This weekend, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend were in town. Last night, not wanting to assign any adult responsibility to myself or my wife (things we probably really need), we decided to take a couple of Uber rides to bars/restaurants (and then, obviously, back home). When my wife and I lived in New York (early days of Uber), we never used it — then again, New York has subways and all that. When we lived in Minneapolis, we never used it either; there it was because our neighborhood had a ton of walkability (walk score of 97, I do believe). Here, in the Fort Worth area, we use it all the time. But … last night I stumbled across a new use of it that I had never even considered.
I’ve written about Uber a couple of times on this blog — its financial prospects, what it means for race relations, its place in the social media landscape, and what it might do for urban development — but last night, on our “outbound” Uber (to the bars/restaurants), I came across a whole new idea.
We had this driver who was primarily a tax accountant. As such, January/February – May/June is his “busy” season. He and his wife used to own a restaurant, but they sold it a couple of years ago; in the years they owned the restaurant, that was his primary focus from June – January (his “low” season with tax stuff). In the last two or so years, he’s been driving for Uber a bunch during that June – January period, then driving less in the tax season.
Last night, he’s talking to us about his role with Uber — one great thing about Uber, if you’ve never used it, is that the drivers are consistently pretty friendly / chatty — and he says, “Well, the thing I had never realized about it was the networking.”
Get this: he estimated he’s gotten 50 leads — and I mean qualified leads, as in, new business — from driving Uber. That’s about 30 a year given how long he’s been doing it. 30 a year for tax prep and work could be another $30K or so, depending on his rates. That’s not bad.
A couple of weeks ago, he took a guy to a TCU football game. On the way, the guy told him he was primarily an accountant, but had recently been promoted to SVP and couldn’t handle individual client loads anymore. The Uber driver got a few clients there. In other contexts, he just grabbed new leads in conversation.
I got home and was thinking about it. I know a lot of teachers who do more Uber work in the summers, and that’s great — but if you had a job like an accountant, or even a restaurant/coffee shop owner, or really anything where you need customers/clients, it’s gotta be a pretty effective networking tool. You’re launching this person into a clean, new-ish seeming car and driving them 2-20 miles (or whatever distance), which gives you the ability to talk to them. The whole notion of Uber is so different from a traditional cab company that conversation almost always does occur (which isn’t true in traditional cab context), so it can be a really helpful way to tell your story and get your message out.
I’m not saying that, if you drive an Uber, you should upsell everyone who enters the car on your primary business — I am, however, saying that the core of lead generation in 2014 is telling a good story / having a good brand, and what more effective way to do that than have someone in your car shooting the breeze?
If any Uber drivers come across this post, leave some comments — has it been an effective networking tool for you at all?