It’s been a while since my last Postmates article but I wanted to take some time and do some more thinking about ways that drivers can really maximize their income. As you guys know, my site is all about working smarter, not harder and while I wasn’t too impressed with the income from Postmates I also recognize that there are a lot of people still driving for them. Many of Postmates’ couriers may not have Uber eligible cars, prefer dealing with food instead of people or just like Postmates better in general than Uber or Lyft.
In terms of company culture, I’d actually say that Postmates is somewhere in-between Lyft and Uber. Their employees seem to care and want drivers to succeed but there’s a whole lot of talk and not a lot of action in my opinion. If you’d like to take a look at my past articles on Postmates, I’ve done extensive reviews on the orientation, on-boarding process and my first night of driving:
- 10 Things I Learned At My Postmates Orientation
- Everything You Need To Know About Postmates On-boarding
- How Much Money Did I Make Driving For Postmates?
If you’re considering signing up for Postmates, those articles should save you some time. Unfortunately, there’s no sign-up bonus for drivers right now but if you decide that you want to sign up using my link you can do so by clicking here.
Why It’s Tough To Make Boku Bucks
In my last article, I estimated that the earning potential for Postmates drivers was around $10-$18 and after accounting for expenses, it’s even less. That’s not a whole lot of money and the biggest problem I saw was that drivers physically cannot do more than about 1.5 jobs per hour in a best case scenario. There’s just too much that can go wrong and too many things that can happen that will get in the way of you delivering that food.
Since you’re only paid for the distance from the restaurant to the drop-off location, most of your time spent working is actually unpaid. Here are just a few of the issues that I’ve seen come up that will hurt driver’s pay:
- Issues with Job Support (JS): I have had a pretty good experience with JS but there are times when they may make mistakes. If they put the wrong order in or even fail to put the order in in the first place, then you are responsible for correcting it and waiting (unpaid) until it’s fixed or the food is ready. They also get backed up at times so you could potentially be waiting for them to solve a problem for you (cancel an order, update PEX card, etc) or call you back and not be getting paid.
- Finding Your Customer: This was a big problem for me on my first night but maybe delivering on 4/20 had something to do with it 🙂 Either way, it’s a lot more difficult to navigate some of these mega apartment and condo buildings compared to single family residences. With Uber and Lyft, the passenger and driver are both trying to find each other. But with Postmates, you have to find your customer and you’re not paid anything extra if they live in a complex with 3,000 units.
- Order Upon Arrival: This is one of the biggest problems for me since there are many restaurants that don’t accept phone orders and could potentially have long waits. If JS can’t place the order for you, then you have to order upon arrival and all that time you spend waiting will be unpaid.
My local PM operations manager has said that you can send an e-mail in whenever situations that affect your earnings occur but I think that is kind of a ridiculous policy. I shouldn’t have to e-mail in with feedback on every drop-off, the process should be a lot more streamlined at this point. Many of the issues that existed three months ago are still around today and PM is clearly aware of them but it’s obvious that they are not a priority.
Best Times To Drive
Even though I’ve highlighted a few of the issues with Postmates above, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of strategies that you can use to boost your income. Like with Uber/Lyft, the most basic strategy involves figuring out when the best times to drive are. I found that the busiest times are during lunch hours, Friday/Saturday nights and Sundays.
Most orders are placed during these times and when you have a lot of orders to choose from, it often pays to be picky. Here are some of the factors that I’ve found that can lead to an increase in your earnings:
- Distance to Pick-up: Since you don’t know the drop-off location, I have found that it’s often not worth it to do a far pick-up (10-15 min ETA) unless it’s from a restaurant. With casual fast food type places, the odds are that the drop-off distance will be shorter and the price of the meal will be cheaper. Although there’s no guarantee you’ll get a tip on every order, the tip is calculated as a percentage based off the total bill (food + 9% service charge + delivery fee). So the higher the total, the higher your potential tip will be.
- Time of Day: The thing I like about doing PM late night is that there are no issues with traffic and parking. Additionally, since there are a lot fewer places open at night, this means you will have longer drop-off distances (which means more $$) and you may be able to do 2 jobs per hour.
- Ease of Parking: There are certain areas where I know it will be impossible to find parking at during certain times. In this case, I’ll usually let these types of jobs go by and wait for the next one.
Postmates has its own version of surge pricing called blitz pricing that comes into effect when demand outweighs available couriers. But one thing I’ve found is that the blitz pricing algorithm is not very dynamic at all. It normally ‘blitzes’ at 1.25x and even at the busiest times when no couriers are available, it rarely goes above 1.5-1.75x.
I actually tested it out one night when things were extremely busy from the passenger side of the app to see for myself. I tried for nearly 20 minutes to place an order on a Friday night and I kept getting a message from Postmates saying that no couriers were available. Meanwhile, I looked on the driver side of the app simultaneously and blitz was only at 1.25x! Even though there were likely many others requesting food (there was a good promo going on, more on that to come below), Postmates wouldn’t raise the blitz pricing up. A 25% bonus wasn’t enough to get me off the couch to drive but I think a 75-100% bonus definitely would have.
So even though blitz pricing isn’t all that dynamic, it can still be a boost to your income. I’ve found that blitz pricing happens organically most often on Friday/Saturday nights and Sundays. It occurs sporadically during weekday lunch hours but I haven’t been able to find a pattern other than when there are promotional offers.
One of the best things about all of these companies is that they have a lot of money at their disposal and run lots of promotions, which is great for drivers and customers alike. Postmates is no different and they generally offer a different ‘free delivery item’ every week. So what this means is that customers only have to pay the delivery fee and service charge and they can get things like free pizza, burger & fries, boba tea, frozen yogurt, etc. Those are all recent promotions that I actually ordered myself, always gotta test the merchandise!
(Postmates actually gives out $10 in delivery credit (my promo code is ‘m6mng‘) to new users and if you pair it with a weekly free promotion, you get the entire order for free!)
So in addition to getting free food, drivers can also take advantage of these promotions because they often cause blitz pricing. Postmates has done some pretty good promotions over the past few months, and while boba tea might not cause blitz pricing, a free burger and fries from Five Guys definitely will.
One thing you’ll want to watch out for though is that most of these promos have a moving target, which means you can pick up from several locations but the point on the map where customers request pick-up from is where you’ll want to be near. Remember, Postmates assigns jobs based on proximity to pick-up location.
Since you’re somewhat limited to the number of jobs per hour you can do, even with blitz pricing, I did a lot of research into what you can do during deliveries to earn more. Tipping is a sore subject for a lot of Uber drivers, but with Postmates, it really makes the whole system viable. Without tips, I don’t think Postmates would be worth it for anyone.
But since you can accept tips and many customers do tip, here are some strategies I’ve found that will help boost your tips!
- Do The Little Stuff: I am very picky about what sauces and salsa I want with my food and I have really appreciated the couriers who made an extra effort to make sure I got every sauce under the sun. Even if the customer doesn’t ask for it, I think it’s still a good idea to go above and beyond. On my last burrito order, the courier said, “Dude, I got you every sauce there was!” Thanks Dante 🙂 Beyond sauces though, you’ll also want to make sure you include the right condiments (ie ketchup for an order of fries and not mustard) and even things like napkins and utensils. Make sure you use common sense too: if there are 4 dishes from a Thai place, you probably need at least 3-4 sets of utensils.
- Think Outside The Box: I am always looking for ways to impress customers by being willing to do what others won’t. Most people in life aren’t willing to go above and beyond or think outside the box so you can make yourself stand out by doing so. If I have down time while waiting for an order, I may go on Yelp and look up other restaurants in the area that I’ve tried or that look good and text the passenger something like, “Hey I noticed you ordered Thai food, next time you should definitely try Madee Thai on 17th st. It has the best spicy squid and crab fried rice! See you soon :)” I’m a big foodie so this is the perfect thing for me to do since I’ve actually tried a lot of restaurants and I can give good recommendations (or just use Yelp). But you can see that this is an opportunity to really WOW your customer and I guarantee you no other drivers are doing stuff like this, except for me 🙂
- Save Them Money: Whenever I get things for free in life, I always try to pay it forward. An example would be if I had a BOGO coupon for a restaurant. In that case, I’ll normally try and leave a higher tip. I saved money so why not pay a little bit of that forward? I think a lot of people have that mentality too and may not even realize it. One of the best ways to save your customers money is to let them know about the current promotions going on with Postmates. When I make a delivery, I always tell the customer, “Hey don’t forget to rate me (this also means they see the tipping screen) and we’re also doing a promo right now for free pizza! You can get 2 slices and a soda for free, all you have to do is pay the delivery fee.” Another good thing to tell them about is the bi-weekly free delivery code for existing users. Over the past few months, Postmates has been giving away free $10 delivery credit to existing users about every two weeks. If there’s an active code while I’m making deliveries, I will text it to them before I arrive and say something like, “Hey I’m on my way with your food, see you soon! PS – Thanks for being such a great customer, you can use the code ‘GAZELLE’ for $10 off your next delivery.” That makes it seem a little more personal and even if they never end up using the code, you know that they will be thankful since you just saved them $10 and be a lot more likely to pay it forward when they hit the tipping screen.
I’m actually more of a fan of Postmates as a customer than as a driver. I don’t know if I would pay $8 to get a $7 burrito delivered but when there are so many free promos going on and free delivery credits being handed out, it’s hard to say no to free on-demand food. Like I mentioned earlier, new customers get $10 in delivery credit when they sign-up but the person who refers them also gets $10 in credit.
Unlike Uber, which gives you the option to accept cash or a free ride, Postmates will only give you delivery credit. This isn’t the worst thing in the world though since you can pair it with the weekly free food promotions and get free food pretty much every week. I like to pass out my Postmates referral cards during Uber/Lyft rides but you could also pass them out pretty much anywhere.
For more tips on referring new customers, check out my Ultimate Passenger Referral Podcast.
Become a Bike Courier
This option isn’t available in every city but one of the best ways to nearly eliminate the expense of operating your vehicle is to hop on a bike and deliver. I’m actually a big fan of biking in general and if this option was available in SoCal I would definitely consider it.
Biking also eliminates the problems associated with parking, traffic, etc although the consequences of an accident could be a bit more severe. If you’re a bike courier for Postmates, I’d love to hear from you about what your experience has been like and maybe even have you share a guest post.
PS – A motorcycle or scooter might also work too so if you have tried that or are considering it, please leave a comment and let us know what it’s like.
So there you have it, those are all the strategies I’m currently using to maximize my income on Postmates. Is there anything I missed or are there strategies that you employ and are willing to share with other readers?
If you’re interested in taking the plunge and trying out Postmates, you can sign up here using my referral 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.
Make Every Mile CountDid you know that every 1,000 business miles can generate $540 in tax deductions? Never miss another mile with the new QuickBooks Self-Employed automatic mileage tracker.
-Harry @ RSG
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