Thursday, March 21, 2019

Phases of the Rideshare Journey... And Why You Need Insurance.



A common question from drivers relates to rideshare insurance. Is it needed? Doesn't the rideshare company have comprehensive cover for the drivers?
To answer this properly it is imperative that the driver understands the 3 phases of the rideshare journey, and more importantly to understand when lack of insurance leaves them most vulnerable.
This graphic illustrates the phases:
Rideshare companies, like Uber and Lyft, only provide insurance that covers phases 2 and 3. This means that prior to accepting a passenger request you are not covered.
So what? Your personal insurance carrier will cover that, right? The short answer is No. However, most insurance companies will provide rideshare coverage for that gap, at pretty reasonable rates. And, if any of you have tried to file a claim with an insurance company, you will have no doubt that their investigators will find any reason not to pay out... that could include examining your phone logs to see if you were texting, and while they are looking at that they may just peak to see if you were logged into a rideshare app at the time you are filing the claim for.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Ridesharing – How Part-Time Can My Side-Gig Be?

When I started driving, it was out of a need to pay some bills. I was worried, however, that I could not have a sustainable side gig if I was only driving an hour or two each day. Ultimately I decided that the only way to find out was to jump in and start learning.
The first thing that I wanted to do was to lay out a structure to my driving… would it be evenings or mornings? What areas would I start my driving from?
I read many articles about all things Uber and ultimately decided on the following structure:
  1. I read that showing a commute prior to first passenger pick up was a good thing to have on a driver log. So I decided that my start position would be 1 mile up the road at a local gas station – here I could fill the tank up, wash the windshield and vacuum the seats with better visibility that on my driveway.
  2. I am an early rider, so I started driving at 6am to see what business was about.
  3. The airport is close to my regular job, so that seemed like a logical end point for the morning’s drive.
What I discovered was that the gas station was an ideal staging area – not only could I make sure my vehicle was gassed and clean, but I could also get a coffee, mints etc for the morning.
I started driving at 6am and found that there were a lot of drivers in the area, so I changed my start time to 5:30…. I kept doing this until I found my sweet spot; the time that gives me a competitive advantage, and isn’t too painful. This will be different for everyone, but for me 4:45am is perfect. 95% of the time I receive a request within 2 minutes of turning on the app. For the majority of these early bird passengers the trip is to the airport (a $15 base fare). That is a nice way to start the day!
Now, this means I am at the airport at about 5:20ish… which is far too early to sign off and head into my normal job. So, the next question is what to do once I drop off at the airport? The first passenger flights arrive at 6ish, so there won’t be any pick-ups for at least 30 minutes after that. This means I needed a strategy to keep driving. I kept in mind that I needed to minimize ‘dead miles’ and increase profitability, so the choice came down to the following:
  1. Head to the closest airport-convenient hotels and stage there.
  2. Head to the resort hotels that I started near.
  3. Drive without a plan, hoping to catch random fares.
I tried each method and found that option one was fairly successful – I could make 2 or 3 trips back to the airport, but the fares rarely exceeded $5. Option 3 was by far the worst strategy… sometimes I would add 30 miles without a passenger to my driving; miles that I was not earning, that I was incurring expense for gas and wear and tear etc. Option 2 seemed to work – I drive from the airport to the main road that heads back to my starting point. This road passes multiple hotels and I usually get multiple fares that range from $5 to $15. Often I will find a passenger in a hotel near the airport, who is attending a business meeting further towards my initial start position, so I can drive back and forth, picking up passengers in each direction.
As a result, my average day nets me about $50 for a drive time of 4:45 till 7:00. That is a $20/hr average.
I do this Monday to Friday each week, so my income is boosted by about $13,000 each year. So, my side-gig is profitable, enjoyable and does not take away time from my family… plus I rarely have to worry about drunks!


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

'Tis the Season



I am really looking forward to the coming holiday season. Not only do I get to make some money, which will go towards my family's celebrations, but I get to share in the festive spirit of my passengers.
However, it would be foolish to think that this time of year is all eggnog and mistletoe, so here are  a few precautions that I will be taking:
  1. Using a festive air-freshener in the car
  2. Clearing my evening schedule so that I can be available for office party passengers
  3. Creating a Christmas mix for the stereo (bearing in mind that not everyone will like it)
  4. Maybe wearing a Santa hat to really help the passengers maintain a festive mood.... maybe!
  5. Remembering that my good customer service (or lack of) can really affect my passengers evening, and my tip.
  6. I have already spent some time identifying the most popular bars and restaurants, plus good parking areas where I can sit to wait for passengers. I have identified 6 of these areas around the city, so no matter where a passenger takes me, I have strategized the continuance of my business for the night.
When it comes to car maintenance/upkeep:
  1. Stock upon emesis bags.
  2. Keep a bucket, a gallon jug of water, and some cleaning products in the trunk.... good if the carpet gets soiled, but if the upholstery is affected, your night is pretty much over.
  3. A spare set of rubber floor mats.
  4. Make sure the car vac is charged and in working order - not everyone will appreciate the tinsel/glitter that the last passenger left on the back seat.
Lastly, although it is fun to enter into the spirit of things, it is especially vital at this time of year to maintain focus on the road, be aware of the driving behavior of others, and keep an eye out for unsteady pedestrians. Keep an ear on the local traffic news, so that you can avoid traffic accidents and the inevitable delays.