Harry here. Driving for delivery services like DoorDash can be surprisingly profitable. Today, RSG contributor Dash Bridges returns to break down all the numbers from his first year of driving for DoorDash. If you’d like to sign up for DoorDash, using our referral link, please click here.
As you may recall, I live in Silicon Valley with a day job as an operations manager. I dash a few nights a week to earn side cash, with the added benefit of avoiding a miserable evening commute.
I’m in my early 40s and treat DoorDash as real job requiring a continued effort to improve my results. To be clear, when I say results, I mean MONEY. I am not here to hang out at restaurants and chit-chat with hostesses. I don’t have an Uber driver-type opportunity to pitch my latest project to a captive audience. The Jr. Cheeseburger and Chef’s salad in my carrying bag are NOT interested in my cousin’s startup, okay? Deliveries and tips are all I’ve got!
Luckily, the first night I dashed, Labor Day 2015, I started a spreadsheet that listed all of my relevant stats for that evening’s work. Day of the week, hours worked, # of deliveries, delivery fees, tips, bonus, and mileage. After a while, I had myself a database where I could see some trends.
Then, in early September I celebrated one full year working for Door Dash. That also means I have tons of data to confirm & dispel conventional wisdom about dashing. In this article, I’m going to share my stats from a full year on the job, including 170 shifts, 494.8 hours, 939 deliveries and $10,378.13 gross dollars earned. So join me as we slice, dice and unpack these numbers to better understand efficient Dashing!
|Shifts||Hours||Deliveries||Delivery Fees||Tips-official||Bonus||Gross Total|
Let’s start with definitions:
A shift is any period where I sign in and sign out. There are times when I schedule, say, a 5pm-9pm dash and the app signs me out automatically after my last delivery goes past 9pm. If I sense we’re busy and there’s schedule availability, I’ll start a new Dash immediately. That Dash, let’s say it goes from 9:08pm-11pm, is considered a separate shift, so I’ll have two shifts the same night. If I’m in the middle of the original 5pm-9pm shift and use the app to proactively extend my shift out to 11pm with no break, I consider that 5pm-11pm period as a single shift.
I typically round my hours up to the nearest tenth of an hour. So if I work 2 hours 3 minutes, I’ll list 2.1 hours worked.
A delivery is any order I’ve completed start to finish. Receive order, pick up food, deliver food. From time to time, I might arrive at a restaurant to pick up an order that the customer subsequently cancelled, the restaurant is closed, the restaurant chose not to fulfill the order (yes, this happened) or for whatever reason, the deal is off. Often DD will give me half of a delivery fee for my trouble. That $3.00 will show up in my ‘bonus’ category but isn’t considered a delivery.
Door Dash redirects 100% of customer tips to drivers. I believe the Door Dash customer app defaults customers to a 10% tip, but they have options to tip anywhere from $0 – infinity. Publicly, DD says that 97% of customers tip. But the existence of a tip doesn’t guarantee a GOOD tip. Even novice Dashers know that customer tipping is a real crapshoot. By the way, tips refers to extra money paid through the app. From time to time I receive small cash tips, but in my experience, cash tips are minuscule compared to what’s paid through the service.
A bonus is any additional pay received outside of the usual delivery fee or tip. That might be the half-credit delivery I mentioned above or any supplementary fees given as incentives. Over my year of dashing, drivers received additional compensation for longer-distance dashes, make-up money for guaranteed-rate periods or weekly boosts for achieving certain delivery/acceptance rate goals. During our recent $25/hour guarantees, Door Dash guaranteed $25/hr for a specific time periods, i.e. 5:30pm-9:30pm. If we only earned $21.00/hour during that 4-hour dinner rush, Door Dash will add $16.00 ($4/hour x 4 hours) to the bonus as a make up.
So again, utilizing the basics…
|Shifts||Hours||Deliveries||Delivery Fees||Tips-official||Bonus||Gross Total|
We use MATH to create some tangible high-level statistics:
|Gross pay/hour||Deliveries/hour||Pay per delivery||Delivery $ as % of pay||Tips $ as % of pay||Bonus $ as % of pay|
This generates some interesting stats. In the past year I averaged nearly $21/hour completing about two deliveries per hour. These are the two basic standards I look at upon completing my Dash each night:
1. Did I hit $20/hour?
2. Did I average two deliveries per hour?
My flat fees, currently $6.00 per delivery in the SF Bay Area regions I work, account for nearly 60% of my pay. Official tips make up about 40%. Let’s break this down further, by day of the week:
Side note: If you would like to get paid daily on DoorDash, you can signup for DailyPay here.
First of all, yes, my Saturday sample size is weak. But let’s assume those numbers hold up over time. In one sense, the numbers follow my expectations. The top three earning days of the week are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. By a lot. Restaurants are busier on weekends. People eat in groups more often on weekends, leading to larger orders and larger tips.
But check this out: the highest deliveries per hour (Sat) leads to the highest hourly earnings. The lowest deliveries per hour (Thu) leads to the lowest hourly earnings. So there’s a strong correlation. I guess that makes sense. As noted earlier, delivery fees make up 57% of my earnings, so more deliveries = more flat-rate earnings = higher overall earnings. It also means tip values might be less important than I originally thought.
Now let’s go by month:
|Month||Hours||Deliveries||Deliveries /Hour||Gross /Hour||Tip /Delivery||Gross /Delivery|
AGAIN! Similar to the breakdown by day, the most deliveries per hour led to best hourly earnings (October) and the worst deliveries per hour led to the worst (December) and second worst earnings (January).
I can safely assume that the best way to increase your DoorDash earnings is to boost gross deliveries. In my previous article I suggested the idea of the Selective Decline (opting out of certain delivery) to maximize your earnings. Based on the numbers above, I’d attribute more value to the delivery distance vs. delivery value.
As orders average about $25, I’ll always accept the rare $75+ order value, regardless of distance. But going forward I’ll reconsider these $8 Taco Bell orders if the restaurant and delivery are short distance away. I’m unlikely to get a good tip, but I’m guaranteed a delivery fee and I’ll be off to my next guaranteed delivery fee in a shorter amount of time. Bottom line: TURN ORDERS. Idle time waiting for food or orders is your biggest enemy.
Editor’s Note: Remember, if you are using your car to deliver, you will want to deduct all of the miles you drive for DoorDash using an automatic mileage tracking app like QuickBooks Self-Employed. Every mile you drive while doing DoorDash is worth a $0.54 deduction and these will add up really fast to help you minimize the amount of taxes you have to pay.
One more note: The BEST way to maximize deliveries is if you get doubles or triples. These are multiple pickups in the same area prior to delivery. So instead of the usual pick up for A, drop off for A, pick up B, drop off for B, you’re going to one or more restaurants in a small geographical area picking up A, B & C then driving out to drop off A, then B, then C. This method is sooooo much faster, but opportunities are limited due to customer preferences and delivery destinations.
Although you have little control over your deliveries from the app’s assignment algorithm, “AL” (aka. Al Gorithm, per the Facebook groups), you CAN travel to locations with large clusters of restaurants, like the Hot Spots noted in the app. You can also accept orders from popular restaurants like P.F. Chang’s and Cheesecake Factory. Many times I’ve been sent to one of these heavily-trafficked restaurants and picked up a 2nd delivery while I was there. When you’re doubling or tripling up, you can average three deliveries an hour (vs. my 1.9 historical average).
EXAMPLE: Look at this! Someone placed an order for $5.50! After this customer pays for food, tax and a $7 delivery fee, they’re going to realize, “I just paid $13 for a KFC chip cake” and tip however many cents it takes to get to the nearest full dollar. But I looked at the map and the restaurant/customer map was super close by. So I accepted it with the idea of order turnover and I knocked this order out in personal-record 11 minutes, assignment to delivery. That’s $6.00 for 11 minutes of work, a nearly $33/hour pace BEFORE tip. You’re not going to get those all night, but it demonstrates the power of the quick delivery.
Anyway, to wrap up, I’m so glad I started keeping stats for my dashes. Reviewing these numbers helps me refine my shift schedule to maximize my earning experience. This info helps me answer the question, “Is Dashing worth my time?” I reflect on the results and can decide if I want to increase my schedule, pull back on my hours or stop completely. For me, I’ve settled on two weeknights + Sunday night, with a goal of averaging $20+/hour. That’s what works for me. You’ll need to decide what works for you.
Drive safely fellow Dashers. You’re a much better audience than the Chef’s salad!
If you’d like to sign up for DoorDash, using our referral link, please click here.
Readers, what do you think about driving for DoorDash, or are you driving for them now?
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.
-Dash @ RSG