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I’ve been wanting to write this article for some time now, almost 6 months to be exact. I actually applied to be a Postmate way back in October of 2014 (and have had an article in drafts for the same amount of time) but after inviting me to one orientation session on short notice (I declined due to other obligations), I never heard back from them. I followed up a few times and they kept saying we’ll get back to you. Eventually, I got an e-mail saying they actually couldn’t even onboard me because they didn’t have an Android app. Thanks for wasting my time.
So my first taste of Postmates wasn’t that great but last week I finally got an e-mail saying they were ready to onboard me (and other Android users). I picked a time to go in to the office and was eager to give them a second chance.
The Postmates office was located on the first floor of a pretty nice industrial complex. They had ample office space and I’d estimate there were about 10-20 employees which seemed like a lot for a local office. There were lots of glass walls and while the space wasn’t as hip as an SF startup’s office space, it was pretty nice for Orange County.
The orientation was held in a glass conference room where we got to know one of the operations managers, TJ. It was actually standing room only as I counted 28 people in the room and only 14 chairs. We all gave our names, where we were from and one thing about us. I said that I like to ride my bike haha.
It was definitely an assorted mix of people similar to the demographics you’d see on Uber or Lyft: musicians, people with full time jobs, people who had just moved into the area, etc.
After introductions, TJ went through the basics of Postmates and covered a lot of introductory topics. I already knew the gist of how Postmates worked but the overview did seem to help a lot of the people that were there. Some of the things that were covered:
- Coverage Area: Even though Postmates is in Orange County, they don’t actually serve the entire area. There are some pretty significant coverage gaps as of now but they do have plans to expand. I think they probably could have given a little more heads up on this as one guy actually left when he heard the coverage areas and there were a few people who lived way outside the coverage area that didn’t realize Postmates didn’t serve their neighborhood yet.
- Income: TJ actually gave out quite a bit of information, albeit anecdotal, on expected pay. His estimates seemed pretty reasonable in the $10-$20/hr range but there are a lot of factors that go into those numbers which I’ll discuss below.
- When to drive: As you might suspect, the best times to drive are around lunch and dinner. From the graphs they showed, I’d say dinner is actually the better option and peak deliveries happen around 7 pm. TJ did make a point of letting us know that Sunday is actually a peak demand day too. I guess lots of people are just relaxing and ordering food (Sunday is a great day to drive for Uber/Lyft in my experience too).
- Where to drive: Even though Postmates covers a lot of ground in Orange County, it seemed like there were really only a few areas that have high demand: Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Irvine. Fortunately I live in the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa area so I got lucky there. One important detail that he mentioned was that the local college (UCI) is actually their biggest customer base. They get the most requests from that area so if you’re near a college campus that could be a good thing if you decide to become a Postmate.
- Insurance: Postmates provides $1 million in excess liability insurance once you’ve accepted a delivery and they will also pay up to $50,000 in medical expenses. For bicycle postmates, they provide $1 million in general liability. I was hoping to do some runs on my bike but unfortunately they don’t allow for bicycle postmates in SoCal.
When Will I Be Approved?
Overall, I was pretty happy with the orientation session. Initially, I thought it was kind of dumb that I had to go into the office for an orientation but that’s probably because I’m so used to the frictionless sign-ups with all the other rideshare companies. The orientation took about 20-30 minutes and afterwards there was a short Q&A.
Before I left, I filled out a card that said I was interested in Postmates and that initiated my background check. The background checks take around 2-4 days to process (they also use Sterling) and if I’m approved, I’ll have to schedule a time to come back and do my onboarding session where they go through all the nitty gritty details of driving for Postmates.
10 Things I Learned
- According to TJ, average delivery payout is $7-$8 and there is a 20% commission (the customer pays a 9% service fee directly to PM) paid to Postmates, similar to Uber and Lyft. Delivery payouts range from $5-$18 (after commission) and are determined solely by distance from pick-up to drop-off. So you want to be as close to the pick-up point as possible. TJ did say they are working on a new formula that will also take into account waiting time (at a restaurant for example).
- When you get a request on the Postmates app, you only see where the restaurant is. You don’t know how much it’s going to pay or where the drop-off is until after you accept. This is a recent change that I suspect happened because many Postmates were only accepting the longer deliveries since those pay more. So while it’s not ideal for drivers, it probably makes sense since otherwise no Postmates would do the short rides (similar to Uber/Lyft).
- After you drop-off the food, the customer goes on the app, rates you and has the option to leave a tip. Tip is not included 😉
- You get a Pex card (which works just like a credit card) from Postmates to pay for all the food. If you get a request from a cash only place, you need to cover it with your own money and Postmates will reimburse you. According to their data, tips are actually higher on cash orders than credit. Maybe customers tip more because they know that cash is more of a hassle for Postmates.
- You can work in any city or state that Postmates is in. With Lyft and Uber, you can only work within the same state (and sometimes only within your city/region).
- You can deliver with a motorcycle but it will probably be a good idea to get some type of security box for the food. This could increase your earnings big time since you’ll save a ton on gas and you can navigate traffic more easily.
- Postmates deliver everything from food and alcohol to personal effects and groceries. Most of their business comes from food delivery though (take-out, restaurants, etc).
- If customers place an order with a restaurant that Postmates already has a partnership with (or is more of an actual dining restaurant), Postmates customer service team will call in the order and all you have to do is pick it up and deliver it.
- If customers place an order with any other restaurant, you need to call in the order yourself, go pay for it, pick it up and then deliver it.
- Postmates does have their own version of surge pricing and it’s called ‘Blitz Pricing’. This increased pricing occurs when their customer service line is overloaded or when there is a combination of high demand and not enough Postmates available.
I’ve already placed two orders myself from the customer side of the app and I was pretty happy with the process. Postmates makes it easy for the customer to tip after you deliver the food and you can track the progress of your order and the location of your Postmate just like with Uber or Lyft. I highly recommend that you try out the service from the customer side of the app first. They’re actually giving away $10 in free delivery credit (which is about one delivery) for new users. If you’d like to sign up using my code, please enter ‘m6mng‘ when you register.
I’ve heard all different sorts of stories about what it’s like to sign up for Postmates and get out there and drive. I think there’s some real opportunity though to leverage Postmates’ peak hours since they may correlate to low demand times with Uber/Lyft. I’m not expecting much in the way of income but I figure it can’t hurt to try it out.
If you’re interested in taking the plunge and trying out Postmates, you can sign up here using my affiliate link. Postmates is not offering drivers a sign-up bonus at the moment.
For couriers, it makes a lot of sense to also drive for Doordash to maximize your income and earnings potential. If you’d like to sign up for Doordash, please click here.
In my next post, I’m going to tell you guys about the orientation session and all that it entails! If you thought this article was packed full of good information, just wait until the next one drops!
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