Almost exactly a month ago, I announced that I was going to take a break from doing deliveries and sit things out a little. One of the factors was that some of the platforms were getting so saturated with drivers that it was taking longer to get orders.
When you’ve done this full time for two years, sitting out for a few weeks isn’t easy. The weather gets bad and your phone is blowing up with notifications: “Things are busy out there!” There’s money to be made, why am I forcing myself to stay inside?
I have been reading from many who are making crazy amounts of money. Of course you wonder how much is real and how much is just flexing. I’ve also been reading of others who are struggling because they can’t get orders. Which one would it be for me? A part of me was dying to find out, but I felt committed to my decision, so for three weeks I forced myself to stay home.
And then it snowed one day
Last Thursday, The forecast had been saying it was going to snow. Snowy days are always good money makers, and this might be the last opportunity for that for several months.
But no, I made my choice.
And then I asked myself why. There were two reasons: One, things were slowing down quite a bit due to saturation, like I mentioned above. The other was that I wanted to take the opportunity to work on some other things. It was never because I felt unsafe or that I was taking too big a risk.
Okay, so…. things are going to be busy, right? And I’ve been able to get a lot done that I wanted. All my reasons for not delivering were pretty much nullified right there.
Here’s the crazy thing – I was chomping at the bit more because of curiosity than because of the money. I mean hey, the money is always a good thing, but it was really more about wondering how it would go. Okay, so, how WOULD it go?
Part of my curiosity was wondering how much of a difference bad weather would make when everyone is stuck at home anyway. It’s great for business when things are normal but that’s because people that normally go out to eat decide to stay home. If they’re going to be home anyway, will it really change anything? I had to find out.
I had my first $400 day ever. In just a little more than ten hours. I was blown away, I’ve never made so much per hour. I’ve never made that much, total. I may never make that much again in a single day. This was crazy.
So now my curiosity is piqued.
If you know Denver, it can slow like crazy one day and be gorgeous out the next.
Delivery was great when it snowed. What about a couple days later when the weather is great? Will things still be good? Or will it all go to hell in a handbasket?
I had to go back. Just to see if it was a fluke.
It was still far better than anything I was making in the past. I’m normally making in the mid 20’s per hour. In 21 hours, I made $771 before expenses. Even the expenses weren’t that bad. Normally I’d drive about 400 miles when making that much money, but here I only drove 288 miles.
So for now I’m easing back in.
I’m keeping it at about 20-25 hours a week. I still have a lot that I want to work on during this time.
But here’s what’s blowing me away. I’m making as much in 20-25 hours as I was making in 35-40. This week so far, in only 16 hours I’ve made over $600. I can’t even say it’s the weather – in the past this kind of weather is slowing everything down.
So why is it so much better lately?
Is it just because people are ordering more?
Has all that stimulus money been hitting peoples’ bank accounts so they’re ordering more?
Are people tipping better because they appreciate what we are doing?
Is the saturation getting to be less of a problem because new drivers are frustrated by the waits, or because drivers are staying home now hoping to get some unemployment instead?
Okay, so I had to do some digging. I don’t know the actual data as far as what is really happening with delivery. I’ve seen reports that deliveries were up by as much as 30% (actually a lower amount than I was expecting) but some information shows it hasn’t gone up as much as you would think. One report I found showed much more modest gains, and in fact Grubhub had only very minimal growth. In fact, I’m pretty sure the increase in drivers may have outpaced the increase in deliveries.
Here are three things I have noticed about my statistics and my experience over the past ten days or so.
1. I’m still noticing longer pauses between orders.
This doesn’t make a lot of sense, considering that my hourly earnings are up nearly 50%. The thing is, in my market orders have historically been constant, especially on Grubhub and Doordash. You just knew an offer was coming in almost immediately after signing on. For me, if I was waiting between orders, it was usually because I was rejecting orders. I’m very selective on what I accept. But there was usually no shortage of offers, especially during busier times like between 5 and 9 or 11 AM to 2 PM.
The crazy thing is, that’s not necessarily the case right now. I’ve been finding that sometimes on Doordash it can be 20 minutes between offers. Grubhub can go silent for long stretches. Uber Eats goes in fits and starts, sometimes just plastering you with orders and other times going silent.
Doordash recently quit restricting how many drivers can log in to a region. All of the platforms have been ramping up on drivers, and you can tell that the market is pretty saturated. This is one reason I advocate and practice working multiple applications at one time.
2. My average payment per delivery isn’t up by all that much
I wondered if maybe people were just being so much more generous with their tips than usual. I’ve received some nice tips that you wouldn’t normally see. I’ve also seen some pretty meager tips.
But the actual numbers say tipping doesn’t have much to do with anything. They may actually be down. Tips in January were 61% of my earnings. February it was 53%. In March, when this whole thing was unfolding, tips were 44% and since going back at it this month, tips have been 51% of my earnings.
I did notice that my average earnings per order is up slightly. So far it’s been about $11.50 per order compared to a pretty consistent $10.60 per order in previous months. That’s only about an 8% increase. But my hourly rate has gone up by nearly 50%, so that doesn’t explain very much of why I’m making more.
3. My average delivery time is down dramatically.
In the first three months, it was taking 25 minutes on average to deliver an order. In the past ten days, average delivery time has been 18 minutes.
There are three things that are all coming into play in this:
- Traffic and parking are a breeze. Everyone is at home. There are no traffic jams. There are no issues finding parking near the restaurants. Even downtown, I can pull right up in front of the restaurant.
- I’m finding the restaurants are generally faster. I know there are places where you can get stuck waiting. At the same time, we’re not competing with diners for the attention of the staff. ALL of the attention of the restaurants right now is on delivery and takeout. Many restaurants are going to no-contact arrangements where they set the food out, and more often than ever I can walk in, pick up the food and walk out.
- No-contact deliveries are MUCH quicker. The instructions are usually to leave the food on the doorstep and then contact the customer. I will generally wait to verify the customer has picked up their food, but I think the customer is a bit more motivated to get out there quickly so someone doesn’t steal their food off the porch. I spend a lot less time waiting and trying to get the customer’s attention, so the dropoff is much faster lately.
The real reason I’m making more money right now is efficiency.
Essentially I’ve gone from 2-1/2 deliveries per hour to 3-1/2 per hour.
In other words, I’m getting one more delivery done per hour than I was doing prior to the pandemic.
It’s not that people are tipping any more. It’s not necessarily that there are that many more orders. I’m making a little bit more per delivery but the big deal is, I’m doing more deliveries in the same time frame.
The most important rule for making more money on deliveries for Grubhub, Postmates, Uber Eats, and Doordash:
Get it done quickly.
That is the most important lesson in all of this.
Pay more attention to time, pay less attention to dollar amounts when selecting offers.
This has been an especially important lesson I’ve learned since Uber Eats started listing dollar amounts on their offers: time is more important than the dollar amount. If you complete a delivery in less than 10 minutes, it’s going to be profitable even at the minimum amount. If a delivery takes an extraordinarily long time, even the $20 deliveries are less profitable.
Get in, get out, get it delivered. Choose deliveries that allow you to do that.
Some day, things may return to normal. Maybe. I think people will be cautious, but eventually the things that are making delivery very profitable will go away. But we can still utilize these lessons and look for ways to make our deliveries go quicker.
Get it done quickly