2016 Survey Results: How Satisfied Are Uber Drivers Really?

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How satisfied are Uber drivers? This question seems to be floating around the web a lot lately and our team at TaxiFareFinder was curious to find some truthful answers! As it turns out, one of our good friends, Harry Campbell (The Rideshare Guy), was also curious to learn some answers about driver satisfaction and morale and created a survey for his network of drivers. After receiving 453 responses, his team put together a fascinating report depicting Uber drivers and how they really feel. Check out the findings below!

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Every year I send out a survey to all of my drivers here on RSG.  Honestly, I’m not a big fan of filling out surveys myself, but it is a great way to get feedback from my readers and confirm trends that I’ve been seeing in the on-demand economy.

So to everyone who filled out a 2016 survey, thank you!  We sent the survey to 10,234 e-mail subscribers and got 453 responses, which is awesome, and I’ll be sending out some RSG swag to 10 lucky winners.  Scroll down to the bottom to see if you were randomly selected. I’ll also be contacting you by e-mail.

This year’s survey had some really interesting results and I’m also getting better at asking interesting questions.  So if you’re a company or start-up interested in going over the results with me or one of my staff members, please e-mail me.

For everyone else, hope you enjoy!

2016 Survey Results: Getting Started With Driving

How long have you been a driver for?

According to Uber’s own numbers, half of all drivers quit after just one year.  I was surprised to see that only 17.4% of my audience has only been driving for 0-3 months, which tells me that although there are a lot of new drivers out there, they aren’t finding the online resources like my site, rideshare Facebook groups and forums.

This also speaks to the challenges of organizing drivers since there are so many new drivers who really only talk to Uber and don’t know how to get in contact with their fellow workers.

A little quick math: If Uber currently has 400,000 drivers and half are quitting after one year, that means they need to replace about 17,000 drivers each month (200,000 drivers/12 months).  And if they’re growing at a monthly rate of 10.6% (they announced 162,000 drivers on 1/22/15 and 400,000 drivers on 11/3/15 – active drivers are defined in both cases by having taken at least four trips in a single month), that means they need to hire 42,000 new drivers each month.

So in order to replace the drivers that are quitting AND sustain growth, Uber needs to hire about about 59,000 drivers in total every single month.  Wow!

Where did you first hear about driving:delivering?

If you’re wondering where Uber finds all of those new drivers, this chart gives a good glimpse into that.  I’ve talked before about Uber’s main marketing channels and although I’ve always known they pumped a lot of money into their referral program, I was surprised to see that so many people ‘heard from a friend’ about driving for Uber.

Not all of these word of mouth referrals are paid referrals, but it’s impressive to see just how important the network effect is when recruiting on the supply side.  Basically by having such a large passenger base, this also helps recruiting efforts.  This is also why a lot of the smaller to mid tier ‘Uber for X’ companies have such a hard time recruiting new drivers (and they don’t have as much $$ obviously).

If you’re curious about some of the ‘other’ responses you can view those here.  The only major category I missed was Facebook ads, which is basically the same type of paid marketing as Google Ads.

Who’s Driving For Uber And Why?

Which rideshare:delivery company do you PRIMARILY drive for?Which on-demand service do you PREFER to drive for? I’ve commented many times before that most drivers prefer driving for Lyft, but they get more rides and make more money with Uber.  I think these two charts prove that pretty clearly.  Even though an overwhelming majority of drivers are primarily working for Uber and thus making more money with Uber, an equal number of them prefer Lyft to Uber.

Lyft is often mentioned in the same breath as Uber, but outside of a few select cities like SF and Austin (where Lyft claims 40% and 45% market share respectively), they don’t offer much in the way of passenger demand.  Drivers in small to mid tier Lyft markets often wait 30 minutes+ for rides and ETAs can be as high as 20-30 minutes.

But Lyft has done a great job cultivating a special relationship with drivers.  I’m not saying they’re perfect (ahem $1,000 driver bonus snafu), but when their president e-mails drivers after fare cuts to explain why Lyft had to cut fares, that says something.

Lyft has always been on the forefront of driver friendly features, but there just hasn’t been enough demand to make it a viable main option for drivers.  Imagine how many more drivers would prefer Lyft over Uber if they actually made the same amount of money as they did driving for Uber!

Who’s Doing Most Of The Work?

How many hours per week do you work on average?

Uber has obviously been in the news a lot about its controversial tactic of treating drivers as independent contractors instead of employees.  In response to the current lawsuit they’re facing in California, even Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick has stated that Uber is best suited as a way “to fill in the gaps”, implying that employee status would not make sense for a bulk of their drivers.

Their recently released survey confirms that 50% of drivers are driving 10 hours a week or less on average.  Uber is clearly presenting driving as a secondary gig and some (Harris & Kreuger) have even called for a third class of worker since your average Uber driver doesn’t fit into the traditional employee/independent contractor boxes.  But the problem with these assessments is that they don’t take into account who’s actually doing a majority of the work.

Based off the numbers collected in our survey, we calculated that 50% of drivers are working 20 hours a week or less, but they only account for a total of 24% of the actual hours worked out on the road.  This is similar to the phenomenon we see with Airbnb ‘super hosts’ that bring in a majority of income for Airbnb with hotel style listings as opposed to private rooms or individual listings.

If you take the mid-point of hours worked (i.e. 5 hours for 0-10) for drivers in our survey and multiply it by the number of drivers you get a rough approximation of each group’s contribution to the total hours worked.

Hours Per Week # Of Drivers % Of Total
Drivers
% Of All
Hours Worked
0-10 85 19% 4%
11-20 139 31% 20%
21-30 107 24% 26%
31-40 57 13% 19%
40+ 65 14% 31%

You can see pretty clearly that a majority of the work is not being done by the 0-10 or even 10-20 hours per week crowd.

This poses several questions:

  • Which group of drivers (part-timers who make up a larger % of the workforce but do less of the work OR full-timers who make up a smaller % of the workforce but do most of the work) should be given more weight when it comes to policy discussion?
  • Should a third class of worker be created for a group of workers (0-20 hours per week) that only make up 24% of all hours worked on the platform?
  • If 30+hrs/week is considered full-time, that means half of Uber’s drivers could actually be more closely associated with employee designation than the independent contractor designation based off hours worked.

Another analysis performed on Uber’s data from January of 2015 came to a similar conclusion.

Why Do Drivers Drive?

What's the most important thing to you as an on demand worker?

Uber touts the flexibility of driving for Uber all the time and it’s actually one of the points that I’ve always agreed with them on.  I don’t think most people realize just how flexible being a driver is.  I can literally turn the app on right now and get a request within 10 minutes and be making money.

Companies like Active Hours (affiliate link) even allow you to cash out your Uber earnings the same day.  So you could go out and drive a full day whenever you want and have the money in your bank account by that night.  That’s pretty damn flexible!

Satisfaction With Driving

Overall, I am satisfied with my experience driving for UBER.

When Uber announced in December that their drivers were happier than ever, I was pretty skeptical.  It didn’t pass the smell test for two reasons.

  1. Drivers are now making less than ever because of fare cuts, so even if Uber replaced their entire workforce, how could drivers who now make less money be happier?
  2. Uber has actually gotten less flexible over the past year since they now institute policies like guaranteed hourly earnings which require drivers to work certain times and accept certain percentages of fares.  If drivers care so much about flexibility, wouldn’t less flexibility mean less happiness?

Uber’s survey actually found that 81% of polled drivers said they were satisfied with the overall experience of driving for Uber — up from 78% the previous year.  Uber polled an unknown number of drivers (and received 833 responses) from 24 of Uber’s largest markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City.

My survey was sent to 10,234 drivers and of the 453 driver responses, only 48.4% of drivers somewhat agreed or strongly agreed (my top markets also included Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City).  So I think my skepticism of Uber’s survey was valid.  I’d be curious to know exactly how Uber picked it’s sample size for this survey and what questions they asked (both of which were withheld from me at least).

 

About Harry Campbell, The RideShare Guy

Hello TFF Readers, my name is Harry Campbell and I run a blog for rideshare drivers called The Rideshare Guy and I also write about the on demand economy for Forbes.  I’ll be sharing articles from time to time on what’s going on in the world of rideshare and what you need to know as a passenger whether you enjoy taxis, rideshare or all of the above!

Top 5 Items Rideshare Drivers Should Have In Their Car

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Driving for ride-share companies like Uber, Lyft or one of the smaller services can be an excellent way to earn income, meet people, provide a needed service and allows you to be an independent boss. For the skilled, knowledgeable driver, there is no better side business. One common belief is that all you need as a ride-share driver is a reliable car and smartphone. However, the best drivers want to make their riders comfortable and plan for those “what if” scenarios. Consider having these five items in your car to make your driving experience as smooth as possible.

• A Cord Collection — Think about how important your smartphone is to you. Your riders likely feel the same way. Providing a way for passengers to charge (common) smartphones is key. An aux cord is another excellent investment. You can listen to music or directions through your phone. This is especially important in areas where there are not many great radio stations available. It is up to you to decide if you want to allow passengers to choose some of the music; just remember, listening to someone else’s music can get quite distracting, so don’t risk anyone’s safety.

Trunk Caddy — When you’re transporting passengers, you will likely be transporting a large amount of objects, too. Don’t allow your riders’ belongings to shift around in the trunk or the back of your SUV with no protection in place. A simple trunk caddy can keep your passengers’ luggage, bags or other belongings organized — and even provide space for your items, too. These come in many different styles and sizes; there is certain to be a design that will fit with your vehicle style — from a cargo net design to a complicated caddy with multiple compartments.

Vomit Bags or Can — This may seem silly, but if you do “bar runs” it’s a must-have! Vomit bags will help protect your vehicle just in case a passenger had a bit too much to drink. Even if you avoid picking up passengers who look like they may be trouble, it’s a good idea to be prepared — sometimes accidents happen when they are least expected.

• Water — Bottled water isn’t a must, but it is certainly a nice touch. Providing cold bottled water (just by using a cooler) is one of the best things you can do for passengers. Plus, you will have water handy to keep yourself hydrated during those long shifts, too.

Your Card — Depending on which service you drive for, this may be something you can order from the company or something you can print yourself. The idea is that you want your best passengers to return again and again! Be sure to keep a card handy — you want to be remembered. Some of the companies also offer referral cards for recruiting new drivers, which can allow you to gain an additional source of income.

If you want to get high ratings and succeed in a market that is becoming crowded in some areas, it is worth investing in these items and perhaps a few others — to help you stand out from other drivers. After all, you know you are an awesome driver, so why not show your passengers you are by providing the little details? One great thing about being a ride-share driver is that purchasing these items may be tax deductible (talk to your accountant for details, of course). With that in mind, these products could become quite affordable, as well as a great investment in your ride-share business.

 

Author Bio: Kimberly Quinones VP of Sales Midwest:

As Vice President of Sales in the Midwest, Kim oversees all aspects of our sales, service, and customer retention programs for Illinois Vehicle Auto Insurance.  Her market stretches from the far north, west and south suburbs of Chicago, to Indianapolis. Illinois Vehicle Auto Insurance does not cover rideshare drivers.

View from the Other Side: An Interview with a Rideshare Driver

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Many of us have experienced the rider-side of rideshare services like Lyft and Uber. The driver side is completely different though – their reasons and the process to become a driver as well as the passengers they interact with. We interviewed a current driver who works for both Uber and Lyft in Boston to hear about the other side. Check out the interview below.

How long have you been driving for rideshare services? And which ones do you drive for?

I have been driving for both Uber and Lyft since October 2014, close to a year now.

 Why did you decide to try driving for a rideshare services?

I have a full-time job, but wanted to make a little extra money during my downtime. A gig with Uber or Lyft seemed like an easy and convenient way to earn some extra money. Plus, I already used the services as a passenger, so I felt comfortable moving onto the driver side.

 How do you sign up to be a driver?

Uber: The process to become a driver for Uber is largely digitized and not too lengthy of a process. I uploaded all required personal documents online and the company conducted a background check. Final approval and permission to download the driver app, which is separate and different than the passenger app, took over one week. Overall, I felt this process was not as smooth as Lyft.

Lyft: On the other hand, the process to become a driver for Lyft was much more thorough.  More personal information and an in-person meet up with a Lyft “mentor” were required. A Lyft Mentor is a current Lyft driver who signs up to meet with you for an additional stipend from the company. Once all paperwork is approved and a background check is completed, a mentor reaches out via text message to schedule a meet up time and location. During this appointment, the mentor will take pictures of your car, walk you through using the Lyft app, and go for a practice ride with you. After this is successfully completed, I was approved to start driving for Lyft within 48 hours. Unlike Uber, the Lyft driver app is the same as the passenger app; you are given permissions to switch between the two.

How do you balance/manage working for both rideshare services?

Before starting my driving shift, I look over both apps to see if any surcharges or guarantees are available; this is based off of passenger demand. Uber uses surcharges to encourage drivers: surcharges multiply the fare price by a given amount so you can make more money with the same amount of rides. Lyft uses guarantees to encourage drivers: drivers are guaranteed to make $25 per hour (or another given amount) if you sign on and work for one hour.

I am more likely to choose to drive for Lyft because they implement the guarantee more often because this only affects the driver, rather than the passenger too. However, if there is no guarantee, I will choose Uber because there is normally a higher demand: more people using the app and requesting rides. This means more riders and more money.

Do you prefer driving for one service over another? If so, why?

I prefer driving for Lyft over Uber because of the clientele. The passengers I pick up for Lyft are generally more relaxed, conversational, and easier to get along with. Passengers I pick up with Uber seem to have a different mentality; many are rude, demanding, and less personable. They treat you like a chauffeur rather than a friend.

From a passenger perspective, do you prefer riding in Lyft or Uber?

I prefer to use Lyft as a passenger; it’s usually cheaper.

What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of this type of work?

Advantages: The big advantage for me is the flexibility and ability to work whenever I want. I can work all night or for an hour, any day of the week. I love that there are no cash transactions and everything is electronic. It takes the headache out of dealing with cash and change and all that.

Disadvantages: The wear and tear on my personal vehicle as well as the cost of gas are both disadvantages. Neither Uber nor Lyft reimburses you for vehicle maintenance or gas costs associated with providing rides.

What’s best ride you have given? Worst ride?

Best ride: While driving for Lyft, I started talking to a married couple I was bringing to downtown Boston. The man worked for a large banking corporation in the city. I told him I was interested in potentially working for that company full-time and we ended up exchanging professional information! He took my resume and helped get me an interview with the company. I love that: people helping people.

Worst ride: I was driving for Uber when I picked up a rowdy group. They kept putting in addresses to incorrect locations and changing destinations after I arrived. They picked up and dropped off multiple people without ever asking. Then after I finally dropped them off at what seemed like the final location, they made a scene and entered into the vehicle again for a final drop-off. It was a nightmare.

Do you think these types of companies are here for the long haul? (Take over taxi industry?) How do you see them evolving?

Yes, I see companies like Uber and Lyft here for the long run. They already have decent market share and continue to gain popularity. The taxi industry is not evolving with the new type of demand from riders; so many people complain about taxis to me while I am driving for Lyft and Uber. I think rideshare services will take over the taxi industry very soon.

I see rideshare services evolving into transportation services for more than people. They will utilize their services to offer more types of on-demand services, maybe more food delivery or even package delivery.

Do you feel this type of work should be more structured or regulated as certain state legislatures are trying to achieve?

I personally don’t think that this type of work should be more structured, but I do see the other side. As a part-time worker, I like that I can create my schedule and have so much flexibility. I think benefits and structured schedules may work for full-time workers, but not for someone like me. If they switched over the more regulated work hours I would quit, I need the flexibility.