So many people set out on a delivery driving gig believing that it’s going to be totally simple. True, it doesn’t take a super genius to be a successful delivery driver, but there are more than a few things you’ll need to think about.
Scads of articles and videos out there tell you all the different things you should do, but they don’t tell you everything. That’s why we put together this blog post. Whether you’re new to delivery or a seasoned pro, we figure it’s good to know what not to do. Here’s the list of 10 common delivery driver mistakes. Read them so you can avoid them!
- Delaying your deliveries
You might think you’re being thorough or extra careful, but the customer on the other end of your order is extra hungry and generally wants the goods delivered now. That means you have to work with a sense of urgency, and pay special attention to possible delays that could arise from traffic, weather, and unexpected events.
This can be solved by using an app like Gridwise to get real-time traffic and event reports. Get alerted to changes to your route so you can circumvent slow downs that your maps app might not be aware of.
- Careless (and illegal) parking
Nothing can send a delivery driver’s heart sinking faster than the sight of a parking ticket on the windshield, or worse, a tow truck pulling up to escort the vehicle to the pound. Parking is a big part of delivery driving, both picking up and dropping off, and it isn’t always easy to find a spot that’s as safe as it is convenient.
It’s a challenge to find legal parking just about everywhere, but it’s especially rough, and expensive, in cities. Here are some things you can do to avoid having to pay a fine and/or arrange to retrieve your car from that auto pound.
- Know your town’s parking rules. If you have to, drive around the areas where you’ll be working and study the signs. Don’t get caught unaware by the alternate side of the street parking rules, or limited parking based on hours of the day.
- Know your rights. The authorities aren’t always right, and they may ticket or tow you when they shouldn’t. What they’re not counting on is your caring enough to not pay the fine, plus the fact that your flexible hours allow you to spend all morning in traffic court. If you think you were wronged, don’t just pay the fine and suck up the towing and impoundment costs. Most drivers with honest stories can get fines waived with relative ease.
- Use a parking app. Even suburban hamlets have torn out their parking meters and moved on to taking payments through an app. These apps allow you to extend your parking time if you’re delayed and keep records you can use for your tax deductions. If you’re parked somewhere that still wants you to feed meters, carry plenty of change and log what you spend. Use Gridwise to record any parking fees that aren’t being picked up by a parking app.
- Forgetting the small stuff
Imagine that you’re the customer who ordered the food you’re picking up. They’re going to want you to remember the extras, whether it be special burger sauce or extra au jus to complement a pricey prime rib dinner. If you arrive without the little things like these, as well as ordinary condiments, plastic forks, spoons, knives, or even chopsticks, your customer isn’t going to be happy.
That might mean you don’t get the tip you were hoping for, or you get a bad rating. There are many “little things” that amount to a big deal to your customers. Read this Gridwise blog post for more insight on how to improve your ratings and get bigger tips.
- Bringing a friend or Fido along for the ride
Can someone ride with you if you do DoorDash? The answer might surprise you. Technically, yes. The company’s policy is pretty loose. Its view, according to the DoorDash passenger policy, is that you are an independent contractor and you can choose how you execute the deliveries. With that said, having someone with you just for the company can be a mistake, especially if there’s an accident. Unless the other person also has a valid DoorDash account, they may not be able to benefit from any insurance coverage DoorDash might supply for bodily injury.
The DoorDash Independent Contractor agreement points out that you are responsible for paying anyone to whom you contract DoorDash tasks, such as getting someone to drop off orders for you. The Dasher agreement doesn’t say anything about bringing your dog, cat, ferret, or other pet with you, but it could be risky. How long, exactly, do you expect your pet to resist taking just a little taste of that big, juicy burger sitting on the back seat?
Also, companies are taking a more intense look at food handling practices, and mixing food and pets is a no-no when it comes to complying with most health codes.
In case you’re wondering about how these policies work with other companies and if there are differences among the various apps, you’ll find the independent contractor rules, which offer you the freedom to choose, are in effect for most of them. Still, it isn’t a great idea to bring others along, unless they too have an account with the company for which you are making deliveries. Also consider that they may want you to pay them.
- Negligent product handling
There are a few good reasons for being extra careful with the way you handle your customers’ orders.
- You could hurt yourself. Remember the stories about people being scalded by hot coffee? They weren’t making it up. You wouldn’t want to deal with hot liquids sloshing around without a proper beverage carrier or other secured container.
- You could cause an accident. Let’s say you pick up a pizza or an appetizer tray, and the big box seems to fit perfectly in your front seat. All seems to be safe until you need to make a quick turn or sudden stop. When that box goes sailing to the floor, and you reflexively jump to make a save, you might also lose control of your car. Obviously, you should not allow that to happen.
- You could ruin your customers’ orders. If you were to spill hot liquids on yourself or have a delicate order hit the deck, that product you’re delivering isn’t going to make it in an “as expected” condition. Your customer is going to be disappointed, and your apology won’t suffice.
Fortunately, there is an entire collection of equipment designed for the safe delivery of food and groceries. Read this Gridwise blog post to learn about some items you might want to carry along with you.
- Skipping insulation
Most food delivery companies will send you an insulated bag when you first start delivering. They also expect that you’re going to use it. No matter where you live or how perfect you keep your car’s cabin temperature, hot foods need to be delivered hot, and cold items need to retain their chilled state. This isn’t just a convenience. Food handling is a serious matter, and you don’t want to find yourself answering a complaint from someone who accuses you of delivering an item that’s no longer fresh or safe to consume.
Admittedly, the bags companies provide are not always the best quality, nor do they offer enough capacity for most orders. Invest in some insulated carrying bags of your own. Safety is worth the investment, and keeping food insulated is some of the best DoorDash driver advice you’re going to get.
- Sticking to a one-app gig
While loyalty is admirable, when it comes to delivery driving, it isn’t the wisest way to run your gig business. When people ask “How much do delivery drivers make?” they usually want to know what a single app pays drivers. Depending on where you are, you may not make enough working for one app to meet your earning goals.
However, most successful delivery drivers know that they can’t make bank on one delivery driving gig alone. DoorDash might be hot at lunchtime, but when evening rolls around, a different kind of app, maybe Shipt, Instacart, or even Uber or Lyft, might be a better source of income.
As long as you don’t bend or break the rules for your company’s app, working for more than one app, also known as multi-apping, can make you more money. So once you finish your Amazon Flex block, for example, you can be multi-apping DoorDash and Instacart. All you need is some fast thinking, your phone, and the tips and tricks you’ll find in this Gridwise post about multi-apping.
- Flubbing up while filing taxes
If you’re new at being an independent contractor, you need to learn about when to file taxes, and how to do it. There’s a lot more to it than you might think.
For example, you should file your taxes quarterly, estimating what will be due in the coming year based on what you made in previous years. You’ll get a one-year grace period so that you can establish a baseline for your earnings, but after that, you could be penalized for failing to file quarterly.
You will need to track your income. Knowing how much you make by the week and month will help you estimate what you might owe in quarterly taxes. Gridwise makes tax time a breeze.
When you sync your delivery apps to Gridwise, your earnings are seamlessly recorded for each shift. You can then retrieve the data and see the information illustrated by informative graphs. The Gridwise app will also allow you to enter earnings manually for as many services as you need.
You also have to know which of your expenses you can deduct from your income. This Gridwise article will fill you in on which expenses to track and log. They include
- mileage: Keep track of your mileage and deduct those accrued while driving for the various apps. Whether you’re looking for a free Grubhub mileage tracker or a Shipt mileage tracker, Gridwise has exactly what you need.
- incidental expenses: Snacks, fuel, car maintenance, and even windshield wiper fluid are expenses you incur as part of doing business—all of which can be deducted from your income.
Gridwise is the best mileage tracking app, but not just because it keeps an account of your miles while you’re on your delivery shifts. You can also use Gridwise to record your expenses as they occur. This saves you the need to fumble through a box of faded receipts for bottles of water, candy bars, and gasoline.
When you’re done tracking your earnings, mileage, and other expenses, Gridwise data can be exported to a spreadsheet or your preferred app to calculate your taxes. It’s as easy as that!
- Being in the wrong places at the slowest times
If you want to be a successful delivery driver, you need a strategy. There are times when there’s just no explanation for the things that happen. For instance, you might think after school time would be a great block for you to deliver, but for some reason, nobody seems to be hungry.
What if you could have tools that tell you when and where the most money can be made on all the apps you use? Now it’s your turn to get a delivery—from Gridwise. Gridwise is much more than a mileage tracker for delivery drivers. It brings you features that provide inside information based on real drivers in your area.
With When to Drive you can see what times of day have been the most fruitful for drivers on all the apps. Where to Drive shows you where the real hotspots are in your city. Remember: your app shows you the high-demand areas it wants you to drive to. Where to Drive shows you where drivers are actually making the most money.
- Exposing yourself to under-insurance
One of the scariest things about ditching a full-time job and diving into an independent contractor gig is losing the safety net of company benefits. You know you have to pay for car insurance, of course, but many gig drivers skimp on other forms of coverage, some of which they are quite likely to need one day.
Gridwise recognizes that the high cost of insurance can deter drivers from keeping themselves adequately covered. That’s why Gridwise Benefits was created for gig drivers. You can get low-cost coverage and services that cover all of your needs, including
- roadside assistance
- life and AD&D (accidental death & disability) insurance
- accident medical expense insurance
- critical illness insurance
- vision and dental insurance
- discounts on alternative medicine and chiropractic services
You can also insure your phone, get a car maintenance program, legal assistance, tax help, housing help, and more, at very low or no cost.