This week’s success story is an interview with Harry Campbell, also known as The Ride Share Guy. Harry started driving for Uber and Lyft in 2014 to earn himself and extra income which in turn lead to him creating The Ride Share Guy website.
In 2015 Harry was able to leave his full-time employment role as an engineer working for Boeing to work on his site full time! The site is now helping other ride-share drivers find out more information when they need help and has now become an authority site in his niche, growing even further by also launching a podcast!
Let’s get to the interview with Harry Campbell – The Ride Share Guy
How long have you been a rideshare driver?
I’ve been a passenger of Uber and Lyft since 2012 but it wasn’t until early 2014 that I decided to give it a shot as a driver. At the time, I was working full time as an aerospace engineer for Boeing, but I started driving because it seemed like a fun and flexible way to earn some extra money.
Tell us a little about yourself and your motivation to get involved in ridesharing.
I became motivated to get involved in ridesharing after many rides as a passenger. I talked to a lot of drivers during this time, and they were always pitching me on the idea of becoming a driver. Little did I know, they would get a nice referral bonus if they signed me up, but I did really like the idea of making extra money whenever I wanted while meeting some new people along the way.
I started my blog in early 2014 around the same time that I started driving for Uber and Lyft. The blog quickly gained traction with drivers and the media and in early 2015, I actually quit my full-time job as an engineer to focus solely on my blog, The Rideshare Guy.
Today, I still drive for Uber and Lyft part-time and try out new services like Postmates and DoorDash but almost all of my time is now spent creating content and running the business.
What’s does the average day look like for The Ride Share Guy?
I currently live in Los Angeles, CA with my wife, a medical student at UC Irvine. I spend most mornings working out of my home office and afternoons at the local co-working space or coffee shop.
Some Ride Share Guy facts and info:
This video gives you more information on The Ride Share Guy:
You can subscribe to The Ride Share Guy YouTube channel here.
What do you like about rideshare driving?
There are a lot of things I like about driving, but just to name a few: meeting interesting people, working whenever I want and seeing a correlation between how hard I work and how much money I make.
One thing I’ve found about drivers in general, is that many of us have an entrepreneurial spirit in common and being an Uber driver is just like running your own business. You have to worry about diversifying your income and things like expenses and taxes just as much as what your competition is doing.
How much money can drivers make?
I generally shoot for $15-$20/hr before expenses as an Uber/Lyft driver, but there are many people who make more by driving busier times and cities (San Francisco is an example of a city where earning potential is very high). But there are also people who make a lot less depending on how busy their city is and when/where they drive.
In general, there is a lot of pay variability since driving does require some skill and the other thing to consider is the expense side of things. Obviously, a driver who bought a 2-3 year old Prius in great condition for a great price is going to have much lower expenses than someone who bought a small brand new SUV. Both of those cars would be eligible for UberX and receive the same pay yet the operating costs are very different.
What do you hate about it?
I can’t say I really hate anything about being a rideshare driver but there’s definitely a honeymoon period when it comes to working in the on-demand economy. Most new Uber drivers find that their first month of driving is great because they’re basically getting paid to drive around and meet new people.
But after a month or so, that feeling starts to wear off and drivers start thinking about things like expenses, taxes and even insurance. Unfortunately, companies like Uber and Lyft don’t provide a lot of information about these topics and in many cases, they’re legally not allowed to provide any training. That’s where my site steps in and helps drivers navigate the maze of policies and helps drivers earn more by utilising strategies like driving for Uber and Lyft at the same time, maximising their sign-up bonuses, learning how to find surge zones, etc.
Over the past year, drivers have seen several rate cuts and many veterans like myself are now getting paid less despite having to work harder. Uber and Lyft make it very easy to get onboard as a new driver (you could be driving in as few as 3-5 days in a best case scenario) which is nice when you’re signing up, but it also means there is a potential for over-saturation of drivers.
What is the worst experience you have ever had on the job?
I don’t have any real horror stories, like being robbed or assaulted, but obviously, when there are millions of rides every day, some bad things are bound to happen. No one has puked in my car yet but I do take precautions like providing vomit bags and generally just keeping an eye on people in my back seat. If you drive the party hours though, it’s bound to happen eventually.
I’d say the worst thing that has ever happened to me was just having to deal with extremely unruly passengers. I had a group of college guys once who were just over the top drunk, not wearing seatbelts, yelling at me, threatening me, etc. One of them even opened the door while we were driving down the street. It was one of my first rides and I honestly didn’t handle the situation very well, but if that were to happen again, I’d be much better prepared.
What’s the best experience you’ve ever had while driving?
There are a lot of stories to choose from but one of my favourite rides to this day was a pick-up in Los Angeles of a very elderly gentleman. His nephew had installed and setup the Uber app on his phone and it was his first ride ever but he managed to request a car and he got me.
He was pushing 80 yet very active and we had an awesome 45-minute ride where we talked all about his life, why he was out in LA and how Uber was already changing the way he could get around the city. It was really inspiring to hear how he planned on using Uber going forward to meet friends he hadn’t seen in a while and get around the city.
What companies have you worked with, do you prefer any one over the others?
I currently drive for Uber, Lyft, Postmates and Doordash. I think most drivers prefer the community and friendly feel of companies like Lyft but get most of their rides from Uber.
For me, It’s important to drive for more than one company because that gives you the best opportunity to maximise your earnings. Sometimes things are slow on just the Uber app, so if you’re able to leverage Lyft too, that means you’ll get more requests and earn more money.
The biggest difference between Uber and Lyft lie in the company slogans for me. Uber is ‘your private driver’ while Lyft is ‘your friend with a car’. One of the jokes that drivers like to make about Uber passengers is that they often keep you waiting a lot longer than Lyft passengers once you’ve arrived to pick them up (wait time is unpaid until the rider gets in the car). And personally, I think that’s a direct result of company culture: you wouldn’t ever keep your friend waiting but your private driver, well that’s a different story.
A lot of drivers prefer Lyft because they seem to go out of their way to introduce driver friendly features like in-app tipping and instant pay.
What’s the deal with tipping on Uber?
Tipping is a contentious subject for Uber drivers and it all stems from the fact that Uber makes new passengers select a tipping amount when they first sign up, BUT this actually only applies to UberTAXI, not the more popular UberX service.
Because of this, many passengers are under the false impression that tip is included in their fare which it is most certainly not. Uber’s official policy states that tipping is not required but as rates have fallen and drivers are paid less than before, most drivers will gladly accept a cash tip.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to tip on Uber through the app (like there is with Lyft and other competitors) and driver’s requests for an in-app tip option have fallen on deaf ears. Accordingly, many Uber drivers carry around a Square reader for accepting credit card tips or use a service like Vugo that has a ‘tip your driver’ button.
How do drivers feel about the ratings system?
On the surface, the ratings system seems like a great thing for drivers and passengers but it doesn’t always play out perfectly. Drivers are required to maintain a 4.6 rating yet many passengers will rate a satisfactory ride as 3 or 4 stars when that really is a failing grade for drivers. There are also lots of things like surge pricing that are beyond a driver’s control that drivers are often rated lower because of.
Lyft does a pretty good job of letting drivers know where they can improve but Uber’s feedback mechanisms still have a way to go. Many new Uber drivers find that they are at risk of deactivation yet they don’t receive any passenger feedback so they don’t know what they need to do to improve their ratings.
Do drivers want to be considered employees or independent contractors?
From drivers I’ve talked to and polls I’ve conducted on my site, it seems pretty apparent that most drivers prefer being independent contractors as opposed to employees. I take a little bit of a different stance though in arguing that while I don’t think employee designation makes sense for drivers, I do think there is a lot of room for compromise that would allow drivers to retain the flexibility they desire but also be afforded some of the worker protections that traditional employees receive.
But I don’t see companies like Uber changing their policies anytime soon unless there is significant upward pressure from the government or current employee misclassification lawsuits.
How do drivers feel about unions?
Drivers aren’t opposed to the idea of unions, in fact, in one of my recent posts about organising, over 90% of drivers surveyed said that they would support some type of organisation for drivers. I think a lot of this willingness to organise stems from the fact that drivers don’t feel they have much of a voice when it comes to dealing with Uber. You can really be fired for any reason and have no recourse, rates can be cut at will and more so I think the idea of a union or organisation to represent drivers in those situations is very appealing.
What is the deal with rideshare insurance?
Unfortunately, rideshare insurance is still a huge issue for many drivers and there are legitimate gaps in coverage for many drivers. During periods 2 (app on, request accepted and/or en route to a passenger) and 3 (passenger in the car), Uber/Lyft provide liability coverage and collision coverage (Uber has a $1k deductible and Lyft has a $2.5k deductible) but during period 1, both companies only provide liability coverage at lower limits.
Period 1 occurs when drivers have their app on but are waiting for a request which means they could be parked on the side of the street, or driving around waiting for a request. Period 1 is when drivers are at the most risk because if they were to get into an accident during this time, they would receive no collision coverage from Uber/Lyft and if they made a claim with their personal insurer, they would have to disclose that they are an Uber/Lyft driver. Nearly all personal insurance policies do not cover livery, so they will not cover an accident during Period 1.
Some states offer rideshare friendly policies (we have a full list here) but there are many states where drivers don’t have a single option, which means that not only would they not be covered in the event of a period 1 accident, but they could also be dropped from their policy for disclosing that they are a rideshare driver. From polls I’ve conducted on my site, less than 10% of drivers (2,000+ responses) have rideshare friendly policies across the US.
Looking to become an Uber Driver? We have a whole section dedicated here.
You can read tonnes of useful information about becoming a ride share driver on Harry’s site The Ride Share Guy here.