Have you ever wished you could deliver food with a friend? It sounds great: go out with your friend or spouse, pick up food, chat, maybe earn more than you could on your own. But how does it work? Senior RSG contributor Dash Bridges covers what it’s like to deliver food with a friend below.
Hello, fellow Dashers! It’s been a while and to be honest, my dashing is a little rusty.
But as you may recall, my dashing background is that I dash on the side as a supplement to my regular day job. Several months ago, I was laid off from that job. It wasn’t the best paying job in the world — SOME of us in Silicon Valley are neither venture capitalists nor master coders, ok? – but it was a full-time salaried position with benefits.
Unfortunately, unemployment is a little wonky and, without going on about the details, it actually made more sense given my DoorDash hours/earnings and unemployment benefits to… not work. Yeah.
Obviously, I’m searching for a full-time salaried job. My unemployment benefits have both a monetary and time limit, and dashing isn’t going to pay all the bills, anyway. Why not let us collect both? It’s a major disincentive to work. These laws are outdated to the modern day multi-job realities. But I digress…
Today I want to share my experience dashing with a friend – the goal is to bring a second person along to make the delivery process more efficient. Doesn’t it seem convenient? Your colleague drops you off right at the restaurant and residence door, then swings back around to pick you up. Or vice versa. What a concept! But does it really work?
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How to DoorDash with a Friend (Tandem Dashing)
This past Sunday night I wrangled my girlfriend (also a Dasher) into a tandem dash, with the agreement that we’d split the earnings. I didn’t have high hopes for the evening because the dashing circumstances are ripe for disappointment. Although it was a Sunday (best dashing day of the week), it’s January, and people are a) broke from holiday spending, b) still resolved to eat healthier, c) the last NFL playoff game of the weekend just finished (aka, party’s over) and d) high referral values have put a ton of Dashers on the road. And to set expectations, the previous Thursday I dashed during the same time period and earned an abysmal $11.27/hr on my own.
I scheduled the dash on my account, so my name was on the orders and therefore I should be the runner. I manned the runner/navigator role in the passenger seat, and the Dash Gal would drive. After an inauspicious 20-minute wait for our initial order, we had our first test. We headed for California Pizza Kitchen, which is located at a mall whose parking lot has been full since it was built in 1971.
Our First Delivery
(That’s a LONG way for the minimum $6.00 order, but that’s a discussion for another day)
Thinking about the delivery process. There are three milestones where you can possibly save time on a tandem dash:
1. Restaurant arrival
2. Restaurant departure
3. Delivery arrival
I don’t list delivery departure because once you’ve delivered an order, you’re unlikely to have another queued up. You’re typically in Dasher limbo, with no obvious destination, for a certain amount of time post-delivery. Onto California Pizza Kitchen…
A long line of cars crept along the front of the packed restaurant row. As we got closer to CPK I held my door handle like they do in a transport plane before paratroopers jump out…”not yet…not yet…. GO! GO! GO! GO!” and I hopped out while she circled. I already received notice that the order was ready, so we both knew it shouldn’t take long.
I walked up to the counter and picked up the food immediately. I turned around and quickly texted that I was done. As soon as I got outside the car was turned around. I hopped inside and off we went. Perfect! I probably saved 6-8 minutes using my personal valet rather than parking and walking in. And then…
“OK, where am I going?” the Dash Gal asked.
“Uh, ok, yeah. Let’s see.” I realized I typically get back to my car, put the warming bag on my passenger seat, get directions via Google Maps, text the customer my ETA, and THEN start my car. I didn’t have that time luxury as we exited the parking lot.
“OK, just go to the light that exits the mall and go left. We’ll figure it out from there.”
The order recipient lived in a tract home, so we pulled up right in front of the house and I made my delivery. No two-person advantage there.
Our Second Delivery
The next order was at another pizza place, this time in downtown San Jose, which is another parking headache. Again, it was extremely convenient to be dropped off right in front of the restaurant. However, this time I waited over 10 minutes to receive my food, so the drop off was no faster than finding a spot a block away and walking to the restaurant.
Certainly it was quicker when I left, getting picked up at the door instead of walking a block down the street. So my time savings might have been 3-4 minutes.
Over the course of the evening, we got into a pattern where the Dash Gal could drop me and then idle in a red zone directly in front of the restaurant. Or, she could park & chill in an available nearby spot. On the delivery side, I didn’t have any particularly difficult downtown or massive apartment complex deliveries, but enjoyed the convenience of simply hopping out of the car and not worrying about blocking a driveway. After a 3.5 hour Dash, I had some observations about the premise.
The Benefits of Tandem Dashing
Convenience! I was dropped off in front of the restaurant and never had to walk more than a few yards to either an established parking spot or pickup. My pickups/drop-offs were more efficient and I didn’t have to stop and start my car twice per order.
Let’s not understate the social benefits, either. I got 3.5 hours of uninterrupted conversation time with the Dash Gal. We don’t normally get that much time together. We both have kids. Some of us have jobs. We have responsibilities. It was pretty great to have some talk time while earning some $$$.
The Drawbacks of Tandem Dashing
The tandem Dash requires more communication than you might think. Typically I do all the customer communication and navigation myself, and I have a system that works for me. I turn on a podcast, adjust my phone holder and laser beam onto the job at hand. That routine gets upended when it involves another person.
We’ve all played navigator and relayed instructions to a driver, but typically that’s for a single destination. During this dash I did it 14 times (restaurant and residence for 7 orders) over the course of 3.5 hours with someone who, justifiably, doesn’t want to talk hardcore dash strategy. It gets old. Example:
“So, yeah, It’s 0.4 miles. Probably the 2nd light. Left on Beswick Rd.”
“OK. Well as I was saying, Friday’s leadership meeting was tough because we’re trying to get that one place for the offsite, but the budget…”
“Oops. Maybe there’s no light, but it’s close. Beswick. Maybe after that big truck?”
“….the budget isn’t confirmed so we need to consider alternate locations…”
“Yeah, coming up here. Then an immediate right on Manton Dr.”
“…but it’s not nearly as nice as….”
“It was right, uhhh, there. We passed it.”
“Did you say something after Beswick? I didn’t hear it.”
“Just…just go to the left lane so we can make a U.”
The multitasking and distracted communication is not particularly conducive to efficient dashing. Typically I’d just type the address into Google Maps, set the phone on my windshield holder and watch it out of the corner of my eye. The Dash Gal does it differently, so ultimately the process had some kinks.
Should You Deliver Food with a Friend?
The passenger drop-offs and pickups were convenient, for sure. We greatly benefitted at a couple of pickups at the mall, but unless we have an extreme-traffic restaurant location, the savings are 1-2 minutes/order. And YET, based solely on the estimated minutes saved on this dash, if we hadn’t teamed up on this shift, we may not have had time to receive a final order. 7:37 final order receipt, add the 26 minutes we saved – that’s 8:03 and we would’ve already been signed out.
So on some dashes, the time savings COULD be enough to add an additional order in the final minutes of a shift. Giving the benefit of the doubt, let’s say you DO get one extra order every dash. We averaged $11.74/delivery Sunday night. So if the efficiency earns you an extra order, that’s your potential upside on a 3.5 hour shift, another $11.74. OR, because we dashed until after the bonus ended at 7:30, that last order might only offer $6-$8.
In that case, your justification for a tandem dash should be social, some quiet chat time with someone who doesn’t mind smelling different types of food. Otherwise, you should dash separately and bring in nearly twice the earnings.
As it turned out, we had a better than expected night. We earned $82.19 in 3.5 hours, or $23.26/hr.
The next night, Monday, I worked a solo shift in the same area and only earned $12.96/hr.
The following Wednesday, I worked the same solo shift, but during a terrible rainstorm. I earned $25.52/hr.
Here’s how a week’s worth of dashes turned out:
…which leads to my grand conclusion of: You just never know!
To be honest, the REAL, pro-level test would be to clear your schedule, pack snacks, and dedicate a day in San Francisco proper (or other major city). You’d get a lot more benefit using the tandem system up there, where DoorDash traditionally pays more per order and both commercial and residential parking is beyond absurd.
Set aside 8-10 hours, have two drivers and just crank ‘em out. Unfortunately, neither the Dash Gal nor any driving-age family, friend, nor acquaintance would touch such an endeavor. “One hour travel. Several hours dashing. One hour home. HARD PASS ON THAT ONE, DASH! I work during the week!” So, the ultimate experiment is yet to be attempted.
Actually…Hey, wanna try it? I’ll go halfsies.
Drive safely, everyone! BTW, you can find Dashing wisdom in Twitter-sized doses @DashBridges.
Readers, have you ever delivered with a friend or tried tandem dashing? How did it go for you?
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-Dash @ RSG