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17 min read

    17 min read

    Is it still worth it to drive for DoorDash in 2020? Senior RSG contributor and Dasher pro Dash Bridges shares his DoorDash driver review of how DoorDashing has changed over the years, and what you can expect as a Dasher in 2020.

    I started Dashing in September 2015. Do you realize how long ago that was? Our country was immersed in ‘Straight Outta _____’ memes. Kids demanded us to watch them both whip and Nae Nae. Alabama sat at #2 in the college football AP Poll after an upset loss in a bowl game. Oh well, not everything changes.

    instacart

    Regardless, I’m now in the cagey old veteran stage of my dashing career. I’ve been working for DoorDash for almost 5 years! I’ve completed thousands of deliveries and hundreds of shifts.

    In the past, I’ve written about the differences between Dashing now vs. Dashing then. So to add a fresh wrinkle to the subject, let’s break up my DoorDash driver review into 1000-delivery periods and compare the numbers. There are a few trends to discuss.

    Ready to sign up for DoorDash? You can sign up using our DoorDash affiliate link here.

    DoorDash Sign-Up Process

    DoorDash has a similar process to many on-demand companies, but they actually have looser requirements than a lot of the rideshare companies.

    DoorDash Driver and Delivery Partner Requirements:

    • 18 or older
    • Any car, scooter, or bicycle (in select cities)
    • Driver’s license number
    • Social security number (only in the United States)
    • Final Step: consent to a background check
    • You’ll need a smartphone for this job!

    DoorDash Sign Up Bonus

    There’s a driver sign-up bonus if you apply with a referral from an existing driver. Our writer, Paula, found that in the Minneapolis area right now, there is an offer to earn $100 extra after completing your first 200 deliveries within 60 days (note: these sign up bonuses are subject to change).

    On the other hand, if you’re a DoorDash driver in Minneapolis, the referral amount you could earn is significantly more. For referring someone, at the writing of this article, the existing Dasher could earn an extra $1,500 when the person they refer complete their first 200 deliveries within 60 days of applying.

    My Experience Signing Up for DoorDash

    In the past, DoorDash orientation was a lot more in-depth! Nowadays, it’s pretty easy. After you submit an application, choose a driver orientation (all online) and complete the app/get approved, you’re ready to go!

    Depending on how quickly you go through the orientation, you can be on the road within a week, max two weeks.

    Here’s a preview of what you can expect using the DoorDash driver app: How to Use the Doordash Driver App: Guide & Tutorial For New Dashers in 2020

    DoorDash Orientation

    Depending on where you live, your DoorDash orientation may be in person at an office or online.

    Types of Orientations:

    • Scheduled Orientation: Choose an office and sign up for a specific orientation session.
    • Open Orientation – choose an office and go to the office during the hours which orientation sessions are offered.
    • Order an Activation Kit: Request an Activation Kit to be mailed to you so completing orientation in-person is no longer necessary.

    If you do go to an in-person DoorDash orientation, you’ll need to bring the following:

    1. Your smartphone (fully charged) for downloading the Dasher app.
    2. Driver’s License (or government issued ID)
    3. A credit/debit card if you would like to purchase Dasher gear.

    Hourly Earnings Trends with DoorDash

    Below, you can see my completed DoorDash deliveries broken out into roughly 1000-delivery increments, rounded to the closest dash. I delivered my first 1000 orders in just over a year, averaging $20.99/hour.

    I don’t say that as an anti-corporate rant! When establishing the brand, they needed to earn customer loyalty by providing a good experience. They likely made many decisions favoring Dasher availability and incentives to support demand, damn the cost.

    A couple of takeaways from my experience: other than a recent bump, which I’ll explain later, my hourly earnings are slipping. I’m as good and as focused a driver as ever, but the money isn’t there like it used to be. After several years experimenting with a variety of test payment and incentive programs, DoorDash knows where to save on labor costs and boost their bottom line.

    For example, in early October 2016, with the SF Giants and the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs, and nightly Trump/Clinton election fireworks, TV viewing was at a local high. We had a week where several hours each night DD guaranteed $20-$25/hr earnings. If you didn’t earn that amount through regular deliveries + tips, DoorDash would guarantee the rest.

    Can you expect those trends to come back, now that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and an election year? I’m no Magic 8 Ball, but if I had to guess, I’d bet on DoorDash becoming more profitable for drivers in the near future, not less!

    Sign up to drive for DoorDash here.

    On their actual website, DoorDash breaks down earnings by area you live in. Go to this link and click on your city to see how earnings are for you. In the Minneapolis area, this is what they say about pay: “Delivery pay is calculated as $1 + 100% of tip + pay boost. The pay boost amount will vary based on a variety of factors including the complexity of the order, distance to the restaurant, and orders you place yourself.”

    Similar to Uber and Lyft, DoorDash offers added incentives during peak times to encourage their drivers to get out and deliver when they are needed most.

    Get In, Get Out: The Case for Quick Dashes

    One reason my earnings popped back up to $19.49/hr over the last year is that I’m driving more often for less time. It took me 228 official dashes (shifts) to reach 997 deliveries, vs. 178, 132 and 162 going backwards.

     

    Ready to sign up for DoorDash? You can sign up using our DoorDash affiliate link here.

    DoorDash Changes the Pay Structure

    In November 2019, DoorDash significantly changed the way drivers are paid. In sum:

    • DoorDash’s per-order minimum contribution increases from $1 to $2.
    • DoorDash will not ‘level up’ payment for poor tips.
    • Tipping allowed after delivery completion.
    • Better compensation for longer deliveries.
    • Exact DoorDash contribution + tip (combined) listed before order acceptance.

    Is Doordash still worth it? With this new DoorDash pay structure, it’s all been laid bare. You know exactly what you’re going to make per order. No hopes and dreams (or disappointment) of an above-guarantee surprise. Even busy period bonuses are added to the initial acceptance screen.

    My First 100 DoorDash Assignments

    I kept detailed notes of my first 100 assignments in the new system to see if Doordash is worth it. I knew I’d have to decline a lot more orders (low paying ones in particular).

    100 Assignments: The Stats

    doordash driver pay

    Prior to the new system, I had a 92-95% acceptance rate.

    More takeaways from these orders:

    DoorDash’s average base payout was $4.79. Discounting one strange $25.20 payout for a modest order (glitch?), the base payout averaged $4.52.

    • 29 of 78 deliveries included peak pay bonuses.
    • 33 of 78 deliveries (42%) included a greater tip than DD base payment
    • 23 of 78 deliveries (29%) included a greater tip than the total DD payout (base + bonus)
    • 13 of 78 deliveries had a $0 tip.

    Only 7 of 100 assignments were completed deliveries with $0 bonus and $0 tip. I kicked myself for accepting a couple of them, as they ended up being time-wasting duds. The point is, DoorDash doesn’t plan to pay you a living (or minimum) wage. You need bonuses and/or tips to earn enough to remain afloat!

    Additional Notes About the New DoorDash Pay Structure

    • Customers now have the option to tip (or add to their tip) for a couple of hours post-delivery. It’s great if you fancy yourself as a Dasher who might earn additional tips for your outstanding service. On the other hand, someone might withhold their tip until after delivery, then either find disappointment or forget, and tip $0. Apparently tips are added without text or email notification. In my 2+ weeks of Dashing in the new system, I’m not aware of any customer who tipped extra.
    • Dash earnings are up to date! In the past, at least on my iPhone 7, your daily earnings were always one order behind. After three $6 orders, it would say you’ve earned $12. Now, it displays the full $18. Anyway, it’s a long-term bug fix. Thank you, DoorDash coders!

    DoorDash Community Council

    In 2019, DoorDash announced the creation of the DoorDash Community Council.

    We analyzed the blog post and upcoming changes to DoorDash policy here. In it, he described the company’s efforts to “continuously listen to and collect feedback from all members of our community,” which in this case is corporate-speak for online surveys.

    The first section of his blog was dedicated to the survey results of Dasher priorities, which were rankings of various well-known desired improvements to the Dasher experience. If you aren’t a Dasher, you may not recognize some of them.

    Dashers, however, are well-aware of all the topics. By a significant margin, the two biggest priorities were: 1. Make earnings more transparent (i.e. show pay breakdown) and 2. Make longer-distance deliveries more worth their while. (Note: Higher pay was NOT provided among the options, because of course that would be Dashers biggest priority!)

    Sign up to become a DoorDash courier here.

    To apply, active Dashers needed these eligibility requirements as of June 26, 2019:

    • Customer rating of 4.7 or higher
    • Completed 500 deliveries
    • Completion rate of 90% or higher

    DoorDash provided a link and a week to apply for the position. The application consisted of these four questions:

    1. Why would you like to join the Dasher Community Council?
    2. We’d love to learn a little bit about you. What is your unique story and what motivates you to keep dashing?
    3. As a DCC volunteer, you will help represent the voice of the Dasher Community. How do you currently connect with the broader Dasher community?
    4. What are some ways you would suggest we work together to build a stronger Dasher community?

    The idea of a driver-based voice isn’t exactly new. Uber runs a group called the Driver Advisory Forum and Lyft has their own Driver Advisory Council, although Uber’s was more of a one time thing in 2018 and Lyft’s has been ongoing and quite in-depth.

    What can we expect from the council? I’m sure Dasher reps will see a little razzle dazzle and warm welcome from corporate. There will be lots of smiling group photos that will make their way into blog posts and press releases. After all, this is a great PR opportunity. Once through the pleasantries and platitudes, I’d expect roundtable discussions, visits from C-level executives for fireside chats and direct question-and-answer sessions. And lots of furious notetaking from mid-level staffers.

    To be clear, this IS an outstanding opportunity for Dashers to give thoughtful, valuable feedback to people who can do something with it. I know that DD corporate employees make deliveries from time to time, but the folks making 20, 50, 100 deliveries a week notice things that others can’t. You’d be shocked at what infrequent Dashers don’t notice, big and small. How your Dasher field knowledge is utilized by corporate, well, that depends on how seriously Dashers present their observations and how much weight DoorDash chooses to place on this feedback.

    There’s at least one precedent for success. After an outcry from their Driver Advisory Council, Lyft cancelled a promotion called Taco Time, which allowed late night riders to request a trip through Taco Bell. Members of the Lyft DAC cited the minimal upside and an infuriating time suck/mess potential. How did that terrible idea get a green light? As it turned out, the promotion was designed by a team who never drove for Lyft.

    How Much Did I Earn DoorDashing?

    My delivery frequency, which is calculated as time dashing / completed orders, remained relatively consistent over time. DoorDash has an excellent ability to keep its labor supply and demand in good balance. It would probably increase back to 1.9/hr or higher if, as I suspect, DoorDash hadn’t expanded their map of available restaurants.

    Here in the compact suburbs of Silicon Valley, I’ve always determined a ‘reasonable’ delivery distance as 10 minutes (without traffic) from the restaurant to the delivery. In the first couple of years, I’d usually have a 7-10 minute drive, sometimes inching up to 12 minutes or more for the infrequent deliveries up in the hills. Here are three consecutive deliveries from one night recently:

    No traffic. No unusual circumstances. It’s not like my deliveries were for the lone Greek-Bolivian fusion restaurant in Northern California. It was sushi, burgers, and Indian food. There are numerous choices of each within a smaller driving radius that wouldn’t detract from a customer’s options. It’s unnecessary and annoying.

    DoorDash Restaurants: Some Take Delivery Seriously!

    Finally, I want to give a shoutout to the restaurants in the area. Restaurant wait times, the bane of my dashing existence, dropped significantly over the years. The DD-restaurant systems must be better. The staff is more experienced. Many locations have specific pickup stations for delivery services. Most of them are impressively efficient. Boston Market installed this in their locations:

    Pretty cool, right?

    Those are some of the differences between 2020 and 2015. While I enjoy dashing, it’s getting to be a bit of a drag. So I’l leave it up to you if you think Doordash is worth it. God help me if I submit an article 5 years from now talking about how I’m consistently driving 35 minutes to deliver a pizza. You have permission to pry my warming bag from my cold, dead hands!

    Can You DoorDash with Someone Else in the Car?

    In short, yes, you can DoorDash with someone else in the car! Most people use someone as a ‘runner’ (the person who gets out to pick up the delivery and make the delivery) and someone is the driver. The driver can circle the block if necessary while dropping off the runner to avoid paying for parking downtown, and the runner can get in and get out without wasting time looking for parking.

    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.

    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.

    DoorDash Bike vs Car

    If you want to DoorDash with a bike vs. a car, there are a few things to note:

    • You’ll deliver shorter distances
    • It will be more dangerous
    • If you’re using an ebike, your battery life will limit shift length
    • You’ll earn less!

    Some additional challenges to delivering on an e-bike:

    • Orders are typically smaller at lunch because people often order only for themselves
    • Shorter pay peak periods
    • Driving in the rain or snow is dicey!

    None of these individual factors are showstoppers, but together they present significant headwinds to your earnings maximization. After all was said and done, my earnings were as follows:

    If you’re earning $1.78 less per order and you’re trying to get two orders per hour, it’s significant. In addition to the reduction in earnings by using an e-bike vs a car, you’ll also find these cons (and one pro!).

    If Dashing With an E-Bike, You’ll Want These Items

    1. A phone clip. Similar to a window or dashboard clip in your car, you MUST use a handlebar clip. You absolutely do not want to fish your phone out of your pocket while you’re riding along a busy street.

    phone clip.jpg

    I don’t have any specific brands or styles to push, but something from Amazon here will do the trick.

    2. A towel. I keep one in my car, and it served me well on the bike. I use it to fill space in the surprisingly cavernous delivery bag. The goal is to reduce food movement inside.

    towel - medium.jpg

    In conclusion, I’m not giving up my Prius anytime soon. My comfort level is highest when I’m in the seat of my car. Of course, my experience may have been different in a more densely populated area. Also, if I was a more seasoned city biker, I might have fared better. Thankfully, there are others who prefer using a bike, and I shall cede the short orders into their care.

    DoorDash vs. Postmates

    Postmates came up more than a few times at orientation so I’m glad to see DoorDash isn’t oblivious to the fact that most drivers are working for multiple services.  But I noticed a few glaring differences from my Postmates orientation and experience:

    • Driver Dispatch: On Postmates, drivers are matched with jobs as soon as the customer places the order.  This can be frustrating for the customer since they have to wait minutes sometimes to get matched and it means the driver might show up at a restaurant before the food is ready.  DoorDash accepts customer orders instantly but won’t assign them to a driver until the food is actually close to being ready.  This really saves time at restaurants where you know it takes longer than normal to prepare food (I’m looking at you, Bay Cities in LA – also my favorite sandwich shop in the world).
    • Scheduling: Postmates uses a scheduling system but you can also log in at any time you want.  Scheduled drivers are given priority but if you log on during busy lunch hours for example, you’re still pretty likely to still get a job.

    Still, it makes sense to sign up with both platforms to see which one is busier in your city! Sign up for Postmates here.

    For sample-sized dashing fun, you can find me on Twitter @DashBridges. Ready to sign up for DoorDash? You can sign up using our DoorDash affiliate link here.

    Drive safely, everyone!

    Do you have questions about DoorDashing, then and now? Do you think Doordash is worth it still? Let me know in the comments below!

    -Dash @ RSG

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    Dash Bridges

    Dash Bridges

    Hey! I'm an independent contractor in Silicon Valley working Door Dash as a side hustle to my day job. I sincerely enjoy my work as a Dasher, but let there be no doubt, I am here to maximize earnings!