I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t plan for this. This rideshare business literally fell into my lap. “Literally”. I used to drive for Uber Monday through Friday, but I would get requests from my riders to go outside of the app and pick them up from time to time. Mostly to take them to and from their 9 to 5 jobs. At first, I was hesitant because of my perception of Uber’s strict policy on soliciting riders for rides outside of the app.
Uber said that the riders are not their customers… Their drivers are.Julius Mapath
A news article about how Uber circumvented paying its drivers a minimum wage changed my mind.
In California, Uber told a court that the only customers Uber have are their drivers, not the riders that use the Uber app. Did Uber just say that the riders are not their customers? Yeah, riders are just the products that they provide to their customer base, the drivers.
I drove for Uber for over 2 years before I finally gave in to the temptation of taking on a customer outside of the app. Actually, a customer prodded me into it by dropping a business card on my lap and said, “Hey, you seem like an upstanding guy, can I pay you to drive me from Orlando to Tampa and back once a month, I have a business where I have monthly face to face meetings and I would love to give you the business of driving me there.”
My first inclination was to say no, but he told me that Uber charges his company $120 for the one-way ride, once he’s there, he may be stuck there for hours waiting for a freed-up Uber driver who is willing to drive him back to Orlando. During rush hour, Uber would charge him up to $200. He said, “Look, I have epilepsy and I can’t do the drive on my own. I’ll give you $300 if you can drive me there, wait for my meeting to end, then drive me back.”
I said yes so quickly that I didn’t give myself time to process what he was asking of me. Drive 2 hours to another city, wait possibly 2 hours for his meeting to finish, and then, drive him back another 2 hours. I did a quick calculation in my head. I will make $40 an hour even when I subtract the cost of gas to get to Tampa and back. I stuck with the “YES”.
Right after I said yes, my rider added, “Hopefully, you take credit cards because that’s the only way I can have my company approve the ride and reimburse me.” Luckily, I have other businesses that I run so I was able to take his card. 3 months later, he sold his business and he no longer needed me as his personal chauffeur for a day.
That was $300 for one day of driving I no longer was making and I sort of missed it. I wondered how could I make that kind of money on a regular basis making $40+ an hour driving.
Then, a few weeks later, came Marsha. I picked her up one morning and on the way to drop her off at her nursing job, she told me that the ride cost her $26. The Uber app informed me that it was paying me $12.85 for the ride. That’s less than half the amount! Immediately, I told her that I would pick her up in the morning and when her shift was over. I let her know that not only will I charge a little less but if she rode with me 4 days a week, the 5th day to work and back would be free. She enthusiastically accepted!
So, I charged her $24 each way Monday through Thursday. On Friday, the 5th day, I drove her to and from work for free. With time, I picked up 3 more riders ranging from $16 to $36 each way. All within my the range of my town. Two of them rode together. Everyone I accepted, worked with my route for passenger pick-ups and each one had to accept being picked up and dropped off Monday through Thursday at the least.
Because I only pick up a few riders in the morning and later on in the afternoon, I have several hours to myself in the middle of the day where I go to the gym, shop, visit friends, and watch over my other businesses. I also developed a website for my riders so they can confirm their rides, add any additional pick-ups and drop-offs or cancel. I also accept a few rides through my website that works like an app, but so far I’ve been keeping it pretty light. I can accept or deny anything that shows up as an available ride through my website/app and I can take credit/debit cards, Venmo and Cash App.
My accounting app takes care of my taxes. I pay an extra $15 a month for Rideshare insurance and I’m working on getting a TNC license to pick up clients “legally” from the airport with my town and state. Federal tax write-offs for a rideshare business are very generous. I can write off 59 cents a mile, which means my taxes are very low to run this rideshare business.
Buy me a coffee and I’ll personally keep you up to date on how this journey of running my own rideshare company is going.