Today was have a guest post from Kris P, who drives for Amazon Flex to make extra money to travel with his family. If you’ve been wondering what it’s like to branch out and drive for delivery with Amazon Flex, read on for what all new drivers should know before they get started.
Like many people, my family and I love to travel. We’ve set up a travel fund, into which we divert a few hundred bucks a month, but it’s never enough. Since we want to travel more, I came up with the idea of trying out some of the on-demand jobs out there.
I tried out Amazon Flex, which surprisingly a lot of people don’t know about. Sign-up was easy, just fill out a simple app and Amazon runs a background on you. The catch is you have to actually wait until Flex has openings (unlike Uber where you can apply at any time). My application was approved in two days, and I began to receive offers on the Flex app on my phone.
From a rookie’s perspective, here are some pointers for you future Flexers to help you maximize your time, which I wish I had known going in. After all, time is money, right? I’m in the San Francisco Bay area and these tips should apply no matter where you are. Most offers here are in the $20 per hour range, although I’ve seen a 4 hour block for $100 a few times in Silicon Valley.
The block time is just an estimate of how long it should take to complete your run. You earn the entire amount whether you finish early or take longer.
For example, on my very first trip with Amazon Flex, I accepted a 3.5 hour block for $70. After 4 hours, with 10 more boxes still to go, I called Flex Support and they told me to bring back whatever I had left to the warehouse. I earned the $70, since the time block was estimated for 3.5 hours, but I went over that. The time block is, as I mentioned, just an estimate on how long Amazon Flex expects delivery to take.
The tips below will help you get started as a new Amazon Flex driver and maximize your time driving, so you can earn more and spend less time on the road.
Charge Your Phone Fully Before You Head Out
Similar to an Uber or Lyft driver, your phone is an important tool, so make sure you have the best one you can afford. Make sure you have a magnetic phone holder (you can use the same one you use to drive for Uber/Lyft) and make sure your phone is charged fully.
You’ll be taking your phone on and off the holder, and the last thing you want is to be constantly adjusting your holder. Also, your battery will drain. Fast. Especially in low reception areas. Every time you scan and miss that barcode, your phone will beep and vibrate like there’s no tomorrow. The Flex app definitely puts your phone’s CPU to the test.
Organize Your Packages in Your Car According to the Manifest Taped to the Holding Cart
Amazon uses cluster codes according to the neighborhood and order of the deliveries. Nobody told me this, and I randomly stacked the packages in my car according to size. Guess what happened when I reached my first delivery? Took me 15 minutes in the hot sun to find the one package. This brings me to my next tip…
Related Book: Navigating Amazon Flex by Jason Strauss
Move as Many of the Packages in the Current Cluster to Your Front Seat
When you reach your delivery point, you’re ready to jump out with package in hand. I can’t tell you how many times I sat in front of a house searching for a package. I had one homeowner come out and cautiously ask “Excuse me, can I help you?” while she peeked into my SUV full of random Amazon packages. I explained to her what I was doing. When I said “like an Uber for Amazon” she went “ahhhhh.”
By moving as many packages as you can in your current cluster to the front, you’ll save time by delivering faster and more efficiently.
Try Everything in Your Power to Deliver the Package
Instead of marking the package undeliverable, do everything humanly possible to deliver that package. I tried to be the good Samaritan and mark some packages as unsafe to leave at door. In hindsight, I should have left the packages hidden or left them with a neighbor.
Being a huge Amazon customer myself, I always appreciate the package being left, rather than getting redelivered. Worst case scenario is the package gets stolen. But Amazon has a great policy on replacements. If you have undeliverables at the end of your shift, guess what? You have to trek back to the warehouse to return them.
If You Can Help It, Don’t Use a New Car or the Same Car You Use for Uber/Lyft
I used my older 4Runner, and boy did I need every square inch of cargo space. If you have a car, I guarantee you’ll be stacking boxes on your back seats. Also, you’ll be starting and stopping your engine a lot, sometimes, within 500 feet from your last stop. My 4Runner gets about 19 mpg, which isn’t great, but the utility in this case was worth it. Honestly, your gas mileage when Flexing isn’t as critical as it is with Uber. Your stops are usually no more than a few minutes drive apart.
This last one is more of a general tip – be courteous and dress comfortably, but still look professional. At the warehouse, I saw a guy in tore up dirty pants with an oversize sweater and a backwards hat. Put yourself in a homeowner’s shoes. You can bet the neighbors will be suspicious when you start taking pictures of packages left on doorsteps. Yes, pictures are required when leaving a package unattended.
How Much Can Amazon Flex Drivers Earn?
At the end of my shift, I had $70 in my account. Obviously, my main expense was fuel – I logged 63 miles on my route and at current pump prices, it cost me about $10.75 in gas. So, before taxes, I net about $59.25 for what took me 4.5 hours for just a little over $13 an hour. The more you get used to the system, the faster and more efficient you’ll get. In hindsight, I bet I could have finished my shift in under 3 hours (especially if I didn’t have to go back for returns). Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the numbers in a future post.
So, happy Flexing. Hope these pointers will help some of you out there. The faster you get through your shift, the faster you can get home. And maybe even pick up a last minute shift!
Make Every Mile CountDid you know that every 1,000 business miles can generate $535 in tax deductions? Never miss another mile with the new QuickBooks Self-Employed automatic mileage tracker.
Kris P. is a full time CPA, a dad and a husband from the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to Flex, he also drives for Uber. All of his on-demand earnings goes straight to a separate travel account.
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