The Driver Shortage is Officially Over!

DoorDash is finding more ways to make money, including offering loans to restaurants. Also, Uber is implementing a new feature that will remind passengers and drivers alike to belt up for the trip. Plus, is your market no longer suffering from a driver shortage? Learn what this could mean for drivers in this week’s roundup with senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins.

DoorDash Starts Financing Arm to Offer Loans to Restaurants (Bloomberg)

Summary: DoorDash Inc., the U.S.’s biggest meal-delivery service, is launching a financing arm to offer business loans to restaurants on its app.  

With DoorDash Capital, merchants will be able to apply for financing to fund business operations such as purchasing equipment, paying rent, hiring and payroll, the San Francisco-based company said on Wednesday.

“As we continue to listen to our partners and adapt our services and offerings to meet their needs, one key area where they have asked for support is quick and easy access to capital,” Chief Revenue Officer Tom Pickett wrote in a blog post.

Working with Parafin Inc., a fintech startup for small businesses, DoorDash Capital will determine a repayment structure based on a restaurant’s revenue. Eligible merchants can view cash advance offers within the app and can accept terms without additional paperwork or an impact to their credit scores. Funds will be disbursed in as little as one to two business days….

My Take: It’s good to know that DoorDash and Parafin will be working with the restaurants to find repayment options that will work for their revenue or expected revenue. I hope that this will help more small businesses access customers and employees in ways they maybe couldn’t in the past.

Let’s keep bolstering small business owners!

Uber to use alerts to remind riders to buckle up (Reuters)

Summary: Ride-sharing company Uber Technologies (UBER.N) plans to begin reminding passengers to wear seat belts by pinging driver phones and sending riders messages amid a spike in U.S. traffic deaths.

Uber told Reuters its new feature that launches Tuesday aims to alert riders to buckle up via a distinctive chime from the driver’s phone and a simultaneous push notification to the rider’s phone.

“The intent is really just to help remind riders that they should be buckling up – every seat, every time,” said Kristin Smith, Uber’s head of Global Road Safety Policy, who added the chime “sounds kind of like an airplane seat belt reminder.”

Uber wants riders to get in the habit of always buckling up. It plans to send riders push notifications at the start of their next five trips and then periodically thereafter….

My Take: I posted this feature to our Facebook readers this week and mostly got this response: Thank goodness you can turn it off!

So, the good news is that this feature can be disabled if you don’t want your app beeping at you. Another responder let us know that his phone just beeps once and very faintly. Instead, his passengers should be more worried about the constant pinging his car will do if anyone is unbuckled in both of his front and back seats.

I think this feature is just unnecessary fluff. It’s Uber saying “look, we care about safety” without actually doing anything to keep anyone safe. When all is said and done, if the driver insists on everyone buckling up, it’ll be up to the driver to enforce it. A chime from the app is not going to “remind” anyone to buckle up. Every adult knows it’s the law, and they will make their own choices concerning it.

Uber could have been putting their resources toward something that would actually help with passenger and driver safety instead of implementing this “feature”.

Instacart worker hailed as hero after saving man during delivery (NY Post)

Summary: An Instacart shopper is being hailed as a hero — including by model Bella Hadid — after she tearfully recounted how following her gut instinct may have saved her customer’s life during a propane leak.

In her emotional TikTok video, Jessica Higgs said she received an order from a woman who was ordering food for her elderly dad, who was unable to shop for himself.

“I’m going the extra mile for this customer like I always do, but for whatever reason, this time I was going even further in checking the back and everything,” the tearful woman says in her car.

@jessicahiggs3 @Instacart #28DaysOfEucerin  #fyp ♬ original sound – Jessica Higgs

Higgs explains that the daughter had told her to drop the order off on the porch, but that “something was telling me, ‘No, you gotta help this man out,’” Higgs says.

She says that when the man came out, she offered to help him bring the groceries inside his home — despite Instacart’s protocol….

My Take: This woman took a chance and it paid off for her customer who was in a dangerous situation. I just caution people to trust their guts as well as “see something, say something” as this woman did.

It could have been a predatory move on the customer’s part to ask her inside. Or it could have been a life threatening situation for this driver. I applaud her for trusting herself and doing what she could to make sure the customer was safe and well. I’m very glad it all worked out for the best.

Why we shouldn’t be surprised that the driver shortage is over. At least for now. (Ride Obi)

Summary: Uber (and Lyft) have an incentive to deploy as many drivers on the road as are willing to work for the lowest possible base rates and bonuses. More drivers are ALWAYS of benefit to ridehail providers, but for drivers… not so much. As it has turned out, because of financial need, laziness (to not fully think through true net pay) or lack of alternative income sources, there appears to be an ample supply of drivers to meet current demand in many markets.  

On the passenger side, there is ample evidence that too many consumers manifest “lazy loyalty,” clicking on their preferred service — usually Uber – and taking the first price offered. Unlike other modes of transportation (e.g. airlines) where trips can be planned in advance, there is no widely used price comparison tool in place to force Uber and Lyft to compete aggressively on comparable pricing (as certainly is the case in the airline industry). One such tool that is gaining popularity, especially since the pandemic, is Obi with over 200k downloads. But price comparison has yet to become mainstream.

Maybe it’s just me, but the notion that major providers of urban mobility in hundreds of cities worldwide should be allowed to operate services where passengers have no idea from ride to ride what their cost will be and drivers don’t know from hour to hour how much they’ll be compensated is not an ideal solution for all stakeholders. I think cities should demand more public disclosure from ridehail providers on their fares, driver compensation and take rates as a precondition to operate. Chicago, Seattle, and New York have moved to some degree in this direction.…

My Take: Like the bottom of this article says, there are ways to “fight back” as it were. As passengers, we can use tools like Ride Obi to help determine if the fares are fair, or at least to see who has the better deal for the moment.

As drivers, we should be diligent about understanding and making sure we know our expenses and what we’re netting for earnings. If the money isn’t worth it, do what you can to not drive until it’s profitable for you.

Is your market oversaturated? Was there ever a driver shortage by you? What does your market look like right now?

-Paula @ RSG