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In my last article, I gave a thorough introduction to Postmates and what the orientation session was like. But in case you missed it, here’s what the sign-up process is like: First, you need to apply online and then you’ll get an e-mail from Postmates with a link to online orientation. You can read more about online orientation and when to expect your insulated bag and credit card to arrive here.
My last article ended after the orientation since I had to wait 2-4 days for my background check to process. Low and behold though, I actually got a call the very next morning (less than 24 hours after my orientation session) from Postmates saying my background check had cleared and they were ready to bring me in for an onboarding session. They actually had a slot open that day so I decided to head in at 2 pm and do my on-boarding.
Almost a Postmate
As soon as I hung up the phone with Postmates, they e-mailed me a document to e-sign and I had to attach a copy of my driver’s license and auto insurance. I also had to fill out a W-9 and they asked me to bring the following items to the session:
- A government issued photo ID
- Drivers: A copy of your current insurance card
- Your own device (iPhone or Android)
- To set up your Postmates direct deposit so you can get paid: a voided check, or your bank account and routing number
The only thing I ended up needing/using at the session though was my smart phone. I set up direct deposit while I was there, but I could have done that on my own at home.
1 Hour 2 Hour On-boarding Session
The on-boarding session was supposed to last for an hour but it ended up taking over 2 hours! The operations manager gave a nice overview of the system but there were a lot of things he could have done better to move the process along. The one thing I’ve noticed with a lot of these tech companies is that many of their systems and processes in place are extremely in-efficient.
For one of the fastest growing on demand companies, Postmates has a heavy reliance on paper forms and manual checking. I think this is something they really need to work on as just sitting in the on-boarding session I saw multiple opportunities to streamline efficiency. These companies are very young though and scaling fast, so it’s no surprise that there are going to be some growing pains.
Editor’s Note: There’s no longer any significant on-boarding for Postmates, which could be good or bad depending on how you look at it. For more information on what to expect when signing up for Postmates, check out our updated review “My Experience Signing Up With Postmates in 2017.”
What Used to Be Covered During On-boarding?
Even though the session was two hours, the one good thing about it was that the operations manager did a very thorough job of covering what it’s like to be a Postmate. And in case you’re wondering, the nomenclature is a bit confusing because Postmates (the company) refers to its delivery people/drivers as Postmates (the drivers) too. So depending on the context, the word Postmates could refer to the company or the drivers. Confused yet?
Here are some of the main topics that were covered:
- Most Common Delivery is Takeout Food: I’ve talked to a lot of Postmates already and it seems like In N Out and Chipotle are two of the most popular delivery items in my area. Postmates can deliver anything from food to iPads and groceries but take-out is the most common order.
- Pay is Based on Distance From Pick-Up to Drop-Off: The size of the order doesn’t affect the delivery fee (although you are likely to get a bigger tip on bigger orders). The delivery fee is calculated solely off the distance from the restaurant to the customer. But Postmates is working on a new algorithm that will take into account the amount of time you spend waiting at a restaurant.
- Dine In vs Fast Casual: Orders placed with dine-in restaurants like Houston’s or Yard House would be handled by the customer service team (Postmates’ internal CS team would place the order for you and you just have to pick it up and pay). While orders placed with more fast casual/fast food restaurants like Chipotle or McDonald’s have to be ordered by the Postmate.
- Communication is Key: It’s important to keep job support (your active Postmates customer service team) in the loop and not be afraid to reach out to the customer (to confirm sides, specifications, etc). This is similar to what Uber/Lyft drivers do but I always like to text instead of call, I think it’s much less obtrusive. Alternatively, you can always get in contact with job support and ask them to contact the customer for you but that seems like a hassle.
- Postmates Need to be Detail Oriented: I always give my wife crap when she messes up my take-out orders 🙂 But I do make some pretty needy requests. For example, when I get my standard order of a chicken tostada at El Pollo Loco, I require one avocado salsa, one regular salsa and a side of ranch. Let’s just say my wife would not make a very good Postmate. It’s important though for Postmates to be very detail oriented since there are customers like me who will be upset if the order isn’t 100% correct. In order to ensure accuracy, it’s important to a) stay in communication with the customer (what type of regular salsa for example?) and b) make sure that the item you pick up and the receipt matches the Postmates order exactly.
- Don’t Rely On Others: Going off the above point, don’t always assume that the restaurant or even Postmates CS team (if they call in the order for you) is going to get it right. You should probably assume the worst and rely on yourself to check the order for accuracy. You’ll take a photo of the receipt and submit it to Postmates after pick-up in case there are any problems.
Schedule Your Shifts: Postmates who schedule their shifts will actually get priority dispatch over other Postmates who just hop onto the app. So if you are within close proximity of another Postmate who happens to be closer to the job but you scheduled your hours and he/she didn’t, you will get priority over that job request. This system seems ripe for abuse though since there is no penalty if you schedule a shift and don’t work it. (Note: Postmates no longer allows you to schedule your shift) General Operations Line: Postmates has a help line for drivers! It’s open 9 am – 6 pm PST and I’ve already called it a couple times. There was no wait and the team was very helpful. You can reach them at 707-395-7678. (Note: phone support is no longer offered)
Here are some additional notes I took down during the session that may help you out:
- There is an 80/20 split of the delivery fee. You get 80%, Postmates gets 20%. The delivery fee ranges from ~ $5-$18
- You get a hot/cold bag to transport the food in.
- There is a 9% service fee charged to the customer. 3% goes to the Pex card (it’s like a Postmates credit card) and I have no idea where the other 6% goes..
- 7/11 and AM/PM jobs are great because you can get in and out very quickly.
- Big ticket items like iPads are great too (but not very common) because if the customer leaves a tip it’s a % of the purchase (ie 10%, 15%, 20%, other).
- Your Pex card is loaded/unloaded every time you accept a job. So if you get a $20 order for example, they’ll load your card with $100 and once you complete the order, the remaining $80 will immediately be liquidated.
- It’s good to have cash as a back-up for cash only jobs or in case the Pex system goes down (which has happened before)
- There is a Postmates FB group for each city. It’s secret though so you have to contact your local office to get added.
- Postmates does have a heat maps feature but it shows where the merchants are, not the customers.
- Postmates has a stacked delivery feature that allows you to stack up to two deliveries at once (similiar to Sidecar’s back to back ride feature).
- You can set your default navigation to Apple Maps, Waze or Google.
Overall, the session was pretty informative but easily could have been compacted into one hour. There were so many questions asked (myself included) that were eventually answered by the end of the presentation but we kept getting sidetracked and people kept interrupting the presenter.
At one point, TJ asked how many people had used the app and only myself and one other person (out of 16 people) had ever used Postmates from the customer side of the app. I just don’t understand that. These apps give you $10 for free and if you are going to apply to a job you should probably do a little bit of research into the company first right? I’d say about 95% of the questions asked wouldn’t have been necessary if these people had placed an order with Postmates first. It might even be a good idea for all of these on demand companies to make that a requirement before their workers apply.
If you are even considering applying for Postmates you should place at least one order first to see how it all works. You can get $10 off your first order when you sign up with my referral code, ‘m6mng‘.
After the presentation was over, they did a live demo from the customer and driver side of the app which was pretty helpful. They also took our pictures and activated our Pex cards and accounts. So by the end of the session, I was officially a Postmate! I got a cool shirt, a hot/cold bag and some stickers.
Editor’s Note: None of that cool in-person stuff is offered anymore. You can click here to read our updated review “My Experience Signing Up With Postmates in 2017.”
One thing I noticed was that these guys really like to harp on tips as a way to increase earnings. Clearly, they don’t have an Uber-like philosophy when it comes to tips but at the same time I’ve heard that tips have actually gone down on Postmates recently. Customers used to have to leave a tip on the Postmate’s phone when they delivered the order and then they would rate on their own phone later. But now, the tip and rating is done on the customer’s phone at their leisure and it looks like since there’s less pressure to tip now (since your Postmate isn’t standing in front of you looking at you), less and less people are tipping.
I haven’t done my first delivery yet but based off the feedback/interactions I’ve had so far, Postmates does not look to be as profitable as driving for Uber/Lyft. I kind of already knew that going in though. The reason why I decided to sign up with Postmates was two-fold. First, I wanted to check it out and detail the sign-up/driving process so that any of you who are thinking about it can get a behind the scenes look.
But more importantly, I think Postmates is the next big player that is going to emerge in the on demand space (they may already even be there). Obviously we know about Uber and Lyft but Postmates has taken over Sidecar in my book so it only makes sense that drivers start to think about their options and see how leveraging Postmates can help their bottom line. I always talk about driving for Uber AND Lyft as a way to diversify income but the best part about Postmates is that it also diversifies your income across a completely different industry: food delivery instead of people.
Diversify Delivery Platforms
Caviar does delivery and has a very smooth process between restaurants that they partner with. So there is less headache dealing with orders, pex cards, and waiting for an order to be prepared. They offer an upfront payment system to couriers, and apply their version of blitz pricing to an entire city instead of smaller areas. There is also no rating system with them so things tend to be pretty low stress on their platform. You can sign up with them here.
That’s very important from a business owner’s point of view because now you’re getting away from that dependence on Uber that I talk about so often. I am 99% sure that the average Uber driver will make more than the average Postmates driver but there could easily be some opportunity with Postmates. And in my mind, if you’re willing to invest in yourself and your career, it is very easy to do a lot better than the average driver. This is one of the reasons why we’ve developed our video course: to help out the drivers who are ready and willing to take their driving to the next level.
My hypothesis is that there are many times where driving for Postmates can be more profitable than driving for Uber/Lyft. I can also imagine a day where you would log on to the Uber app in the morning and catch the morning rush, then around lunch time you open up Postmates and cash in on the lunch crowd, back to Uber for the early evening commuters, Postmates again for the dinner time rush and then Uber to close out the night and take everyone to/from the bars. Obviously that’d be a long day but you can see how a lot of the peak demand times for Postmates (lunch/dinner) correlate to low demand times with Uber.
It may turn out that Uber blows Postmates out of the water at all times of the day but there’s really only one way to find out. Average earnings on Postmates are a lot lower than Uber but I don’t consider myself or anyone reading this blog to be just average. There are hundreds of thousands of drivers who read this blog but there are also hundreds of thousands of drivers who don’t. If you’re willing to really invest in yourself and figure out ways to make this work, you can still be one of the top earners. It won’t be easy, making money never is, but I am excited for this new opportunity.
If you’re interested in taking the plunge and trying out Postmates, you can sign up here using my 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.
Drivers, if you’re already driving for Postmates, what’s your experience been like so far and do you think there is real opportunity here compared to driving for Uber/Lyft?
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-Harry @ RSG
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