Lately, it seems like everyone we know has a side gig driving for Uber. It’s an excellent way to earn extra money, and the flexibility allows you to decide when and where you want to work.
But how are you supposed to get into the ride-sharing game if you don’t own a car?
It’s time to consider Uber Fleet.
Though Uber Fleet isn’t exactly new, a lot of people don’t know that much about it.
But we’re about to change that.
There are two ways to make money with Uber Fleet: as a manager and as a driver. But what’s it all about? How can it put more money in your pocket? How do you get started?
Keep reading for our definitive guide to Uber Fleet.
What is Uber Fleet?
Uber Fleet is like a traditional taxi service in that there is more than one driver and usually more than one vehicle to service passengers. A fleet manager functions as a mini taxi cab company. Multiple drivers can share one vehicle or have access to several vehicles.
Let’s say you own a few cars. You can rent those cars to Uber drivers. You can charge them a daily or weekly rental fee and allow them to drive in your vehicle, as opposed to their own.
On the other hand, if you’re a driver that doesn’t own a car, Uber Fleet is a great way to gain access to a vehicle. You can rent an inexpensive car that qualifies you to drive for UberX, a black car that qualifies you to drive for Uber Black.
We’ve even seen drivers who own basic UberX cars join a fleet just to be able to drive for Uber Black or Uber Black SUV. (Driving for those higher service levels means you’ll earn more money per ride).
How Uber Fleet Can Help You Make More Money
Whether you run a fleet or drive for one, the option to do so offers a variety of different ways to put more money in your pocket each and every week.
Thinking about being a fleet manager?
Interested in becoming a fleet driver?
Here are just some of the ways that the fleet system will help you make more money.
How Fleet Managers Can Earn More Money
Do you own two, three, four, or more cars?
You can’t drive them all at once, so why not invite other drivers to get behind the wheel?
Letting your cars sit in a parking lot all day is like throwing money away. Instead, you could be making money if those cars were picking up and dropping off passengers all day and night.
Rent those cars to Uber drivers and charge them a daily rental. The driver will keep their Uber earnings, but you’ll profit from the daily/weekly rental fees that the driver will pay.
The better your vehicle is, the more money you can charge for its rental. Just like a traditional car rental service, such as Hertz or Enterprise, the type of vehicle determines how much you can charge for the rental.
If you have a luxury car that meets the requirements for Uber Black or Uber Black SUV, you can charge much more than if you have a car that only qualifies for UberX. Keep in mind that requirements for higher-end Uber car services may include things like having commercial insurance.
The fleet owner/manager determines rental prices. And that means you can set the prices as high or as low as you like. If there’s not a lot of competition in your area, you may be able to charge more. Just make sure that your prices are competitive with other rental companies. Price yourself too high, and you’ll have a hard time finding drivers that are willing to pay your rates.
The name “fleet” suggests that you need to own multiple cars to get in on the action. The truth is, you can run a fleet with just one vehicle.
Whether or not you drive for Uber yourself, you can rent out your car to other drivers who want to work different days and different shifts than you do. And since UberX drivers tend to make the least amount of money, this is a great way for them to increase their income.
How Drivers Can Earn More Money
If you don’t own a car, your only chance of driving for Uber is to rent one. There are a variety of companies who offer car rentals for Uber drivers, and the fleet option is just one of those ways.
Before you agree to join someone’s fleet, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
If you’re ready to get to work as a driver, look for a fleet manager with a reasonable rental rate. Remember, the rental amount you pay per day or per week will eat away at your profits. But then again, you won’t have any profits at all if you don’t have access to a vehicle.
You’ll still need to apply with Uber, pass a background check, and establish an approved driver account. If you plan to drive for Uber in New York or Washington D.C., you may need a special driver’s license. Joining a fleet is not a way to get around the sign-up requirements. All Uber drivers have to meet those.
Uber has several tiers of service, and you can make the most amount of money by driving for Uber Black or Uber Black SUV. So, even if you have a small sedan that qualifies for UberX, it may be worth it to rent a better vehicle so that you can drive for a higher level of service. The higher the service level, the more money you’ll earn per ride.
If you own a car and already drive for Uber, consider renting your car to a partner who can drive it when you’re not working. You don’t have to actually own an entire fleet of vehicles to take advantage of the fleet system.
Considering renting out your own vehicle to other drivers? Search online to find other fleets in your area. See what they’re pricing their rentals for. If your prices aren’t competitive, you’ll never be able to find drivers that want to pay your prices or partner with you.
Tips to Manage Your Own Fleet
Perhaps you own several cars. Maybe you plan to rent out your own car and run your own fleet with just one vehicle. Either way, you’ll have to market yourself to find drivers and partners.
Before you hand over your keys to another driver, set some strict parameters about how the deal is going to work.
Be clear about pick-up and drop off times for the vehicle. For example, if you plan to drive the car from 5 pm to midnight, make sure that the driver you’re renting to knows that the vehicle needs to be returned by 4:30 pm.
Establish rules regarding who is going to clean the car. As the vehicle owner, you may want to clean the car yourself – and you can charge extra in the rental rate for doing so. Or, you can instruct your other driver (or drivers) to clean the vehicle before returning it to you.
Make sure everyone involved knows who is paying for gas. Most traditional car rental services provide you with a vehicle with a full tank of gas. And they expect that you will return the car in the same condition. Make it clear to your drivers that the car must always be returned with a full tank so that it’s ready for the next driver.
You may also want to set mileage limits. If you do, make sure your drivers know that they will have to pay extra if they exceed the mileage limits.
Running your own fleet is much like running your own business. So keep in mind that as the owner of the car, anyone that rents from you will be putting wear and tear on your vehicle.
Decide who will be responsible for doing routine maintenance and repair. For example, what will happen if a driver gets a flat tire? Will they need to get a new tire before returning the car or will you cover those repairs yourself? Will you charge them for that expense? Either way, make sure everyone knows up front who will be responsible for what.
As an Uber fleet manager, you are responsible for the burden of vehicle inspection and for making sure that you maintain the vehicle requirements for the Uber vehicle category your cars are in like UberSUV, UberXL, or UberSelect.
Have a clear and concise contract in place that defines the roles and responsibilities of the driver and the owner. Establish specific hours of availability and set mileage limits if need be. Be realistic with your expectations – and make sure that everyone involved agrees on the terms and regulations of the deal.
If you do run into trouble with a driver, you can always remove them from your fleet account. You can also add drivers to your account if you partner with someone new or expand your service.
Visit Uber Help for partners whenever you need to add or remove drivers from your account.
Tips for Uber Fleet Drivers
When renting a car and joining someone’s fleet, it’s crucial that you know exactly what’s expected of you. Make sure you follow any guidelines (like the ones detailed above) that the fleet manager sets forth.
Know what your responsibilities are as far as cleaning the car, maintaining the vehicle, and filling the gas tank. Create a contract that specifies what hours/days of the week the car will be available to you.
If there are multiple fleets that you can join in your area, do your homework before signing on to work with one. Compare prices to make sure you’re getting a fair deal.
And don’t ever, ever lock yourself into a contract where you work as an employee of the fleet owner. It’s crucial that you maintain your independent contractor status. That way, you can deduct your Uber expenses (including gas and car rental fees) at tax time.
Not sure if joining a private fleet is right for you?
Uber offers a variety of other ways to rent a vehicle if you don’t own your own car.
You can find short-term leasing contracts and flexible terms so that you can drive when and where you want. You can even find vehicles that include coverage for basic maintenance and allow you to drive unlimited miles. If you want to rent a vehicle for several weeks or several months, you can do that too.
For example, you can find a short term rental through Getaround for just $5 per hour – and that includes insurance and basic maintenance. You can also find a long term rental through Fair for as little as $130 per week – and that includes 24/7 roadside assistance and a vehicle warranty.
The bottom line is this:
Compare your options and do your research to find the most affordable and competitive way to get access to a car so you can start driving for Uber.
If you own more than one car, becoming a fleet manager is a great way to put those vehicles to work for you. They won’t make you any money sitting in a parking lot all day. But they can earn you some passive income just by renting them out to drivers who don’t have their own cars.
Whether you’re a fleet owner or a driver for someone else’s fleet, having a contract is key. Establish clear terms with your drivers or manager. Make sure you both understand the regulations set forth – and make sure you both adhere to them.
As a manager, operating a fleet is a great way to earn extra income. But as a driver, you need to make sure that the cost of the vehicle rental is worth it. There’s no point in driving for Uber all day if, after gas, vehicle maintenance, and rental fees, you’re only breaking even.
The trick to operating or working for a successful fleet is to make sure that everyone is earning a profit. If you’re not, it may be time to look for another side hustle and put your effort and energy somewhere else.
Brett Helling is the head of Ridester – a site that provides in-depth articles on the gig economy, with a particular focus on the rideshare industry. Outside of work, Brett enjoys spending time in his home city of Omaha.