My Uber adventure started a while ago. It’s actually been 4 months now. But for me, it’s been like a week – crazy, right? That’s when you can tell that you really love your job.
A bit of a story – my Uber shenanigans started in August last year when I decided to make a bit of extra money in addition to my main income. The procedure to follow was really simple: come to an introductory session, fill out a couple of forms, download the partner app, and once all the checks are done, you are ready to go!
What you need to know if you want to become an Uber partner (those rules apply for NZ only, I can’t tell for sure if they are the same for other countries):
- You’ll need to have no driving or criminal offences. I’m not talking about parking or speeding tickets here, this applies to more serious offences like drunk driving, suspension of your license etc. No criminal offences – well, this is quite straightforward.
- You’ll need to be eligible to drive a vehicle in your country. What this means is that you need to hold a valid driver license which you’ve had for at least 2 years.
- You’ll need to have a proper vehicle; main requirements are – no older than 10 years old, current WOF & rego, and at least third-party insurance.
Those are the main requirements. There are also common sense things like keeping your vehicle relatively clean, being nice to your passengers, and speaking English at least at level which lets you communicate directions with your clients.
Easy, isn’t it?
The whole process took me about 2 weeks, from the date I signed up and filled out all the required forms, to the date I received my clear background check report and an official email from Uber welcoming me to their family.
And… The next minute, I was good to go!
Once you’ve downloaded the partner app and logged in, there is an option to go ‘Online’. Which means that you can start accepting trips and earning money.
It was a Saturday afternoon and I was at the gas station, in a remote suburb of Auckland. I was quite terrified to press the magic button, but we all need to start sometime, don’t we? So I braved up and went online.
Nothing. 5 minutes passed – nothing. After 10 minutes, I got tired and a bit awkward of sitting at the gas station and decided to drive back home. Half way through, my phone started making a weird noise and my screen started blinking: new pick-up request! Yay! What the hell do I do I now?!
Easy. To accept a request, you just need to click on the blinking display once. But you only have 15 seconds to do it. If you don’t – you miss it. It looks like this:
I accepted the request and my helpful Google maps kindly showed me the way. The rider was only 5 minutes away, so it was a no-brainer.
To give you more understanding on how Uber works: it usually picks the closest driver to your location and calls them up. The closest one can be anywhere from 1 to 30 minutes away (happened to me once). If they don’t respond to the request, it calls up the second closest driver in the area. And so goes on and on … 🙂 You can’t call Uber ‘in advance’ or set a certain time for a pick-up. You need to be prepared that your driver would be coming anytime soon.
My first ride was very interesting. The guy I picked up was dressed up as a military man (he actually had a gun on him – turned out it was fake) and at first I thought I was in trouble. But then he told me he was going to this masquerade thing, and I eased up a little bit. We had a good chat on the way and when I was dropping him off he said I was an excellent driver and a great company. Yay, first 5-star review – check!
Not to bore you with details, I had about 15 more trips that day. People were friendly and chatty, the roads weren’t so busy and everything was great. I think I’ve made about $300 that day. Great start!
Since that very first day at Uber, a lot has happened and changed. At first, I was driving only on weekends and sometimes after work as well. Then I quit my job and Uber became my full-time gig. I spent the whole Christmas Day driving (good money!). I changed vehicles (mine didn’t fit requirements anymore after the 31st of December). I got a lot more understanding of people and how they think and behave. I’ve seen a lot: break-ups, make-outs, pointless arguments; drunk people, high people, crazy people; I’ve had guys flirting me and asking me for my number; I’ve had pick-ups from hospitals and retirement villages; I’ve met people from about 20 countries while I was driving.
What did I enjoy the most? OK, here are some perks for you:
- It’s a ‘people’ job. So if you like people, are a great communicator and like providing great customer service, then it will fit you well!
- It’s all about driving. At the end of the day, you are just a driver. Which means that you’ll need to enjoy what you’re doing, otherwise it’s not gonna work out. I love driving, so it was quite easy for me.
- It’s good money. On a good day, you can make heaps. Especially, if you are prepared to work hard. Make sure to take breaks, though, as well – driving requires focus and concentration, and you can’t get your passengers under the risk because of your fatigue or sleepiness.
- It’s an adventure! I’m really grateful for all the places I’ve seen while I was with Uber. Sometimes it would take me to a remote beach and I’d have no choice but go for a quick swim and take amazing pictures. Sometimes it would be a place where a friend of mine lives so I’d have no excuse not to come visit them. The feeling of not knowing where you are gonna end up next is always exciting (especially for adventurous people like me).
- You set your own hours! And this is one of the things I enjoy the most. I may feel hungry or feel like catching up with a friend who’s in the area – I know I’m free to do that! There are no set hours or lunch breaks, it’s just me who makes the decision if I want to be online or have a bit of a break.
Like with every other job, Uber has its own disadvantages, too:
- Customers. We are all different. And customers can be different, too. You might get people who’ve had too much alcohol; people in a bad mood; or people who are just not gonna be satisfied (ever). You need to learn how to deal with it – deal with all sorts of people – because at the end of the day you are a person who needs to provide a great customer service, no matter what, without letting that friendly smile disappear from your face.
- Traffic. This can be really bad sometimes. Especially at peak hours. You need to be prepared for this.
- Income becomes really unpredictable. I mean, there are good days, and there are bad days as well. You can make anything from $5 t0 $500, but you never can tell for sure that your next week’s pay is gonna be the same.
- Self-management. Once you become an Uber driver, you are on your own – which means you become your own boss. You make a decision on whether to drive that day or take a ‘sickie’ but you need to be a great manager – your own manager – to be able to earn good money. Which means that sometimes you might be too lazy or not in the mood, and there would be no one to push you go to work. You’ll need to be the person constantly managing, motivating and pushing yourself.
Overall, it was a great experience. I got more understanding on how people work and think. I had a lot of laughs and got quite a few useful connections. If I was to come back to Uber one day, I probably would. Maybe not in New Zealand. Certainly, not in Russia 🙂 But at the end of the day, it’s all about adventure, isn’t it?