A Lyft Love Story
One day in the fall of 2013 I was looking to mix things up a bit and became an Uber driver. OK, those of you who know me remember it was more like a mid-career crisis. My daughter Tibby, who was 9 at the time, helped me get ready for my first ride… our short video is here.
After about 50 rides I decided I better do a direct comparison with Uber’s biggest competitor – Lyft.
I loved Lyft from the very beginning… the on-boarding process was personal, and my “mentor” Markel (see pic below. I’m the guy with the double-chin, like I said it was a mid-career crisis!) was about as welcoming as one could imagine. Uber played a 20 minute video at a Holiday Inn, that was it. Markel met me in person, inspected my car, made sure I was legit (I fooled him on that one) and got to know me. We stayed in touch for a few months after my check ride. And just as importantly, from day one the Lyft community reached out consistently to make sure I knew I was part of something, part of a team, not on my own. As a driver, despite the cutesy early days (and now all but defunct) Lyft marketing tactics of fist bumps and pink mustaches on the front grill of your car, I could clearly tell that Lyft was out to build a special and inclusive culture.
After I stopped experimenting as a ride-share driver in mid-2014, despite what I said to others about Uber vs. Lyft, I lapsed back into the Uber habit when I needed to get somewhere quickly in Boston or elsewhere. It seemed so slick and easy, I was used to it I guess – it’s hard to explain really. I think that happens with a lot of brands. Something that we can’t quite put our fingers on draws us back over and over again, while brands that we actually want to like more are left on the sidelines.
But then something happened. In June 2015, I bought Boloco back and returned as CEO. Before doing so, I had decided that one of my top strategies for rekindling the inspired burrito fire would be to go overboard, literally, on taking care of our team members. I had a second chance and i would go big on generosity to others (employees and customers!) as a strategy to turbo boost performance .
That said, on a day-to-day basis, I wasn’t necessarily supporting brands personally that demonstrated a similar commitment to its workers. And the most glaring example was my subconscious choice of Uber versus Lyft. I decided to make some changes.
But, I did wonder, what was Lyft like 18 months later, anyway? Was there really a difference between the various ride-sharing companies? Did drivers care?
Starting on December 15, 2015, I decided to go exclusive with Lyft whenever possible and ask every Lyft driver who drove for multiple ride-share companies which they preferred and why.
“Hey, how’s Lyft going?” I typically ask after I settle in. “Ok”, “Fine”, “Pretty Good”…usually nothing too out of the ordinary at first, although never bad.
9 times out of 10 the drivers then admit to driving for multiple companies, usually both Lyft and Uber, sometimes Fasten of late.
But here’s the craziest stat that came from this… I wouldn’t believe it myself if I wasn’t the one hearing it first hand.
Every single one of the 30 or so multi-platform drivers who I rode with these past few months prefers Lyft over Uber. Not 50%, not 75%, not even 99% of them… it was 100%. Nobody, not even Big Papi, bats .1000 for more than 5 or 6 at bats in a row, but Lyft has at least 30 hits in a row at the moment.
Simple things really… simple things that make a difference.
- Drivers can be tipped through the Lyft App – this is a biggie for me especially, but also the drivers.
- Drivers can be paid what they are owed by Lyft at any given time without waiting for a specified payroll day. All employers of hourly workers take note…
- Drivers feel they earn more money driving for Lyft (I did not take the time to analyze this for accuracy, but nobody claimed otherwise).
- Drivers say that business in Boston (and SF, not surprisingly) has been very busy while driving for Lyft over the last 12 months or so. Uber is still busy and often busier, but 100% of these drivers still preferred Lyft.
- Drivers say that Lyft customers seem more “human”, whereas Uber passengers can be more transactional and less friendly. While I feel like the same person regardless of which ride-share I’m choosing at any time, I think brands have a way of nudging certain aspects of our personalities into the open – good or bad. This is my only explanation for this.
- Lyft drivers seemed to know of senior management at Lyft… they would talk about it being a “nice” company. There was a subtle sense of pride. Almost no Uber drivers knew anything about culture or the company’s leadership – “I’m just a driver” I heard a couple of times – and nobody ever knew who Travis was (I asked a lot). Update: in 2017 they know who Travis is!
- Some drivers couldn’t really put their finger on it… but said something to the effect of “I just like Lyft better. I don’t really know why.” Sometimes, that’s the most powerful statement there is about a brand’s strength, and perhaps its future? The intangible, inexplicable, love for a brand or company.
Well, that’s not an exhaustive list but gives you an idea. One critical point – Lyft has saturated many markets like Boston, so you no longer have to worry that if you thought it should take 3 minutes with Uber it will take longer with Lyft. As far as I can tell, they are at parity today. I would love to hear if anyone else has any contradicting feedback in future travels with any of the ride-share companies. I’m still waiting for a ding on Lyft, but it just hasn’t happened. Update: one year later, it’s not 100%, but literally only 2 chose Uber over Lyft hundreds of rides later
Regardless of which ride-sharing company you like best (that debate, by the way, is nearly as fierce as who makes the best burrito!) at Boloco we love doing cool things with companies we love, and we really love Lyft. Now we’re trying to have some fun both together and with you, our Boloco customers.
So, for those who haven’t downloaded Lyft at anytime in the past, we have something special for you… a free ride with Lyft worth up to $20 AND a free small Boloco burrito.
Simply click here and away you go! Ride and burrito must be consumed by 6/7/16 or they both magically disappear. So make this happen today.
CEO & Co-Founder, Boloco