Exercise 89 – Drivers are dropping out of a city on Lyft, how do you figure out what’s going on?

Post and review answers and feedback to answers in the comments section of this post.

See also:

List of problem solving questions for product manager job interviews

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Drivers are dropping out of a city, how do you figure out what’s going on?

There are multiple reasons why there could be a drop of drivers. We can break it down into company, customer (both driver and passenger), product, competition, and even government.

  • 1) Which city is this specifically? And, how much of a percentage decrease are we talking about?
  • 2) Is there some economic reason for this happening in that city that is outside of our control (government is increasing tariffs to be a driver or taxes for a 1099 employee is too much)?
  • 3) Have we gotten bad PR?
  • 4) Have our business model changed? Have we taken more % of the drivers pay?
  • 5) What do you mean by dropping out? Are they deleting the driver app and/or resigning as being a driver? What specific metric are we talking about?
  • 6) Is the percentage / # of driver drop similar MoM or YoY (seasonality)?
  • 7) Are there recent changes made in the app that make it difficult to drive?
  • 8) Are competitors (Uber, etc.) having a stronger play and have the incentive to drive for them and quit Lyft?
  • Bijan

    Great list Justin. Thank you for posting. Looking forward to seeing you submit answers to more exercises.

    nom de plume
    nom de plume

    I assume “dropping out” refers to deactivating such that they do not drive for Lyft anymore. First of all, I would cross-check the source of the red flag data to be sure it is accurate.

    Assuming the trend is verified, I’d ask these clarifying questions:
    – What % of drivers are deactivating?
    – Over what period of time has this deactivation been occurring? When did it begin?
    – Did the change occur suddenly or gradually over a period of time?
    – What changes occurred at the time the change occurred that might affect app performance? E.g. a code release or vendor change
    – Is the change occurring within the entire driver population in the city, or among certain drivers only? e.g. only drivers that signed up in the past 6 months are affected
    – What feedback have we heard from the drivers in the affected group? Have they provided reasons for deactivating?
    – Have there been similar drops in other Lyft metrics in the area? e.g. has ridership experienced a similar trend?
    – Has this trend appeared before in this city or another city? if yes, what was the cause?
    – Has there been any server downtime or other errors reported?

    Using this information, we want to determine if the problem is *internal* or *external* in nature.
    An internal problem could be a bug, server issue, or a new feature that had unintended consequences. An external problem could be related to competition, bad PR, a natural disaster, a firmware change, or new regulatory or legal change.

    If the problem is identified as internal, meaning a bug or the like, I would work with the engineering team to isolate the problem and push out a fix. Depending on the severity of the problem, I might ask to interrupt the current sprint and push this out as a hotfix, or if less severe, could include the fix in the next sprint plan.

    If the problem is a feature that is causing issues, I’d work with Eng to roll back the feature and if possible, spec out a new feature that does not have a similarly detrimental impact.

    If the issue is external, such as a hurricane, change to the law, or new competitor entering the market, I’d work through the normal product development cycle to plan for an address the problem. If the issue is temporary or seasonal, there may not need to be further action taken as the drivers will likely return without further intervention.


    Good answer. Thanks for posting this. Perhaps you would also want to ask some questions to check if the issue is seasonal or not (e.g. “Did we experience a similar drop last year?”. In addition, this could be due to new competitor arrival with better payment model for the drivers. You’ll want to explore that path as well.