Table of contents
My DoorDash Driver Experiment (Part 2 of 2)
Second in a two-part series meant to serve as a quick-start guide to earning income as a DoorDash delivery driver.
As promised in DoorDash Sign Up – DoorDash Driver Experiment (Part 1 of 2) in this blog I will go into more detail about how to become a DoorDash driver; the DoorDash sign up process; basics of DoorDash pay model; customer tipping; accepting and declining delivery requests; staying close to home (or not); DoorDash grocery delivery; flower delivery; and more.
DoorDash sign up process
I covered the basics of the DoorDash sign up process in Part One… please take note signing up successfully does not mean you are being hired for a job… you’re signing up to earn income on your terms. Sign Up for Doordash.
It can be confusing getting started as a Gig worker.
Confusing in part because signing up is really easy, and largely speaking, getting started does not come with meaningful company-provided training. (There’s a reason for this no-training reality)
Getting a Gig economy “job” can seem kind of backward compared to getting a traditional job… with a traditional job applying, interviewing, and getting hired tends to be the hard part… then after being hired new traditional employees get some kind of new job orientation and are told how to fulfill the requirements of the job.
With Gig economy jobs there is no direct supervisor/boss to provide instructions; there are no co-workers to interact with or ask questions of during the workday, and there is almost zero “job” training.
With Gig economy “jobs” the easy part is signing up and qualifying… then comes the hard part… figuring out how to earn maximum income; avoid the pitfalls and “speed bumps”; feel confident you are doing your best work; all without any co-workers or supervisors at your side to ask for help and guidance.
Gig workers are not hired… or fired…
To be a successful DoorDash driver (or Gig worker) you simply must “Get your mind right” about the nature of the relationship between a Gig economy company and the Independent contractor worker.
Being an Independent contractor with significant expenses (your vehicle) is without question equal to running a business… and hugely different from being an employee.
Signing up for DoorDash or another Gig economy company gives you the opportunity to earn income but it would be incorrect to think you’ve been “hired”… and you now have a “job”… because you haven’t been hired and you don’t have a traditional job.
After a successful sign up what you do have is access to a Gig economy company’s software platform and an opportunity to earn business income.
Gig worker jobs - don't believe everything you read
One last (and very important) thought on signing up for DoorDash or for any kind of Gig worker job:
If you have your “mind right” you understand that every new Gig worker makes a personal choice to pursue earning income with a non-traditional “job.”
It’s extremely easy to find “news” articles and online driver forums pitching the idea that the Gig economy companies are exploiting workers and should be treating drivers as traditional employees and not Independent contractors.
But Gig workers aren’t recruited like traditional job candidates; they aren’t interviewed; not compared against other applicants for the same position; Gig workers are not hired, and most importantly not promised they will ever earn a single dime doing Gig economy contract work.
So please don’t become part of the extreme minority of Gig workers whining that they are being taken advantage of and they should be getting a minimum guaranteed wage; and sick pay; and other benefits that come with traditional jobs… if you want those things go apply for a traditional job.
Gig economy employment law - take them to court
There are always active legal cases trying to force Gig economy companies to make their Independent contractors employees… my regular readers know I believe none of the cases will have the results the unhappy minority of Gig economy workers expect or want.
I’ve been very clear in my writing I believe if someday Gig economy companies are forced to make Independent contractor workers employees most of what’s good about Gig economy work will be gone and the workers who thought the change would be a good thing will be wishing they could go back to being Independent contractors… but at that point… it will be too late.
For example if Uber, Lyft, or DoorDash were required to start treating drivers as employees I believe every active Uber and Lyft rideshare driver would immediately lose their rideshare driving “job” and have to apply and be formally hired to become a DoorDash driver or employee-driver for Uber / Lyft.
Popular media articles suggest that if a court case were won it would mean all drivers would automatically become employee-drivers and often as not be paid back as if they had always been traditional employees.
Sounds great if you’re on the receiving side… but if a legal judgment means a business has to close down because the money simply doesn’t exist to pay the judgment… well then the business is gone and no one earns any income. Because of this “back pay” for Gig workers is unlikely to happen.
If employment laws ever force Gig economy companies to use traditional employees and not Independent contractor drivers… many active drivers would not be hired… even ones with years working on the given software platform.
You can doubt me on this one… but I accept the fact that when a traditional company hires for a traditional job… 100% of the time they choose who they want to hire… and outside of the standing legal definition of discrimination companies can choose to hire (or not hire) who they want to hire.
I have tons of experience working middle management positions in corporate America tech companies and I know when I’m applying for a job the hiring team can legally choose to hire someone else simply because they liked the other candidate better.
We could have identical experience and background. It’s even possible I could make a case that my experience, education, and background meant I was more qualified compared to the applicant that got the job… it just doesn’t matter because hiring traditional employees is a choice companies make with little or no requirement to explain their choices.
Okay I’m done with my rant on “getting your mind right”… what you do and think is of course your choice.
I choose to be a Gig worker… this means I have the freedom to choose when, where, and how much to work. It also means I do not have a traditional job or most of the good and bad that comes with that distinction.
Basics of DoorDash new pay model
In the past DoorDash has gotten some negative press regarding how they calculate driver pay.
In July of 2019 DoorDash communicated they made a major change to the way they calculate driver pay primarily meaning DoorDash stopped using customer tips to subsidize driver pay.
For obvious reasons the DoorDash pay structure that leveraged tips customer’s entered in the DoorDash application before a delivery was completed was not at all popular. Based on results it appears that outrage from DoorDash customers was an important part of the change.
As I understand the change the old DoorDash pay structure allowed them to reduce the Base Pay for drivers when customers added a tip in the software application at the same time they placed a delivery request. Important to note what DoorDash was doing was always legal because drivers agreed to the pay structure in the DoorDash/Driver contract.
In the old pay structure the DoorDash software application would at least sometimes take into account the customer’s in-application tip when calculating driver Base Pay so would sometimes reduce Base Pay in the delivery request.
What’s most important today is under the DoorDash new pay model drivers receive all of the customer’s in-application tips.
DoorDash base pay
Every delivery order includes some amount of Base Pay from DoorDash.
From the DoorDash web site defining Base Pay:
“Base pay is DoorDash’s base contribution for each order. This will range from $2-10+ depending on the estimated time, distance, and desirability of the order. Deliveries that require Dashers to travel a longer distance, that are expected to take more time, and that are less popular with Dashers will have a higher base pay. Base pay will not change based on the customer tip amount.”
As a well-seasoned Lyft and Uber rideshare driver I was surprised when I learned my DoorDash pay would not be calculated primarily by the number of miles I have to travel from the point I accept a delivery request to the point I complete the delivery.
In my research I’ve seen the DoorDash Base Pay calculation described as a “black box algorithm” which fits the quote above from the DoorDash site:
“… [base pay] will range from $2-10+ depending on the estimated time, distance, and desirability of the order.”
This matches my experience with about 1,000 deliveries. I have not been able to see a definable pattern in the amount of Base Pay I earn from one delivery to the next.
It appears that I do earn more when I have to drive farther to complete an order… but as far as I can see the “black box algorithm” does not calculate Base Pay using a defined amount of pay per mile the driver has to travel to complete an order.
Do DoorDash drivers get tips?
In my limited experience (2 1/2 months and about 1,000 deliveries) customer tips account for more than half of my total earnings.
Earning more than half of my income from tips is nothing like driving for Uber and Lyft where most of my income comes from the distances I travel and it is very easy to look at my pay for a given ride and clearly understand how the total was calculated.
With DoorDash I’m seeing that all driver tips are added by the customer in advance… this means when a driver accepts a delivery, they are almost always seeing exactly how much they will earn to complete that delivery.
When a customer does not add a tip in advance the delivery offer request can seem really low compared to most deliveries where a tip from the customer is added in advance.
At minimum, when I see a delivery request presented in the software application, I like to see at least $1 for every mile I have to drive.
I’ll go into more detail about $1 a mile in a moment and I choose not to concern myself with how much of a given delivery request offer is Base Pay vs. customer tip… all that really matters is how much gross income I get to take home.
The DoorDash website says customers can add a tip after the delivery is complete but in just over 1,000 deliveries I’ve never seen a customer's tip come in after the delivery was completed.
My buddy who started driving with DoorDash a few months before me has only once seen a tip added after the delivery was completed.
From the DoorDash web site.
“Please note that customers are also able to tip after the delivery if they chose not to do so at checkout, which may increase your total earnings per delivery. You’ll receive a push notification when a customer adds a post tip on any previous order and will see an updated earnings breakdown for that delivery. Nothing is changing about how Dasher pay is calculated.”
Yes, some DoorDash customers tip drivers in cash when you hand them their order… in my experience rare but it happens.
Being a DoorDash driver - accepting a delivery request
Accepting a DoorDash delivery request is fairly straight-forward.
The driver has 45 seconds to accept or decline the request and if the driver does nothing the request expires and is offered to another driver.
Each request communicates:
- The name of the “Merchant”
- An estimate of total miles required to drive from the driver’s current location… to the restaurant/store/merchant… to customer drop off location
- The minimum amount of income completing the order will pay... The total could be higher after the delivery is complete… but at this point it is not clear to me exactly why a few orders end up being significantly higher… it’s possible the customer can increase the tip amount between the time they placed the order and the time the driver arrives at their location
After accepting a delivery request there is a “Navigate” button on the DoorDash application screen which pushes the Merchant address to Google Maps for easy navigation.
Being a DoorDash driver really is that easy! Grab the food at the restaurant and deliver it to the customer.
Dasher app - deciding which requests to accept
When I started completing deliveries with DoorDash I accepted almost every delivery request. This is similar to how I approach rideshare passenger driving.
When I complete rideshare passenger trips I figure earning income is better than waiting for a “better” request to come along so I accept almost every passenger trip request. Of course, I would prefer the longer and more profitable passenger trips but even short trips add to the total income I have at the end of the day.
I’ve learned to be a little pickier using the DoorDash driver app and not accept every delivery request that comes my way.
From the beginning with DoorDash I never accepted an order paying less than $3. These are rare but the way I see it $3 is not sufficient pay for me to get in and out of my car twice plus I might have to wait for the order to be ready burning more of my time.
Best case scenario that $3 DoorDash will take 15 minutes to complete and I’d like to average greater than $12 gross income an hour… in fact I’m averaging about $20 per hour gross income from DoorDash deliveries.
The main Dasher app screening method I use is simple:
- I compare the miles I have to travel
- To the minimum amount I am guaranteed to earn
For example, a request to earn $8 and travel 6.5 miles is a better than average offer I’m probably going to “Accept” the request and complete the delivery.
Most delivery requests I accept pay more $$$ compared to the number of miles I have to travel.
I’ve learned to think hard before accepting a request that is “Underwater” meaning the guaranteed pay amount is lower than the number of miles I will have to travel… for example $8 pay for 12 miles traveled.
When I get a delivery request, I judge it’s business value thinking:
- Lower Pay = anything less than $1 per mile
- Acceptable Pay = approximately $1 per mile
- Better Pay = anything more than $1 per mile
I’ve seen requests as low as $0.50 for each mile I would have to travel and lots of requests that are significantly more than $2 per mile I will have to travel.
Some drivers probably only accept the “Better Pay” requests which means they are choosing “Decline” more often compared to me. It’s possible these drivers average more for than their time compared to me assuming counting only “active” time and not “waiting” time.
I’m not tracking my hours worked as a DoorDash driver… my primary goal is replacing my full-time rideshare passenger driving which due to current conditions in America has all but gone away.
A “Decline” in the DoorDash driver’s application reduces a driver’s “Acceptance Rate” percentage which can prevent a driver from earning or keeping “Top Dasher” status.
DoorDash driver rewards - what is a Top Dasher?
DoorDash has a designation for drivers called “Top Dasher.”
As of June 2020, in order to be a “Top Dasher” a driver must complete 200-lifetime deliveries and at least 100 deliveries in the past month and an “Acceptance Rate” of at least 70%.
There are other driver performance metrics described at DoorDash driver rewards.
I will tell you there is one main reason you want to be a Top Dasher.
Regular Dashers can only log in to the driver application when the area the driver is located in shows as “Busy” on the driver application map.
When I first started with DoorDash this was annoying because I sometimes had to wait for my home area to show “Busy” on the map or drive to another area on the map that showed “Busy.” Of course, while I was driving to the new location the “Busy” designation on the map might go away.
As a Top Dasher I can log in whenever I want and wherever I want without regard to if the application map shows my current location as a “busy” area.
This ability to log in whenever I want helps me when I suspect there could be DoorDash driver application or DoorDash server issues… because the #1 thing I’ve found that seems to work when I’m getting no orders during a time of day which should be busier (Lunch and Dinnertime or Noon – 2p & 5:30p – 8:00p) is choosing “End Dash” then immediately starting a new Dash.
Regular Dashers take a risk when they “End Dash” that it won’t be “busy” in their current area and they will not be able to immediately log back in.
DoorDash says Top Dashers also get priority for orders over available regular Dashers which sounds great but there is no way to prove.
The ability to login whenever I choose is a big enough benefit for me to do what it takes to stay a Top Dasher.
DoorDash minimum pay - why $1 per mile
Back to what I want to see when I choose “Accept” to a delivery request.
My thinking with $1 per mile as my DoorDash minimum pay for accepting a delivery request comes from thinking about my business expenses… namely my vehicle expenses.
Using the simple step-by-step process in my book Driving for Uber and Lyft - How Much Can Drivers Earn? anyone can calculate a meaningful “X per mile” expense number for any vehicle (including estimating future maintenance; recovering the depreciating resale value of any vehicle; and filing taxes as an Independent contractor.)
From working through the calculations in my book I know that my 2006 Toyota Prius with over 300,000 miles costs about $0.25 cents per mile including gas; oil changes; tires; future maintenance costs; and recovering what I paid for the car when I purchased it used with 100,000 miles on the odometer
The IRS allows Independent contractor drivers to deduct $0.58 cents per business mile from earned gross income. This means my actual vehicle expenses are about half of the allowed deduction from my gross income.
It’s unlikely your vehicle expenses are $0.58 cents per mile, in fact unlikely that most driver’s expenses are as much as $0.58 cents a mile… but the number is still useful for determining the income value of a delivery request before I accept the request.
If a Gig economy company used $0.58 cents per mile in their pay structure calculations, then anything over $0.58 cents per mile could be seen as the pay for the driver’s time.
Viewed this way a delivery request paying $1 per mile is paying about $0.40 cents per mile for the driver’s time.
A delivery request for (as example) $0.50 per mile (lowest I’ve seen) is barely covering the driver’s expenses so using this method paying essentially nothing for the driver’s time.
It’s important to remember the goal is to earn income and not just turn down all but the most profitable delivery request.
Also true… that lower-paying delivery completed during a time of day (lunch and dinner) when it’s likely to be busy… completing that lower-paying trip prevents you from being available to accept a higher-paying delivery.
When a driver turns down a delivery request (DoorDash application “Reject”) there is always the risk that the next delivery request won’t come for minutes or longer… after a few weeks and a few dozen deliveries you’ll know better what to expect in your specific market/area of your city.
How does DoorDash pay - staying close to the action
When I’m completing passenger trips for Lyft and Uber my next passenger trip is probably close to my last passenger’s drop off location so it’s unlikely I will drive anywhere hoping to get my next passenger trip request.
This is not true with DoorDash. With DoorDash my next delivery is always going to start at the place I pick up the customer’s order (a participating restaurant or store) - that's how DoorDash pays. And it’s likely I will have to be relatively close to the restaurant/store to be the driver who gets the offer.
This means when I drop off a customer’s order, I might be 5, 10, or even more minutes away from a group of participating restaurants or stores. If there is a driver closer to the given restaurant or store when the delivery request occurs, the request goes to the closest driver.
Sometimes I get a delivery request soon after dropping off my last order but usually I have to travel pretty close to “the action” before I receive another request.
I consider this reality when I think about my $1 per mile calculation.
Staying busy rather than spending a lot of time waiting for my next delivery request is probably going to mean more income at the end of the day… so when I’m still far from “the action” I’m more willing to accept a request for less than $1 per mile.
DoorDash hotspots near me or stay close to home
The DoorDash driver’s software application communicates “hot spots” close to a driver’s current location. This can be useful when a customer’s drop off location takes you away from more familiar areas.
Currently I’m more likely to drive back toward my home area, there are a lot of participating restaurants in my home area and a lot of customers using DoorDash.
Staying close to home also appeals to me because and after a couple of months I’m familiar with the restaurant’s locations and their procedure for delivery drivers.
Another reason I tend to head back toward my home area after completing a delivery is if there is a lull in delivery requests I’d rather go home for a while instead of sitting in a parking lot in a part of town I don’t know as well as my home area.
In my first few weeks this happened to me more than once… I would get a request from a restaurant close to my home to a customer 10 minutes or more away from my home address.
Instead of driving back toward my home area I followed the DoorDash driver app “Hot Spot” suggestion.
Then I sometimes got a delivery request from a restaurant near my current location with a customer delivery location even farther from my home address.
When this pattern repeated multiple times, more than once I found myself a 25-30 drive away from my home address.
So, as I’ve said I tend to try to stay close to my home area BUT I’m always clear in my mind my most-important goal is to earn income.
Where you drive will be different from where I drive and it will take some time for each new driver to find their own “best” routines.
DoorDash grocery delivery
Grocery deliveries are very different from restaurants. The pickup is almost always going to take comparatively longer and many grocery deliveries will be large enough to require multiple trips from the driver’s car to the customer’s door.
I am generally not a fan of grocery deliveries mostly because DoorDash customers don’t seem to add the tip in-application the same way they tend to do with restaurant deliveries. This means the up-front income estimates I see in the delivery requests for grocery store orders tend to be less $$$ for every mile I will have to travel.
Multiple times I have been tipped $5, $10, and a couple of times even $20 cash with a grocery delivery but when there’s no cash tip; and a long wait at the store; or a whole lot of groceries… I’ve felt like my business time could have been better spent.
Again, it’s important to remember when a driver is completing an order they are not available for other orders… but drivers have to balance this unavailable effect against the reality that we could be waiting in a parking lot earning nothing.
I am more likely to accept a DoorDash grocery delivery request between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. when there are likely less food delivery requests. At least in my area grocery store delivery requests don’t come in as often during dinnertime hours.
And I’m also more likely to accept a request from a “high end” grocery store compared to one from a discount chain.
Grocery delivery requests I’ve received so far seem to be more likely to be “underwater” meaning I would have to travel more miles compared to the amount I’m guaranteed.
On average and at this point in time I believe grocery orders are more likely to be “Even Money” meaning a $12 gross earnings delivery will require me to drive at least 12 miles.
I’ve heard from other drivers that grocery delivery customers are more likely to add a tip in the application after the delivery is complete or hand over a cash tip at the door… but I’m a “bird in the hand” kinda guy and hesitant to spend my business earning time hoping for a tip to make the delivery worth my time and energy.
Full disclosure to everyone who has not been a rideshare passenger driver… over four years of rideshare passenger trips have trained me to not to expect customer tips.
In comparison with DoorDash I’m seeing greater than half of my income from tips… with rideshare passenger business when I bothered to carefully track my tips over weeks and months my earnings were increased only about 10% from passenger tipping.
DoorDash grocery vs DoorDash restaurant
There are important differences between DoorDash restaurant delivery and grocery delivery.
- The Pickup
Restaurants are all about “sense of urgency”… food needs to be made as fast as possible and delivered to the customer when the food is as fresh as possible.
Most of the time drivers benefit from this built-in “sense of urgency” so getting into the restaurant and out with the order is usually pretty fast.
DoorDash grocery deliveries are picked by grocery store employees in advance so drivers will never have to wait for a customer’s order to be ready for pickup.
However, when a driver arrives to pick up a grocery order it is far more likely (compared to restaurants) that the driver will have to have to wait minutes or more to get out the door with the customer’s order.
I’m not blaming grocery store employees or managers… it’s a very different environment from a restaurant where employees tend to have a “sense of urgency” to get food prepared, packaged, and out the door as soon as possible.
So during the 45 seconds I have to accept or decline a grocery store delivery I’m thinking it’s likely the pickup will probably take on average 10 minutes from the time I park to the time I have the groceries in my car.
And it’s possible the person in charge of giving an order to the driver won’t be immediately available and the pickup could take 15-20 minutes.
- The Drive
It was interesting to learn that not every store in a chain of grocery stores handles DoorDash orders. At least in my area one store tends to be a central hub for delivery orders serving a relatively large geographic region.
This means I might have to drive 10-15 minutes to get to the right grocery store location and another 10-15 minutes or more to get to the customer’s location. More than once I’ve passed another store in the chain along the way.
Again, I’m still pretty new to DoorDash but at least some of the grocery store orders I’ve completed take me pretty far from my home address. In one case a delivery request I did not accept would have taken me to Downtown Denver easily a 25-30 drive away from my home area.
Again, this is true because not every grocery store location in a chain of grocery stores processes delivery requests.
And when the customer considers adding a tip they probably assume the driver is coming from the store a mile from their home when in reality the driver might have come from a different location of the grocery store’s chain of stores which is 20 minutes or more away.
- Grocery Store Customer Tipping
In my experience grocery store orders are far less likely to have a tip added with the delivery request so the delivery offer is only showing me Base Pay with no promise of receiving a tip from the customer.
I have completed deliveries from “high-end” grocery stores and received very nice cash tips, at least twice the customer’s tip was a twenty-dollar bill.
There is one national discount grocery store chain that uses DoorDash for delivery where every order request I’ve seen has been “underwater” paying less than $1 per mile.
I’ve had a whole lot of experience as a tipped employee (7 years as a restaurant waiter and bartender in my early 20s) and I am extremely skeptical the average customer purchasing groceries from a discount store is likely to add an in-application tip after the delivery or hand me a cash tip when I deliver the groceries to the customer’s front door.
I have talked to other drivers who say even the discount grocery customer tip at least half of the time… and significant amounts… ten and twenty-dollar bills.
At least for now I plan to “stick to my guns” and pass on most grocery store delivery offers and unlikely I will ever accept a grocery store delivery during lunch and dinner prime times.
Currently I’m thinking I am meeting or exceeding my income goals without completing a lot of grocery store deliveries so for now the risk is not worth the potential reward… at least not for me.
- Opportunity Lost?
I’ve talked about “opportunity lost” a couple of times… meaning when a driver is completing an order they are not available to receive new and possibly more profitable delivery requests.
Just like with rideshare driving there’s no way to know or prove if making a choice to decline a request will result in more or less income… every choice is the driver’s best guess at the moment.
The discount grocery request could come with a $20 cash tip and the restaurant request could be at a restaurant that is way behind on orders causing a long wait for the order to be done. There’s simply no way to know for certain in advance.
During “prime time” restaurant food lunch and dinner delivery times I think my best chances for maximum income are sticking to the restaurant orders hoping for a lot of orders coming in one right after then next. Hoping the restaurant orders do not take very long to pick up and deliver compared to a grocery store delivery.
As example if I accept a grocery store delivery at 11:15 a.m. and it takes most of an hour for pickup to delivery completion now it’s afternoon and I could have completed multiple restaurant deliveries.
Again, there’s no way to know which individual choice will result in the best income so just like my rideshare passenger business I make a choice and move on trying not to spend any energy thinking about what could have been.
Does DoorDash deliver flowers?
In my DoorDash experience so far there is a wild-card… flower delivery. Haven’t seen many but they do happen.
I’m seeing the flower orders coming from grocery store flower departments and again not every store in a chain is set up for DoorDash delivery - instead, one store tends to cover a large area.
There are a few aspects of flower delivery that make them a “wild card.”
- Likelihood of a Speedy Pickup
Typically, there is only going to be one employee working at any given time that will process the DoorDash flower pickup… and if that one employee isn’t immediately available the moment the driver arrives… there will be a waiting period.
Just like with regular grocery store orders it’s possible the designated employee serving delivery drivers will not show with actions the same “sense of urgency” compared to a restaurant employee.
More than once I’ve felt like grocery store employees behave as if they think everyone is earning an hourly wage… or probably more accurately behaving like they simply do not share a contracted delivery driver’s sense of urgency to complete at order and move on to the next one.
Simply put… DoorDash drivers earn more for their time by completing orders quickly and it can be difficult to feel patient when waiting for an unseen grocery store employee to appear to hand over the customer’s order.
Again not wanting to sound negative toward the grocery store employees, I don’t expect someone working for a guaranteed hourly wage to understand that the faster I get the flowers and get back on the road the more income I’m likely to earn in a given amount of time.
Since the flowers are probably coming from a grocery store it will probably take a little longer to find parking and get to the right place in the store compared to restaurant deliveries.
- Requirement to Get the Customer’s Signature
Communicated in the delivery request before the driver accepts… flower deliveries must be “Delivered to the customer or returned to the store.”
And “Delivered to the customer…” means getting the customer to sign for the delivery on the driver’s phone.
A driver who leaves flowers on a customer’s doorstep or at a reception desk without getting a customer signature is risking deactivation… meaning essentially fired.
This is a risk I would never be willing to take… and under current circumstances in Spring/Summer 2020 America some customers (and drivers) are not going to want to share direct contact with a stranger if it can be avoided.
Even if all the customer does is touch the driver’s phone screen to sign for flowers with their finger… germs can be shared and the device should probably be cleaned immediately before the driver touches the screen again… that’s a hassle.
- Returned to the store? Really?!!!
If the flower delivery can not be completed the flowers have to be returned immediately to the store.
In an example the day before Mother’s Day I declined a flower delivery paying a little bit more than the required mileage… $9.25 guaranteed for 8.3 miles.
If I was unable to complete the delivery because I could not find the customer to get the official sign off… it could mean 16 miles driving time plus finding the store’s flower resource twice and of course the time it takes trying to find the customer and being unsuccessful.
I’ve never had to return an order to the store… but I would not be at all surprised if the grocery store flower department employee had trouble knowing exactly what to do when a driver returns with undelivered flowers.
My suggestion to drivers is if you have to return flowers (or groceries) to the store because you could not find the customer to sign for the delivery… be polite with the grocery store employee but focus on your goal to get the flowers checked back in so you’ll get paid then get back on the road ASAP.
Communicate you are returning the flowers because you could not find the customer then leave. What the store employee does in the DoorDash application after you’ve gone is really not your problem so should not be something burning any of your time.
The driver marks the order undeliverable in the DoorDash driver application and in truth drivers know nothing (or should even care) about what happens next because it does not directly affect the driver’s pay.
DoorDash pay per delivery - what if the delivery fails?
If a driver can’t complete the flower delivery and returns the flowers to the store, they still get paid the full guaranteed pay per delivery amount, in my example case $9.25… but how much time has the driver spent?
Let’s take a guess using my $9.25 and 8.3-mile example?
- Travel Time = Averaging 30 miles per hour (this number makes for relatively easy math in your head, half a mile traveled for every minute, and with stops and starts average 30 miles per hour is a good number for average speeds driving inter-city roads) the driver travels average half a mile every minute so drive time for an 8.3-mile delivery attempt and return to store will take approximately 30-35 minutes’ of the driver’s time
- In-Store Time = Let’s guess assuming a relatively quick pick up and return at 10 minutes each time I park and go inside the store so approximately 20 minutes total because the delivery could not be completed
- Unsuccessful Customer Delivery Time – in order to have an unsuccessful delivery the driver has to really try to find the customer… meaning time at the drop off location; time looking for the customer; time calling the customer; time texting the customer, and waiting a reasonable amount of time for a response from the customer… let’s guess at least 10 minutes required before it’s clear the driver cannot find the customer
So, add up all the time and I’ve spent and I’m out about an hour of my time and earned $9.25 gross income.
My best guess at this point in my DoorDash experiment is I’m averaging around $20 an hour for my DoorDash driver time making this failed delivery attempt an income “loser” from a business perspective.
If I found the customer and completed the flower delivery earning the $9.25 in about a half an hour then that’s pretty close to a $20 gross income per hour average.
Now if the flower delivery is going to the person receiving the flowers I’m guessing the chances of a cash tip are low… how likely is it someone being surprised by an unexpected flower delivery will think “oh I should tip the driver?”
How long does it take to become a DoorDash driver?
In this two-part blog I believe I’ve provided some useful information which will give a quick start to new DoorDash and other Gig economy delivery drivers.
How long it takes to become a DoorDash driver is up to you. Take advantage of the DoorDash sign up bonus and start earning money today!
While you are earning, remember that Gig workers are Independent contractors and responsible for managing their own expenses and filing and paying the appropriate taxes.
There are deductible vehicle expenses and other business accounting practices a new Independent contractor must learn about to use accurately track and use correctly when filing taxes.
My book Driving for Uber and Lyft - How Much Can Drivers Earn? details a simple step-by-step process to calculate expenses for any vehicle (including estimating future maintenance and recovering the depreciating resale value of any vehicle.)
The book also covers Independent contractor tax filing and easy math to calculate driver “take-home pay” meaning you will know how much you should save for taxes and future vehicle expenses and how much you can safely spend on your bills or whatever income goal motivated you to become a DoorDash driver.
If you use my DoorDash Driver Referral you could earn an additional Signing bonus from DoorDash and benefit from having direct access to me as a resource, coach, or mentor. We can communicate in live phone conversations and/or through email or text messages.
Having a seasoned professional as a resource is invaluable when starting a new business venture.
Good luck out there to all… some of us have been working in the Gig economy for years and the changes we’ve seen in the past few months dwarf years of adjusting to the ever-changing world of earning income as a Gig economy driver.