to navigate bar close. Another thing to remember, some people leave early, so bar close usually happens at 12:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. so sometimes people leave early, so you can be there early for that first wave.

You be there right at bar close and you come later around 2:30 a.m. for the other wave of people and you can come back later on for the waitresses, bartenders and so forth.

So there are multiple waves that you can go back and forth, but it’s late and you have to weigh the options of how much stamina you have.

So that’s why I recommend sometimes resting and not staying out late and then going out just for that so you’re fresh and you can maximize that time.

Rather than having a minimally efficient couple of hours and getting tired and then when the best time of the night comes, you’re giving it your crumbs and you’re not giving it your best time. So that’s another tip to maximize riding with bar close.

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