I had the privilege of sitting down with a recruiter and mentor to ask him what he’s looking for and how to increase your odds of passing the mentor session.
First, how does the process work?
- You fill out the application online and/or in the iPhone or Android app
- You watch videos to explain the mentor process and driving for Lyft
- You may or may not be contacted by a local recruiter. If you finish your application right away and hit the Request Mentor button you will be connected directly to a mentor. If you fill out the application and get an error or stop before requesting a mentor you will be put in the pipeline of one of the local Recruiters. Recruiters are peer drivers and you should think of them as power mentors. They are independent contractors just like you will be, but they do have a contact at Lyft corporate to help them fix issues such as the wrong address or license number.
- When you hit the Request Mentor button it triggers the DMV check. If you pass you get a mentor. If you fail due to failing the driving requirements you are done. This post cannot help you with that. You must be in your city’s coverage area to do this and it must be during mentor hours (7 am to 5 pm in the winter and 7 am to 6 pm in the summer).
- You meet your mentor and do you Welcome Ride. Your mentor may be your recruiter, it may be someone who was online when you hit the button, it may be your friend who is a mentor. They check out your car, take pictures, go for a 10-15 minute ride. It should take 45 minutes to an hour overall.
- After the welcome ride Lyft does the background check and also makes sure everything is in line with your car, insurance, etc. I want to emphasize this…You may still be denied even if your mentor passes you. You can get through to a mentor with a 2-door car, invalid insurance, a basic flip phone from 1999. It happens. Make sure you are familiar with the requirements in advance so the only thing remaining is the approval of a Lyft mentor.
ULC: Welcome to Uber Lyft Chat Mr. Power Mentor.
PM: Thanks for inviting me.
ULC: Tell us a little about yourself
PM: I’ve been driving for Lyft since around April 2014 and I’ve been a mentor since June and a recruiter since July. In that time I’ve mentored over 250 potential drivers.
ULC: So you know what you’re talking about. Let’s start with the recruitment process. How does that work?
PM: When someone starts filling out the application they trigger to the pipeline of one of the recruiters in the city. If the recruiter gets that person to a mentor session they receive a bonus.
ULC: Sounds like easy money.
PM: Not really. Only maybe 1 out of every 5 people will make it to a mentor session. The others may not have the right phone or car, they may be too young, they may not have been licensed to drive very long or they may still have a license and plates in another state. They all show up in the recruiter pipeline and the recruiter has to weed them out without pay. Then there are people who thought they were just signing up to be a passenger or others who filled out the application with no intention to drive. I still have to contact them all regularly until they decide to either go for a welcome ride or ask to be taken off the list. Lyft also uses cryptic error codes such as “connection issue” to indicate that you have an out of state drivers license or you entered a mailing address that doesn’t match your license. I have to convince you that you really have an error in the application and not a connection issue and then I have to get that fixed by Lyft so you can be mentored. Other people set up 5 accounts and they all need to be merged to allow you to be mentored. If you get an error don’t just keep applying over and over from your friends’ phones!
ULC: Interesting. So what are some things that are an instant fail?
PM: Nothing is an instant fail on my end. Lyft has certain requirements that must be met such as a 4-door car with 5 working seat belts. There are restrictions to body damage that is acceptable and other things like smoking in the car. I never see someone and just know I need to fail them, but I know Lyft will not pass them.
ULC: What other things form a negative impression for a mentee?
PM: It starts during recruiting. Some people just need a little encouragement to get mentored so I’ll set up appointments with them. If they no call/no show for the appointment it leaves a bad impression. If they call 5 minutes before and cancel I’m still frustrated. Since Lyft is an on-demand company I would never fail someone for that. They can clock in at any time so I can’t make them keep a schedule, but it does show a lack of dedication to Lyft and some character flaws. If they have other issues I take that into account.
ULC: So if you schedule a session with a recruiter don’t cancel without notice. Good to know. What are some other issues?
PM: I need the current license, proof of insurance for the car you brought with your name on it, and possibly an old license if the issue date on the current license is less than a year ago. Showing up with that information sets a positive impression. Also, I need to take pictures of you and your car. If you look like crap your driver picture will look like crap. If your car is covered with so much dust that the dust writes “Wash Me” for you, then your car picture will look like crap. Also, I have to take a ride in your car. If it smells like wet dog, cigarettes, pot, etc there is actually a spot on the Lyft form to indicate that. Freshen up. Do an interior and exterior wash before meeting your mentor. Pay for a detail if you need one, but I’d recommend learning how to properly clean your car since that’s all part of the job. If you show up with a disgusting car I question your desire to drive.
ULC: Yes, I agree. I wash and vacuum my car several times a week and I couldn’t imagine paying a detail service every time. So, paperwork in order, clear car, show up presentable. What other information is important?
PM: Know how to use your phone. You’ll need to seamlessly change from Lyft to Navigation and back. I also judge you by your choice of navigation. Google Maps is by far the best. It has the best traffic, it has data from Waze, and it finds Points of Interest (POIs) quickly. You don’t need to be fluent in it already, but there are so many phones I can’t teach you how to use every one. Don’t even bother trying to do the job with a Garmin. Lyft passengers are tech savvy and if they see you lug out a dinosaur you’ll get low ratings. You may save on data by using a stand-alone GPS, but Lyft is designed to be all on a single smart phone. Also be able to have some kind of personality. Lyft still has the Lyft Creatives and quirks, but as a whole has tamed down a little. That doesn’t mean that people are all expecting a wet noodle in the driver seat. If I ask you a question respond like you would to a passenger. Greet me with a smile. Show some passion. That is where some Uber drivers fail. Lyft is your friend with a car. Act like I’m your friend. Not a minor inconvenience in your car.
ULC: So…know how to use your phone and be personable.
PM: Yes. The stuff Lyft has been saying all along. If I indicate that I don’t feel someone would be a good fit it’s because they couldn’t use the phone which is a safety issue, they really had no clue how to understand GPS and would make questionable moves, or they would make some comments that just really seemed creepy.
PM: Asking if Lyft is good to pickup women. Asking if drug charges turn up on a background check, just making it seem like you all-out hate the world. Bring a Lyft driver is like being a bartender. You’re more likely to get tipped if you flirt just a little. I might not even call it flirting but just being in sales. It’s often natural that the passenger may reciprocate. That does not mean that person is interested in you! Do not ever ask a passenger for contact information. You will go from “having a good time on Lyft” to being the creeper faster than you can end the ride. Lyft also prohibits asking passengers for contact information. Also, don’t make any weird comments about their residence or favorite places. “My friend lives in these apartments too. I hope I can see you often,” can quickly make you seem like a stalker. There are also people out there who say they never give 5 stars. I don’t know about you, but unless there is an issue, you need to give passengers 5 stars. By making a comment like that I’m inclined to only give you 4 stars. If someone flat out tells me they drive for Uber I want to see their driver rating. Usually people with a low Uber rating (4.5 or lower) are people I’m not inclined to pass. If you are hesitant to show me your rating I just assume you are about to be deactivated and that’s why you applied with Lyft. I mentored a guy who gave me a very creepy vibe. I felt like he was a drug dealer by the way he seemed like I was about to bust him with every question I asked. It turns out he was problematic on Uber, got deactivated by them and now is trying his own taxi service. I take pride in knowing that I kept him out of the Lyft driver pool.
ULC: Yeah. I know I’ve flirted with bartenders many times to get stronger drinks or faster service, but never to actually get a date so it would be creepy for them to ask for my information. Any final thoughts?
PM: It can take up to 3 weeks for a background check to clear, but some drivers get on the road a couple days later. It varies. Lyft uses an anonymized phone system so I can only call active recruits until I’ve mentored them and recruits can only call me in the same time period. After the mentor session I may still be able to help, but really you should become familiar with Lyft’s support site. Also, just because you get an email saying your ride didn’t meet community standards soon after the ride does not mean I failed you. All I get to say is whether I think you would be a good fit and why. If you get denied right away it was probably due to Lyft’s standards or car quality, not my opinion of you. If you want to appeal you have to contact Lyft, not me.
ULC: So now we know (not so) secret. Keep your appointment if you make one, have your license and insurance, clean your car, navigate safely, know how to use your phone, and act personable. Thanks a lot Power Mentor.
PM: Thanks for having me. Feel free to post questions in the forum or on this post and ULC will make sure I answer them for you.
ULC: If you are thinking about driving for Lyft, go ahead and apply and see what it’s all about.