Want To Be A Lyft Driver?

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Lyft Driver Tells All

by Bill Flitter

Lyft driver Adam Avilés shares his first hand experiences, anxieties and tips for success of being a rideshare driver. 

I’ve been driving on and off with Lyft for the last three years. I’m a music producer/DJ from San Francisco and I run a recording studio in the Mission District. When my business partner and I decided to embark on a pretty substantial remodel at our recording studio/events space, I started looking for a solid side hustle to help me get over the hump until we reopened our doors. This is my story…

Lyft Driver - what's it's really like

What It’s Really Like To Be A Lyft Driver

At the time (Summer 2014), just like any other 20-something: I took Uber everywhere—to parties, to gigs, to hang out with friends, when I knew parking was going to be an issue, etc A buddy of mine, a Lyft driver for a few months told me about a referral bonus they were offering ($500 each at the time) and asked if I was interested.

He gave me a brief run down and told me he averaged around $15-30 per hour depending on the time and location. I was all about it! In my head, a quick 30 rides and and not only would I get a $500$ referral bonus, but an additional $500 New Driver bonus plus whatever else I’d make giving actual rides. I had just bought a 2012 Lexus CT 200h a few months earlier, and being a Lyft driver seemed like the perfect little side hustle.

Over the next couple of days, I got all of my paperwork together, signed up, got my car inspected, and hit the road. The first few rides were a little awkward. Between figuring out my favorite map app on the go (Waze), getting used to switching between the Lyft app, the map app, and getting the general work flow down It took about seven or eight rides over a two day period before I started feeling comfortable.

You Never Know When Opportunity "Honks"

After ride number 10 I started feeling pretty smooth with the whole process. I knew what I was doing more or less and could now start interacting more with my passengers. I started figuring out how to use the Heat Maps to my advantage and began anticipating what areas to head towards and what areas to stay away from.

On my third day driving, I decided to really engage in the process instead of just passively waiting to clock out. I decided to keep a playlist of beats that I’d produced to play on repeat for the duration of my shift and see if anything would come of it. Sure enough, after about four rides, I picked up a group of passengers from downtown SF who were on their way to a lunch meeting.

From their conversation I figured out that one of my riders was the music/media supervisor for a large gaming company and that was having trouble finding music that fit one of the larger titles that they were working on.

As their conversation was dying down, I noticed the music supervisor nodding her head to one of my beats, so I introduced myself. We hit it off immediately.

She gave me her business card and asked me to send a reel of open production. As soon as I dropped them off, I pulled over and put together a Dropbox folder for her and sent it over with a nice thank you message.

 On my third day driving, I decided to really engage in the process instead of just passively waiting to clock out.

The First 30 Days

My first 30 rides went by pretty quickly. Unfortunately the remodel of my recording studio did not go by as fast.

In fact, midway throughout the process we ended up adding a second studio and lounge area to our original plan, which put us way over our original budget and projected end date. So, what started out as a convenient, temporary side hustle turned into a primary source of income over the next couple of years for me.

During that time, I picked up a few ways to make the most of my time behind the wheel.

5 Things I Learned

Set Goals

Dealing with large numbers can make goals feel further away or less tangible. So… break them down into smaller more attainable milestones. Set specific goals – money/ time/ ride count – for example, “today I will stop driving once i’ve made 150$” or “once i’ve driven for five hours,” or “ I’m done for today once I’ve given 15 rides.”

Engage Your Customers - When Appropriate

Engage in meaningful conversations. You never know who you have in your car. Don’t be shy about striking up conversations with people that seem like they want to talk. I’ve noticed it’s about 50/50 between passengers that come in with headphones on and just want to be left alone, and passengers that are looking to engage in some type of interaction. If you notice that somebody seems like they want to talk, facilitate this by asking engaging questions. In general people love talking about themselves – give them the alleyoop and ask simple guiding questions like “what do you do?” Or “what’d you think of ____?” I’ve had some really interesting conversations this way and actually have learned a lot, and picked up a bunch of business cards of potential new clients.

Maximize Your Time

Pick up new skills or engage in background activities that will benefit your passions or main endeavors. — Listen to podcasts or tutorials and pick up new skills during your time on the road. As a dj, I’m constantly listening to new music. Driving is the perfect time for me to check out all of the releases I wouldn’t otherwise have the time to check out and make mental notes of what I want to use for my mixes.

Take Care of Your Stuff

Make sure you’re on top of all of your maintenance – oil changes, brakes, wiper fluid etc. And keep a clean car. For me, i’ll go get a full car wash every other week, and do touch ups myself in between.

Take Breaks

Do what you need to do to make sure you’re on point when you’re on the road. Take bathroom breaks every couple of hours. Grab a snack every few hours. Get up and walk around/ stretch every hour.

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Over to You

What has your experience been as a Lyft driver or passenger? We would love to hear your stories about passengers you picked up or drivers you road with.