Every once in awhile, I get asked about driving Rideshare such as Uber or Lyft verses doing delivery work.
I can't tell you whether rideshare is a good choice for you. In fact I couldn't even come close to giving you good advice. Part of it is that since I haven't done it, I can't speak from experience. I don't know enough to tell you that it's better or worse. I have my suspicions and preconceptions but it's only that.
But I have made the decision NOT to delve into driving for Uber or Lyft. But here's the thing: My reasons could very well be the reasons you decide it's a better option for you. My decision to not do rideshare is not a judgment on rideshare overall. It's a judgment that it's not the best fit for me. When all is said and done, it may be better for you than rideshare. Or maybe a combination is the perfect thing for you. In the end the important thing is what fits you.
I initially considered doing Rideshare for Uber or Lyft
Two years ago, I made the decision to move on from my position as a business manager for a nonprofit. I loved the organization and what it did and even what I did for them, but I had some greater passions I wanted to pursue and I needed something more flexible than the typical 9 to 5. It was time to move on.
Once upon a time I drove taxi while taking some college classes. It was perfect for me because of the flexibility. I could set my own schedule, I could study between rides. I thought maybe something like that would be perfect. The problem with driving a cab as an independent contractor is that you have to pay a lease. Back then, the lease payment was about the modern equivalent of $400 per week. That's $1600 a month, and THEN gas money, that you have to earn before you're clearing anything.
I always thought it would be ideal if you could provide your own car for cab service. That's why I thought Uber was a genius move, it let people do that. I thought long and hard about doing rideshare, but unfortunately my car wasn't new enough to be approved. I was looking into upgrading the car when I came across a person who did Uber Eats. My car qualified, so I gave them a try, and never looked back.
When considering rideshare verses delivery, these are the reasons I choose not to do rideshare.
I've heard a lot that rideshare is still the way to really make good money. It may be. But I also hear that you can't make that much doing delivery and I've experienced now that that's simply not true. I kind of stumbled into delivery, and it really became a perfect fit for me.
There are definitely similarities. You have freedom, and there is the challenge of strategizing for success. I love that part about delivery and think I'd relish that if doing rideshare. I enjoyed driving a cab way back then, so I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy the interactions as an Uber or Lyft driver. But when it's all said and done, I've decided that I'm sticking with where I am. It doesn't mean I won't ever give rideshare a try. I may dabble, if nothing else for market research. When I write an article like this that is a sort of comparison, I have to admit that I don't like not knowing enough from experience to say whether my opinions are well founded. Maybe some day, out of curiosity I might give it a try.
That said, there are a number of reasons that I prefer to stick with delivery.
I don't buy the line that rideshare pays more.
Maybe it does. Ask the ordinary rideshare driver, and maybe even the ordinary delivery contractor, and you'll hear that you can earn more with rideshare. The funny thing is, when I get into that conversation with rideshare drivers, and when we dig into what we actually earn, I have yet to come away thinking I'm worse off.
I'm sure there are rideshare drivers who bring in a lot more revenue than what I get. Some long drives can bring in really good money. I get that. But I haven't seen the kind of numbers yet that make me think that on a consistent basis it's really that much higher overall than what I bring in for delivery.
Tipping isn't typically as good with rideshare as it is with delivery.
To me, it's kind of like tipping your waitress at Village Inn compared to tipping your waitress at Ruths Criss Steakhouse. So much of our tipping isn't based on the work being done as it is on the value of the related service. For the same amount of work the waitress at Village Inn gets tipped a fraction of what the waitress at Ruths Criss gets tipped, and the only reason for that is that the cost of the meal is a fraction of the price.
When people tip, they often tip based on a percentage of their service. And this is where the comparison gets out of whack between delivery and ride share.
With ride share, the tip is based on your fare. Tips for delivery are based on the value of the food. In most instances the value of the food is a lot higher than the rideshare fare. When you are doing things based on percentages you are more likely to get a $10 tip in delivery than on ride share. So while the fares that are paid to drivers in rideshare are often higher than what Grubhub or Doordash might pay a delivery driver, my understanding is that tips for delivery are often much higher.
Expenses for delivery seem to be lower.
This is one of those things where my ignorance shows when it comes to never having DONE rideshare. But my observations so far indicate that you drive a lot more miles per dollar earned as a rideshare driver than you do for delivery. It seems like 1 to to miles per dollar earned are more of the norm with rideshare than with delivery.
Maybe I'm just looking at the wrong examples. In fact, I know there are a LOT of delivery drivers who put in way too many miles. But I think that's where a lot of the difference comes in. You pretty much have to drive a long distance to get a higher fare with rideshare. That's not true with delivery (and with all the recent pay model changes I'm seeing that longer distances are less rewarding now for delivery drivers).
And here's the thing with all those miles: Those miles are expensive. Your car costs you a lot more than you realize. Maintenance and depreciation are major factors, especially with the newer cars you need for rideshare. The important thing is not how much you bring in, it's how much you have left over.
I don't want to put all the extra work into keeping my car immaculate
Don't get me wrong. A clean car is important for delivery. I mean, we're hauling peoples' food around, so if nothing else, it's a health thing. But having a reasonably clean car for delivery is a far different matter than the kind of clean you need to keep your ratings up for ride share.
I'm not interested in being forced to clear every smudge off the glass that happens throughout the day and getting every speck of dirt immediately vacuumed up. With rideshare, it's almost a necessity. Customer ratings are a much bigger deal to your ability to do well on ride share than they are with delivery, and a lot of that comes down to keeping your car absoutely spotless.
For me, it boils down to an efficiency thing. The more deliveries I can do in an hour, the more money I can make. The other thing for me is, I measure how I'm doing in my profit PER HOUR. The extra cleaning takes time, and that's less time I can be making deliveries.
And maybe I have to admit that the extra attention to the appearance of the car makes it less enjoyable for me? Or maybe it's another way of saying I'm lazy.
I'm not convinced it's worth upgrading my car.
I drive a 1998 Buick. In its day it was a higher end version. It was a classic ‘little old lady' car that was barely driven, and would be a great rideshare car. It's comfortable, it rides very nicely, it looks nice. But it's too old.
I refuse to finance a car. That's just me. There are too many down sides and I'm not convinced that the upside is worth it. And quite honestly, I'm not sure it makes sense to buy a newer car even with cash, where I have to put so many miles on it that I absolutely destroy the value of the car. Will I earn enough MORE by doing this to make the investment worthwhile? I don't know.
I like my podcasts, audio books, and music too much to give them up for the passenger's sake.
This is the biggest one for me.
This gig work is part of a bigger picture for me. I have a lot going on. I'm working on other projects. I do this website and the podcast. Those things all take time.
The beauty of this delivery gig is, they don't take the time up that you would think. Here's what I mean. Usually you have your work time, and then you have your time for other things you're working on, and you have to take time to learn if you're learning new stuff, and then you have time for family. And normally, none of those things cross over.
But when I'm doing delivery, I can work on outlines and ideas for the website and podcast. I can use voice to text to dictate rough drafts of what I want to write. I can listen to audio books and podcasts related to other projects or to help me learn how to actually DO a podcast or how to improve my website.
The thing is, I cherish the heck out of that time that I'm driving to the restaurant and then to the customer because I can use that time for so many of the other things going on in my life. It's a form of multi tasking.
If I have passengers in the car, I lose a lot of that. My me time is cut in half. Either I have to engage the customer or at the very least not bother them. If I'm really good, I play the music they want to hear. Let me just say, I already do too much of that because of my daughters and their obsession with K-Pop music. That learning, discovery or even relaxing time during the drives has become a treasure and I'm not ready to give it up.
What does this mean for you?
I have no interest in convincing anyone that they should or shouldn't do ride share. In fact I have no interest in convincing you that delivery is any better.
What I am interested in is you finding what is a fit for you.
So much of this is about MY preferences. It may be something totally different for you. Uber and Lyft may be perfect for you. Heck, for all I know they could be perfect for me and I just don't know it yet. The bottom line is, you need to know yourself. Know what works for you. Understand who YOU are and what works for you and go for it. It doesn't matter what some blog writer in Denver thinks about Rideshare or Delivery. The only thing that matters is what you think about them.
Have you tried both? What is your experience?
Go ahead and leave a comment below – what do you like best about delivery or about rideshare? What are the advantages of each in your mind? What are the disadvantages? Leave a comment or shoot me an email, I'd love to hear from you.