Back in January 2020, most rideshare drivers wouldn’t have even considered working for an outfit like DoorDash. Rides were plentiful, and earnings were high.
With our minds firmly set on the “Nothing beats rideshare–nothing!” perspective, we wondered why a rideshare driver would want to go through the extra work and time to deliver food. Who seriously orders enough food for delivery to make money for drivers?
Those were pretty typical questions for drivers until the COVID-19 shutdowns started happening and the rideshare slowdown began. Suddenly, we could no longer stay fixated on rideshare driving. We had to open our minds to other opportunities … like, for instance, food delivery.
Because the reality is, people are indeed ordering enough food for drivers to make money delivering it, and the need is greater than ever before. The volume of DoorDash deliveries is way, way, up … and so are DoorDash driver earnings.
So how much have DoorDash drivers been earning?
Just look at the money that’s been coming in for DoorDash drivers nationwide.
Keep in mind, these figures represent median earnings per hour, which is the middle number in our sample range of hourly wages. Depending on where you are, you could make a little less than the median, or a whole lot more. However, it’s very clear that rideshare drivers are making around $16.50 per hour across the nation.
With rideshare earnings down, it makes sense for drivers to explore delivery options,, and it certainly beats making nothing, or waiting for unemployment comp that may never arrive. The money is just one reason we think driving for DoorDash is worth looking into. Here’s what you might experience when you sign up to be a DoorDash driver, known as a Dasher.
What’s it like to deliver for DoorDash?
Driving for DoorDash can definitely keep the cash flowing, even during the ravages of the COVID-19 situation. And DoorDash makes it really easy to become one of their Dashers. Here are the requirements:
- Age 18 or older
- Own any kind of vehicle; in some places, a bicycle or scooter will suffice
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Have a Social Security number
- Consent to and pass a background check
First, you’ll have to make sure DoorDash needs drivers in your area, which you’ll find out when you sign up. If they’re not accepting drivers at that moment, you can be assured they will be before too long so hang in there. You’ll eventually get an invitation to open the app.
Once you get in, you could be taken to a short video orientation where the company shows you how to use the app and how to complete your calls. Then, you can get started.
Working for DoorDash is a lot like driving for rideshare. You wait for a ping, and then a delivery will be (briefly) described to you on the screen. You’ll be shown the restaurant where you have to do the pickup, and how long it will take to complete the order.
At this point you can decide whether to take the delivery or not. There’s no punishment for not taking an order, but if you refuse too many you may get a message saying that you won’t be offered as many orders unless you accept more pings.
Assuming you do accept the order, you’ll park your car, and in COVID-19 conditions, you’ll look at the door of the restaurant for instructions. In some cases you’ll have to go inside. CDC and local guidelines, almost universally, require you to wear a mask when you go inside a business of any kind, but especially a restaurant. So be prepared ahead of time with a mask.
Some restaurants have stickers on the floor showing you where it’s safe to stand, at a safe social distance from other drivers and individuals, who are also there to pick up their meals. Other establishments will ask you to use the drive-thru, and then there are eateries that ask you to wait in the car while they collect your order and bring it out to you.
Once the pickup is complete, you’re ready to drive the food to the customer. You’ll go to the delivery screen, where you’ll see any special instructions. You might be asked to leave the order at the door, or in the entranceway of an apartment building. It’s always a good idea to take a picture of the order at the door to prove you completed it.
What about hours and equipment?
Just like rideshare, you get to choose your own hours with DoorDash, but you’ll also have to use common sense. You wouldn’t want to go out from 3 to 5 p.m., for instance; you’ll want to go out during peak eating hours. You’ll have to test out your own locality to determine exactly what those hours might be.
Maybe there’s a rush for lunch, but there’s most likely going to be a big demand for dinner. And yes, there could be those late-night snack runs as well. People aren’t gathering in big groups these days, but families big and small still get hungry for pizza and nachos at all hours.
It’s also good to know that when there’s a big crunch, DoorDash will lay two or more deliveries on you at once. It’s pretty much a no-brainer, but it can get confusing. You’ll want to make sure the orders are clearly marked, so the right food gets to the correct customers. You don’t want the three extra-large all-meat pizzas to mistakenly end up with the vegan group waiting for the tofu special.
That’s why it will be helpful to have the right equipment, which DoorDash will mail to you a day or three after signing up. In the Dash kit will be a thermal bag and a credit card, known as the Dasher Red Card.
The thermal bag is serviceable, but you may want to carry a second one. It doesn’t hold much, and it sure wouldn’t win any awards for “most durable delivery bag ever constructed.”
Before you get too excited about the credit card, it isn’t for you! It’s for your customers. They pay for their food through the app, and in instances when the app doesn’t pay the establishment, DoorDash pays with the credit card you carry. Like any credit card, you’ll need to activate it first. Just follow the instructions in the folder it comes in, and make sure you carry the card with you when you’re out there Dashing.
How do you get paid … and tipped?
Pay for you, the DoorDash driver, comes through the app, just like rideshare. It’s based on three factors:
- Base Pay: DoorDash’s base contribution for each order. It ranges from $2 to $10, and it’s a function of time, distance, and desirability of the order. If you get a call that’s not-so-popular among drivers, your pay will be higher.
- Promotions: As with rideshare, there are peak periods and challenges. Peak periods are like surges, and challenges give bonuses for completing a certain number of deliveries in a given time period. If you get a large order, say a grocery load that costs a lot, you’ll earn a large order fee.
- Tips: We all love tips, and in the virus-mandated lockdown, people are more generous than you might imagine. They can tip when they check out of the app, or after you deliver. Service does matter, and if you do something extra, or if you’re just extra-kind and careful about COVID-19 protocol, you’ll probably get even more.You get to keep 100% of your tips, and they’re on top of base pay and promotions.
What’s the downside of delivering for DoorDash?
Like every gig, DoorDash isn’t perfect, and there are a couple of disadvantages. The biggest one is the number of times you have to park your car, and get in and out of it. Much depends on where most restaurants around you are located, whether on city streets or in suburban or semi-rural strip malls.
During the COVID-19 situation, parking is easier to find than usual, especially in cities. Still, it can be an issue. Getting in and out can also present problems in downpours, windstorms, and days so hot you can’t stop sweating even in air conditioning.
Other potential challenges involve the restaurants. Not every order will be ready on time. Sometimes they don’t even get the orders; you might have to put them in yourself, and then wait around for them to be filled. This is especially true at fast-food restaurants.
You may even have to go through the drive-thru. The items your customer wants will be in the app. This can eat up a lot of your time, and be pretty frustrating when the restaurant is out of one or more of the items.
There are some gaps in menu item availability, for sure. Some are based on supply chain issues, and other times they arise from the fact that restaurants don’t always know how much to order. You’ll have to be patient in these instances, and hope the customer is, too. You can always try to make contact by phone, through the app, to ask if they want to choose substitutions. Most people are pretty cool about it, but once in a while, they end up cancelling the order.
A great way to make decent money, NOW
Despite a few drawbacks, driving for DoorDash can be a very good thing. It’s tough waiting for unemployment compensation to come in, and it’s likely going to be a while before rideshare comes back to where it was. For now, DoorDash could be a really great way to fill the gap. One thing’s for sure: it’s more lucrative than it used to be, and it’ll probably stay like that for a long time to come.
With all that cash coming in, you’ll need to keep track of your earnings, of course. Gridwise has exactly what you need, when you need it. Download the app, and you’ll see how easy it is to track your total income, time worked, hourly rate, mileage, and other expenses for DoorDash as well as the other services you might be working for.
We wish you all the best as you endeavor to keep yourself solvent in the gig economy. We’ll keep digging up the info you need to make your wishes a reality. Do you have questions or comments? Write them in the space below. We always love to get your ideas and feedback.