As the minimalist movement grows, people are realizing they don’t need to own tons of stuff to be happy. And growing naturally from this realization is the thriving sharing economy. It’s fundamentally transforming the way many people do business, in many industries.
Instead of always staying in hotels, many people opt for Airbnb accommodations. Coworking spaces are popping up in many cities around the world. Clothing services like Rent the Runway allow clients to rent clothes for special occasions instead of having to shell out tons of money to purchase them.
This sharing economy is also making a huge impact on transportation. Many people are opting for ridesharing services instead of owning another car. They just open an app on their smartphone and request a ride from an Uber or Lyft driver.
A few minutes later, their ride appears, and they get where they need to go. There’s no stress about parking. Riders don’t have to worry about an overcrowded bus. They just get personal transport services, whenever they’re needed.
Because of the benefits, ridesharing continues to increase in accessibility and popularity. If you have a clean driving record, knowledge of your area, and available time, you can cash in on this side hustle and make some serious money.
What If You Don’t Have a Car?
Did you notice I didn’t mention a car for the list of necessities? That’s right, you can run a ridesharing business without owning your own car.
Sign up for an account with HyreCar, and rent a car when you need one. You can select the type of car you’re looking for, and ensure it’ll meet the vehicle requirements of the company you’re driving for.
Then you meet the owner and pick up the car. Once you’re finished for the day, simply bring it back to an agreed upon place.
Have an extra car? You can sign up for an account and rent your vehicle out for some easy income. You might want to check with your car insurance first, to make sure everything is as it needs to be.
How to Get Started as a Rideshare Driver
Harry Campbell, rideshare driver and owner of The Rideshare Guy, is a pro when it comes to starting a profitable rideshare business. He has some great advice for getting started.
He recommends signing up with more than one company at a time. “It's important to drive with more than one company because that gives you the best opportunity to maximize your earnings potential. Sometimes things are slow on just the Uber app, so if you're able to leverage Lyft too, that means you'll get more requests and earn more money.”
Bottom line? Don’t feel like you’re stuck driving with only one company. That’s definitely one of the perks of being an independent contractor; you don’t have to sign an exclusive agreement. You’re free to see what’s available in your area, and sign up to be a driver with anybody.
What Rideshare Companies Are Out There?
Your choices for rideshare companies varies greatly by your location. A rural community won’t have as many options as San Francisco or Chicago, for example.
When you’re researching your options, here are some companies to check out:
Once you discover what companies operate in your area, sign up for driver accounts with as many as you’d like.
Do make sure you read the requirements. There are specifications for your vehicle and insurance, so make sure you qualify. If you’ll be renting a car from HyreCar, make sure you keep those requirements in mind.
A Flexible Side Gig
One of the best perks of being a rideshare driver is the ability to pick your own hours. Campbell agrees that this is his favorite part. The best part about being a rideshare driver is the flexibility – if you’re bored, go into driver mode and wait for someone who needs a ride. If you get tired or want to spend time with family, turn off your app and take a break.”
You can use your available time to bring in extra money. It’s a very flexible way to supplement your income.
How to Increase Your Profit as a Rideshare Driver
Once you’re up and running as a driver, can you do anything to maximize your profits?
Yes, you can! When it comes to being a service provider, differentiation is the name of the game. Think about ways you can “go the extra mile” for your riders and stand out from all the other drivers out there.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Know Your Market
What’s going on in your area? As Harry mentioned, you need to figure out when people usually need rides and be available then.
Is there a big conference coming up? Make sure you’re available for driving participants to and from the airport to the conference center.
Huge concert downtown? You have a great opportunity for landing passengers.
Keep your eye on upcoming events and popular venues. Check out local community calendars and city websites.
Beyond events, know when your market needs to move. Is there always a rush at 5:00 pm? Or a need for drivers during the lunch hour?
You need to know what the pulse is in your market and make yourself available to meet it. Not only will this give you more business, but it’ll also maximize your chances of getting surge payment.
2. Drive Well
People want good drivers, so make sure you are one. Be safe and follow all the rules of the road. Don’t be aggressive, or yell at someone who cuts you off. Stay calm.
Know where you’re going and how to get there. You don’t want to delay your arrival by taking a wrong turn. Use GPS and have a basic familiarity of your area.
3. Be a Good Communicator
But, it’s more than just being able to hold a conversation. It’s knowing how to read your passenger’s body language, so you know if they want to have a conversation. It’s listening to the things they say, and how they say them.
Part of being a good communicator as a rideshare driver means knowing what not to say. Don’t bring up controversial topics. Definitely, don’t hit on your passengers or try to land a date.
Be professional, courteous, and friendly. You can definitely let your personality shine, but just make sure you aren’t scaring people off or offending them (not to mention violating company rules).
4. Keep Your Car Clean
No one wants to climb into a car that looks like a garbage can. Take time to regularly clean your car, inside and out. Have a trash bag inside so you can easily collect anything a passenger leaves behind.
Vacuum your car, too. Don’t make your passengers sit on crumbs or deal with a ton of pebbles lining the floor mats.
Make sure your car smells good. Since you spend a lot of time in it, it’s possible that you have gone nose blind. That’s when your brain stops sending you the signal that you’re smelling something gross because you’ve been in it for so long. Occasionally ask a friend or family member to give your car a quick sniff to make sure you’re still good.
And speaking from experience, consider adding a couple of vomit bags to your car. You never know when someone will lose their cookies, and that’s a pain to get out of the carpet!
For better or worse, your vehicle will make an impression on people. Your job is to make sure it’s a good one.
5. Offer Amenities
People appreciate good customer service. One way you can go above and beyond is to offer a few basic amenities. Think of what you’d enjoy as a passenger and go from there.
Here are a few common ideas:
- Have a daily newspaper for people to read while you drive
- Purchase a car charger with adapters for both iPhones and Androids
- Offer water, gum, or mints to your passengers (just make sure they take the trash, or you will need to pick it up between drives)
- Have an auxiliary cord so passengers can play their own music
You can also think of a unique amenity to be your signature. Brew fresh coffee. Have a screen hooked up to Netflix so passengers can catch their favorite show. Install fancy lights.
Of course, you can spend a ton of money on amenities without ever seeing a return on your investment. Amenities aren’t a requirement, they’re just a nice extra. Always spend wisely, and opt for frugal options if you can.
6. Keep Track of Your Income
You won’t know how much money you’re making if you don’t track your income and expenses. Then there are taxes to worry about. As an independent contractor, you have to pay all of your own taxes.
In the past, this used to involve shoeboxes full of receipts and invoices. But, apps have streamlined this process.
QuickBooks Self-Employed is a real-time business expense and mileage tracker app I recommend. It’s designed with independent contractors in mind, and is really user-friendly. This app makes it easy to flag transactions as business expenses, so you always have the information you need before Tax Day.
You can also use apps like:
- Hurdlr is an app designed to help rideshare drivers track their finances and mileage to estimate their self-employed income taxes in real-time. Hurdlr helps you capture all of your deductions so you can maximize your profit. Since every 20 deductible miles saves you $10, your savings will add up fast. On average, Hurdlr users save $5,6000 per year on their taxes. Using AI-based mileage and expense rules to automatically tag your deductions, Hurdlr will also save you a lot of time, so you can spend more time growing your business.
Experiment with a couple of tracking apps to see which one works best for you. Once you pick one, stick with it and keep it updated. It’s much easier to enter data as you go than trying to remember everything six months down the road.
7. Ask for Reviews
Think about creating a sign to hang in your car, asking for reviews. This can be super simple, and an easy way to remind passengers about the importance of five-star reviews for your business.
You can also use the sign to ask passengers to bring up any problems with their service directly with you. This gives you the opportunity to make it right.
8. Be Prepared
Rideshare drivers should heed the Boy Scout’s motto and always be prepared. You’re going to be spending more time on the road, and you should make sure your car is ready.
Always check your gas before picking up passengers. You sure don’t want to run out along the way.
If you live in a snowy area, keep an ice scraper and snow brush in your car. Also, make sure you’re running the appropriate antifreeze and wiper fluid for the season.
Get regular maintenance on your vehicle. Change your oil on time, get repairs made quickly, and do what you can to ensure your car is in top condition. After all, if your car isn’t working, you won’t be making any money.
Have a GPS app installed, and know how to use it. Waze and Google Maps are both great options.
Check the weather forecast before starting out. You don’t want to get caught out in a snowstorm you weren’t expecting.
Do you know how to change a tire if you get a flat? Always keep a spare and a jack in your car.
Problems do crop up. Being a member of AAA or another roadside assistance program can help give you peace of mind. If you’re looking for assistance without an annual fee or a membership required, check out Urgently.