By: Rain City Dreamer
In today’s article, we’ll cover the 20 most common questions new delivery drivers ask me. There’s a lot of misinformation out there and it’s important that you start your gig work off on the right food, so let’s jump right in:
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1) Do we have to pay taxes?
Answer : Yes you do. You get a 1099 form at the end of the calendar year and it’s up to you to pay taxes. You can pay them quarterly or at the end of the year, and you’ll need to talk to a tax professional to get advice (*since I am not a tax professional*). Keep in mind that come payday not every dollar should go straight into your pocket. I personally save about 30% for taxes. So if I drove for DoorDash and made $1000 in a week, I’d set aside $300 of that for Uncle Sam. But again, seek professional guidance.
2) Are we able to sign up for multiple apps or platforms?
Answer: Yes! When you are a beginner you may not know this, but you are an independent contractor. You work independently and can pretty much do whatever you want. The terms of service do not specify that you can’t work for the competition, so if you work for Uber, you can work for DD, etc., or vice versa. Keep that in mind. Always branch out, multi-app, make it worth your time.
3) Do we get reimbursed for gas or expenses?
Answer: You do not. The terms of service state that the platforms will not give you back for expenses. Make sure you document this for yourself, keeping your receipts for gas and whatever car expenses you have (tires, repairs). Save it because you may need it for tax time. And ALWAYS track your miles. See #15 for more info about your miles...
4) What is the best food delivery app to work for?
Answer: There really is no best answer since so much depends on your personal preferences and your market. My personal favorites are Grubhub for the tips, and lately UberEats has been coming up good for me. DoorDash not so much and Postmates is pretty whack imo. So really it’s what’s making the most money for you, and again multi-apping is the way to go.
5) Will I get terminated or suspended for declining orders?
Answer: No, you will not. Sadly, this is probably the most common question I see online. Even the terms of service state you will not get terminated because until you accept an offer, you’re not contractually obligated to do anything until you accept that offer. Now remember, canceling an order is different from declining an order. If you accept enough orders and then refuse to complete them (i.e. cancelling), you can run into trouble. But declining you can do as much as you need to. Each delivery app will have their own thresholds on cancelations and terms.
6) Do you need to be a premier driver/get top driver status while driving for these platforms?
Answer: I would say no. Grubhub has premier driver status, DoorDash has all these ratings, and UberEats had at one time ratings and stuff. I think you can make good money and do it sustainably without the top status distractions. Often they require you to have a 80-90% acceptance rating which is EXTREMELY high, making you drive farther out for less, making it not worth your time. But again, much depends on individual preferences, markets, and the bonuses on offer, so choose wisely for yourself. Only you would know what is best for you.
7) What sort of car should I drive?
Answer: This question is also very situational. Ideally you should drive the car you already have. I would not suggest you go out and buy a separate car unless you can do it full time and know you can make bank on this because it’s an investment in the long run. If you’re gonna buy a car for food delivery, it has to be an investment. You have to be able to make full time money, in my opinion. You may have an SUV, coup, convertible, sedan, etc., I say drive whatever’s available to be honest. It’s ok. It may be bad on gas mileage, but you’ll at least be avoiding upfront costs on a new car.
8) What kind of cars am I allowed to drive for food delivery?
Answer: Here is UberEats’ requirements -
- Meet the minimum age to drive in your city
- Have a 2-door or 4-door car that is 20 years old or newer
- Have a valid driver's license, registration, and vehicle insurance
- Have at least one year of driving experience
Here is DoorDash’s requirements -
- A valid domestic driver’s license
- A clean driving record.
Here is Grubhub’s requirements:
- Have a valid driver’s license (for at least 2 years)
- Have auto insurance
- Be 19+ years of age (21+ in Chicago and Las Vegas)
And finally, here is Postmate’s requirements -
- Any working vehicle.
That sounds about right for Postmates. Out of all of the delivery apps, Postmates is the most laxed. Most of the apps have a bicycle option as well.
9) Do I have to do "Order when I arrive" or "Pay when I arrive" orders?
Answer: No, you do not, but a lot of apps are incorporating this now which, in my opinion, kinda sucks. That means you go to the restaurant, order the food, and pay with the company card (a GH, DD, or PM paycard). Personally, I stick to pre paid orders to keep me from getting bogged down waiting for my order at a particular restaurant. It is best to think about pay rates on TIME or DISTANCE when taking in “Order When You Arrive.”
10) How does Instant Pay or Cash Out work?
Answer: The big 4 are all very similar in this respect, where you pay a fee to have your earnings transferred to your account (usually) within the day. Prepare to be nickeled and dimes anywhere from $.50 to $1.99 to cash out. Note that DoorDash has some stricter requirements, like a 7 day holding period on instant cash out after using Grubhub for the first time, or anytime you change your bank card.
The cash either goes to your bank card or checking account. Grubhub uses your checking account, whereas DoorDash, UberEats, and Postmates uses your bank card. Check out these videos to learn more about Fast Pay on Doordash, Grubhub Instant Cash Out, and Instant Pay with UberEats.
11) How do we file taxes?
Answer: Again, i’m not a tax professional, but I use TurboTax. I use QuickBooks Self-Employed, where I track my miles and expenses, and then transfer all that info to Turbo Tax come tax time.. Or you can go to your tax professional if it’s your first time dealing with your gig economy earnings. Either way, make sure you take your time doing these taxes. It can be a little intimidating wrestling your mileage, expenses, and the depreciation on your car during tax season. If you don’t set up things such as expenses or mileages when starting your side gigs you will notice all of these nuisances and headaches come your first tax filing.
12) How do stacked offers work?
Answer: In my book, there are two types of “stacked” orders. The first is when a single app will give you two orders at the same time. The second is when you take on 2 or more orders from two or more apps at the same time. For example, DoorDash will have both of your stacked offers on the same offer screen, where you’ll accept the stacked offers or not. Or, you can be on your way to pick up a DoorDash order, get a nice UberEats ping roughly in the same direction, and then accept that order. The most common scenario is the first one, where a single platform offers you a stacked order within their platform. Generally with those offers, however, some information is left out. You may not see total mileage, estimated pay… something, something is left out. So I suggest you take more time and be careful with these. Don’t get dragged around town for nothing, and focus on what makes sense for your business.
The second scenario is my preferred scenario, but be careful here too. If they’re at a similar place and headed in the same direction, then maybe. But for me, if they’re headed in a separate direction, then probably not. Remember, it’s not in these apps best interests to make you look good. They’re just trying to be efficient. The customers may text you why you’re driving in the opposite direction, or you may get a call from a platform’s support crew asking what you’re doing (Grubhub does this often enough with me).
Be strategic. Consider things like if you’re driving in the same direction, the distance, and where the delivery areas are. And don’t blindly accept stacked orders based on the price. A lot of beginners have shiny object syndrome. Boom, you may make $25 upfront but you’re paying $5 in expenses running around town, and you just wasted an hour of your time. So be careful. Think it through. Most importantly, it’s on you the driver when you take stack offers. There will always be some risks involved especially if you stack from different apps. If you’re second guessing to take an order, then it’s best not to take it.
13) How do I deal with difficult dropoff areas, like condos/apartments?
Answer: Theoretically, many condos/apartments have a call box, a physical box outside the door, with some sort of directory list. You need to make sure you can see the customer’s first and last name on the order (DoorDash doesn’t let you see the last name until you arrive, only giving you the first name and last name initial until arrive for dropoff). But, the callboxes often only go by last name, first initial.
See the issue? Ask the customer what their last name is, or what the name on the callbox is, and tell them WHY! They might not realize the callbox doesn’t have their callbox doesn’t have last name advertised, or they might not have thought through the delivery process. Either way, ask for the name that’s on the callbox!!!! So many things can go wrong with condo/apartment deliveries.
*Sometimes a customer will order from a different name and won’t tell you that when you arrive. In that case, simply clarify with the customer the full name of who the order is for.*
When I use DoorDash on my android phone I always use the widget so I can see the address of the customer and map out the location before I accept the offer. And if I see a condo/apartment address, I just decline the order. I also steer clear of most gated communities as well since I hate having to mess with the gate code. But if you can develop a good system for dealing with these issues, then you can make some money! Once you get used to the area you’re dropping off to, the condo thing can be something you can filter out very efficiently. Another thing to keep in mind is some of these condos may have bad cell coverage in some areas, which means it’ll be hard to confirm the drop-off in the app.
14) How long should I wait at a restaurant?
Answer: Be wary of waiting longer than you should as it will drag down your $/hour earnings. Ideally, I wait 10 minutes max. All these apps have a feature where you can notify the app that your order is not ready, and specify why. For me, I’m ready to cancel the order if it’s taking more than 10 minutes. I don’t care if the apps ding me or pester me afterward because at the end of the day I value my time. Remember, you’re an independent contractor, and you should value your time. Some apps such as Postmates only pay you pennies ($0.07/per minute)...so it is really worth your time waiting 20 minutes to get paid $1.40 extra in wait time?
And remember, even while you’re waiting I suggest you always be multi-apping. Always keep an eye out for what’s next...
15) How should I track my mileage?
Answer: I use Quick Books Self-Employed on my phone. They are owned by Intuit, which runs TurboTax. With QB I have a mileage tracker on my phone, which I use for my tax deduction at the end of the year. And if i have other revenue streams, I can link them to my QB account. If i pay for gas or oil, it’s also documented as an expense which I can then export to turbotax come tax season. There’s also a lot of free trackers out there you should consider, like Stride and MileIQ, and check out my channel to find a link to get 50% of your first 6 months of Quick Books Self-Employed if you’re interested.
16) Can I have other people in my car while working?
Answer: Many apps are vague in the terms of service. But I’d say yes, I see people make videos all the time with others in the car. Heck, I even had the folks at Para follow me around for 4 days, doing deliveries with me in Seattle. That was weird, but totally allowed. But I want to clarify that you still need to do your own diligence on the matter and read an app’s Terms of Service.
17) Do I have benefits working for these platforms?
Answer: No. There are some pseudo benefits, like sick pay/sick leave coming on the heels of covid, but generally when you’re working for these apps you're an independent contractor, not an employee. No vacation time, no health insurance, you’re subjected to the apps and what they’ll give you, and each app has their own rates for different things. There are some gig benefits from groups such as Kover that allow drivers to get paid their lost earnings when a health or accident happens. Check out my video on Kover to learn more about them. When you drive with these apps you will also see e-mails from them suggesting where you can find health insurance, such as with Stride.
18) What's the best time of day to work food delivery?
Answer: The best time is gonna be dependent upon your area. But I would say the most common scenario is lunch and dinner. Lunch could be anywhere from 10am-2pm, maybe adjust for weekends. Dinner is usually 4:30-9:30 pm. Things may vary in your market. In my market in Seattle, people don’t usually start ordering till 5:30/6:30 pm and it will taper off around 8:30 pm. So it’s a very short window. But if you know the best times to drive, you can maximize your income. If you don’t drive those times, well…
Also keep in mind that weather can play a HUGE part in the “Best Time” to work. In Seattle, when rain hits around dinner time order volume picks up a bunch. In my area, I’ve noticed customers are more willing to order food even when it is within walking distance.
19) How do I get more tips?
Answer: This is kinda complicated to answer because a lot of these apps have changed tipping, and because tipping terms differ even within the same platform in different states/regions. Here's my opinion, and what I've noticed with my apps working in my area.
With Postmates, customers can change their tips after you deliver their order, so their experience with you will dictate how willing they are to tip you. So if you do everything you can to please them, you’ll get a higher tip.
Now, with DoorDash and Grubhub, tips are given beforehand and are set by the customer when they order. In this world, the tipping doesn’t matter that much because when tipping is predetermined you can’t improve it. Doordash customers can adjust tip, however it hasn’t been an issue at least for myself.
On UberEats, it’s similar. Customers can decide ahead of time if they want to tip, and can remove or adjust them after your delivery.
Beware of the terminology used on the offer screens as it can be misleading to the driver. You want to make sure you scout out terms like “Estimated” or “At Least.” Uber uses “estimated” while Doordash likes to use “At Least.” Big difference in terms of how your money will be earned.
20) Are sign up referral bonuses worth completing?
Answer: I’d say no since they’re making it so hard now for new drivers to complete these bonuses that no one wins besides the platform and customers.
Say I refer a friend. The referral guidelines say to do 300 deliveries in one month to get $1,000. The payout is quite high, but the amount of deliveries you have to do is sooo high… and if you’re not a full time driver that’s tough. And if everyone is signing up for this referral bonus, you get a saturation of drivers, which means even less will complete. You may see sign up links on people channels. You can sign up for referral bonuses, and if you’re already planning on using the app then using a code keeps the option open down the line, but know there’s no guarantee and that you might be better off just multi-apping. That’s why I don’t push these referral bonuses on my channel very much.
However, if the referral is reasonable in terms of required deliveries then maybe you should go after it. That was the case for me with the Postmates and Caviar apps back then.