Food Delivery Drivers Actually Earn

How Much Can Food Delivery Drivers Actually Earn?

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Things have been tougher, but it’s hard to remember when that was. For food delivery drivers, things are about as tough as they can get.

There is the off-and-on pandemic. Between the fear of getting sick yourself or encountering a delivery customer who has arrived at their COVID threshold of they-just-can’t-take-it-anymore, you remain in a constant state of concern. 

Inflation continues ravaging the economy, putting the pinch on diners and giving them second thoughts about ordering food for delivery. Added to that, the skyrocketing price of fuel digs into your profits.

With this blog post, we’ll look at some of the trends and answer some questions:

  • How much do food delivery drivers make in 2022? 
  • What is the hourly pay for food delivery drivers? Tip pay? Trip pay? Monthly pay? 
  • How can you make more driving for DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub?
  • What should I know about food delivery if I’m new to the job? 
  • What can experienced food delivery drivers do to earn more? 
  • What are the best tools food delivery drivers can use on the job? 

How much did food delivery drivers make in Q1?

How much do food delivery drivers make? Here is a brief rundown according to Gridwise numbers for the first quarter of 2022. Although we’ve included how much food delivery drivers make per order, gross earnings per hour is how we determined who came out on top.

January—January saw Grubhub vs. DoorDash compete for the top spot. Grubhub led for the month with gross earning per trip of $10.49 and gross earnings per hour of $16.13. DoorDash lagged not far behind, at $7.83 and $15.61, respectively. Uber Eats came in third for January with $9.30 and $15.34.

February—Gross earnings per trip increased modestly for Uber Eats to $9.40, but gross earnings per hour jumped to $15.68, enough to take the lead. DoorDash came in second with $7.89 in gross earnings per trip but $15.49 in gross earnings per hour. Grubhub dropped slightly to $10.16 per trip, but gross earnings per hour fell more than a dollar, to $14.98.

March—By March it was DoorDash vs. Uber Eats. Uber Eats continued its climb to $16.50 an hour, the highest number of the three months, but earnings per trip inched up to only $9.42. DoorDash remained in second place with $7.98 gross earnings per trip and $16.07 for gross earnings per hour. Grubhub gross earnings per trip inched up to $10.18. Gross earnings per hour came back by almost a dollar, to $15.85.

Grubhub and Uber Eats drivers led in tips

How much did food delivery drivers make in tips? Grubhub and Uber Eats ranked almost even in tips per order, with DoorDash substantially down.

January—Grubhub tips averaged $5.00. Uber Eats followed at $4.89. DoorDash drivers came up short at $4.13.

February—Uber Eats and Grubhub flip-flopped this month, but remained close. Uber Eats rose to $4.91, and Grubhub dropped to $4.89. DoorDash held at $4.13.

March—Uber Eats dropped a penny to an average tip of $4.90, but that was enough to edge out Grubhub, which dropped two more pennies to $4.87. DoorDash continued hanging out at the low end with tips averaging $4.10.

DoorDash shined in monthly driver earnings

DoorDash drivers really made out in median monthly earning, and by the end of the quarter, Gridwise recorded sizable gains for them.

January—DoorDash drivers came in first with median gross earnings a month at $220.16. Grubhub recorded $131.26. UberEats trailed at $128.89.

February—DoorDash rose modestly to $224.26. Uber Eats came in second at $130.12. Grubhub dropped to the bottom at $121.37.

March—DoorDash had a big bump this month, coming in more than $20 higher at $244.86. Grubhub got back up to second place at $126.97, with Uber Eats dropping to $114.81.

One explanation for DoorDash’s strong March performance might have been the firm’s announcement on March 15 that drivers were eligible for 10% cashback on gas purchases through a prepaid Visa debit card, as reported by CNBC and on the DoorDash website. The other services also announced measures to offset rising fuel costs, but DoorDash inexplicably got more traction.

Other costs eating into delivery driver earnings

Fuel Costs—As we enter Q2, skyrocketing fuel prices lead the way in eating into the profits of food delivery drivers. According to AAA, by late April the average cost of a gallon of gas was $4.134. Californians paid $5.680, while New Yorkers shelled out $4.242 per gallon.

The same week that DoorDash announced their cashback Visa card offer, Restaurant Business reported that Uber Eats announced a surcharge of 35 to 45 cents per delivery order, depending on location. Grubhub drivers started getting paid more per mile on March 9.

Maintenance–Keeping your car running and in top working order is important for food delivery drivers. When it comes to paying for oil changes, you will pay top dollar for maintenance at dealerships as opposed to independent shops. When you buy new tires, ask for free rotation. It is often a standard service, and again, it is free.

Cell Service—One bright horizon is the cost of cell service. According to CNN Business, this is attributed to intense competition between the big three carriers, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. True, cell phone services remain a major expense for food delivery drivers, but it does not appear as if costs will worsen.

You can use this competition between the cell carriers as leverage to lower your bill. Carriers would rather grant concessions than risk losing you to the competition. One driver with a family plan recently called his carrier, one of the big three, and by the time he got off the phone, he saved $95 a month. Often you agree to services that sound like a good idea at the time, but you never use them. A quick phone call can get those services off your plan and save money.

Also, look at this August 2021 Gridwise article that outlines the eight best cell phone plans for rideshare and delivery drivers.

Other ways to retain more of your driver pay

Online Resources—Smart drivers look for every way they can save money. Look for discounts for DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub drivers. You can realize substantial savings through the Gridwise app, including lost income protection, dental and vision insurance, life insurance, buying a new car, or renting one. There are other blogs, podcasts, and YouTube videos specifically for food delivery drivers that offer tips on maximizing earnings.

Complimentary Coffee—Certain fast-food restaurants provide a cup of coffee at no charge to food delivery and rideshare drivers. How do you find out which ones? The best way is to keep your app visible on your phone and in your hand when you stop for a cup so that you are easily identified as a food delivery driver. This is not a policy in any restaurant chains as far as we know. Mostly it is individual managers who see the value of food delivery drivers to their evolving business model.

Taxes—Gig driving jobs are contract positions, meaning that the company does not deduct taxes from your earnings. You are on your own to make those quarterly payments so at the end of the year you don’t owe a chunk of money that will be difficult to produce. Getting into debt with the IRS or the state tax agencies is not fun. Use Gridwise for your food delivery mileage tracker. It is the best app available.

You can save more money on taxes by keeping meticulous records of mileage, maintenance, and insurance expenses. Check out these blog posts on Gridwise to maximize deductions and understand standard vs. actual cost deduction. You can deduct many of the items you might use in your business. Those thermal bags you use to keep food warm or cold—yeah, those are tax-deductible.

What should new food delivery drivers know about the job?

There are several important tips you should keep in mind as new food delivery drivers.

Navigation—If you frequent a particular area regularly, keep in mind local traffic conditions. Construction is not always reflected on navigation apps. Take note of construction areas and how to get around them.

Also, take note of the location of schools and when students are arriving or leaving. You don’t want to get caught in school-related traffic.

Check Your Orders—How often have you gone to a restaurant and not received what you ordered? It happens all the time with food delivery drivers, too. Always double-check your orders to ensure they are correct and that everything is there.

Pro-tip: Communication—Staying in touch with the customer is vital. Even when things have gone wrong, emphasize what you did for them: finding a problem with the order, avoiding a traffic jam, anything else. People indeed tend to remember the last thing you did for them. A customer remembering that you went above and beyond to get their order to them is a good thing.

Update Your Apps: Apps change regularly. Updating twice a week keeps your app fresh. Restart your phone regularly to clear old data and free memory, and keep the operating system updated. Also, don’t forget the free mileage tracking app on Gridwise. 

Develop a Strategy: Successful delivery driving is not hit and miss. Ensure more business by monitoring key hours and places to drive on the Gridwise app. You can learn many of these things on your own, but also take time to learn from others. This post on Gridwise is a good start. The key is to learn from everything you do as a delivery driver and incorporate it into your strategy.

How can experienced food delivery drivers make more?

Things are always changing. Resist falling into the trap of thinking you know everything about delivery driving.

Stay Abreast of Things—Follow the Gridwise’s app Where to Drive and When to Drive as well as industry blogs. These things change all the time. You don’t want to miss opportunities.

Watch News Events—Always look at local news and events and ask yourself, how will this affect the food delivery business? In 1994 football star O.J. Simpson, suspected of the murder of his wife and another person, led police on an hour’s-long police pursuit, televised from start to finish. It happened at dinner time on the West Coast and drew more than 95 million viewers nationwide. Domino’s Pizza reported record sales that night. 

Events such as the Academy Awards and the Super Bowl always generate more orders, but also look for smaller events, even local ones.

Multi-Apping–Some drivers will operate multiple food delivery apps. Multi-apping is a technique reserved for more experienced food delivery drivers, which can help you capture a great deal more business. This Gridwise blog post from less than a year ago discusses multi-apping in detail. 

There is money to be made

For people who need to augment their income, food delivery is a great job, and you can have fun while you do it. But like many jobs, there are simple things you can do to make it more profitable. Watch the industry blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels. And by all means, use the Gridwide app and regularly visit these pages. 

And have fun out there. 

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