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7 min read

    7 min read

    As states begin to re-open across the country, many drivers are getting back on the road. Senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins investigated a new phenomenon: delivery drivers earning more than ever. If you’re considering driving for a food delivery company, here’s what to know and how to stay safe.

    Within the last few days, people have been sharing screenshots on Reddit and with RSG via Facebook and email about their Uber Eats earnings. Has there been a surge in Uber Eats demand – or pay to drivers?

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    Within the Last Week, Uber Eats Earnings Have Been ‘The Best Ever’

    We’ve heard from multiple drivers who have said the last few weeks (particularly the last week) have been ‘the best ever’ due to boosts and other promotions.

    This Uber Eats driver shared his $50/hour earnings on Reddit, showing a Boost from Uber of $32 (in addition to tips).

    Another RSG reader who wished to remain anonymous shared that he has regularly been getting boosts to his pay (recently, a $4 peak pay for lunch and dinner orders). From 3:15 – 10 pm on one recent Saturday, he earned $389 ($55/hr) between DoorDash and Uber Eats in Maryland.

    Other drivers are going to more extreme lengths to earn more with Uber Eats, like the driver below who made $41 an hour driving for Uber Eats. He also earned over $100 in Promotion earnings alone.

    Interestingly, he delivered on a bike!

    From these numbers, it’s pretty clear you don’t have to drive a ton of hours to earn more with Uber Eats. The driver below shared that this was ‘the best week yet’, but he delivered for 73 hours to make $30 an hour – and nearly a quarter of his earnings were from promotions.

    We heard from many of you that these numbers are unsustainable, and yes, 73 hours a week of driving and delivering is a lot of work.

    However, this driver in particular noted last year he was homeless, and he looks at Uber Eats and the opportunity to drive as an opportunity to hustle and make as much as he can.

    Why Are Drivers Seeing Such a Surge in Uber Eats (and Delivery) Demand?

    Overall, drivers who have been out delivering recently have been reporting record earnings. The driver we spoke to who wished to remain anonymous said in particular it seems to be young people ordering out, with fewer drivers on the road to deliver.

    Additionally, Uber Eats has claimed to experience a tenfold increase in new restaurants sign ups, with “some local restaurants say[ing] the percentage of orders placed through third-party apps has risen from around 20 percent to roughly 75 percent.”

    According to WIS TV in Charleston, SC, restaurant owners have also noticed an uptick in delivery demand:

    “When we partnered with them in 2017 it opened up our business to a segment of people that I would make the argument where we wouldn’t otherwise have access to, prior to them,” Romano said. “We had been open for almost 6 or 7 years before we partnered with them and we saw an uptick in revenue that I’m not sure we would’ve ever seen otherwise.”

    Even though some restaurant owners have complained of high fees from companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash, for some restaurants like the one mentioned by WIS TV, it’s opened them up to a whole new revenue chain.

    It’s also clear that demand may be the highest it’s ever been, due to the pandemic, shut downs, and fears of the virus spreading.

    However, will these higher earnings for drivers out on the road last? One RSG driver also noted there may be fewer drivers on the road, stating he believed “a lot of people here have been collecting unemployment”, so whether or not these high earnings stick around remains to be seen.

    Eventually, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) extra $600 a week will run out, and these drivers could head back to the road.

    One Driver’s Tips for Delivering During COVID-19

    At the end of May, I spoke with Leon from Louisville, KY about driving for UberEats during the pandemic. He shared his strategies and general earnings during this time.

    “I’ve driven for Uber for over 4 years and I’ve done like 8,700 trips,” said Leon. “I tried UberEats before and I really didn’t care for it because it just didn’t pay as well, you know? So when the COVID-19 came around, I got scared to pick anybody up. I thought I’d go out and try Uber Eats.”

    “It was the most money I’ve ever made doing Uber, ever,” explained Leon. “We have the Kentucky Derby here and it was compared to that.”

    Leon enjoys doing UberEats now due to the increase in earnings, but also likes that he doesn’t put nearly as many miles on his car. He also told me that his tips have increased when compared to driving for Uber.

    “With Uber Eats, everybody tips,” said Leon. “Maybe if I do 14 deliveries, there may be one person that does not tip. Say if my delivery pays $7, I may get a $10 tip and it only takes 10 minutes to do these deliveries.

    There’s such a shortage of drivers, I will get a backlog of deliveries to do. I can make $200 in three-and-a-half hours.”

    With UberEats, the demand peaks at different times of the day than with just driving for Uber. So, Leon goes out driving around lunchtime and dinnertime, and he will often keep the app on after he returns home between those times to see if he can pick up any extra orders in the meantime.

    Leon also loves how fast it is and how easy. During the pandemic, he said that most restaurants bring the food right out to him, or if he has to go in everyone is wearing masks and following social distancing as much as possible. On the other end of things, when he delivers the food, many passengers choose the option of contactless delivery.

    “I ring the doorbell and step away from the door, they wave at me, I wave at them and move on to the next one,” he said.

    Tips for Driving for Uber Eats During COVID-19

    Leon’s top tips for driving for delivery companies while it’s busy, yet still staying safe, are important to keep in mind:

    1. Keep your orders organized. When you’re stacking orders or running multiple apps, it’s imperative to make sure your orders are well organized! Leon takes a marker to mark on the receipt which bags go to which person so he can keep them straight easier.
    2. Go the extra mile – and make it easier on yourself – with drink holders. There are times when you’re given more than two drinks to carry and there isn’t much room in your car as far as how many drinks you can carry without everything tipping over. Leon has drink holders on hand for those bigger orders to keep everything organized and ready for delivery.
    3. Always wear masks and gloves when picking up and delivering. Customers appreciate knowing that you’re being safe.

    While we can’t guarantee earnings will be this high forever, if you’ve been on the fence about driving for delivery companies and feel safe enough to be a courier, now could be a great opportunity.

    We also can’t predict how long these Boosts, promotions and other peak pay opportunities will be available. As our driver in Maryland mentioned, there are fewer drivers out there right now (potentially because of unemployment benefits), but these benefits will not last forever. More drivers will start to get on the road as they feel safer and need to, and these will inevitably depress Promotions and Boosts.

    If you do decide to deliver with Uber Eats, DoorDash or any other delivery company, make sure to be prepared with an organizational system like Leon’s above, and bring along sanitizing wipes, wear gloves, and wear masks (particularly when picking up and dropping off food).

    Readers, are you driving for food delivery companies like Uber Eats or DoorDash? If so, how have your earnings been?

    -Paula @ RSG

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    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins, a graduate of Augustana University, Sioux Falls, is a part-time rideshare driver and a full-time proofreader. She is based in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In her free time, Paula enjoys reading, playing board games and participating in trivia nights.