Interested in dabbling in the delivery field but don’t know what skills and strategies you should adopt right off the bat? Take a page from RSG contributor Jeffrey’s book and learn how the four Ps can help you find success in your new delivery gig.
You may have recently started delivering or may be considering getting started. There are a lot of factors that go into setting yourself up for success.
Below, we’ll cover the most important delivery strategies all delivery drivers need to follow if they want to be successful. It’s easy to break down, just follow the 4 Ps: Prepare, Plan, Practice and Persistence—with a little bit of patience thrown in there, as well.
- Be prepared for changes within the industry
- Practice patience in all aspects of delivery to help ease stressors
- Prepare a delivery kit so you have everything you might need at your fingertips
Strategy 1: Prepare
Success means different things to different people. For me, it means bringing in extra income efficiently, in my spare time—working smarter, not harder. I am flexible in both strategy and tactics, and I have learned to adapt, which you will find is absolutely necessary to succeed in delivery.
Being at least familiar with your delivery area is a great way to prepare. Sure, you can deliver anywhere, but if you’ve got a sweet spot where you know all the shortcuts and hotspots, and the ins and outs of local businesses, you are ahead of the game. And remember, GPS only goes so far and is fallible.
Be prepared for the quickly changing landscape of restaurant, grocery, and package delivery. Mentally note what’s going on around you as it relates to delivery.
Some restaurants that used to be busy are barren, or even closed at peak hours now, and favorite drive-thrus that rarely had wait times now have cars and trucks stretched around the building. Be willing to adjust your overall strategy and tactics to achieve your goals.
Prepare yourself, mentally, physically, and emotionally for delivering to people.
What am I getting at here? If you’re not in the mood to deal with people, you really shouldn’t even go out. While it’s true that the people element of delivery is greatly diminished from the super-in-your-face world of rideshare, you will still be dealing with people frequently.
There are bound to be some unpleasant folks you encounter most weeks. Customers can be very demanding, and store employees may be less than helpful, standoffish, and even rude. Prepare to deal with people.
Be sure that you, and your vehicle, are prepared—have enough gas, air in the tires, dress appropriately (no suit required, but shorts and a tank top don’t scream professionalism), and wear comfortable shoes.
One thing that shouldn’t need saying, but needs to be said: Be sure your phone is mounted so you can be as hands-free as possible while driving.
Think you might get hungry or thirsty? Bring along snacks and beverages, so you don’t have to stop, taking time out of your drive to get them!
Finally, have essential supplies, which leads to my next point:
If you haven’t already, prepare a delivery kit.
“What’s a delivery kit?” Glad you asked!
In my delivery kit, I keep:
- wrapped straws (frequently forgotten by fast-food joints and only $12 for 500 on Amazon)
- permanent marker(s) for marking multiple order pickups
- small but bright rechargeable flashlight (navigating questionable terrain and finding addresses in dark)
- all-weather jacket
- Bluetooth music (tablet/phone)
- battery pack
- extra cables to charge devices
- extra cup holders
- anything you need – such as meds – for me it’s prescription eye drops, for you it might be something more essential and
- a caddy to hold most of it
With delivery, communication is key. Like the saying goes “Don’t have a meeting if it can be a call, don’t call if you can email, don’t email if you can text…” I keep a few key messages on my notes app for easy copy/paste access.
Here are a few examples of standby messages:
“This is your driver Jeffrey, I’ll be arriving in a few minutes in a red car.”
“I will be leaving your order where requested and will need to take a picture.”
“Your order says leave at door, but delivery instructions say ‘hand to me’, which would you prefer?”
“Can you please let me know the building and apartment number?”
You can tailor these to your liking, and add your own. Having frequently used, pre-written notes saves a ton of time and stress, and usually helps keep your ratings up.
Strategy 2: Plan
While you can’t “plan” where your next ping comes from or is going to, you can develop your own strategy and tactics to simplify the execution of it.
Plan Where and When
Many drivers like having a somewhat regular schedule—driving the same times, the same days of the week, or the same areas. Find out what helps maximize your efforts.
If you find that you feel hurried or under pressure at a certain time because of obligations in a few hours, then have a definite end time set, and stick to it.
If you find that you are always busy Monday nights, but also disappointed in your net earnings, miles driven, etc., then maybe Monday nights in that area aren’t for you. Another area nearby might be.
Figure out where/when/what works for you and plan around it! And certainly more than one area can be in your plan.
Plan Ahead for Promotions
When planning, you will notice that most delivery platforms offer frequent, and sometimes enticing promos. For me, the best platforms tend to be DoorDash and Uber Eats.
Understanding how these different platforms function is key. Uber Eats usually tries to herd its drivers into extremely geo-specific areas and gives bonuses based upon the number of deliveries completed, or a per-delivery bonus.
Uber Eats also incentivizes deliveries after orders have not aged well, meaning the request has not been accepted, it is past the Uber Eats estimated actual delivery time, etc. That is one reason you may see a seemingly benign order with a bigger-than-usual payout.
DoorDash, on the other hand, approaches promos differently. The most reliable DoorDash promos are “Peak Pay”, which are during hours when DD estimates it will be busy and drivers may be in demand. You may be thinking, “Great! Surge at peak periods!” Aha, not so fast.
Peak Period Pay is based upon the time of day, and historical business, not upon the actual level of demand. There may be $5/delivery Peak Pay, but you may not be able to log on because it’s not busy enough!
Mind-bending, I know.
DoorDash sometimes offers volume bonuses—complete a set number of deliveries within certain areas within a certain time period and get paid. The reward might be great, but the goal may also be more difficult than it initially appears.
Decide How It Works For You
Over the years, there have been countless debates about whether or not to take every ping, accept long requests, take requests from known time-wasting locations, etc. You need to decide for yourself which pings to accept and which to decline.
As a new driver, I would recommend accepting all pings within your immediate area your first couple drives, so you can get a feel for your locality, your driving style, your patience level, and more.
Once you’re a more seasoned driver, if you are still looking at every request, diagnosing it, and making a hard-thought decision, there’s something wrong.
When a ping comes in, your reaction should be virtually automatic, based on your own parameters.
If you do not know, or are unsure of what those parameters are, where your limits and thresholds fall, I can just about guarantee that you are leaving money on the table, being less productive, and more stressed than needed. Figure these things out, and proceed with your plan!
Strategy 3: Practicing Patience
“Practice makes perfect.” You’ve heard it a million times, and know it’s true. In delivery, practice can mean simply going out and delivering, or it can mean refining your approach, developing new tactics, even entire strategies based upon your previous results. Without practice, you are essentially driving blind.
As you repeat every aspect of delivery—from preparation to execution—certain aspects may seem to always be troublesome, annoying, or difficult. It’s important to evaluate whether these areas are inherently problematic, or if you can make adjustments to improve your performance.
When I first started delivering in my current market, I was encountering lots of deliveries—15% or so—on DoorDash with “hand to me” instructions where the customer never showed up. This meant I had to sit there and wait 5 minutes before I’d be able to take a picture and complete delivery, despite my quick arrival.
After observing this continuing streak for a few weeks, I decided to change my approach. I would text or call every time certain conditions were met—and once I did, it rarely happened.
Patience might be the single most necessary trait for a delivery driver to develop and nurture if they ever want to advance beyond the “I do this every so often when I’m desperate for money and have run out of other ideas” level.
As a delivery professional, you will need loads of patience. Virtually every day you will see less desirable and most likely unprofitable requests that other drivers have declined repeatedly, canceled or unassigned.
Once you start your delivery session, patience should be your constant companion and friend. You will find yourself waiting in long lines, slow lines, waiting for customers to call/text you back, waiting in-between pings.
No matter what you do, no matter how prepared you are, you’re going to be dealing with people and doing some waiting, so practice patience.
Strategy 4: Persistence
Many people confuse persistence with patience. While the two are intertwined, they are not the same.
If you persist, that is keep on going—despite slowness, setbacks, quiet periods, frustrations—you will usually reach reasonable goals and success. If you give up in the face of frustrating, low-paying, or slow sessions, you will contribute to your own long-term failure.
Persistence—when combined with patience, preparedness, planning and practice—helps you reach your goal.
In conclusion, there are several key delivery strategies that successful delivery drivers will cultivate and grow. Prepare, Plan, Practice, (have) Patience, and Persistence.
Each of these traits individually carries with it numerous advantages but benefits greatly from combination with the other P traits. When routinely utilized together, in a flexible manner, they can positively impact a driver’s overall success.
-Jeffrey @ RSG