Harry here. Uber has been aggressively rolling out UberEATS over the past few months and many drivers have e-mailed us with questions. Today, RSG contributor Ezra Dubroff shines some light on what it’s like to actually deliver food with UberEATS and how much money you can make. If you’d like to sign up with UberEATS, please click here to use our link.
Like so many things in life, food delivery is going the way of the app. The days of calling in delivery orders and waiting on hold are fading quickly as many folks would now prefer the convenience of ordering dinner through an app.
Uber is continuing to expand its UberEATS food delivery business, and that means a lot of new opportunities for us drivers in the rideshare industry. But what’s it like to deliver food instead of passengers? And can we actually make money doing it? I fired up my app and set out to explore these questions. Let’s see what I discovered!
If you’re not yet familiar with UberEATS, be sure to check out my previous post: An Intro Guide To UberEATS. That guide covers the basics of signing up and getting started. In this post, I’ll tell you about my experiences of actually going out and delivering for UberEATS on a recent Saturday.
Planning My Strategy
I’ve made hundreds of deliveries for UberEATS in the past, but it had been a while since my last one, so before I decided to get out on the road, I wanted to have a plan in place. I find I’m able to maximize my Uber earnings when I focus on driver incentives like Quest and Boost and, of course, Surge pricing. To find current Quest and Boost promotions, check “Promotions,” which can be found by tapping “Earnings” on the bottom menu of the Uber driver app home screen.
Quest is an incentive Uber offers that pays a bonus for completing a certain number of rides. Generally, there will be an acceptance rate requirement for the Quest incentive. Boost is an incentive that guarantees specific price multipliers in specific areas at specific times. There is no minimum acceptance rate to qualify for Boost. Since Uber provides this info to us in advance, I find it helpful to always evaluate it and see how I can use it to my advantage.
On a recent Thursday night, I checked out the available incentives in my Uber Driver app for the upcoming weekend. The Boost offerings were pretty weak –1.1x, really??– but the Quest incentive of $50 for completing 20 deliveries seemed like it could be worth pursuing, so that’s what I decided to do. And I wanted to complete those 20 deliveries as quickly as possible. Saturday seemed to be a good day to try and achieve that.
Please note that driver promotions and incentives may not be available in all cities, particularly newer or smaller markets. Here in Los Angeles, promotions and incentives play a big part in my earnings potential so they can’t be ignored. Your market might have different dynamics so be sure to adjust your strategy accordingly. In a smaller market, you might have to rely solely on trip earnings, without incentives, so you’ll want to determine if that makes sense for you.
Also note that Surge pricing is applicable to UberEATS trips, but only if you’re logged into a hybrid profile (e.g. UberX/UberEATS). A maximum of 5.0x surge is possible with UberEATS trips. Keep in mind that if you’re logged into a hybrid profile, you’ll be receiving both ride and delivery requests, so it would be difficult to key in on only UberEATS requests in this situation. I’ve never completed an UberEATS Surge trip, but have done a bunch of UberEATS Boost trips and they can certainly be worthwhile, depending on the price multiplier, of course.
Saturday came along and I decided to hit the road and deliver at 11:15 AM. I switched to my Courier vehicle profile (UberEATS only), signed online and hopped in my car.
I started driving the few blocks from my home towards a very popular donut shop in Santa Monica, a beach city on the west side of Los Angeles. I wanted to position myself closer to a known UberEATS partner restaurant to increase my chances of getting an UberEATS request quickly. After all, donuts are what many people consider a healthy Saturday morning breakfast after a late Friday night out indulging.
My First Delivery Of The Day
After two minutes parked outside the donut shop, I got a request. But it wasn’t for the donut shop. It was for a poke restaurant about half a mile away. Getting to the restaurant took me another two minutes.
I always check out the restaurant pickup instructions because they sometimes contain really helpful info, but in this case, I decided to forgo double parking in the alley for an easy meter right out front.
One dime in the meter gave me six minutes of freedom. It turns out I only needed one minute. Upon walking into the poke restaurant, I gave the staff the customer’s name and the order number and was handed the food immediately. No need to pay or hand over a credit card like with Postmates.
Through the app, I confirmed I picked up the order and began the delivery.
The dropoff was about two miles away in a residential area. Since UberEATS provides curbside delivery in Los Angeles, I like to send a text to the customer asking them to meet me outside.
I find that if I send that text a minute or two before I arrive, I can encourage customers to head outside and help make for a quick delivery, while at the same time not coming across as being too demanding. After all, we’re rated by customers, so I try to keep their experience in mind.
I guess the customer was cool with the text I sent because as I pulled up, he was grinning from ear to ear and walked right over to my car. I hopped out, walked around to the passenger side, grabbed his order and handed it to him.
I’ve ordered from UberEATS a few times as a customer and the drivers will often pass food to me through the passenger window. To me, this always seemed a bit weird, so I like to actually get out of my car and hand the order to the customer. A side benefit of this is it gives me a chance to stretch my legs.
Related: For more on curbside vs. door-to-door delivery, be sure to check out my Intro Guide To Uber Eats.
Twelve minutes after I had accepted the request, the delivery was complete. The payout was only $5.74 but I knew that if I reached my goal of 20 deliveries, I’d be receiving a $50 incentive to bolster my earnings.
Within 15 seconds of being back online, I received and accepted another request. Back to the poke restaurant!
I picked up the next order and it was lather, rinse, repeat. Over the next 5 hours, I made my way up and down the west side of Los Angeles as I completed deliveries in Venice, Marina Del Rey, Westwood, Brentwood, Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades.
Around 4:45 PM, things were slowing down a bit and I decided to take a break. I’d completed 11 deliveries to this point so I only needed 9 more to reach my goal and unlock the incentive.
Back On The Road
After a break for some rest and a bite to eat, I popped back online at 6:45 and quickly accepted a delivery request. This order took me to a Santa Monica taco shop. I reached the taco shop quickly but unfortunately had to wait over 10 minutes for the food. The delivery was to Venice, a 4-mile trip that took about 14 minutes.
After this, the orders continued to flow consistently throughout the evening. I even completed two stacked order requests, meaning I picked up two orders at once, allowing me to reach my 20-trip goal more quickly. And just before 10 PM, I completed my 20th delivery of the day, qualifying for the $50 bonus. Success!
My day delivering for UberEATS went pretty smoothly overall, though it was not without some frustrations and challenges. Once I encounter an issue, I try to figure out if there’s a way to avoid repeating that negative experience again in the future.
Difficult restaurants: Probably the biggest hurdle to success with UberEATS for me has been restaurants that don’t set reliable ETAs for when the orders will be ready, meaning that instead of getting in and out quickly, I end up waiting 10 minutes or longer for the order. UberEATS is supposed to be streamlined so that once the driver arrives at the restaurant, the food should be ready for pickup. In the real world, this isn’t always the case, but generally, most restaurants are pretty good about this.
Since we’re being paid for mileage and not time, it’s important to be able to work quickly and efficiently. If I visit a restaurant several times and am met with a long wait, I may choose to not return to that restaurant again by ignoring future requests. I just have to keep in mind that this will affect my acceptance rate if I’m going after a Quest incentive.
Uber does allow drivers to rate the pickup experience, which will hopefully lead to restaurants improving their flow.
I do always try to give restaurants the benefit of the doubt, as after all, they’re staffed by service industry workers just like me. Being friendly and polite can go a long way, as I’m often offered free drinks or samples by the staff. If an order isn’t ready when I arrive, I politely ask for an estimate of when it will be ready and if there’s somewhere in particular it would be best for me to wait.
Difficult customers: The vast majority of customers are easy to deal with and friendly. On this day, I only encountered one difficult customer, who insisted I deliver directly to their multi-million dollar beachfront condo door and would not meet me curbside. Instead of getting into an argument, I just took the extra few minutes to deliver as requested, hoping that maybe my efforts would be rewarded with a tip. Nope, no tip. How could I be so naive?
The only other type of difficult UberEATS customer I’ve dealt with is those who are unreachable and not available for delivery. If I can’t reach the customer within a few minutes, I’ll call the UberEATS partner support line and get help. Yes, there is actually phone support in the app for UberEATS, which can help resolve issues quickly. We’re only required to wait 10 minutes, but my customers have always shown up before that so I never got to keep any food unfortunately!
Lack of orders: Just like with driving passengers, a lack of requests can certainly be challenging. On this particular day, the longest wait I had between orders was 25 minutes, but on average it was closer to 5 minutes. This challenge can be remedied by focusing on driving at times of high demand (meal times) and positioning yourself close to an UberEATS restaurant or group of restaurants.
What Are Stacked Orders?
Stacked orders refers to having multiple pickups on one order (usually at the same restaurant) and multiple drop-offs. Think of it as UberPOOL for food.
Once you accept a request, be sure to keep your app open and continue to pay attention to your phone. While you’re on your way to the restaurant or even while you’re waiting for the food, you may receive a second, “stacked” request.
The advantage of stacked orders is that they allow you to complete more orders quickly, which can help if you’re working towards a Quest trip-based incentive like I was. The disadvantage is that stacked orders are paid like UberPOOL, so I’ve had payouts as low as $3.22.
What About Tips?
As discussed in my previous post, Uber discourages customers from tipping so I never expect to receive them. I ended up receiving two cash tips for a total of $7. Better than nothing, right?
Takeaways From My UberEATS Experience
Overall, I was able to earn $187.86 (earnings + incentives + tips) in under 9 hours while driving a total of 106 miles. I was satisfied with this, but also aware that if there had been better Boost offerings that weekend, my earnings could have been significantly more.
Note: It’s important to track your mileage so you can write off your mileage. You can use an app like QuickBooks Self-Employed to track your mileage and expenses so you lessen your tax burden at the end of the year. In the case above, 106 miles would generate $56.71 in mileage deductions and lower taxable income from $187.86 to $131.15, and that’s just with the mileage deduction.
I find delivery work to be a refreshing change of pace from driving passengers. Since most deliveries are only a few miles, I’m able to stay close to home or a certain area if I only have a limited amount of time to work. Other pros of delivery work include not having to keep a clean car, being able to drive how I like and also being able to listen to podcasts or talk to friends and family while I’m driving. Customer interactions on deliveries are usually less than 30 seconds so if you’re not a people person or just not in an outgoing mood on a particular day, this can be a good option for you.
The per-trip earnings are certainly nothing to write home about, but I think that if we concentrate on supplementing those earnings by taking advantage of Quest and Boost offers, we can make delivering for UberEATS a worthwhile investment of our time. If promotions like Quest and Boost are not available in your area, your potential UberEATS earnings could still be comparable to UberX/UberPOOL earnings, so I think it’s worth giving it a shot and seeing if it works for you.
Readers, do you drive for UberEATS or are you considering it? Any questions you have we didn’t answer?
-Ezra @ RSG
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