Friday, March 4, 2016

Ride Sharing

It was the summer of 2014 and I had been hired to manage the social media for 4 busy political campaigns (on top of my private client workload.)

A typical day would goes as follows; wake up at 5 AM and head to Crenshaw Blvd for an Alex Johnson for LA School Board Event.  From there I would race to Santa Monica for a staff meeting at Bobby Shriver's HQ (he was running for LA Supervisor).  Without breaking for lunch, I would then head to Inglewood for an event for Autumn Burke (running for Assembly) and then back to Santa Monica for a Meet and Greet for Santa Monica Mayor Pam O'Conner.  The evening would invariably end with a fundraising event for one of the candidates, getting me home at 11 PM- exhausted and cell phone battery drained.

I turned to taking LYFTs to enable me to keep this schedule with a minimum of stress and maximum of work between the appointments.  Looking back, I don't think I could have done it without ride sharing.

First, let's address stress.  Driving in LA is always a chore (with traffic, bad drivers, etc).  My phone would be continually going off and and the stress caused by being offline during drive time was real.  I was extremely distracted and, frankly was not a good driver.  Not good.  Having someone else drive me lessened the stress considerably and ensured I arrived safely wherever I needed to go.  As a father of a 12 year old, that was important!

The cost savings were an astounding surprise!  When factoring in how much it costs to drive in LA (and how much you could save using a ride share) don't just add up your car payments and gas.  You need to factor in the following realities; parking costs, parking tickets (!), repairs, insurance and your time spent looking for a parking space.  Taken together, depending on your car and insurance costs, one can easily spend over $1,000 a month.  At the time, ride share costs averaged me about $40 a day.  If I calculated that I used them 20 times a week (sometimes less when I could hitch a ride with a coworker or friend), I was looking at spending around $800 a month.

While that number may feel expensive, it was still less than what I would pay for driving my own car.  Starting a small business meant that cash flow was one of the most important "drivers" of my success and any savings was crucial to growing my consulting work.

Lastly, the best benefit for me was that I could WORK and recharge my cell phone between appointments.  This increase in productivity allowed me to double my work output and service all my clients in a timely and professional manner.  I would simply call the LYFT, wait on a corner, hop in the car and get to work.  If there was bad traffic and the ride took 30 minutes to go 3 miles I didn't care, because I was able to work the whole way- posting on my clients social media accounts, making phone calls, researching relevant hashtags and, very importantly, preparing my monthly invoices and reports.

I made it through that busy campaign season and most, but not all, my clients were successful in their campaigns.

I don't particularly like driving. I was was never one of those guys in high school that seemed to attach their identity to a car. I enjoy meeting the different drivers and learning about their lives in LA. I have heard some incredible stories, made some friends and feel more connected to many varied communities I would otherwise never had met.

Ride sharing is not for everyone, but run the numbers and see if it would work for you.  You will be surprised the freedom you obtain when you ditch your automobile.

Visit us at the Mar Vista Eco Car Expo on April 10th at the Mar Vista Farmers Market  at Pacific and Grand View. 

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