One thing that Doordash, UberEats and Grubhub all have a challenge doing is training new people to get started on their platform and honestly it is a darn shame because one of the reasons people quit this type of work is because they didn't know what they were doing.
The mindset that comes with being an independent contractor is no where near the same as being an employee, thus making it challenging for people to want to stick with this line of work.
Also, with each of these platforms constantly growing and changing comes new things to learn and can be hard to keep up with them. So it is important to learn foundational principles and learn as you go from there.
So in this article, I am going to give you my top 10 pro-tips for new food delivery drivers, and these apply to Doordash, UberEats, and Grubhub.
My name is Joseph Mandracchia, I have been working full-time with the gig economy since 2018 and have completed over tens of thousands of orders and deliveries across several different platforms and pay models, as well as other forms of income.
It is my hope to impart some of my knowledge and experience unto you to help you make the most money in your side hustle and help you on your journey to achieve financial independence so you can choose to live your life in anyway you would find valuable to you.
Disclaimer: I am not a financial, tax or legal advisor of any kind. I am not giving you financial, tax or legal advice. I am simply expressing what I have done to overcome in this area and hoping you can find a take away for yourself within this article.
Set Your Standards Before You Drive
Now that you are an independent contractor, you are going to need to make choice on what type of orders you are willing to accept. As opposed to an employee, where you have to take whatever is handed to you.
The standards you need to make initially are price and mileage ratio. For Example, mine is $8 minimum with at least $1 per mile driven. So $8 to drive 3 miles is great, but to drive 12 miles is gonna be a hard pass for me dog.
This method is commonly referred to as cherry picking, and it is the most lucrative driving method for anyone who is driving for any of these companies. It also keeps mileage and expenses low while still keeping your customer rating high.
Is it possible for low paying orders to provide cash tip? Yes, but it isn't measurable and isn't a sustainable way to calculate an income for an independent contractor.
Now as you learn and gain experience, you will learn your area better and start to develop a no-go list. This is a list of restaurants and stores that are making you wait for extensive periods of time too consistently and is costing you more money than it is worth.
Keep in mind these standards will change as you gain experience so just keep an eye out for what is slowing you down.
Speed of Completion is Your Friend
Speaking of long wait times, next thing we need to talk about is speed of completion. Remember you are not paid for your time as an independent contractor you are paid for the work you actually complete.
This means the more orders you complete the more money you will make, which means you need to find as many ways as possible to complete the order quickly. Obviously there is only so much you can control, but there are little tricks to reduce time on the road.
For example, if you know you are approaching a pain in the butt intersection that takes forever to get past, see if you can find a way around that intersection through side streets. Listen to local radio for traffic reports and keep an eye out for construction alerts.
It may be a bit more driving, but if it saves you time and you can get the order done faster, it is worth it.
Master Your Understanding of Your Apps
So one thing that all of these apps have in common is that the majority of the time, the orders are sent to you algorithmically and while you will not be accepting the majority of them, having more orders sent to you in general is going to lead to having good orders.
While cherry picking is the most lucrative way for independent contractors to make money, it is not profitable for the companies themselves, therefore they have put algorithms in place to almost corner you into taking bad orders.
For example, hiding full amounts of orders to prevent you from seeing the full amount of the order, slowing you down when you are declining too many orders, and many other methods to reduce your momentum and profits.
While at the same time, promoting high acceptance ratings through "reward programs" and accepting low ball orders when it doesn't make sense financially. After all, they make the same amount of money when they tip or not.
How about when we choose not to deliver orders because they don't make sense? They will lose money that way. Not to mention the customer will not be happy even if they didn't tip.
Just learn how to see if an order makes sense and if they tipped or not, don't fall for the marketing traps and you will be fine.
Buy Hot Bags, Catering Bags and Pizza Bags
So fun fact, some companies do keep tabs on how many bags of theirs you have and if they believe you are not equipped properly they will not send certain orders. One example of this is Pizza Bags, for large pizza orders they want to know if you are equipped to do them.
They aren't constantly watching you, they don't even compel you to use them (although it really does help), and honestly the quality of the bags are garbage but if they know you bought them from them that is all they care about.
Also, using a hot bag is something that some customers appreciate a lot and even provide cash tips for doing that. Seriously, it can really benefit you if you actually use them. The only other thing I would say is get higher quality ones after you get the hot bags from them.
Download Google Maps and Switch In-App Settings
So some of these apps have an in-app GPS system and honestly most of the time they aren't that good. So having Google Maps downloaded and switching the in-app settings would probably be your best bet.
For some reason, the in-app GPS takes you in such weird places. Instead of stopping at the location it will take you behind the building, or past the driveway of the building while the street is on a busy highway, the list goes on.
Sometimes Google Maps can be inaccurate too, just be sure to toggle between them to see what you prefer. However in most cases, Google Maps is the go-to for most gig drivers.
Download a Mileage and Expense Tracking App
So one the benefits of being a 1099 independent contractor is that you are able to write off your expenses when tax time comes around. As opposed to being a W2 employee where you pay your taxes at the end of the year and that is that.
When you are a 1099 contractor you can write off your expenses, such as phone bill, insurance payments, the number of miles you drive, etc. This is what makes gig work so enticing as opposed to pizza delivery for a restaurant.
Bonus tip on this, also hire a CPA during tax season to help you get the most of your tax write-offs. Now it does cost about $8 a month for a quality mileage and tracker, as well as for a CPA, but it will pay for itself for all the time and money you save working with them.
Make Sure to Maintenance Your Vehicle Regularly
When you drive for work under any circumstances, you are going to find that you will put a lot of wear and tear on your vehicle and when you have that many miles to put on, one of the most important things you can do is maintenance your vehicle regularly.
Almost every month, I have my cars oil changed and have them do a once over on the car for any potential issues. This includes brakes, tires, and other vitally important parts of the car to keep it running.
Trust me, going in routinely is going to beat that one time your car just has a random issue that sets you back at least a grand and it sucks the savings right out of you.
Do Not Chase Hot Spots, Heat Maps or Promos
Hot spots and Heat maps are one of the most misconstrued points of being a gig driver. What the app is trying to tell you is that orders are coming in a lot over in that location.
Promos are a bonus that activates in a certain area where there is a lot of volume and they need dashers.
Each of these have the same problem, they all attract dashers to a that area like a moth to a flame. When this happens dashers all go to that location causing it to saturate. Meaning there will be more drivers than orders.
You are better off just picking a location and waiting there patiently until you get an order worth doing. If you don't get an order for a while, you might want to shift locations but don't feel a need to do that too much.
Learn from Your Peers
Something that happens from time to time is that you will inevitably run into other drivers from all three platforms and potentially even more. One thing you can do that can help is ask them for tips and tricks, as well as some local information.
You can also learn from those who are using other platforms to share their knowledge as well as interact with the community. This includes YouTube, Facebook groups and I have made a point to make this blog to help drivers along with many others.
I know that some people believe that you should keep your secrets to yourself, but I think that one thing holds true and that is we are all looking to make money and there are good people who genuinely want to help.
One thing I like about this community is that we are all looking to give advice where it is asked for and especially from new drivers. Just make sure to keep away from the haters and you will be okay.
Just Do It
I know I just said learn this and learn that, but at the same time there is only so much you will be able to read from an article or YouTube video and that is where experience really shines through.
You aren't going to get that by sitting there thinking about it, you are going to get it by doing the work and learning as you go. If you get nothing else from this article make sure you get that.
If you are stuck and would like some advice in a certain area, I implore you to look around the website and hopefully find what you are looking for. I have dedicated this website for those of us in the gig economy to achieve a level of success where can go as far as you want!
Whether that is a career, or an income that pays the bills while you work on a project, or paying the bills while you study for that degree that you are going for. I hope to be able to help you achieve all of that by building out this site for drivers everywhere.
With that said, thank you so much for taking the time to read this article! I hope you found some value in what you read here and will apply this information in your life and success in your side hustle!