Harry here. Uber has been rolling out their delivery service UberEATS aggressively over the past year. Today, RSG contributor Ezra Dubroff explains how UberEATS works, including where it’s offered, the requirements to deliver and how much you can make.
You’ve probably heard of UberEATS by now, but what is it exactly? Uber initially made its mark by disrupting the transportation industry, which billions of people around the world rely on every single day. And now Uber is making a huge push into another service that satisfies a basic human need: food, specifically food delivery. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick explained the service, “you push a button and you get lunch.” Sounds pretty great for customers, but what’s it like for drivers? Let’s find out!
What We’ll Cover:
- What is UberEATS?
- What cities is UberEATS offered in?
- What are the requirements to become an UberEATS driver and how do I opt-in?
- How long has UberEATS been around?
- Will I receive both UberEATS requests and Uber ride requests at the same time?
- What is the process like for fulfilling UberEATS requests? Do I need to deliver directly to someone’s door or will the customer meet me curbside?
- How are driver payments calculated?
- What about tips?
- Are there any alternatives to UberEATS if I want to deliver food?
- How do I sign up to deliver with UberEATS?
What is UberEATS?
UberEATS is a delivery service that allows customers to order food from local restaurants and have the food delivered by Uber drivers. Many UberX drivers already deliver with the service, swapping out driving passengers with delivering food when ride requests slow down. Since mealtimes often coincide with the slowest times of day for giving rides, food delivery services like UberEATS provide great opportunities for drivers to diversify and maximize their earnings.
In What Cities is UberEATS Offered?
UberEATS is now operating in over 60 cities across 6 continents. I’m not sure if Antarctica will ever get UberEATS service, but it’s pretty cool you can order it in places like Baltimore, Bangkok, Brisbane and even Bogota. UberEATS is currently available in these cities. There are even more cities listed in the drop-down menu on the UberEATS sign up page, perhaps indicating areas targeted for expansion in the near future.
What are the Requirements to Become an UberEATS driver and How Do I Opt-in?
For current Uber drivers: if you’re already approved to drive with Uber and in a market that offers UberEATS, you generally just need to “opt-in” in order to get started delivering with UberEATS. Open your driver app and from the home screen, scroll down, look for this message and follow the prompts:
If for some reason you don’t see that message in the app, reach out to support and ask them for assistance with getting UberEATS added to your account.
If you’re new to Uber and interested in becoming a delivery-only driver, the driver and vehicle requirements are more relaxed than those for driving passengers. The specific requirements seem to vary by market, but generally a 1996 or newer vehicle is required (2-door vehicles are fine) and you must be at least 19-years-old (21 in Canada) with one year of driving experience, and you must be able to lift 30 pounds. If that sounds like a lot of food to carry, don’t worry – it’s rare you’ll have a delivery that weighs more than 3 or 4 pounds.
In some cities, you can even deliver for UberEATS with a scooter, motorcycle or bicycle.
How Long Has UberEATS Been Around?
UberEATS first launched in 2014, but it worked a bit differently than it does now. At the time, it was called “UberFRESH,” but instead of picking up food at restaurants, drivers would meet at distribution points and receive a number of pre-made meals that customers could order in the Uber app. With this system, meals could be delivered as quickly as riders can be picked up. I once made 19 deliveries in 2 hours and 13 minutes at lunchtime with UberFRESH and earned $103.17 since deliveries were paid at a flat rate of $5.43 as long as I beat the the ETA provided by the Uber app… and you know I made sure to beat those ETAs!
This system of delivering pre-made meals was popular, but was also met with skepticism. Check out this hilarious interview Stephen Colbert did with Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick. Colbert riffed about tuna sandwiches being driven around Manhattan in the glove compartment of someone’s Buick and getting a casserole handed to you from the backseat of a Toyota.
Ultimately, UberFRESH was rebranded as UberEATS Instant, but the service was ended in January 2017 as customers probably preferred more choices in the meals they could order.
UberEATS in its current form (pick up made-to-order meals directly from restaurants) launched in March 2016 and has been expanding to new markets rapidly.
Will I Receive Both UberEATS Requests and Uber Ride Requests at the Same Time?
It’s up to you. If you’re already driving passengers and you opt-in for UberEATS, your account may be updated to send you both types of requests when you go online. However, this can be changed so you can get the specific types of requests you’d like.
All you need to do is contact support and ask that vehicle’s profile be set up on your account for rides only, deliveries only and hybrid. You can see in my account I have profiles for UberX, UberX/UberEATS at the same time (CX) and UberEATS only (Courier). All I need to do is select the vehicle profile that reflects the type of requests I want to receive before I go online.
What is the Process like for Fulfilling UberEATS Requests? Do I Need to Deliver Directly to Someone’s Door or Will the Customer Meet Me Curbside?
You’ll receive requests in the app for available deliveries. Once you accept the requests, you’ll be directed to a restaurant where you can confirm the order with the staff and receive the food to be delivered. The app will walk you through the process step-by-step.
Sometimes you’ll receive more than one order at a time, kind of like UberPOOL for food. Generally with batched orders like this, you can pick up multiple orders at one restaurant and then go out and deliver them. In my experience, I’ve received a maximum of two orders to deliver on the same trip, but it’s possible Uber will allow more than two to lower their costs and increase efficiency. Seeing as I’ve had three UberPOOL passengers in my car simultaneously, I’d imagine Uber would want to push the envelope in a similar way with UberEATS.
Door-to-door vs. curbside delivery depends on the market you’re in. Check out the FAQ for your city to determine exactly what’s expected of the driver.
For example, in my market of Los Angeles, Uber tells customers, “we ask that you meet your courier at the curb–just like you would to catch an Uber ride. If you’d like to give the courier special delivery instructions, feel free to add them to the delivery notes.”
In some cities, Uber informs customers to expect delivery directly to their door. To find out what’s expected in your market, find your city page, then scroll to the bottom and select “FAQs.” Depending on your area, delivering to the door vs. curbside can greatly affect the amount of time and effort required to complete orders, so be sure to keep this in mind. Looking for parking and accessing apartment buildings can be time-consuming.
You can check out a brief overview of the delivery process in this video provided by Uber. Side note: don’t you find it interesting that Uber has disabled comments and likes/dislikes on all of its YouTube videos? Almost seems like they’re a little too afraid of being criticized!
How are Driver Payments Calculated?
Unlike Uber rides, there is no time component factored into payment for deliveries. Drivers are paid per pickup, per mile driven and per drop-off. The per-mile rates are usually slightly higher than those for UberX in your city, but be aware that Uber may deduct a larger commission.
For my account in Los Angeles, Uber pays $3.50 gross per pickup, $1.10 gross per mile and $1.30 gross per delivery, minus a 25% commission. Even though I’m grandfathered in at a 20% commission for UberX and UberPOOL rides, my commission for UberEATS is 25%. It seems like Uber offers different payment structures to different drivers, even in the same city!
I’ve heard from other LA drivers who are paid slightly higher rates but subject to a whopping 35% commission. Since there’s no per-minute component for UberEATS payments, keep in mind that factors like heavy traffic and unreliable restaurants that make you wait can really affect how much you can earn.
In terms of whether UberEATS trips are subject to Surge and Boost, this also seems to vary by market. Here in LA, UberEATS trips recently became eligible for the same Boost rates that are offered for rides in a certain area at a certain time.
I’ve never received an UberEATS request with Surge Pricing, but I’ve heard from drivers in other markets who have. As UberEATS grows, I’m sure they’ll become more consistent with how payments are calculated. But for now, experiment with your app, talk to other drivers in your area and/or contact support for more info on how trips will be paid in your specific market.
UberEATS will also sometimes offer hourly earning guarantees to drivers, especially when they launch in a new market. Always be on the lookout for UberEATS earnings opportunities with Boost, Surge and guarantees, as these tools can dramatically increase the amount of money you can take home.
What About Tips?
Just as is the case with rides, Uber has unfortunately taken the position that for UberEATS deliveries “tips aren’t included and they aren’t expected or required. You can always rate your experience after you order.” My experience is that very, very few customers will tip in cash. If you expect to receive a lot of tips, you will probably be disappointed.
Are There Any Alternatives to UberEATS if I Want to Deliver Food?
Absolutely! I’m a firm believer in Harry’s strategy that it’s important to diversify your work in order to open yourself up to the most earnings opportunities. Some similar services include DoorDash, Postmates, GrubHub and Caviar. You can learn more about those services here.
How Do I Sign Up to Deliver With UberEATS?
If you’re already an Uber driver, you should be able to opt-in on the driver app or by contacting Uber. If you’re new to Uber, you can sign up here using our link to become an UberEATS delivery partner.
Next time, I’ll go over some tips and tricks for UberEATS drivers. We’ll also cover what the real-world delivery experience is like and what type of earnings drivers can expect.
Do you drive for UberEATS and, if so, what has been your experience so far? Any questions you have we haven’t covered? Leave your questions in the comments and we’ll answer them!
-Ezra @ RSG
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