If you decided to become a rideshare driver, then you must be prepared to be a self-employed businessperson as well as a driver and be a psychologist as well. As a professional rideshare driver with experience driving for both Uber and Lyft, I decided to share the six pitfalls that rideshare drivers need to know. While the obvious applications process is your first dive into this occupation, there is only one pitfall to prepare for, and that is if you had an interesting past. All rideshare companies are required by law to perform background checks on their applicants. You get disqualified if you have driving or criminal issues in the past seven years. This is only the first pitfall of background checking, even if you pass the applications screening, Uber and Lyft perform the occasional background check update, either as an internal policy decision or because State laws demand it. So even when driving, make sure you don’t get too many traffic violations and don’t get in trouble, or you will end your driving career very quickly. Oh, and f you hide issues while driving for Uber and Lyft, they will end your career with them for life if they find out you did not tell them.
Here are the six issues I find drivers must contend with every day:
1. Driving is a Professional Occupation
The first thing you need to know is that driving for rideshare companies such as Lyft or Uber is identical. The passenger wants a professional, safe, and prompt service. The category you decide to drive in will decide the population sector that you transport. No matter which group you service, they will want professionalism as well safety.
Just like a taxi service, where the driver holds a professional taxi drivers license, you should try to offer a professional service. The big difference between Uber, Lyft and Taxis are the ownership of the car. You own the car, and its cleanliness and maintenance are an extension of your image. Therefore, when you drive for Uber or Lyft, (or both), you end up having double worries. You must be awake, aware and courteous to your passenger and you must make sure your car is always in tip-top condition, clean and fully maintained.
As this sections’ title states; driving is a profession, it requires navigational skills, smooth driving skills, and professional courtesy as well as a lot of road safety and knowledge of your surroundings.
2. Passenger Psychology
Being a rideshare driver comes with a very big pitfall, and that is how you handle unruly passengers. You might be a great driver, own a neat car, have all the gadgets and know how to handle the occasional mess, but do you know how to handle unruly passengers?
A professional rideshare driver is also a passenger psychologist. You must be able to discern which passengers are worthwhile taking and which are not. You must be prepared for drunken passengers that not only vomit all over your upholstery but also become violent or erratic. How about the occasional drug dealer that decides to use your car as his transportation method, and what do you do with pets, eaters, and people with BO? Now add to this the UberPool and Lyft Line categories where you collect groups of passengers, like a shuttle and you magnify the problems.
If you decided to become an Uber, Lyft or another rideshare driver, be prepared to handle these pitfalls, driving safely is only one side of the equation, it what happens with your passenger when you drive that counts.
3. Cars have Expenses
Sure, the marketing promos promise thousands of bucks, but guess what, they do not tell you of the expenses you will encounter, that will shrink your income considerably.
I won’t go into details about the various calculations that have been used to prove expenses. Just know that the net income before taxation is around $0.75-$0.90 per mile.
What you need to factor into your calculations are the cost of your car. Consider the purchase price of your car. Did you buy it for ridesharing or is it your family car? Did you lease one or rent? How big was your loan? If you own your car, you need to factor in the depreciation as well. Now add the insurance, the dash cam (mandatory as explained in other articles), and various gadgets that make life as a rideshare driver easy. Also, know that rideshare driving is about periods, you get paid and insured according to different periods. The first period is when you are online but have no requests, the second period I when you have a request and are your way to pick up your passenger and the third period is the actual ride, with the passenger in the car. You only get paid for period 3, and you pay insurance to cover all 3 periods.
You will need to download special expenses and mile tracking app to follow your daily expenditure and link it to specific schedules. This is very important, especially when you plan to prepare your end of the year tax report.
4. Preparing your Taxes
If you are employed and adding rideshare driving as another source of income, then be prepared to complicate your tax reporting. If you are self-employed or have a few freelance businesses, then be prepared to deal with expenditure linkage. Preparing taxes is not an easy task if you are not 100% sure of how to fill in the form. It is best to get professional advice. If you are knowledgeable in this experience, then you can use the online tax forms.
Rideshare driving requires rideshare friendly insurance unless you live in NYC, then you will need commercial insurance. It is best to get a good policy and remember, you must ask your insurance broker to give you a quote for both rideshare and personal driving periods. Standard insurance does not cover rideshare accidents.
This is a headache; it requires you to monitor your ratings constantly. Driving for Uber or Lyft demands you maintain a standard that keeps your rating above 4.6, and to be honest, anything under 4.8 means you suffer. Ratings is a science unto itself, and rideshare driving comes with ratings. It is part and parcel of your life as an Uber or Lyft driver. If you don’t want to be insulted, don’t drive professionally. They don’t tell you about ratings when you sign on, but it is an important part of your success as well as a trigger to being discontinued.