Hey there drivers, I recently added an expanded statistics function to my blog and was very interested to learn that the number one article of interest on my blog was something I wrote almost a year ago. It’s an article entitled So You Want To Drive For Uber Black?
The problem is, even if you go ahead and get a late model luxury vehicle, chances are pretty good that your local Uber Black / SUV market is closed to new entrants, and it’s going to be pretty hard to get in anytime soon. There are ways to do it, but they are tough.
So where does that leave you? Well, if you have gone ahead and made the investment in a nicer vehicle, I’m going to assume you are on Uber Plus, Select or Deluxe, or whatever they are calling it in your local area. You get some calls off that, but you are probably still getting X calls, too, and are just not making as much as you want on a per average ride basis.
So what do you do? Well, there is plenty you can do. Let me start out by saying that what Uber did is what any good opportunist does…. It identified a gap, it invented software, and then it gave the software away to contractors who would be really happy to fill the gap and pay Uber a commission for the privilege. Love them or hate them, you have to admit that what Uber has done is just short of genius. But it’s hardly revolutionary. It’s good old fashion innovation mixed with opportunity identification plus some elbow grease. A lot of elbow grease. I think Travis and his friends have a really good work ethic, they are motivated by success and they like competing - and winning.
They obviously like making money, as well. So, what does all that have to do with you, you might ask?
Well, anytime you are seeking to be a success in anything, there are multiple approaches. You can feel your way through, try to reinvent the wheel, do a lot of trial and error, and hope it all works out.
Or, and this is my favorite way, you find a bona fide example of success in your own neighborhood and you emulate it. You train, and learn, you do analysis, you talk to experts, you tap your own passion for excellence, if you have that, and you work hard to figure out what this thing called success looks, tastes, feels and smells like. In short, you go for it.
Ok, so you think you’d like to make money like the pros, a couple of grand a week on a consistent basis. Well, what does that look like? To me, it looks like someone who knows how to present themselves and their vehicles to professionals, well bred and well heeled people who are interested in having a user experience that is a cut above. They don’t mind paying more for that.
In other words, your ride fires on all cylinders. Also, the ride you just gave was planned out, to a certain degree. It didn’t just happen all by itself. You advertised it.
So, in other words, if you don’t want to sit passively by and depend solely on ride share income, you are going to have to step up your private label game. Please don’t get me wrong. These rideshare companies are critically vital to your success. They fill the gaps between the jobs that you book through your own efforts and that you earn the full fare.
Yes, you are going to have to go TCP, or get For-HIre plates and commercial insurance.
But that’s expensive, you say. But what you don’t realize is that once you have that, well, you are going to be charging more, as well. Much more.
As you wait for Uber Black to open up again, there are many other opportunities aside from Uber X, Lyft and SideCar to keep you busy.
I’ll fit these other things into 3 or 4 buckets:
Let me note that the above mentioned techniques cost little if anything in terms of money - mainly they involve your time, and that time can be doled out in small increments. An hour here, an hour there. 3 Hours this week, 2 hours the next, etc, etc. I’ll go over a few from each Bucket here:
Online Marketing Efforts.
You can set up a page with Yelp, a Google listing, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a Tumbler account. You can do all of these for free. That’s right, won’t cost you a red cent. You can register with any number of black car sites that send work your way, once you pass muster with their qualifications. Do a web search. There are several.
Some notable ones are limo zip, airport service.com and limo anywhere.
My neighborhood also has a yahoo group with a couple of hundred families subscribing. I periodically run a blurb in it, or a special. I get a lot of response from that. Once you really get into it, you will start to find all kind of places to establish your car service business’s name out there. Most of them are totally free.
Other Black Car / Car Service Apps.
This is a relatively new area, but Uber Black and SUV can expect to see quite a lot of competition going forward. Most of these apps are new and don’t have anywhere near the following of the Uber and Lyft apps, but you should still set up accounts with all of them and keep them running in the background while you go about your day. Many of them have future bookings features, which helps with planning ahead. A few are: Blacklane, LimoFly and Crown Car. Don’t forget to check out Coach Call and Blink Car.
Your Own Web Site
You need your own site if you are going to be in business. This is where you really get to shine, and let your local market know that you are here. Set one up for free at Wix, Wordpress or Weebly. Hmm, why do they all start with a W? Really don’t know…. Must be a conspiracy! My site is at www.smartripservices.com It’s easy (and free) to set up a site with a few pages. You can play with it and tweak it over time. A good site will walk you through setting up your pages. Give it a try. This is a great source of business.
You can make personal connections in at least a couple of ways: You can make them with professional folks in the travel or hospitality field, these are spheres of influence. These are people that complement what you do. They are travel agents, tour guides, the concierge at your local hotel. Another very important networking idea is to talk to established black car companies. This could be at the Limo Lot at the airport, in front of the hotel, or in their offices, if you choose to be that bold. You can also send emails and call. The point is, other limo companies are always farming out business that they can't handle. Some charge a commission, the smaller ones don't. They all have emergencies from time to time and need good, dependable people they can call in a pinch. Get into their smart phones, and be that guy that saves the day.
Then there's just folks. Everybody flies, you know. You can personally connect with neighbors across the fence, with the grocer, the baker, your neighbor down the street - anyone, really. You talk to a lot of people every day, don’t you? Do they all know what you do? Do they all know that you do airport runs, tours of the city or of the wine country, nights out and parties. If they don’t know, they should.
Looking at all 4 avenues (beyond the big 3 apps), Online Marketing, Other Black Car Apps, Building Your Own Site, and Personal Connections, one thing should be very clear. No one bucket is going to overwhelm you with work. But taken together, they can begin to become a very, very nice compliment to what you are already doing with Uber, Lyft and Side Car. The big 3 apps have given you the experience you needed to take this to the next level. They also provide daily bread and butter to keep you going.
You should be thanking them and staying in good standing with all of them. And then building on that with private label business, your own business, which pays much, much more.
Have cards made for free or for cheap (www.vistaprint.com) and make sure you hand the out periodically.
In concluding, let me suggest one more thing. Create a super positive attitude that you can share with riders, prospects, colleagues, everyone. Because when you are going PRO, attitude is everything. Everything will go wrong, at least some of the time. The way you plow ahead and look to the good times is the true mark of a master.
A word on payments: Cash is king, but make sure you take cards. Open an account with Square, or get one from Paypal. The card reader plugs right in to your cell phone. These companies takes about 2.7 % for the favor of running the charge. But I think that if you are going to be in business for yourself, you have to be able to accept credit cards. Just my opinion, like everything else you just read!!
Drive safe, of course, and make sure that you don’t do dumb, careless stuff out there. Don’t drive and read emails at the same time. Don’t text, either. It only takes 4 seconds of having your eyes off the road to kill yourself or someone else. So don’t be “that guy” who just had to send that text. What could be more important than your own life, and your family's well being?
Stay safe, don't forget to market, and have fun out there. Get hydrated, get good nutrition in your meals, and go for walks. Us drivers sit a lot. You need to counterbalance that with vigorous exercise every day.
Stay safe, healthy, and promote, promote, promote. It's the key to bigger profits, satisfaction too.