8 things to consider before signing up to drive for Uber
Uber driving can be a lucrative side gig, but it’s not as simple as slapping a sticker on your front and rear windows, logging on and watching the cash roll in to your account.
There are many expenses, regulations and let’s face it, annoyances, that come with the driver side of the world’s most popular rideshare app. And if you don’t keep these in mind, it won’t matter how many hours you put in behind the wheel for Uber. The numbers simply won’t add up. Here are eight things to consider before signing up to drive for Uber.
- You’ll have to track your expenses
If you don’t have at least one eye on the amount of money you’re spending on things like fuel, cleaning, insurance and maintenance, you’re never going to make a lot of money driving for Uber. Hold onto your receipts and keep a monthly tally of the costs you’re facing to keep your vehicle on the road. This will help you figure out if you’re actually making any money with Uber, plus it’s handy to have a record of these things for tax time.
- You don’t need to go crazy with snacks
Uber encourages drivers to provide drivers snacks, water and chewing gum, but sometimes having these in your vehicle can be more trouble than they’re worth. Most passengers won’t take them and the ones that do might leave crumbs and wrappers on your back seat. Instead, focus on variables like your driving and the cleanliness of your car.
- You will have to know your area well
Profitable Uber driving is all about being in the right place at the right time. So many Uber drivers waste time and money chasing surge pricing on the other side of the city, and by the time they arrive it’s already too late. Know your area well, and make sure you’re in the busy part of town just as it’s becoming busy. That way if the surge pricing does tick over, you’ll be the first vehicle on the ground.
- You will find some people just don’t want to chat
If you want to keep a decent Uber driver rating, you have to be friendly and courteous. But that doesn’t mean you have to talk their ear off. Many riders simply aren’t in a mood to talk, and if the conversation isn’t flowing the worst thing you can do is force the issue.
- But you will realise there are things you should ask every rider
Everyone’s got an Uber horror story, and often the cause of this is communication. As a driver, it’s your job to make sure you’re taking the right person to the right place. When your rider gets in the vehicle, confirm the destination and ask if they’re fine with you following the GPS, or if they have an alternate route they’d like you to take.
- You will have to be on top of your tax
There’s no two ways about it—if you want to make money with Uber you have to be aware of your tax requirements. This includes paying GST as an Uber contractor and your general income tax requirements. If piles of receipts make you break out into a cold sweat, it might be worth looking at the services of a tax agent.
- You will spend a lot of time cleaning your car
Uber drivers live and die by their rating, and the quickest way to go from 5 stars to the dreaded 4.6 is a messy car. Keep your car neat and tidy and your passengers won’t have any reason to complain, even if you’re not driving the fanciest vehicle.
- You might find it hard to strike a good work/life balance
To make the most money with Uber you have to be on the road when demand is at its highest, which often means driving at the most sociable hours. If you’ve already got a full time job or are juggling a couple of side gigs this is an important thing to consider.
Ben Squires is a freelance writer based in Sydney interested in all things travel, finance and comedy.