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!

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