Full-time rideshare drivers can put 1,000 miles on their cars each week.
Depending on the engine oil they use, shops can still expect to see those customers many times more than a typical driver over the course of a year.
That’s an attractive customer segment for quick lube operators, to be sure. And just like any customer, their vehicle maintenance is important. Those cars, trucks and SUVs carry passengers day in and day out.
Like any marketing plan, those that target rideshare drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft should be practical and complement the larger customer base, not replace it.
Rideshare started in California but grew national in a hurry. Wherever your shop lies, here are some useful lessons from the densest collection of rideshare drivers.
Coming from California
Based in the Bay Area city of Pleasanton, Calif., Oil Changers is right in the backyard of the Silicon Valley rideshare companies.
The company started in 1984 and now operates 50 locations throughout California. President Eric Frankenberger started as a lube tech and worked his way up.
He says that rideshare drivers still don’t make up the majority of people they see, but as the business grew, they wanted to reach out.
“You may see them every three to four weeks or, in some cases, even sooner,” Frankenberger says. “If you can get your name out there or some type of promotion that gets their attention, I think it’s beneficial to the business.”
Oil Changers, like other chains, have offered some small discounts to rideshare drivers to entice their patronage. He says it got them some attention, because most drivers are looking to stretch their dollar—and their oil change interval—as much as possible.
Another example is Take 5 Oil Change, which advertises 25 percent off for rideshare drivers.
The serious drivers have newer vehicles, even leasing or renting in some cases. And Frankenberger says they’re just looking for the basic maintenance package. In other words, marketing to rideshare drivers appeals more to raising the car count than ticket average.
“I would say a majority of them are trying to minimize the expense of their vehicle to maximize what they're making on their driving,” he says.
Steak and Potatoes
Even in an area with a lot of rideshare drivers, most Oil Changers customers are still everyday drivers.
“I would say that you have to be a little bit careful, because you don’t want to substitute your regular customers for Uber and Lyft drivers,” he says.
It’s also notable that there isn’t really an average rideshare driver. There are some full-timers putting thousands of miles on a vehicle each month, but, just as often, there are part-time drivers looking to make a few extra bucks.
Frankenberger says that if a shop can do some strategic marketing to keep the bays full, that’s great. But focus on making the best experience for all customers. But take care not to discount too steeply or make potential customers think that your shop is only for rideshare customers.
What operators can do is position themselves as the go-to quick lube for all drivers. Attracting a variety of customers is just as important as ever, whether they’re more often driving themselves around or other people.
“It’s kind of like the bread and butter versus the steak and potatoes,” he says. “You can't just live off of the bread and the butter. You need a little bit of both.”
The rise of rideshare has been meteoric, as far as new industries go.
The two big players, Uber and Lyft, are multi-billion dollar companies with legions of drivers. Market share figures for both companies are tough to come by, but estimates are around two-thirds to one-third in favor of Uber.
An article from CNet in 2018 marked Lyft with 1.4 million drivers in the U.S. and Canada, compared to 750,000 for Uber in the U.S. alone. Uber reportedly has many more international drivers.
All those miles driven puts stress on vehicles and, larger labor issues aside, the companies have put some incentives in place for maintenance.
Uber advertises discounts on some maintenance services for drivers in its Uber Pro Program who book service through the CarAdvise car care account. There are also some deals for drivers who use an Uber Visa debit card, according to its website.
Lyft has gone further and announced plans for its own vehicle service centers throughout the country.
Ratchet+Wrench, a NOLN sibling publication, covered the undertaking in its June issue. Lyft had two test sites running in San Francisco and Philadelphia and had plans for 36 by the close of 2019. The shops would cater only to Lyft drivers.
A Lyft representative told Ratchet+Wrench that they expect their shops to complete service in half the time for up to half the price.
But as Frankenberger says, rideshare drivers come in many different forms. And when that oil change interval is up, make sure they know the quickest route to your shop.