lyft, RideShare, uber

Tips for veteran rideshare drivers

Are you a veteran Uber and Lyft driver? If so, have you been letting your game slip?

Rideshare drivers, like all other workers, have a tendency to get lax after they’ve been in the same job for some time. At first the job is all new and fun, but over time the newness wears off as the grind sets in.

At first, drivers are full of energy and enthusiasm and determined to be the best driver there ever was. They keep their cars spotless, they’re kind and polite to every passenger, they load up on water and snacks for their passengers, and they may even open the door for riders.

But over time, once drivers have been taken advantage of a few times or become aware of how unfairly they can be treated by Uber and Lyft, the desire to do a great job tends to fade away. Plus, there are the little mistakes we start to make as laziness kicks in and we get lax about certain things.

If you’re going to drive, though, you may as well do things right, as the things you become lax about will probably end up costing you a lot of money. If you’re going to do the job you may as well do it well even though you know you won’t always be fairly treated or compensated for your efforts. But over time, you’ll be treated better and compensated better if you continue to do the same sterling job you did when you first began.

Top 7 things veteran rideshare drivers should think about

  • Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can cause untold numbers of problems. Just some of the problems that can affect your earning ability are clumsiness, lack of motivation and forgetfulness. If you lose your motivation, you’re not going to get out there as much.

    If you’re clumsy and/or forgetful you’re going to miss those turns, leading to lower ratings and smaller tips. Lack of sleep also causes you to have slower response times, which can lead to accidents.

  • Have a schedule: Veteran drivers really need a schedule because they’ve done the job long enough to be a little weary of it. Without a schedule, suddenly every little thing becomes the perfect excuse not to go drive today. If you’re not driving, you’re not earning. Make a schedule and stick to it. It will provide the discipline you need to get out there and work. Even when you have a hundred better things to do.
  • Set specific goals: This is key. You have to have goals to know what you’re shooting for. If you don’t have goals you’ll go out to drive, earn $50, decide that’s enough for the day and you’ll head home. But if you had a goal of, say, earning $150 a day, then you’ll have a reason to stay out even when you don’t feel like it. In this scenario you would have earned three times as much if you had set a $150 goal and stuck to it.
  • Have rideshare insurance: A lot of veteran rideshare drivers haven’t kept up with the ever-changing insurance requirements since they started and don’t realize how much things have changed over the last few years. A few years ago, there was no such thing as rideshare insurance.

    But today there is, and it’s required if drivers expect to be paid for damages to their vehicles and their person in the event of an accident. Most drivers don’t have this insurance, often because many are simply not aware that they need it.

    If you don’t have a rideshare addendum on your personal auto insurance policy, you will not have comprehensive protection for your car or personal injury protection for yourself. If you’re in an accident and need to access Uber or Lyft’s policies for liability coverage, you’ll have to first file a claim with your own insurance company.

    If you don’t have the extra required rideshare insurance, they will promptly deny your claim and cancel your policy.

    This additional insurance is a must, and it is now widely available nationwide. A few years ago, it was unheard of and it wasn’t offered by any major auto insurance carriers. Today, most carriers do offer it, and they require it if you are to be covered while you’re using your vehicle for commercial purposes, such as rideshare driving.

  • Take an Uber trip once a month: This advice may sound strange, but it’s really important for veteran drivers to use Uber every now and then just to remember how it works from the passenger’s point of view. Two things will happen if you do this that will help you.

    One, you’ll get to see things from the rider’s point of view. When you take an Uber you may get a driver who does things the same way you do — but as a rider you might suddenly realize something he does is really annoying. That’ll be a good way for you to see things you should stop doing yourself. Believe me, your ratings and your tips will improve.

    The other reason it’s good to use the services yourself from time to time is it keeps you familiar with how the passenger apps work. This will help you understand why a passenger might have been frustrated when they got in your car, and it will help you be better able to answer rider questions that they might have about the apps. If you can answer their questions, it improves their satisfaction with your service and will lead to better ratings and better tips.

  • Take breaks and get exercise: Ridester recommends drivers should get out of their cars every couple of hours and just walk for a bit. Sitting in your car all day, or night, is not good for your health.

    We need to be up and moving around. But we understand when you get busy and you’re struggling just to make ends meet you don’t want to waste any time off the road. But you have to do this for your health.

    Just get out every two hours at a minimum and spend at least 15 minutes walking around. It’ll do your body a world of good.

  • Respect your passengers: I know by now, as a veteran driver, you’ve had plenty of terrible passengers who have left a bad taste in your mouth. You can’t let these negative experiences affect the way you treat each new passenger.

    Believe me, this will help your ratings and earnings more than anything else. Treat each new passenger as if they were your first. Remember your first passenger? If you don’t remember them specifically, you probably do remember how well you treated them. Well, treat the 10,000th the same way. Remember, they’re paying you to take them somewhere.

    So even if they ask you to go a different way than your GPS is directing you — and you know it’ll take longer — just go that way. That’s the way they want to go, and the longer you have them in your vehicle the more you’ll make.

Rookie mistakes

Each veteran driver makes newbie mistakes. We get careless, we get tired, we get lax. Remember to always keep your brain engaged and don’t operate on automatic pilot.

Don’t forget the fundamentals that you once knew, like not chasing the surge and not keeping your car in motion when you’re in between trips. And don’t forget or skip the basics like keeping your car clean and having bottled water available for passengers. It costs next to nothing because very few passengers will ever take a bottle, but it creates goodwill between you and the passengers and will help improve your tips and ratings.

It’s easy to feel tired and beaten down by this job after a few years and lose your motivation, but as long as you’re doing it, you may as well stay great at it so you can earn top dollar.

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lyft, RideShare, ridesharing, uber

Earn more as an Uber or Lyft driver

Uber and Lyft have drastically lowered the rates they pay drivers per mile and per minute over the last several years. What drivers earn nationwide today is less than half what they were paid per mile and per minute just three to four years ago. Because of this it is essential that drivers work as efficiently and as smartly as possible.

The basics

It should go without saying that drivers need to meet certain basic standards, such as car cleanliness, having a polite attitude, being good with people and knowing when and where to drive. We’ll go beyond those basics to some more advanced tips for earning more money as a rideshare driver.

The two biggest areas to focus on when it comes to maximizing your rideshare income are increasing your tips and staying busy. Obviously, the better tips you make, the more you’ll earn, and the more minutes you have a rider in your car each hour, likewise, the more you’ll earn.

So those are the two main things you want to focus on: getting those bigger tips and having passengers in your car for as many minutes per hour as possible.

Get bigger tips

One of the most obvious ways to earn more as a rideshare driver is learning how to increase your tips. To do this you will want to look at two different aspects of tipping. You will want to work to increase the number of passengers who leave you a tip, and you will want to work to increase the amount of tip each passenger leaves.

The key to getting better tips is by going above and beyond the kind of service you know most other drivers in your city are offering to their passengers. However, it also means being genuine. In other words, don’t go so far above and beyond that people view you as being fake or just doing it to get a better tip. The minute they sense any disingenuousness, is the minute you lose them. Any bigger tip they may have been thinking about leaving you up until that point will evaporate if they sense you are being fake in any way.

So, the key is going above and beyond in the service you offer but doing so in a sincere and genuine manner. It should come off as natural to your personality.

Uber and Lyft recommend doing a lot of things that most rideshare drivers report don’t really make any difference. If you want optimum tips, they suggest doing things like jumping out of the car and opening the doors for your passengers. And jumping out upon arrival at your destination and opening their doors again.

However, many passengers perceive this as fake and as drivers who are just trying a little bit too hard to get a better tip. Most drivers say they haven’t really noticed much difference in the tips they get when they do this and the tips they get when they don’t.

Uber and Lyft also recommend that drivers keep snacks and water on board for their passengers to use. However, most drivers will tell you that 99.9% of their riders never take a water, and 99% of the riders who take snacks leave crumbs all over their cars! While most passengers won’t take a water, that’s not to say they won’t appreciate you having it there.

So, we recommend having bottled water on board for your passengers. It’s a very inexpensive way to show you’re trying a little harder, without seeming to go overboard. It’s inexpensive because two twenty-cent bottles of water will last you for dozens of passengers and they will likely play a role in your earning a few extra bucks in tips. All in all, we consider water a good investment, but snacks are too messy and therefore too much trouble to bother with. Plus, snacks really get close to the “you’re trying too hard” line.

Help them with their bags

Another easy way to increase the number of passengers who leave you a tip as well as increase the amounts they leave you is to help them with their bags if they’re carrying any luggage. When you pick up riders going to or from the airport, they’ll likely have luggage that needs to be stowed in your trunk. We hear often from rideshare drivers who tell us they’re not about to lift a finger to help their passengers out in this situation. They say they’re not going to get out of their car, they’re not going to lift their luggage and they’re not going to put it in the trunk. They say passengers are paying so little already that they can lift their own darn baggage!

We also hear from passengers that one of their chief complaints is about drivers who won’t help them with their baggage when they’re traveling, so this is an obvious and easy way to increase tips. Not only is it a nice thing to do for passengers, but it’s also something experienced passengers will recognize that not all drivers do, so they’ll be impressed and appreciate it even more when you do.

Don’t follow the crowd

In any city, there are well-known hot spots where drivers know they can get a quick trip. However, you’re just as likely to make the same or better money in spots that are less busy or less well-known. That’s because so many drivers show up in the hot spots that no one driver may stay particularly busy. Often not enough drivers show up in the less popular, less-well-known areas, so even though there may not be as many passengers in these areas, the one or two drivers who are there will likely keep pretty busy.

Game the surge

Today, with Uber and Lyft’s pay rates so low, it’s impossible to make decent money unless you focus mainly on times and areas that offer boosts, bonuses and surges. In fact, some of the best-paid drivers only drive during these times and will only take fares that will provide them with incentivized pay that are higher than the normal rates.

This inside secret to maximizing surges is something many drivers have been doing for a long time, but you probably haven’t heard of it unless another driver told you.

This is about gaming the surge.

Let’s say you live in a city where the bars all close at 2:00 a.m. You and every other driver know that sometime right after 2:00 there is going to be a huge rush of customers leaving the bars looking for a car at the same time. If there are enough cars online to accommodate the demand, then there will be no surge. However, if there aren’t enough cars online, then a surge multiplier will kick in and continually increase until the demand is met.

Here’s the little secret a lot of drivers use. At a time like this, log out of the driver app and stay offline until you see the big crowd coming out of the bars. Once you see the crowd, wait another couple of minutes and watch the surge zone on your driver app. When it gets relatively high, go back online and snag a rider who will be on a higher surge fare.

Uber and Lyft will tell you this is strictly against their rules. And, of course, they’d like it to be and they’d like to be able to force you to obey their rules. However, they have declared you to be an independent contractor rather than an employee, and as an independent contractor they have no power, ability or authority to force you to obey these types of rules. You are completely free to go online and offline whenever you please. If they try to stop drivers, it will put their independent-contractor business model in jeopardy by exercising the kind of control over how you perform your work that companies are only allowed to exercise over full employees.

Know where other drivers are

Uber and Lyft won’t show drivers where other drivers are. They really should. You would think that they would want drivers to see each other and spread out a bit when there are too many in one area, but since they only pay drivers when they have a rider in the car, they really don’t care how long they sit empty and earn nothing. For them, the more drivers they have in any one area the better – even if 90% of them are sitting idle.

However, there is a way you can see other drivers near you: by logging into the passenger app. The main annoyance with the passenger app, though, is that it only shows the eight closest cars to you. There could be 25 cars right around you, but you’ll only see a maximum of eight at any one time. You can move the map slightly and it will show you more cars farther away. You’ll likely never get a full picture of exactly how many other drivers are nearby but at least you’ll get some idea.

By using the passenger app, you should be able to spot opportunities in busy areas when you see a spot that has fewer drivers. Just head there and increase your chances of picking up a fare.

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LeBron James, lyft

LeBron James and Lyft partner up to launch bike initiative

Beyond his universe-beating basketball talent, LeBron James is associated with an innumerable number of things and interests. He’s a Hummer representative (old and new), an actor, a media entrepreneur, a controversial taco enthusiast, and generally one of the greatest role models the sports world has ever had. He’s also a bicycle nut (as Miami Heat fans know), and he believes manual two-wheelers can make a major positive impact on society. Not everybody has access to one, however, a problem he hopes to address as part of a new initiative called LyftUp.

In partnership with James, his company Uninterrupted, and the YMCA, transportation company Lyft is aiming to provide free bicycle access to select teenagers. The ultimate goal is to ensure transportation for everybody, but one thing at a time. Lyft says it already offers discounts to people in low-income areas, which make up more than 40% of Lyft rides, and this is the next step in lowering the barrier of entry to mobility. The LyftUp initiative covers bike access, as well as aiding the less fortunate with job, grocery, and voting access, as well.

So where does the YMCA come in? Lyft is working with the Y to help identify certain 16-20-year-olds who need the help the most. Thousands of kids and young adults will be given free one-year bikeshare memberships that can be used with any Lyft-associated bike programs. Lyft will use a variety of methods to raise funds for the free memberships, but the public will also be able to round-up their own rides and donate to the cause.

The first pilot test of the program will launch in New York City in the spring of 2020 with Citi Bikes. If all goes well, the program will launch with Chicago’s Divvy bikes and the Bay Area’s Bay Wheels. For more information on the program and how to help, visit Lyft.

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lyft, Taxes, uber

Tax information for Uber and Lyft drivers

For rideshare drivers, tax time used to be a time of trepidation and fear as they realized no one had stashed away money for them, with each paycheck, to pay for the inevitable tax bill. However, two factors have combined that should take away most of the stress from drivers when it comes to taxes.

In the past, independent contractors were not only responsible for putting away enough money to pay their taxes, but on certain taxes they had to pay double what their employed counterparts paid. But a lot of things have changed in recent years for independent-contractor rideshare drivers and taxes.

Why many rideshare drivers won’t pay any tax

Two factors have come together at just about the same time that have taken most of the anxiety out of tax time for rideshare drivers. The two factors are:

  • The 2017 tax law changes that became effective in 2018
  • Much lower pay for rideshare drivers

In 2017, Congress passed a new tax law that gave favorable treatment to independent contractors and small business owners. It effectively doubled the amount of the standard deduction for single filers to $12,000, and $24,000 for married couples who file jointly.

But wait, there’s more! The new tax law also gives independent contractors a 20% deduction on “pass-through” income. As Uber and Lyft drivers, we technically own our own businesses. And if you own a business, you may qualify as having “pass-through” income.

Pass-through income is income which comes to an individual through a small business they own. That small business can be a sole proprietorship, a partnership or an S Corporation.

A sole proprietorship is usually a small business that is owned by a single individual. Owners of sole proprietorships report their business income on Schedule C of the 1040 tax form. Uber and Lyft drivers who have not setup either a partnership or an S Corporation automatically fall into this category. Most rideshare drivers are in this category.

When you receive income through a sole proprietorship, it’s the income paid to you by companies you have worked for as an independent contractor. So, all income from Uber and Lyft is included in this and subject to the 20% pass-through deduction. That means if you earn a $10,000 profit, you would deduct 20% from that and only pay taxes on $8,000.

The other factor lowering the tax bill for many drivers is the lower pay they receive now than they did a few years ago. Now, it’s entirely possible that the expenses of driving will not only wipe out any taxes drivers may have owed, but they may also create a tax deduction that can be applied against other income drivers might have.

Rideshare can offer a great tax write-off

Many drivers have income from multiple sources, and if they can establish a net loss from one source that loss can be applied against income from other sources. While there are many different things drivers can write off, that’s not what we’re talking about today.

Just as a quick example, let’s say that a driver earns $10,000 in gross income driving for Uber and Lyft. And let’s say this same driver earns another $10,000 in net income (after expenses) from other sources.

But, assume this driver was able to deduct $15,000 from his driving income as driving expenses. This would leave him with a $5,000 loss. And that loss can be applied to and deducted from his $10,000 in net income from other sources. So, instead of paying taxes on $20,000 of income, he’ll only pay taxes on $5,000 in income. And if his income from other sources was also 1099 income, then he’ll get a 20% reduction on that and end up paying taxes on just $4,000 of income.

The IRS’s standard mileage deduction is golden

There is one tax deduction available to rideshare drivers that could wipe out almost all taxable income for many drivers. The tax deduction is the standard mileage deduction the IRS allows drivers to take off their income for any business or commercial driving they do. For 2019, the IRS allowed a rather generous $0.58 per mile deduction for all business miles driven. For 2020, the rate is $0.575 per mile.

This amount adds up fast for rideshare drivers, who can easily drive 1,000 miles in less than a couple of weeks. For every 1,000 rideshare miles driven in 2018, drivers will get a deduction from the income of $580.

For every mile you drive for Uber or Lyft, you can deduct $0.58 from your gross income, thus lowering the amount you’ll owe the IRS.

In fact, in many markets across the United States, it’s more than drivers make per mile when they have a passenger in the car. They are always operating at a “loss” from a tax standpoint — which is great! It means that thanks to rideshare driving, many drivers may not have to pay any taxes at all, even if they have income from other sources. If you’re in a market where you don’t even make $0.58 a mile, you’re going to have a rather large tax write-off at the end of the year.

The best part is that you can claim this deduction not only for the miles you drive when you have a passenger in your car, but for all the miles you drive in your rideshare work. That includes the miles you drive between trips while you’re waiting for a ping. It also means miles you drive empty while you’re on your way to pick a passenger up. Basically, whenever you’re logged into the drive app, you can count every mile you drive toward the deduction.

By the way, the IRS comes up with this $0.58 per mile deduction figure by doing in-depth studies on how much it actually costs to own and operate a four-door, five-passenger sedan. That’s the average they estimate that it costs per mile for vehicles driven in the United States. They include every possible driving-related expense in that figure, down to depreciation. Remember, it’s in the IRS’s interest to keep that figure as low as possible and you can bet that they’ve done just that. So while it may sound high to you, it’s about the most reliable realistic number we have.

The key in all of this is keeping track of your business miles and keeping them separate from your personal miles. The best way to do this is with a mileage tracking app. There are many on the market, and most are free. Just check in your app store by searching on “mileage tracker.” The IRS can get pretty picky about requiring detailed records when you claim expenses like this. So a mileage tracking app that keeps up with all of this for you is essential.

If you think your cost per mile is much less than that $0.58, think again. It’s probably a lot closer to it than you may realize. Although you won’t feel the greatest part of those costs until either you need to have an expensive repair done, you’re involved in an accident or when it comes time to sell your car. But these expenses will catch up with most drivers eventually.

In 2020, taxes will not be the biggest problem for rideshare drivers

Thanks to low pay and the recent tax law changes, taxes will probably not be the worst of your problems this year as a rideshare driver. Low pay will more than likely be the bigger problem. The big question you’ll have to answer is whether or not you are really making anything after expenses.

But the upside to low pay is low taxes. If you’re in a situation where you need to lower your tax load, or if you need a write-off to apply to income from other sources, rideshare driving might be the best way to go in 2020.

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