Jan Kennenâ€™s career has included â€œa whole spectrum of things. I was a group plans manager, and I sold employee benefits for years. From there I went into self-insurance and I did that for a number of years. I tried being an administrative assistant for a number of years. I was a project coordinator for a number of years,â€ she said.
She took early retirement and then, with the encouragement of her daughter, began driving for Uber part-time in September of 2015. â€œIt helps pay the bills and put food on the table,â€ she said. â€œI really love driving.â€
When she started driving, Kennen purchased a 2011 Lexus SUV. â€œIt was a big investmentâ€”all our cars were a lot older. Tax-wise itâ€™s okay, because the tax guy can depreciate the cost of the vehicle. The niche group I was trying to reach was the executives and doctors who need to go to the airport. They expect that kind of vehicle to take them,â€ she said. She also had to invest in a new phone, since Uber requires an Android or iPhone that is 2012 or newer.
Uber required a background check, a vehicle inspection and pictures of her car. Kennen also got a business credit card and checking account because Uber pays drivers by direct deposit. Her husband helped her set up QuickBooks. â€œI keep very accurate records. I get receipts constantly. I keep track of everything in Excelâ€”gas, food, repairs. Everything is right there so the tax man can itemize itâ€”because this is your own business,â€ she said.
Although itâ€™s her own business, Uber controls her pricing. Kennen started driving before the commission went from 20% to 28%, and she was grandfathered in at the lower rate. Uber has also cut basic rates, but â€œsurgeâ€ pricing somewhat evened that out.Â â€œWhat Iâ€™ve discovered is that on Monday mornings if I go out early, I can make almost as much between five and noon as I did from 9 oâ€™clock to six oâ€™clock,â€ Kennen said.
Like many people in encore careers, Kennen values the flexibility of driving for Uber.
â€œThat was one of the big appeals,â€ she said. â€œThereâ€™s so much flexibility in terms of when I wanted to drive, what hours I wanted to put in. There arenâ€™t a lot of jobs where you say, â€˜My kidâ€™s coming home, and Iâ€™m not going to drive while sheâ€™s home.â€™â€
Kennen said, â€œIâ€™ve met a lot of extremely interesting people. The one thing I have tried and will not do anymore is 10-to-3-oâ€™clock bar runs. I donâ€™t want to deal with those people. Some of them are funny and very enjoyable, but some are very ornery. Only one person was sick, sick, sickâ€”I had to literally stop on 394.â€
While some Uber drivers â€œdress however they dress,â€ Kennen said, â€œI tend to dress fairly professionally. I wear black slacks and a blazer and a warm sweater underneath it so I can keep the car at a 73-degree temperature. No coat. My car will be very warm and weâ€™ll be fine. I offer little bottles of water. I donâ€™t offer candy because Iâ€™d probably eat it. I bring little snacksâ€”Cheerios and Parmesan puffs to eat so Iâ€™m not eating junk food all the time.â€
Kennen said she always asks people if they have a preferred route or â€œif I should just GPS it. My theory compared to some drivers is that youâ€™re out there to help people get from point A to point B. You may not be the happiest camper if you drove 10 miles and itâ€™s a 5-mile fare. I go this whole broad spectrum. Iâ€™ve gone as far west as Litchfield and south to Canterbury, north to Shoreview, east to Woodbury and whatever is out that direction.â€
While Kennen knows she might make more money if she targeted areas in surge pricing, or drove the bar runs, â€œthat isnâ€™t my goal in life,â€ she said. â€œI donâ€™t drive weekends because thatâ€™s the only time I can spend with my husband. I do a lot of volunteering.â€
The upside, she concludes, is â€œI really enjoy driving. My husband gets frustrated because he sees me happy with what Iâ€™m doing.â€