New Drivers vs. Experienced Drivers

A Guide to Dashing: DoorDash For New Drivers vs. Experienced Drivers


Delivering for DoorDash, aka being a “Dasher,” is a reasonably easy and profitable way to be part of the gig economy. You can rise faster through the ranks and make better earnings, though, if you approach it with a beginner’s mind and a willingness to learn what it takes to succeed.

When you start a new job, no matter how smart or savvy you might be, there are details that you need to know. That’s why we’re offering great DoorDash beginner tips here. This post will not only get you acquainted with one of the hottest apps for drivers, DoorDash; it will also give you a leg up as you first get started. You’ll get some DoorDash driver pro tips, as well. Here’s a rundown of what you’ll learn as you read on.

How Doordash works

As you probably already know, DoorDash is an app-driven food delivery service. You receive requests for deliveries, travel to restaurants to retrieve them, and deliver them to hungry customers. Like a rideshare driver app, DoorDash syncs to your bank account to pay you for your delivery work. 

To sign up with DoorDash, go to the DoorDash website and fill in the information. You’ll need to meet some requirements, but there’s nothing too rigorous about the selection process. Read more about the DoorDash sign-up process in this Gridwise blog post

Once you’re on board, you’ll receive a Dasher branded thermal bag and a red card in the mail. We’ll explain the red card in a bit, but before we do, let’s go through some of the issues that will help you get started on the right foot.

Even though you’re just beginning, it’s wise to keep your long-term goals in mind. You are going to want to take actions that maximize earnings and income for gig drivers. Even though you’re bound to make a few mistakes, you’ll do well as long as you look at your gig driving for what it is. It’s a business—your business.

Smart business practices for Dashers 

When you work with a gig company, whether you’re using a rideshare app or delivery app, there are things you need to know. The most important is that you are an independent contractor. DoorDash does not employ you. They merely give you access to their app so that you can be a self-employed gig worker.

As an independent contractor, you will not get benefits such as insurance, paid time off, or sick days. You will not get guaranteed hours or guaranteed pay. There are a few exceptions, where cities and states have gone through changes in the law as a result of the city or state government hoping to make gig economy delivery drivers employees, but even in these cases, certain elements of being an independent contractor still apply.

For example, you will not get taxes taken out of your earnings. You’ll have to set a certain amount of income aside to cover your federal, state, and local income taxes. Most authorities on the subject recommend you reserve 20–30% of gross earnings. 

You will also be responsible for recording all your tax deductions, including mileage, fuel, and gas maintenance. Needless to say, this can get a bit unwieldy, especially when your job already has you on the go. You need help.

Top DoorDash earners rely on Gridwise, a delivery and rideshare assistant app that makes much of this a lot easier. With Gridwise, you can:

The best part is that you can do all this for free! Drivers have called it the best mileage tracking app and earnings tracker app for gig drivers, and it’s super easy for anyone to use. You’ll also be able to get more comfortable about life as an independent contractor with the safety net Gridwise Benefits can provide.

Explore the app for yourself!

Dasher do’s and don’ts

This video presentation offers great DoorDash tips for beginners. You’ll see many of these items in the clip, but let’s list them, plus a few others the video doesn’t cover, so you can see everything in one place.

  1. Learn the app. You will have to know what you’re doing with the app, so get familiar with it even before you go out. Learn what it means to schedule blocks rather than Dash on demand, and see what it takes to accept, decline, cancel, and unassign orders. 

There are many videos online that help with this, but the best way to learn the app is to use it. If you have a friend who’s already a seasoned Dasher, that person can show you the ropes as well. Also, start by working from home, so you can give yourself a chance to become familiar with the app.

  1. Learn how to schedule blocks. This is an essential part of Dashing. You’ll want to choose the times that fit into your schedule, and zones where you’re likely to have the best results. It’s possible to book your areas and time slots as many as six days in advance. You can Dash on demand, simply making yourself available whenever you like, once you become established as a Dasher.
  2. Learn about the red card. The DoorDash red card is how you’ll pay for orders that have not been covered by the customer online. You may have to place the order yourself, or you might find that the payment is being made with the card when you check out. It usually works just fine, but if there’s a problem, you can get it corrected by contacting DoorDash customer service through your app.
  3. Use branded materials. DoorDash will send you a branded insulated bag in the mail when you sign up, but if you go to the Dasher online store, you’ll be able to purchase beverage carriers, caps, T-shirts, and other materials. These items will identify you as a Dasher, both at restaurants and while you’re making your deliveries to your customers.
  4. Take your time. While one of the things that makes you stand out as a top Dasher will be your prompt service, you also have to get the right order, go to the right address, and avoid spills or mishaps that can turn a stellar delivery into a disaster. Even well-seasoned DoorDash top earners know how important it can be to move carefully, even if that means walking or driving slowly.
  5. Look at your dollar-to-mile ratio before accepting a delivery. It’s easy to calculate how much you’ll get paid per mile of driving. Simply look at the delivery, and divide the amount of the order by the number of miles you’ll need to travel. If the result is between $1.00 and $2.00, you’ll want to skip it, but most drivers believe that $3.00 or more is ideal. 
  6. Decline unworthy orders. You have every right to decline an order, and your driver rating won’t suffer if you do. Someone else is bound to pick up that $3.50 trip that’s 15 miles away from your location. And if they don’t, DoorDash is likely to raise the price, much like it’s done at auctions.

However, if you cancel a lot of orders, you could suffer nasty consequences, up to and including deactivation.

  1. Keep communication channels open. Put yourself in the position of your hungry customer, waiting for food to arrive. If you’re caught up in a backlogged restaurant or a traffic jam, call or text the customer to inform them of any delay that might take place. 
  2. Carry the right stuff. While it isn’t mandatory to own equipment such as pizza bags, beverage carriers, or an insulated backpack, it’s smart to get whatever it takes for you to do a good job. Avoid spills, splashes, and cold food by acquiring the equipment you need to do the job. Here’s a list of some useful items:
  • extra insulated bags
  • beverage holders
  • crates or boxes to prevent spills
  • extra napkins and condiments
  • a flashlight or headlamp
  • safety equipment for your vehicle
  • your own food and beverages so you don’t go hungry and can stay hydrated
  • a Sharpie pen for writing customer names on orders
  1. Position yourself. Don’t drive around looking for orders. Park and wait. Of course, your best bet will be to park in a place where lots of different restaurants will be generating orders, unless there are already too many Dashers in the neighborhood.
  2. Map out local restrooms. Needing to “go” is a fact of life. Know which restaurants allow Dashers to duck into their facilities, and identify other spots with public access to places where you can take your “bio breaks.”
  3. Manage stacked orders. From time to time, and especially at busy fast-food restaurants, the Dasher app will send you stacked orders, that is two or more orders on the same trip. This could happen at the time you receive the call through the app, or it might occur once you arrive at the restaurant. There are two things to know about these orders.
  1. If you receive both orders through the app, and one seems to be too much mileage for not enough pay, you can unassign yourself from the order.
  2. If you want to receive a stacked order at a given restaurant, stay put for around 30–60 seconds when you arrive. This gives the app a chance to offer you a stacked order.

That’s a pretty long list of DoorDash driver do’s, but our DoorDash pro tips wouldn’t be complete without adding a few don’ts as well.

  1. Don’t accept every order. When you’re new to delivery driving, it’s kind of thrilling to get requests for delivery. Not all are worth taking, though. Run them through that dollar-to-mile ratio test under number 6 above. 
  2. Don’t cancel too many orders. It’s always better to simply decline an order than to cancel one that you’ve already accepted. As we mentioned before, too many cancellations can lead to unpleasant consequences.
  3. Don’t drive when there’s no peak pay. If your schedule allows, try to stick to driving at peak hours and at times when people are handing out big gratuities. Pro Tip: Late night noshers tend to be more generous with doling out extra cash to their delivery drivers.
  4. Don’t be anything but nice. Even when restaurant servers treat you with less dignity than the burgers they’re flipping, or a customer glares at you for walking on their lawn, keep your cool. Becoming irate or sarcastic with the people you interact with will only reflect badly on you. If you encounter a really nasty piece of work in human form, you can rate them accordingly within the Dasher app.
  5. Don’t ignore your appearance. We’re not saying you should wear a suit all the time – make sure you’re comfortable and authentic to yourself! But you can look nice and be comfortable at the same time. Looking put together and professional can only help you earn more and get into less trouble.

Now that you know what’s good and not-so-good to do when you start out as a Dasher, let’s move on to building your best approach to your gig driving business.

Easy strategies for maximum results

Talking about strategy doesn’t necessarily mean things are going to get complicated. In fact, when you optimize your driving time, you’ll maximize your job satisfaction as well as your earnings. 

If you want to be one of the highest DoorDash earners, you need to set up certain practices. Rideshare companies and rideshare driver apps tend to provide more information than delivery driving apps do, but that doesn’t have to stop you from getting even more information than the average rideshare app can deliver.

Pro Tip: Put the best rideshare and delivery assistant to work for you!

Gridwise makes it easy to put together a driving schedule and strategy that will keep your stress levels low and your earnings high. With Gridwise, you can find out everything you need to know about your delivery business. Not only is it an awesome mileage tracking app for delivery drivers, it gives you all kinds of inside information. Want to know about Uber hourly pay in your area, or have you ever asked yourself, “How much do Uber drivers make a month?”

With Gridwise features Where to Drive and When to Drive, you can satisfy your curiosity about Uber drivers, find out more about the earnings of the average Roadie driver, and most important—discover how much DoorDash pays per trip in your area, when Dashers are making the most money, and where DoorDash customers are giving out the biggest tips. You’ll have an easy time becoming a real DoorDash pro!

These features, in addition to all the mileage, tax deduction, and earnings tracking capabilities of this powerful—and free—app can be yours in an instant.

Download the Gridwise app now!

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