Waiting To Pull The Trigger on SURGE

Just because it’s surging doesn’t mean you should always accept trips.  That’s because it may surge even more if you give it another few minutes.

The trick to maximizing surge is to really know why it’s surging where you are.  If you understand that, then you’ll have a much better idea as to whether and when you should start accepting calls.

Don’t Always Accept Trips – Just Because It’s Surging

There are random surges that come up out of the blue and for no apparent reason.  Those happen from time to time.  And when they do – you may as well accept the first call that comes along.  If it’s random and you have no idea why it started surging, then your best bet is to stay online and accept whatever calls you get.

However, if you do have an idea why the surge started up, then you’ll have much better information and you’ll know better when to act.  When you understand why a surge happened, you can make better decisions about when to start accepting calls.

For instance, let’s say you know a certain area of town that normally surges between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. weekday mornings.  If you know it surges there and then and you’ve watched the surges for several weeks, you’ll have a really good idea about how much it will surge.

Atlanta Drivers Learned How to Trick the Surge

For instance, in Atlanta, there was a time when drivers knew that in the residential areas of Buckhead, it would surge during morning rush hour starting at about 8:15 a.m.  But the real veteran drivers knew that the surge would increase between about 8:35 and 8:50.  So they would stay offline until 8:35.  While other drivers were taking trips at the lower surges before 8:35.

In fact, it was because the other drivers were taking the trips before 8:35 that caused it to surge more around 8:35.  And it was because the riders leaving after 8:35 were really desperate to find a car and take anything they could get.  Because they were truly running late for work!  So, even if the surge went up to 3x, they were willing at that point to take it.

And check this out… even if a driver waited with the app off for 35 full minutes between 8:00 and 8:30, he would make far more off of the one trip he’d get at 8:35 than he would have made if he had taken two and a half trips at the regular price between 8:00 and 9:00.

If the average mileage rate is $1 a mile, then on a 3x surge he’s going to be making $3 a mile.  Or in other words, in a single trip, he’ll make the equivalent (or more) than he would have made on three trips at the regular price.  So, keep that in mind while you’re waiting.

Most drivers don’t like to sit idle.  But sometimes it really pays off.  And this is an example of just such a time.

Know Your City to Get the Most Out of Surge

The more you know about your city and the events going on there, the more mileage you’ll get out of surges.

The trick is to really understand why it’s surging where you are.  When you understand this, you can better guess how high the surge might go and how long it will last.  And the more you know about what’s going on in your city on any given day, the better you’ll be able to estimate the surges.

For instance, we all know that it usually surges after a big public event, like a sporting event or a concert featuring a major artist.  However, what elite drivers know, is that the more you know about everything going on in your city the more you’ll be able to exploit surges for all they’re worth.

Here’s why.  Assume there’s a Beyoncé concert going on tonight.  You know it’s going to be huge.  And suppose there is also a baseball playoff game going on at the stadium.  But, imagine you don’t know about the ball game.  All you know that’s going on that night is the Beyoncé concert.

So, you show up near the end of the concert and as it ends, you see it’s surging at 1.5x.  A few minutes later it rises to 1.8x.  Then about 7 minutes after that it goes to 2.3x.  At that point you dutifully login to the app and immediately get a call with a 2.4x surge.  And you think you’re doing great!  Because just a minute earlier it was at 2.3x and a few minutes before that it was only 1.5x.  So, you think you’ve really beat the system and gotten the best of Uber by snagging a really good surge!  And it’s true, a 2.3x surge is pretty decent, even if it goes higher, you can’t really complain about it.

And you may have thought your 2.4x surge trip was excellent because perhaps the last time you drove a concert, the surge maxed out at 1.8x.  So you’re thinking you’ve hit the jackpot of concert surges.

But what you didn’t know, because you weren’t keeping up with all the local events, is you didn’t know there was a baseball game going on that night too.  And not just any game but a major playoff game!  If you had known that, you could have made an intelligent and informed assumption that could have changed your night quite dramatically.

If you had known there was a major playoff game going on at the same time as the concert, you could have guessed that drivers would be spread thin.  In other words, drivers would be split between the concert and the game.  Meaning that neither one would have anywhere close to enough drivers to handle the massive crowds that would be exiting at just about the same time.

And what you didn’t know, was that after you sped away with your 2.4x surge passenger in the car is that the concert surge popped up to 4.5x about 20 minutes after you left!  You couldn’t have known that because you were in the car with your 2.4x passenger and you couldn’t see the surge map until you dropped them off perhaps 30 minutes later.

Special Events and Weather

That’s why it’s critically important – for any driver who wants to enter into the top ranks – to always know what’s going on in their city.  It’s also crucial to monitor the weather forecasts.  Special events, concerts, sporting events, plus bad weather all add up to high potentials for surge.

And just a quick word on weather.  Veteran drivers know that bad weather is good for business.  But they know even more that surprise bad weather is excellent for business!  Anytime bad weather shows up unexpectedly, especially if it’s during a time when people are going to be out and about, that is awesome for business.  So monitor the weather closely and keep a special eye out for the unexpected.

But monitor special events too.  And remember when there is more than one big event going on at the same time, there is even more potential for great surges because drivers will be split between the events.  There is also more potential for there to be surges around town as so many drivers will be tied up at the different events.


Video Transcription:

Waiting to pull the trigger. What do I mean by that? Just because there’s SURGE pricing, just because there’s prime time, doesn’t mean you should take rides. Let me give you an example.

One time I was driving near St Paul and there was a concert going on. Chance the Rapper was in town. And right after my…while I was dropping off a passenger, I got a rider in my queue. Now, Uber and Lyft both can add a rider in your queue and there’s a huge demand.

And so, they added a rider in my queue, and I was like, “Great, I have another passenger.” So, I looked at it, “Oh, Excel Center. Oh, [a] 2.5 surge.” I drove over there, picked them up.

And as I got in my car, and as we were driving away, maybe two blocks away, I have an app that tracks surge. It was jumping up to six times surge. I missed six times surge for a 2.5 surge or something like that. It was maybe like 1.8.

Now, we went to a far place, and they tipped me well, but man, I missed out. So, waiting to pull the trigger is a really important thing.

That’s more of an art than a science. If it’s an event that you can track on a regular basis, you kinda know what the peak is. Not every event is going to go to six times.

Beyoncé, when she was here, it went to eight times. That’s very, very rare. Don’t wait for the eight times because it’s going to drop. You’re going to miss your target zone.

So, this is what I do. For an event that’s regular like, for like bar close, it’s going to often go up to 2.5, 3.5, maybe four, depending on if they’re other events in the town spreading the drivers out.

And I’m going to have my app off, I’m gonna be in the right place. And then when it gets to that four times or 500% surge or 4%, I’m gonna hit on, boom, and I’m gonna lock in at the best rate possible.

Other drivers who aren’t thinking about this, they’re excited, “Oh, [a] 1.5 surge,” and they turn on, and they get the first round of people. Don’t do that. Wait to pull the trigger.

And sometimes, you’re going to miss it. Sometimes you’re going to wait too long and it’s going to start dropping. So you need… There’s always some risk.

And so, you’ve got to kinda know, is this an event that’s gonna have a steady flow of people and then it’s going to go higher? You have to be thinking about the concert.

What kind of demographic? Is this a demographic of people who are going to use it or not? So, there are all these things. But overall, wait and don’t push it.

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