Most of what we usually cover is about things you can do to maximise your income, reduce your tax and improve your driver ratings. But what should you NOT do as a driver?
#5 Illegal parking
Hopefully you don't live in a city where the mayor goes around crushing illegally parked cars under the wheels of a Russian armoured vehicle (and yes guys this is real). Almost every time I go out driving, I see Uber drivers stopping in the middle of the road. It’s illegal parking. You can’t stop in the middle of the road even with your flashers on. You’re putting yourself at risk of a ticket, or of having an accident that's 100% your fault. If you can’t get to your passenger, if there’s no parking spots, or if there’s just too much traffic, circle the block. Give the passenger a call or a text. Let them know that you can’t find parking in the immediate area, but guys, don’t stop in the middle of the road, and always park legally.
#4: Failing to understand the demand trends in your city
If you don’t know where a surge is, when a surge is, and what time to be out there, then you’re hurting your own earnings, or hurting your wallet, and you’re basically driving blind by not doing the research. Check the app, know those demand trends.
I spent a week jotting down my research in a notebook and it made a huge difference to my aim of driving smarter. For instance, I discovered that while business was very light before 7:00 am in my area, there were usually NO drivers. So I was the only game in town. I didn't even have to be in the car. I'd get ready, flick the app on and then settle down at the computer. As soon as the ping came in, I'd head down to the garage and start the day with a pickup. Which was quite often a nice airport run.
#3: Not having the right accessories
If you go out there and you just drive with your car as is, that’s fine, but you want the highest ratings, you want the most earnings, and you want to prevent any bad circumstances from happening in your car. Especially if you drive in those bar hours, you need to have sick bags, for one. If you are driving really in any market, you should probably have some kind of waterproof seat cover, or some WeatherTech seat liners on the bottom to keep the dirt and the mud and the water out of your car, especially if you have nice upholstery.
You may want to have a dash cam for security, or even just liability. If someone else hits you, it’s great to have documentation to send to Uber if you need to file a claim. Having the right accessories doesn’t mean you'll make tons more in earnings, but it will help to ensure that you have some equipment should a passenger need a sick bag.
A holder for your phone so you can glance at the map without taking your eyes off the road is also essential.
#2: Driving around looking for fares
I used to do this all the time, but it's a bad habit that I've now got out of.
You want to minimise your expenses, and your biggest out of pocket expense (not to be confused with your biggest tax deductible expense (see How Do Taxes Work for Rideshare Drivers?) is fuel. If you are driving around with the app online and you’re looking for fares, if you’re waiting for pings to come in on your phone, you can do that just parked. Why do you have to drive around and waste fuel? That doesn’t make any sense. That’s a big mistake. Just park, and you can park in high demand areas. You can park legally, near concert areas, football stadiums, bars, restaurants, really wherever. Make sure you park it legally and then sit there with the Uber partner app on and minimise your expenses.
There is one situation where you might want to move. Check the Uber rider app. If you're surrounded by other drivers, you might want to move to a clearer area, where you're more likely to pick up the next ride.
#1: Chasing surge
My number one biggest mistake for Uber drivers is chasing surge. If you’ve watched some other videos on YouTube, you’ve seen some other commentators talking about not chasing surge. There’s good reason for that, guys.
You don’t want to chase it because if it’s more than three to five minutes away, chances are that other drivers will beat you to that spot and take the rides that passengers need, and by the time you get there, the surge will be gone. Ironically, the area that you just came from may start surging because you and other drivers left it. Three to five minutes away is usually ok. It’s doable. It’s pretty close by. If you have to drive more than five minutes, don’t chase the surge. You’re hurting yourself. You’re driving further and burning fuel.
Let us know if you know of any other mistakes or have any other tips for Uber drivers.