Delivery companies like Grubhub, Ubereats, Postmates and Doordash can have some pretty attractive looking promotions from time to time. Sometimes these can mean extra money in your pocket. Sometimes chasing them can cost you money. How can you tell which is which?
Why do they offer the incentives to begin with?
Let’s get this straight: None of these companies are offering perks out of the goodness of their hearts. The way they abuse the independent contractor status pretty much eliminates any ‘goodness of the heart’ consideration when talking about any of them.
As drivers delivering for Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eat, Postmates and a variety of others, these companies have chosen not to hire us as employees but instead to classify us as contractors. A company is not allowed to just say ‘you are a contractor’ if they want to get out of paying employment taxes, insurance, benefits, etc. Once they classify you as a contractor, they are forfeiting the right to have control over when you work, where you work, or even how you work. There is a legal line between what they can require of you as a contractor.
This creates a problem for them. There are times where they need more drivers out there to meet the demand. The law prohibits them from requiring drivers to drive certain shifts or in certain areas, or to require you to accept a certain number of orders. They cannot force anyone to do any of these things, so they have to find other ways to meet the demand. They do this by offering extras if you meet certain conditions.
Those extras may come in a variety of forms: They may offer so much extra per delivery. They may offer a minimum amount per delivery. They may offer certain perks if you meet certain conditions. All of these are ways they try to get drivers out when they need drivers, and to get them to accept orders that might otherwise be hard to fill.
How can these incentives cost you instead of help you?
In most cases, the extras that they offer have strings attached. You have to accept a certain percentage of orders. You have to work in certain regions. You have to accept so many orders in a certain time frame.
Sometimes you can chase these incentives and what you lose by doing so can cost you more than what you gain. You take an order you wouldn’t normally take because it has you driving further or it just doesn’t pay as well. You gain a couple of dollars but take a half hour longer to deliver or pay more in gas.
And sometimes you chase the incentives only to find out that you didn’t gain any. You didn’t meet the acceptance rate, or you didn’t deliver enough orders in the time frame.
We’ll take a look at some pro’s and cons of some of the most common incentives offered by the main companies. I’ll share from my experiences with the four companies I’ve delivered for: Grubhub, Uber Eats, Doordash and Postmates.
The Pros and Cons of Grubhub’s Premier Driver program
Grubhub tends to offer very few incentives as far as extra pay for deliveries, at least compared to other companies. Their primary way of trying to incentivize drivers is their Premier Driver program. When you meet certain acceptance and attendance rates, you get perks and priorities that you wouldn’t receive otherwise.
The main benefits that they hold out are you get earlier access to scheduling blocks, and priority access to larger catering orders. Grubhub has a system of scheduling blocks in which there are a limited number of drivers that can be scheduled during any given time frame.. Priority goes to drivers that are scheduled. Premier drivers – drivers who typically have near perfect acceptance and attendance rates, get first access to schedule those blocks. There is a mid level that gets second priority, and those that don’t meet the standards get last priority.
The value of the scheduling priority can depend on the market. I’ve heard of some markets where most of the schedule blocks are spoken for by the time the Premier drivers have had their pick. In those markets, that might be an important consideration. However, my experience is that when I’ve gone out to accept every order, something that is pretty much a necessity to keep premier status, it costs me on average $5 per hour or more. I get taken out to more long distance orders, I get taken to orders that require longer waits, and chasing those orders gets expensive.
The other thing that comes to mind is that if a market is so saturated with drivers that the schedule blocks fill up so quickly, that would tell me there’s a higher possibility that there will be too many drivers for what the needs are, meaning longer waits between orders.
Here’s the thing: on an order by order basis I find Grubhub to be the best paying gig out there. I think they do the best of any of them in the combination of the fees they provide and the encouragement of tipping. HOWEVER, that advantage is lost when meeting the conditions for premier status. Taking longer, slower, lower paying trips now brings down the average hourly payout to a point that most of the other providers are paying more.
As to larger catering orders – that’s mostly a major carrot on the stick that is rarely ever caught. And many times when it is caught, it might not always be worth it.
There are two problems here: One is that in a lot of markets, larger orders are mainly handled by a dedicated team of drivers, with very few opportunties to join that team. The other issue is that on a lot of these large orders you have to deliver on a schedule, meaning there can be some long waits. The wait time, especially during busy periods, can bring down the overall value of these catering orders and you may have been better off with more efficient regular deliveries.
Pros and Cons of Doordash and the extra pay per delivery bonuses
Doordash often offers some pretty attractive per delivery bonuses during peak delivery times. I’ve seen as much as $7 extra per delivery. This more than offsets the horrible $1 plus tip pay model, and when it is working well can make Doordash the most attractive option during those times.
The string attached to this offer is that you usually have to accept a certain percentage of offers during a dash. So while you may get as much as $7 (or more) extra for an offer, when you get an offer like THIS….
Now there are ways around the acceptance rate thing, but those aren’t always successful. I have had times too where an offer would come in and my app has locked up my phone (not an uncommon thing with the Doordash app by the way) and I was unable to accept, and I lost out on the bonuses. That can get really frustrating when you’ve run up a couple of bonuses and then you lose them to a glitch.
The Pros and Cons of Uber Eats Quests and Promotions
I find that when Uber Eats has promotions, they are usually the most achievable of them all. They have a number of promotions that they offer to get drivers out. They offer quests, which give you a bonus per delivery once you deliver so many orders in a given time frame. I have seen them sometimes offer a minimum amount per delivery. They also have boosts where they increase the delivery fee by a percentage in certain areas at certain times. In most cases, my experience has been the promotions are fair and achievable.
One of the good things about Uber Eats and their promotions is that they will often stack. What I mean is you can have a Quest and a Boost at the same time, and you collect on both.
The problem that I find with Uber Eats and their promotions is that they do not regulate the number of drivers. In too many cases the promotions work too well. When there is a good promotion, the end result is you often have more drivers chasing those promotions than there are orders to deliver, and you can end up with long waits between orders.
The Pros and Cons of Postmates Promotions
I have seen two different types of promotions with Postmates. The most common one has been if you complete so many deliveries in a time frame, they will guarantee a minimum amount per order. Tips do not count towards that minimum amount, which means you would get the minimum PLUS the tip. They will also offer something similar to Uber Eats’s quests where you get so much per delivery when you complete so many deliveries in a time frame.
In my experience, Postmates has not attached any strings such as acceptance rates to their promotions. I don’t know about in other markets. This is a positive. The problem that I run into is that my market is slow enough on Postmates that it can be very possible to not get in enough deliveries. I’ve had lunch hours where they offered a $25 minimum for 4 deliveries in a 3 hour lunch period and I only received 3 offers during that time. All three were short and easy deliveries, so there were very long periods between offers, and this was all in one of their busiest regions in the market.
How Do You Avoid Getting Burned by Promotions?
Promotions can be a great way to make some extra money. I’ve found them to be extremely profitable. I’ve also had times where I’ve chased promotions only to have it backfire. Here are some tips when it comes to evaluating a promotion being offered by one of these delivery companies:
- Ask Yourself if it is achievable. Is there enough time to complete the deliveries required? What can get in the way of accomplishing what you need to accomplish.
- Ask Yourself if it is worth it. What do you get extra from doing it? What do you potentially lose by chasing it. If it requires taking every order, how much do you lose if you have a long or very slow delivery, and is the promotion worth enough to make up for that?
- Evaluate what the delivery is worth if you don’t get the promotion. I’ve had to learn this lesson with Doordash in particular. Their per-delivery bonuses can be great, but the chances of losing that bonus by missing or rejecting an order can be high. Will the delivery pay well enough if I DON’T get the bonus? I might still go ahead and take that $5.50 offer with a $7 bonus, even if I think i might not get that bonus, if it’s a short enough or quick enough delivery to still be profitable.
- Keep the big picture in mind. Always be evaluating what is working for you. If a promotion forces you out of operating in a way that is profitable, make sure that it’s going to make up the difference for you. Sometimes it might just be better to pass.