How to Become an Uber Driver: Guide to Uber Success
Uber is the biggest ride-sharing application in the world. It has changed the transportation industry, and in the process has changed the lives of many people - passengers and drivers.
Many drivers, like me, are earning a healthy living with Uber.
Have you thought about making a few extra dollars now that the service is in your town?
Before I tell you how to become an Uber driver, first see if you’re joining the business for the right reasons.
Best Reasons to Join Uber
If you like the thought of getting paid every week then you are headed in the right direction. Unlike jobs where you have to wait a month or bi-monthly, you quickly get your share/payment on a weekly basis.
As a driver, your safety is assured with Uber. All passengers are vetted with personal information like credit cards and ID’s first. There is hardly any anonymous interaction between users.
Be Your Own Boss
Are you a self-starter? With Uber, you have the freedom of time. Work when you want, and how long you want. Obviously the more you work, the better rewards you will get. It’s just like anything else in life.
Meet Interesting People
It's true. I've had so many different conversations with people that I normally wouldn't get the opportunity to. They aren't celebrities or anything, just normal individuals that have their own interesting journeys.
Worst Reasons to Join Uber
If you don’t want to work, and you think it’s just easy money then you will not be successful as a ridesharing driver. While Uber gives you the tools - you get back what you give in. Work hard (and smart), and you will get the money you’ve earned. If you don’t, then you won’t be able to take advantage of these new types of ridesharing platforms. Think like an entrepreneur and not like an employee. No one has gone far without doing
You don’t like following rules. Uber has a list of policies that all drivers must follow. Any violation or big complaint from a passenger will get you kicked out of the service. Don’t join Uber if you don’t intend to give the level of service required from all drivers. I can’t stress this enough. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, right?
What are the Alternatives?
There are many other side job platforms that you can try besides Uber. If you want to try something similar to Uber’s crowd-sourcing model, but you’re not that sold on driving, try ‘Alfred’ an app that provides cleaning service, or ‘TaskRabbit’ if you don’t mind doing chores for other people (ranging from buying groceries or picking up mail). There’s also other ridesharing companies as well such as Lyft.
So How Can You Drive for Uber?
If you want to give Uber a shot, the application process of how to become an Uber driver takes about 2-3 weeks depending on the length of the background checks, and if the requirements (a valid driver's license, qualified car, auto insurance) are already accounted for.
What Uber Service Should I Join?
The car that you drive will determine the type of Uber service that you can join.
UberX has the most number of cars in its fleet. It’s the service that most people use. UberX cars can serve those that are 4 passengers and below. Vehicles used in this service include cars like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, or Prius, and most sedans in the market.
Got a big car? Join Uber and drive for UberXL. It’s still a low-cost alternative to catching multiple rides if you’re a big group. There’s a slight adjustment in rates (higher base far, higher rates per minute) because a trip can serve more riders and the expenses are higher for the driver. So if your car can seat 6 or more riders, Uber XL would be the Uber service that you can offer. Car models for UberXL include the Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge (Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey), and Honda Odyssey to name a few.
This is Uber’s most premium service. To drive in this service, you must be a professional chauffeur. You have a black uniform, and the car you drive is a black luxury car. As it’s premium service, the rates are higher which is good for you. UberBlack charges a higher per minute and per mile rate than any other Uber service except UberSUV. So if you’ve got a swanky 4-seater car from Acura RL/RLX, or a BMW 3/5/6 or 7 series, this Uber service may be for you.
Basically, this is Uber Black but for bigger luxury vehicles. If you’ve got a luxury vehicle like a Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, or Chevrolet Suburban that can seat more than 6 people - you can apply to be a driver today!
How To Sign Up For Uber?
SIMPLE STEPS TO BECOME AN UBER DRIVER
Once you’ve decided to join Uber, it’s simply a matter of following these simple steps:
- Check if the Uber service is active in your city. The easiest way is to check online. You can always apply regardless and start the process early if you know it will be coming.
Take a look at the requirements and complete them. Requirements include the following:
- A Valid Drivers License
- Car Insurance
- Car Model (must be 2004 and above, your chosen Uber service will depend on your type of car, as discussed in the section before)
- Age Requirement (21 years old above)
- Car corresponding to Uber requirements (4 door vehicle, 2004 or newer, and in good condition)
- A smartphone (iPhone, or Android 2013 model above)
Submit. Apply online.
- Make sure you have the vehicle’s complete information.
- Give your consent to a background check. Fill out the consent form to authorize Uber’s third-party to check your records.
Wait for the Background Check to finish.
- The duration for this is about 3-7 days. The length of this process would depend on a lot of factors – how many times you’ve moved in the past 7 years, your previous work, etc. The background checker will check 7 years into your past.
Take your car to be inspected.
- In most Uber services, you will have to visit an Uber accredited mechanic to check if your car complies with Uber specifications.
While waiting for your driver confirmation...
- Watch and read a lot of information about Uber. Drivers should look at welcome videos or onboarding videos while waiting.
Once you've received your email - sign in, and start driving!
My First Trip Driving For Uber
I remember the first time I logged in to drive for Uber. It was nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time. It took me about 10 minutes before I got my first passenger.
I accepted, and the app’s GPS showed me the way to get to my passenger’s location. I followed the GPS and
The app said the rider’s name was Marie. I slowed down in front of a waiting woman, opened my window, and asked, “Are you waiting for an Uber? Can I get your name?”
One of the points in Uber’s onboarding video (found below) is that it’s better to ask that kind of question instead of asking questions like, “Are you Marie?” because someone can claim to be Marie, jump in, and he or she may turn out to not be your passenger.
“Yes, what’s your name?” she asked. Which was a bit surprising but I’m guessing Uber passengers are told the same thing and verify their driver's name. Both of us knew who each of us was supposed to be. So she hopped in, and automatically the app’s GPS showed me the way to her destination since she put it in already. Probably to check how much the trip would be with Uber, instead of a Taxi.
I didn’t really say much, except a quick Hi and Hello at the start of the trip, and a “thank you for riding, have a nice day” at the end of the trip.
I closed the trip in the app and put in my rating for her. She gave me a rating of 4. Not bad for my first ride! But I think if I were a little bit less nervous than things could have gone smoother. I’m not the most social person but that’s a whole other reason for why I started doing this. Anyways,
I remember my first day to be really hectic and a lot of that was because I didn't have any if what it's like to drive for work. There were some passengers that didn’t talk much, like Marie, and there were some that just really asked a lot of questions. Since the service is fairly new to people, they are always curious about how busy I am haha.
Other Tales of Uber Drivers
Other drivers have first time stories that involve picking up drunk passengers or people who are unruly. You tend to get those drunken types if you drive at certain times. If you drive during the late hours of the night after the bars are shutting down then chances are that you’ll pick-up someone drunk. But you might make more money since it could be really busy at that time. Just keep watch for when Uber alerts you of Surge Pricing. Where there are fewer drivers than passengers. Which seems to be often.
But just in case you do get a crappy passenger, follow the Uber Intoxicated Rider Guide. The gist of which is that you should always be calm and professional. And if the rider is passed out, call the local emergency services immediately.
What Do Successful Drivers Do?
Being a successful Uber driver is easier than you think. You need a basic understanding of the important things that Uber looks for in a driver. Not just great social skills in a way, but just being courteous about the small things.
A ride request is sent to the Uber driver nearest to the passenger requesting. They calculate Acceptance Rating by comparing how many trips you accept with how many trips are sent to you. If you do not accept 4 requests while you are logged in, the Uber app will log you off automatically for rejecting too many requests. You will either be allowed to log back in after a few minutes, or your account may be deactivated. So just keep that in mind and if you are going to eat lunch or just hang out with some friends, make sure to turn off your driver status.
Uber hates canceled trips. Trips are usually canceled either by the passenger or the driver. If you have been getting more cancellations than the average for that city, Uber may send you a message to deactivate your service. So as much as possible, don’t cancel!
At the end of every trip, you and the passenger give each other star-ratings. 5 for the highest and 1 for the lowest. Your star-rating is an average of all the rates your passengers gave you. Each city has their own requirement of star-rating. If you get lower than the city’s average, your Uber account risks the chance of being deactivated.
Time management is an important thing for an Uber driver. It’s important to figure out what times are best for you in order to leverage the most income from driving. Here are some things that you can apply with Uber:
Take advantage of surge fares – If you know that at a certain time in your town, Uber applies surge pricing, be there! Surge pricing means higher income. Just a quick tip, don’t log in until you get to the area where there is surge pricing. If you log in before or on your way to that area, you might get called to go to another area without the surge price rate!
Be Conscious of the time - If you notice a pattern in pricing and also know when the surge pricing time kicks in, better to log-off, and only log-in only when the surge pricing rates are up.
Other Uber drivers really go a long way to getting that 5-star rating. Some have water and candy for their riders, while some even prepare playlists for each “type” of Uber passenger.
For me, I just make sure that my car is very clean. I always have air freshener, and vomit bags (especially when you drive at night). Becoming an Uber driving isn’t hard, it’s just hard sometimes because I can procrastinate about things and make excuses. So I formed a challenge for myself to complete at least 2 drives a day for 2 weeks. When I finished my second drive, I found that it didn't make much sense to just stop.
Another thing I did, which you'd think would be normal, is to tell everyone about the different promo code's that are available - especially for new riders. You can find a whole bunch of Uber Promo Codes here.
Best Tips From Uber's Onboarding Video
- Use your email as your User Name, so you don't forget.
- Riders prefer text messages, rather than phone call. And don't drive while on the phone.
- Your rating is an overall average - not the average of your last 5 or 10 trips. It is calculated out of every rating you’ve been given.
- Low Ratings are most commonly resulted from Drivers not knowing the best routes.
- Have an extra phone charger and other amenities for passengers.
- Don't be afraid to open the door for passengers.
- There is an option to charge, or not charge a rider if a trip is cancelled. This all depends on who is to blame. The rider may not show up or you may encounter an emergency. Uber has lots of standard procedures to help you out.
- If there are tolls in your area, make sure you pick up an Electronic Toll Paying Device so you don't have to slow the trip down.
- Help rider's check for any items left behind by mistake.
- If you accept trips from outside the surge area or before the serge pricing comes into effect, you will not be able to take advantage of higher Uber rates as the Driver.
- Yellow Areas on your Uber App have normal demand.
- Orange Areas are very busy.
- Red Areas on the Uber Map mean Uber Surge Pricing is in effect.
- Avoid unshaded areas on the Uber map. It means low demand.
- Use a mount for your phone, so you can keep you eye’s on the road ahead.
- You don’t have to accept pets, but you do have to accept service animals in accordance to the law. Such as seeing eye dogs. You can also keep towels in your car for animals to sit on.
What do Unsuccessful Uber Drivers Do?
How do you lose with Uber?
When you accept passengers that are too far. I try and stick to 10 miles away and nothing more. I don’t want the trip to the passenger to cost more than the trip with them.
When you go around and around instead of staying put in one place. Scope out where there are a lot of people that might request the Uber service. Find free parking where you can and wait. It’ll be difficult at first but you will eventually get into the rhythm.
When you decline more than 3-4 rides in a row. Uber’s system will boot you out, and you run the risk of being deactivated.
Lose your cool. Even when you’re in a tense situation, keep your cool and follow Uber’s set protocol and rules for dealing with them.
FAQs Before Your Uber Application
Things to Keep in Mind For Uber Drivers
Take Control of Your Expenses – Uber drivers can check their weekly stats and see if they are making money or losing it. This is usually because they didn’t control their expenses. Gas is the top expense as you’d expect. Find free parking, and turn off your car when you’re not on a trip. Don’t forget that everything you do can earn you a tip too. You can’t ask for a tip but it’s likely frowned upon with Uber since they want it to be cashless. I’ve seen people put up a glass jar and fill it up with $5 and some coins to encourage that tipping is welcome. Just like you see at the bars.
Watch out for Taxes – Remember that as Uber drivers are not employees, we are in charge of paying our own taxes and insurance. Remember to keep and take note of receipts like gas, phone rental payments, or commissions and fees deducted by Uber. Declare these as business expenses when you file your 1099-K.
1st Week – Figuring It Out Stage
Take note of places and times that surge pricing occurs.
Find free parking where you can wait instead of going around. It’s similar to the concept of when you got lost in the grocery store as a child. You were told to just stay put and your parents would find you. But instead of parents, you’re customers will find you. That's what I try to remind myself of. I'll also get out of my car and do a bit of exercise because my back isn't the greatest.
Keep your car clean and get into a habit of cleaning the dashboard often.
Be courteous to your passengers.
1st Month – Getting Into the Groove
You should have found the best schedule that will give you the most income.
You have taken control of your expenses.
You monitor and maintain a high star rating and high acceptance rate.
1st Year – Maintaining Your Business
A year into being an Uber independent contractor, you should be able to file your 1099-K with the necessary deductions and paperwork.
Always keep bumping up your level of service and truly think of it as your own business. That’s what Taxi drivers have done for years and if we are really going to change the world with Uber, then we need to adopt and pivot from those fundamentals of the Taxi industry.
So, Are You Ready To Be An Uber Driver?
Again, becoming an Uber driver really isn’t very hard but becoming a consistent driver can be. All it takes is passing all your requirements, choosing the service for your car, and passing the background check. Then stick to a schedule and you’ll start seeing some dependable money coming through. Uber is awesome and we should all be glad that something like this can exist for us now.
Don’t get too comfortable and keep driving smart in order to become a favored driver on the network. You’ll get more ride requests, work less, and earn more.
If you can do all that, then start today. Apply now and become an Uber driver!