Over the past four years, DoorDash extraordinaire and RSG contributor Dash Bridges has shared his strategies for signing up with, delivering for, and maximizing earnings with DoorDash. On this Throwback Classic, Dash updates us on all of his tips and strategies for 2019 in one article.
By the way, the best way to maximize your ridesharing and delivery income is to sign up for multiple services like Uber Eats, Postmates, and Lyft. That way when one of the apps is slow you can use another one, or if you become suspended from one account you can use another one. Click here to sign up for more rideshare and delivery services.
I’ve been at this over FOUR years, logging 5100+ deliveries over nearly 2800 hours of DoorDashing. Along the way, I’ve picked up numerous tricks of the trade. My goal is to share my experiences and help you maximize your earnings while working delivery. So with that in mind, welcome to Dashville!
My background: DoorDash has always been my side gig. Initially, I used it to earn extra money over and above my normal office job to afford housing after my divorce. Now, several months after I was laid off of my operations manager position here in Silicon Valley, I’m Dashing more often though I spend most of my other waking hours slogging through job sites and cover letter rewrites.
No, I haven’t considered Dashing full time. Regardless of my earnings maximization techniques, there’s still a pretty low ceiling on what I can earn. I mean, DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT HOUSING COSTS ARE HERE IN THE SF BAY AREA? Don’t let anyone fool you. This is a side job, not a career!
Originally, I signed up for DoorDash through a Craigslist ad and spent a few weeknights and Sunday evenings making deliveries for extra cash. Lacking a day job, I’ve added a few lunch shifts as well. Although I sincerely enjoy dashing and its change of pace from my career track, make no mistake, I am here to MAKE MONEY. When I dash, I’m serious about it. I’ve got 3-4 hours to hustle. Get in. Make money. Get out. Go home!
The Three Best Tips & Tricks When Delivering for Doordash
There are three ways you can earn money when DoorDashing:
- The amount DoorDash pays, which changes based on variables for each delivery.
- Customer tips.
You can earn money through referrals, but specifically as a Dasher, these are going to be your three main income sources. Throughout my Dashing career, I’ve kept a detailed spreadsheet of my territories, time worked, deliveries, 5-star reviews (those are gone!) delivery pay, bonuses, mileage, etc. After reviewing the stats, I started noticing trends.
1) Turn Orders!
Some food delivery companies pay an hourly wage to their drivers, regardless of order quantity. DoorDash is delivery-based. The more deliveries I make, the more payouts I collect. Therefore, I need to turn orders, and turn them quickly. Get to the restaurant. Get the food. Deliver food. Repeat.
Historically, I’ve averaged 1.8 deliveries/hour. Knowing this, it’s my goal to average two deliveries per hour, or 30 minutes each. Here are some ways I compress my delivery times in order to squeeze in an extra delivery or two per shift.
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Dash When It’s Busy
I dash when it’s busy. Duh, right? This one is obvious, but if you’re a part-timer like me, waiting 10-30 minutes between orders kills your earning potential. Dash during the heavy ordering times, lunch & dinner, roughly 11:00 am-1:30 pm and 5:00 pm-9:00 pm. I’ve dashed during breakfast a time or two, but it’s never brought in much money.
Weekend nights tend to be more lucrative than weekdays, and earlier weekdays (Mon – Wed) tend to pay better than Thursdays. Remember though, Dashing has a number of variables specific to YOUR metro area. All of my experience is in Silicon Valley, which has high discretionary income, very tech-savvy, and an insane work culture, which all affects the volume of orders throughout the week, month and year.
Know Where You’re Going
Driving the wrong direction to a restaurant or a customer’s house is a huge waste of time. When I started dashing, in my hurry to begin my drive to my next destination, I’d get in the car and start moving before I knew my exact directions. Too often I’d realize I’m going the wrong way. Then, depending on traffic or other factors, I can’t get on the right road, or I’m stuck on the freeway without an exit for two miles, and it’s just a frustrating, self-inflicted waste of time. Now, I take an extra 30 seconds before starting my car to review my route and read any additional customer instructions, i.e. “my building is closest to the entrance at the corner of Oak Street.”
I encourage you to trust Google Maps. Take the route it suggests, then when you’re within a block, go back to the Dasher app and check their map. It’s extremely precise and will often distinguish between buildings within an apartment complex. Speaking of which, apartment complex directories are your friend! DON’T hop out of your car and just start looking. You wouldn’t believe the strange logic of some building numbering systems.
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Find Creative Parking Spots (for informational purposes only)
I practice ‘creative parking’. In popular downtown locations, parking can be a bear. I’ve been known to bend local parking laws in order to get a convenient spot. Loading zones, red zones and ‘parking for customers of XYZ company only’ are all spots that I consider when parking. If the spot is questionable, I’ll flip the hazards on when I leave.
My thought process is always, “Is a cop going to see this in the next 3 minutes? If they do, are they going to care?” Much of this decision-making depends on the restaurant proximity and my experience with their wait times. If the questionable spot is within a half block of a restaurant that typically has food ready when I arrive, I’ll go for it. Pizza places are notoriously slow, so I’d be less likely to risk it if I’m picking up from there.
I’m also comfortable parking in numbered spots at apartment buildings, again using the hazards. The chance someone is going to come home to that spot in the time I deliver… is super small. It’s happened 1-2 times, but it works out. No big deal.
FYI, in my four years of Dashing I’ve never received a parking ticket *knocks on wood*. Speaking of which, you are on your own with parking tickets! DoorDash will not reimburse you for traffic violations, nor should they. (Note: RSG does not endorse any illegal parking strategies; try this at your own risk.)
Also, I want to clearly state that I DO NOT park in accessible spots nor in private driveways. It’s one thing to take a risk with parking illegally, it’s another thing to be a bad citizen. If I look nearby and still don’t have a legal-ish option, I’ll cede the nearby parking lots to the masses in favor of parking farther away and walking the extra distance. Often, walking from a further spot is faster than circling. Plus, exercise is good for you.
2) Tips Per Delivery
This subject has become somewhat more tricky in recent years. When I started, the pay system was very straightforward: flat fee + tip. Prior to acceptance, your order would look like the below screenshot. You knew you’d earn the flat $5-$6 fee, plus the customer tip.
In 2017, and at least through August 2019, DoorDash moved to a more complicated (and controversial) system. Now, DoorDash guarantees a certain amount over and above the original flat fee, but customer tips may not increase your overall pay. Instead, they decrease DoorDash’s responsibility. You can read more about DoorDash’s issues with tip-stealing here.
In the next example, DoorDash guaranteed $6.25 for the delivery, but the customer didn’t tip anything. So DoorDash paid the full $6.25.
In this example, DoorDash guaranteed $7.04 for the delivery. The customer generously tipped $7.05. As you can see, DoorDash didn’t add that to their $7.04 total, they used it against their own guarantee, only paying the Dasher their self-imposed $1.00 minimum. So the current pay structure offers a higher floor, but a lower ceiling, if that makes sense. More than ever, the fluctuation between high and low-paying orders has shrunk.
Because of this change, my old method of selectively declining low-potential orders somewhat dried up. Instead, I’m now trying to Dash during periods with…
Bonuses are flat amounts placed on top of other earnings and offered during some peak times and locations. They’re never entirely predictable, but they typically fall into heavier times of the day, lunch (11:00am-1:30pm) and dinner (5:00pm-9:00pm).
Sometimes they pop up spontaneously, to encourage Dashers to get out and work. And sometimes they’re promoted in advance, so you can schedule your shifts.
When you receive an order that includes a bonus, it looks like this:
If you’re completing roughly 2 orders per hour, even a modest $2.00/order bonus is going to give you a nice boost.
Related article: Essential gear every food delivery service driver should have
Practicing the Art of the Selective Decline
When you accept your DoorDash order, you’re committed to it AND you’re unlikely to receive additional orders until you’ve completed the order. Each time you receive a DoorDash order request, the app tells you the restaurant, guaranteed earnings, order value and your current distance to the restaurant.
It also provides a map showing your location, restaurant location and delivery location as well as a 90-second timer for you to decide if you want to accept or decline the order. With some experience, you will be able to quickly determine if this order is worth it, or if it’s too cheap, too far, too traffic-y, etc. From time to time, I can choose to decline an order because I’m betting I can get a more lucrative order within the next few minutes… ESPECIALLY if we’re in a busy dinner rush.
This order below is an automatic, no-brainer decline for me. No way am I spending that time & distance for $5.50.
But there are other orders where I need to consider the circumstances. For instance, here:
Considering the value and the distance driven, it’s average. BUT notice that the order includes 14 items. It’s a HUGE order. Considering that many customers tip according to the value of their order, there’s a chance (not a guarantee, but a chance) they’ll tip handsomely for an order that’s worth $150 or more. Even in the unlikely case I only earn the $8.07, it’s worth the risk.
Tip profiling is an art, not a science. I’ve read dozens of Dasher social media posts about getting a $2 tip on a $200 order, or getting surprisingly generous tips when they least expect it.
DoorDash delivers until 3:30am. Late in the evening, your restaurant options are basically fast food and Wingstop. These orders are typically in the $8-$12 range. Late at night, forget the tip considerations. That’s when you go for volume and hopefully you can get extra orders… especially if there are fewer Dashers on the road to accept them.
Some Final Advice For Dashers
Here are a couple other things I’ve learned:
- Dash when it rains… or during a heat wave, or cold snap. People naturally want to stay indoors in bad weather, and are happy to pay for the privilege of doing so. Put on a jacket, grab an umbrella and get out there!
- Dash during live sporting events, particularly involving your home team. People want to concentrate on the games, and watch them together, so orders tend to be larger. I’ve spent the last four years listening to Golden State Warriors’ playoff games on the radio while Dashing. It’s worth it. I also strongly suggest any nationally-televised football game. Sunday Night, Monday Night, even THURSDAY Night Football. They’re the highest-rated Prime Time shows on television. To a lesser extent, other live TV events do the same. Game of Thrones was a guaranteed busy Sunday. Unfortunately, I’m not sure we’ll ever have a single, non-streaming show that captures the nation’s attention like GoT. Awards shows like the Oscars work as well.
I hope my suggestions boost your DoorDash hourly earnings. Even four years later, I enjoy dashing and appreciate the opportunity to share my observations. So go earn some extra cash and please drive safely!
If you’re interested in signing up for DoorDash and seeing what the experience is like for yourself, please click here. Don’t forget you can (and should) increase your earnings potential by signing up to deliver with Postmates too!
The best way to maximize your ridesharing and delivery income is to sign up for multiple services like Uber Eats, Postmates, and Lyft. That way when one of the apps is slow you can use another one. Or if you get suspended from one account you still have the others. Click here to sign up for more services.
Readers, what do you think of DoorDash and do you think you’d enjoy delivery driving?
Related article: Essential gear every food delivery driver should have
-Dash @ RSG
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