Being a delivery driver seems simple enough.
You get a ping on the app, you go to the restaurant, you pick up the order, and you drop it at the customer’s door. Easy, right? Well … it can be. But the truth is, there’s a lot more to it than that.
Ask anyone who’s used to working rideshare and suddenly switches to deliveries in an attempt to make up for a severe passenger shortage. Those annoying riders you love to hate can seem far more appealing after you get up-close-and-personal with the broken bags, spilled food, slow service at restaurants, and complicated directions—not to mention inconsistent and often inadequate pay—that come with the delivery game.
Yet even with all those worries and inconveniences, there’s a lot to like about delivery driving.
For one thing, the business is on a huge upswing now. The COVID-19 crisis fueled the rocket that got delivery off the ground, and now that people are used to it, they’ll probably want to keep enjoying it.
Also, delivery is an almost-perfect alternative (or augmentation) to your rideshare gig. You still have flexible hours, you’re still in your car, and you still get to collect fees and tips. And if you want, you can even switch back and forth between rideshare and delivery, all on one shift.
Are you ready to become a delivery driver?
The companies you hear about most, Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, Instacart, and Uber Eats, are easy to join as a driver. If you already drive for Uber, all you have to do is change your settings to include deliveries.
Working for the other companies is a simple matter of downloading the app, signing up, and waiting for the background check and the rest of the application to clear.
Unless there’s some kind of problem, you’ll be a full-fledged delivery driver in a day or three. You’ll be provided with some essential supplies, one of which is a thermal bag, usually decorated with the company logo.
Who needs a fancy thermal bag?
Sure, most restaurants bag their wares, but those sacks aren’t very strong. They sometimes break, and often they don’t have enough insulation to keep food and drinks at the right temperatures like nice, thick thermal bags do.
Those bags can also stop spills from spreading, and prevent nasty smells and stains from seeping into your upholstery and taking up residence.
Along with the bag, you may receive a company credit card of sorts. But don’t salivate yet; as nice as it would be, you’re not getting a lush expense account.
The card is for paying the restaurant for your customer’s purchase through the company’s app. The restaurant will swipe it and that will be it. You can’t charge anything else. (#%&!#&$!)
You can use the app for delivery without using the card, at least while you wait for it to arrive so you can activate it. Until then, you’ll only be called for deliveries that are prepaid through to the eatery.
That’s a good way to start out until you catch on to the delivery game, but it does restrict the number of deliveries available. You’ll be much busier once you activate the card, so you’ll want to do that as soon as you receive it.
Common issues to watch out for
If everything goes smoothly, you should be up and running in a fairly short amount of time. But like all endeavors, there are variables. Besides human error and navigation snafus, some other stuff can make your delivery run unusual.
For instance, there’s the driving distance between your car and the restaurant, plus the trip from the restaurant to the customer’s door to consider. When you take the call, you might not have all that information.
In many cases you do get it, and the app will actually show you how long the delivery should take—if all goes as planned. But do deliveries always run so smoothly? The keyword there is always, and the answer is of course not. Here are some other snafus to be prepared for.
The restaurant takes an ungodly amount of time to serve you
This happens a lot since at peak times, there can be tons of people in one place picking up their meals.
Also, restaurants (like humans) have bad days. They could be short-staffed, or working with one functioning fryer or grill instead of two or three. Don’t get short-tempered, but do take this possibility into consideration when you accept the call.
Whoops! You have to place the order for the customer
Who expected that, right? This can happen with some of the apps. You’ll be cruising down a highway when you accept a call, adjust your route to drive to the restaurant, and then discover … the customer hasn’t placed the order yet.
Usually you can see this in the app when you go through the screens, but that’s not something you want to do while driving 65 mph, or while driving at all, for that matter.
You obviously have to pull over to see what the situation is. If you don’t catch it in time, you could arrive at the restaurant before you realize you have to place the order. Then you’ll have to wait 20 or 30 extra minutes for the food to be prepared.
Time is money, and you don’t get paid very much for waiting. On top of that, your customer could grow pretty hangry by the time you get that food delivered.
Some portion of the order spills in your car
We know what you’re thinking: If you avoid driving drunk people around, you’re protecting your car from disgusting smells—right? Wrong.
That spilt gorgonzola and garlic salad dressing your customer is salivating for, once dumped on your back seat, will offend your sense of smell and leave your customer hungry—and possibly mad at you.
Other items, like coffee and cola, can spill in the bag(s) and soak the food, rendering the comestibles you’re delivering worthless. Even though the spills aren’t on your vehicle’s pristine surfaces, the loss of the item (in the customer’s mind) will be … on you.
You need ID from your customer, but he/she asked for contact-free delivery
Most of the time you won’t have to ask for ID unless the customer orders alcohol. If that is part of the order, you’ll typically know it in advance, and the customer will realize that ID needs to be shown.
Now you’ll probably laugh, but this actually happened. A customer asked for contact-free delivery, but the app wouldn’t close without a picture of her ID because it said she ordered alcohol. There was no booze in the order, but there was … wait for it … WINE VINEGAR DRESSING.
The AI in these apps is getting good, but the little robots in there need to work on their discernment skills. The driver had to shut down the app and call the company to get the order to clear. The customer got the order, but she didn’t get billed until the next day. Lucky for the driver, she left an awesome tip.
And now for your 20 helpful hints!
After reading this far, you may be starting to see the not-so-simple part of delivery driving. You’ll want to do things that avoid wasting time and not leave room for confusion or messes. The best delivery drivers out there are well-prepared, and they work smart, fast, and thoroughly. Here are 20 things you can do to be one of them.
- Get a bag. If your company provides one, great, but get another one. If the company doesn’t provide any, buy at least two. You won’t believe how much food people can order. It might not fit in a single bag, and we already told you what can happen if you don’t use one.
- Get a box or crate. This is how you keep everything upright and prevent spills. It can also help to keep food away from the other stuff in your vehicle, such as windshield washer fluid and motor oil.
- Get a tarp. Some food orders (like deluxe-sized pizzas and 4-foot hoagies) won’t fit in your thermal bag OR your crate. Drape the tarp to cover the floor of your cargo area or the back seat to prevent damage to your vehicle.
- Activate the company card. If you don’t, you’re going to miss out on a lot of orders.
- Bring foul weather gear. You’re going to be in and out of your vehicle far more than you’ve ever been with rideshare.
- Equip your car with cleaning supplies. If that gorgonzola-garlic spill happens, you’ll want to mop up as much as you can … ASAP.
- Un-bag beverages and put them in your cup holders. That way, they’re far less likely to spill all over the place.
- Carry an oven glove or better yet, two. Some orders, especially soups, stews, or trays of lasagna, can be hot enough to burn your hands—and are easy to drop.
- Make cleanliness a priority. Check your bag and crate often for spills and smears, and keep them clean. They may not stink right away, but a foul stench could develop within hours.
- Keep your hands on the wheel. If you’re doing anything more complicated than accepting a ping, PULL OVER to interact with the app.
- Observe your app. If you’re not sure whether you have to place the order, check it out before you travel to the restaurant. And what about alcohol and ID?
- Scan the restaurant. Many have pickup sections that are separate from the food service area. Don’t stand in a line unless you know it’s the right one.
- Observe all policies within the restaurant. For instance, you might have to wear a mask and/or abide by social distancing in the space.
- Watch the app for combined orders. The company will often double you up with two or more deliveries in one trip, if they’re coming from the same eatery or a place nearby, and/or are being delivered in close proximity. Don’t miss picking up the extra food or knowing where it goes.
- Carry a sharpie pen with you to mark the bags, especially when you’re making a run for two or more customers. Would you want to get Kung Pao chicken when you ordered vegetarian chop suey? Didn’t think so.
- Watch for cancellations. They will almost always come before you get to the restaurant, but you won’t want to be there picking up a bag of food nobody’s going to pay for.
- Pack up some extra napkins, utensils, straws, and condiments. When you go out of your way to keep your customers happy, they’ll be more likely to give you big tips.
- If there’s too much to carry in one trip, make as many as it takes. There’s no award for carrying the most bags with two arms … and then dropping three containers of soup in the driveway.
- Always bring your insulated bag(s) or a crate with you when you’re picking up a large order. This will make it easier to manage, and lessens the risk of broken paper or plastic bags.
- Follow the customer’s instructions, always. If you have questions, CALL THEM. If you communicate clearly, and graciously honor their wishes (within reason, of course), you’re going to make lots of great tips—and you’ll be that best driver out there.
But most importantly, track your earnings!
You simply cannot improve what you don’t measure. That’s why it’s important for every driver to understand how much they’re earning per service.
Drivers can use Gridwise to track their mileage, and earnings, for free, so you can understand what apps are making you the most money.
So if you don’t already have Gridwise app, download it now for free!
So what are you waiting for? Download Gridwise and start tracking your earnings now!!!!