Making money as a driver

Making money as a driver


The idea of allowing the individual to give their time and vehicle in exchange for making a few quick bucks is not a new or novel idea, but it is one that has gained quite a bit of traction in recent times. With mobile applications like Uber and Lyft, make money through ridesharing has become quite popular, particularly amongst travelers. With this segment growing rapidly, there is plenty of room and there are plenty of opportunities for you to get started in the ridesharing business just around the corner.

Making money as a rideshare driver can be fairly easy – working your ridesharing into your daily routine could make you money on the side, while doing it full time could make a large chunk of cash, quick. That being said, jumping right into the rideshare world without proper preparation and considerations would not be a good idea. You need to be informed about the business, and about what you need to do to fit into the world of being a successful local driver.

Getting the Right Vehicle

Obviously, you’ll need a quality vehicle for driving others around. While a two-seat sports car might be fun to drive and turn some heads, it’s not going to work when it comes to driving groups of people around. The same goes for pick-up trucks – unless you get a truck with a full second row, it’s useless for driving others around. So what do you need to look for?

Passenger Space

You need to have room for at least two full-grown adult passengers, meaning plenty of headroom and legroom – this rules out subcompact cars, or trucks with jump seats. Consider the average size of the travelers you plan on catering to, and let people know the limits of your vehicle ahead of time. If your vehicle supposedly has seating for three, plus you, don’t promise a family of four that you can give them a ride. Also consider the type of tourist you’re hauling, as certain areas will attract different kinds (and sizes) of tourists.

Cargo Space

More than likely, a traveler will have some luggage to bring with them, particularly if you hire out for airport or hotel pickups. Even for other situations, you may find yourself needing cargo space inside and out – maybe a surfer needs a lift for himself and his board, or an antique collector has a large piece they need to bring with them. Make sure that you have plenty of cubic feet on hand for cargo that you can have inside the vehicle, and have a roof rack for larger equipment that may need to be tied down.

You’ll also need cargo-handling equipment that will help you to sort and secure passenger cargo. This includes tie-downs, bungee cords, tarps, bike racks, cargo trays, cargo straps, and any other equipment that will help with cargo. Having these with you at all times will allow you to handle any cargo situations that crop up quickly, and professionally.

Vehicle Size

Depending on where you plan on operating, you may need to consider the exterior size of your vehicle. A large van will not be much use if you are expecting to operate in the tight confines of the city, or in nasty traffic where you need maneuverability. Likewise, a compact car won’t do very well if you travel high-speed roadways – it will be buffeted around, and make your passengers feel unsafe.

One thing you will definitely want to consider is the step-in height for your vehicle. While this may sound awfully specific, the fact is that some of your clients might be children, might have joint issues, or may otherwise have difficulty climbing into a vehicle that is raised up off the ground. A lower step-in height also means a lower lifting height for cargo, which means less backaches for you later.

Recommended Vehicles

Here are the types of vehicles we recommend for use:

  • Minivans
  • Compact crossovers and sport utility vehicles
  • Mid-size and full-size sedans
  • Full-size vans

Vehicle Maintenance

Since you’ll be depending on your vehicle to make you money, you’ll need to reinvest some of that money back into the vehicle. If your daily driver breaks down, you are the only one who is stranded, but as a rideshare driver, you could also strand other people with you. This is why vehicle maintenance and repair has to be a regular activity for you in your business.

Set up a calendar for servicing your vehicle, with specific intervals for the most important services. The regular services you should pay extra intention to are the oil and oil filter change; coolant flushes; transmission inspection and evaluation; and belts and hose checks. Consult your owners’ manual for recommended intervals, and adjust these based on the type of traffic you usually encounter and your style of driving. Heavy traffic, heavy braking and accelerating, or a combination of the two will require more frequent servicing. As long as you drive calmly, and in average traffic, you can stick to the car maker’s guidelines.

On a weekly basis, make sure to check your engine liquids, your lights and turn signals, and your tire pressure. The majority of car malfunctions and accidents stem from these three categories, so checking them weekly can greatly lower your chance of an incident.

Keep It Ship-Shape

No one likes a dirty vehicle, and having a car or truck that is unclean is the fastest way to lose the possibility of regular business. Clear out any loose trash after every ride, your next passenger won’t want to have to worry about sitting on a wrapper from the last passenger’s fast food. Sweep out your vehicle on a regular basis, and use a mild air freshener – don’t go too heavy, as some passengers may have a sensitivity to odors. Also, don’t smoke in your vehicle, and don’t allow your passengers to smoke. Smokers rarely have an issue with being in a non-smoking vehicle, but non-smokers often will turn up their noses if they are stuck in a vehicle that has been smoked in.

Another part of keeping your vehicle in good shape is patching and repairing any cosmetic damage. It’s not that passengers will have an issue with minor tears in the seats, or holes worn in foot mats, but it speaks greatly for your pride in your vehicle and job as a rideshare driver.

Insuring Your Car and Business

Having the proper insurance for your vehicle is important, as it will help to protect your vehicle in the case of an accident. More important, however, is having thorough insurance for your passengers and their cargo. Failure to carry the proper insurance for either can leave you open to lawsuits should something happen – lawsuits that can quickly wrap up lawyer bills, even if you manage to be successful in defending yourself.

It’s hard to recommend insurance, as each insurance agent is different, as is almost every country. This is where you’ll absolutely need to check with local government and local laws to determine what you must have versus what you would like to have.

Pricing

Deciding what you are going to charge for your services will come with plenty of stipulations. You can charge per passenger, per mile, or for both. You can charge for driving to pick the passenger from their pick-up destination, or you can charge an hourly fee if you are driving them around and waiting for them. How you price your services is up to you but there are some things you’ll want to consider as you set your prices.

The first thing to consider is the environment you are in. If you live in an area that is not a tourist hotspot, or that has high levels of competition, you’ll need to keep your prices quite low to be viable and attractive to travelers. Low competition and a dearth of ride options may allow you to increase your pricing. Secondly, you may want to change your pricing seasonally. Many areas have high seasons and low seasons, and you may need to drop your price during the off seasons to entice customers.

The third thing to consider is what being a driver will cost you. You’ll need to pay for your vehicle, the wear and tear and repairs, and you’ll need to pay for fuel. At the end of the day, you also need to pay yourself – after all, that’s why you’re doing this, right? If your rates leave you only putting a tiny share in your pockets at the end of the day, you need to raise them. This business should make much more for you than an hourly job.

Personal Safety

Safety is an issue for both you as the driver, and your passengers. This isn’t just about safety during the driving, either. You and your passengers will be working together, and have to trust each other. There are numerous stories out there of both passengers and drivers robbing the other party, assaulting them, short-changing or share-hopping, or breaking into their house after they have dropped them off.

As a driver, you can protect yourself from many of these things. In regards to short-changing or share-hopping, insist on collecting some of the agreed-upon price up front. You can keep it safe from theft in the car as well – consider investing in a combination lockbox with a steel cable that can be used to attach it to a hardpoint in your car. We would also recommend keeping a secure, digital copy of your passenger’s IDs. A simple cell-phone photo of your passengers passports could be a great help should something untowards occurs.

As far as making the passenger feel safe and sound, it’s as simple as being honest and upfront and not doing anything that could cost you their trust. Answer any questions they have openly and honestly, and look into getting a letter of referral from local police or business councils. Anything you can have on hand that shows that you are an honest businessperson will be able to help.

More Than Just a Driver

When you are providing your services as a driver, you need to be more than just a guy behind the wheel. You have to be versatile host who know your city in and out, who can knows the fastest routes and when heavy traffic may occur, and how to work around it. You should know a little bit about the area, tidbits and trivia that can entertain your passengers if needed. You’ll also want to pay attention to the latest hot spots or tourist attractions, as you’ll likely be asked to drive there at some point by a passenger. You also may be asked for recommendations at times, and it’s always good to have some knowledge to work from.

Marketing Your Services

You’ve got to sell yourself as a driver, particularly when you are operating independently. This means you have to be proactive, and present yourself in a great light. We recommend that you make sure that any piece of marketing you use for your vehicle includes the following:

  1. A picture of you
  2. A picture of the interior of your vehicle
  3. A picture of the exterior of your vehicle
  4. Pricing
  5. A blurb about your basic services

Of course, this is the bare minimum – you could also go into other services you may be able to provide during the course of being a driver, or discuss knowledge that may help you find a niche market of travelers. Maybe you love food, and know the best restaurants; maybe you’re a music-lover who knows the best dive bars for independent music. If you have something that can set you apart from the rest of the crowd, make sure to capitalize on it.

Considering the idea of being a local driver as a full-time business, or just a way to make a few dollars in your free time, may prove to be worthwhile for you. Using a website to get your information out to travelers looking to hire local drivers, like right here at eGuide, can get your business off to a great start and set you up for a solid future.

Date posted: 23rd April, 2015

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