Driving for DoorDash can be a fun and rewarding experience - if you know how to work the system.
The biggest "tip" to remember is that DoorDash is not your friend. You are a freelance worker, and like most corporations, DoorDash fully intends to exploit your work as cheaply as possible to keep their profit margins high. DoorDash has all sorts of methods for skimping out on paying you - the biggest of which was their new pay model they implemented in 2017; the more a customer tips you, the less DoorDash will pay you. Customers are, as you might expect, then encouraged to tip through the app and not with cash, and that effectively makes tips worthless.
The second most notable way DoorDash tries to manipulate its drivers is through its "peak pay" bonus system. The fine print on the bonus pay is that you must accept 75% of orders assigned to you in order to get the bonus. If you're assigned an order of $5 worth of Taco Bell that needs to be driven 10 miles away, you're left to question whether that extra dollar or two is really worth it (it isn't). A somewhat dubious work-around some dashers have been using is to immediately end their dash after doing a single order to get the bonus, and starting a new dash afterwards. It seems DoorDash has caught wind of this however, and will soon be rolling out a new even more anti-driver system for bonus pay.
You can expect to receive between $4 and $6 for any given DoorDash order, so $5 per order is a good estimate. Typical dashes will take about 30 minutes each, so your goal should be to complete two or more dashes for every hour you work.
To help meet this goal, follow these rules of thumb:
- Only take orders that pay $1 per mile or better.
Fuel and time are your biggests (and probably only) costs when dashing. Not taking orders under $1 per mile helps tremendously with keeping both of these costs low. Also avoid any orders that will take you out of your delivery zone, as you won't be able to get any new orders until you re-enter your zone.
- Avoid bad restaurants.
Unfortunately this is knowledge most new dashers can only obtain with time, as it's different for every locale. I, for example, never take orders from the Cheesecake Factory or Baskin Robins. The Cheesecake Factory took ages to get my order out to me every time, thus cutting into my profits. Baskin Robins had no system that let them see the order placed, so I had to waste time placing it myself, then I had to wait for the order because it couldn't be made in advance, and Baskin Robins didn't have any sort of proper carrier I could transport the ice cream in to help avoid it getting on my car seats.
- Avoid delivering to apartments, if possible.
If there are enough orders going around for you to afford to be especially choosy, then try to avoid delivering to apartments. Finding the right apartment is a hellish time waster. Customers almost never give proper delivery instructions to reach their apartment, and often they'll struggle to explain how to reach their apartment by phone as well. Some people don't even give you their apartment number, forcing you to call them. Some apartment complexes only have walkways rather than roads between buildings, so you'll have to get out and walk a not-insignificant distance. Apartments are also never sensibly laid out; seeing a map on your way in is a rare godsend. I once got a customer who was too young to drive, so therefore didn't know the gate number to get me into the complex, causing me to waste nearly 45 minutes going in circles trying to get their food to them.
- You can request extra pay if you experience problems.
Having to waste 45 minutes for an idiotic customer was incredibly frustrating, not only because I had to go through hoops to deliver the food, but more importantly because I could have done another one or two deliveries in that time. So I complained to DoorDash support.
What I discovered is that DoorDash is sometimes willing to pay an extra 50% for a delivery if you experience problems. Usually by "problems" they mean issues with the app or other inconveniences caused by DoorDash themselves rather than the customer, but I was able to get the extra pay on that order nonetheless.
Now, mind you, DoorDash was only paying me $3 of the total $5.50 for that order, so the 50% extra pay only amounted to a grand $1.50. Though at that point, for me, it was just the principle of it.
- Choose the longest dash possible.
Unlike Postmates, DoorDash doesn't simply let you "go online" and take orders whenever. You can either schedule in advance for when DoorDash thinks it needs Dashers, or wait until DoorDash knows they need Dashers and your "zone" turns red; when this happens, you can press "Dash Now" and start immediately. Either way, you don't often have much control over what end time you can pick for your dash. However, you can end a dash before the scheduled time. Therefore, it's best to pick the latest time DoorDash will allow for your dash, even if you only intend to dash for a short amount of time. Once the end time comes up on your dash, you often can't extend the dash unless you happen to stop at a busy time. If you find you want to do another order or two before heading home, you'll be out of luck. If you pick an end time past when you actually intend to stop, you're free to keep dashing. Just back out and hit "end dash" whenever you're actually done.
- Drive for other delivery services as well.
If you live in a populated area where services like Postmates, Uber Eats, GrubHub and others are available, sign up for one or more of those as well. Freelancers don't need loyalty, and it's good to have a backup if DoorDash suddenly decides to terminate your account for having a rating under 4.5 out of 5 stars. In fact, if you can get enough work through Postmates, I'd highly recommend using them as your primary work provider over DoorDash; you'll get paid roughly the same $4 to $6 per order, but with Postmates you actually get to keep your tip, which means Postmates can often be more profitable if you provide a good delivery experience for the customer.
- Use Fast Pay. (Optional).
DoorDash just recently rolled out Fast Pay, and before that, partnered with DailyPay to provide payment options that allow dashers to get paid within a day or two of doing their deliveries for a small fee. This is one of the few notable advantages DoorDash has over any other delivery service; it brings a certain peace of mind to know if you get an unexpected bill, you can do some dashes and get the money you need before the bill is due. You can get more details on Fast Pay here. Keep in mind that although the fee is small, it is cutting into your profits.
Do you have any other tips you think should be included in this article? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!