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Courier MBA Day 14: Networking in the gig economy?

You wouldn't think that there would be a place for networking as gig workers.

Granted, you're not rubbing elbows picking up business in some lead exchange luncheon or any of what you might normally called networking.

But there is a form of networking that you can do that can make a big difference in your income. That network is part of a bigger picture of things you can do that can get you in and out of the restaurants faster.

Obove view of crowds of people moving blurred convention meeting hall walling men and women

The restaurant logjam

Yesterday we talked about evaluating deliveries. One of the best ways you can evaluate deliveries is to get a reasonable idea how long the delivery will take.

That's easier said than done. You can get a good idea how long it will take to drive somewhere, Google maps and Waze do a pretty good job of taking traffic and everything into account.

The wildcard is the restaurant. How long is it going to take to get in and out of there?

Outside of choosing which deliveries you accept, our best opportunity at reducing the time spent on a delivery is in the restaurant.

A key to success I've talked about is to focus on what you can control and not stress about what you cannot control. I've seen other couriers blow a gasket because their food wasn't ready yet. I understand the frustration, we've all been there.

The thing is, when you let yourself get stressed over what you cannot control… you just get stressed. You feel helpless. It leaves you feeling like a victim.

But if you control what you can control, it really makes a difference. It can be huge.

Here are some of the issues that can slow you down.

Getting noticed.

Can people tell when you walk in that you are there for delivery?

You walk into the restaurant and there's a line of people.

Some are other couriers, there to pick up their orders. Some are customers, waiting to place their order. Everyone's trying to get the attention of restaurant staff.

This can be maddening. How many times have you been there where it takes forever to get to someone and when you finally do, they hand you an order that has been sitting there all along?

What you can't control:

You cannot control how the restaurant staff acts. You cannot force them to get their act together. It's impossible for you to change the restaurant procedures to something more efficient.

What you can control:

You can stand out.

I talked earlier about bringing the delivery bag in with me. I wear my Fedora because… no one wears a Fedora.

There was a comment on Facebook: “I wear a flash Teeshirt and have dragonballZ hair. The merchants and diners know who I am by that uniform. It’s a form of branding.”

When it is really clear that you're there for delivery, that often gets attention. Too many times someone walks in to pick up and you don't know if they're a delivery person or just another customer?

You can be known by the restaurant staff.

That can be huge. This is the networking.

I learned an early lesson from another ‘competing' courier once upon a time. I was in that mix, part of a crowd of people waiting to get the attention of someone. This girl walks in, immediately catches the eye of someone from the restaurant, and says “Hi Mary, how's the day going?”

The response? A very friendly and happy “Hey!!! Who are you picking up for?”

At first, I was a bit ticked. Hey, I was here first. This isn't fair.

But this is what I'm talking about with networking. I had seen this girl at a couple of other places, and she knew the people there as well. She made the effort to get to know the people. She walks into these places now and she gets priority. It's not unfair, it's smart.

I've seriously considered keeping a database where I can keep names and any other information. It's just that entering the information to get started is what would slow me down, I fear.

Even if you don't go that far, your attitude and how you treat the staff at the restaurant goes a long way.

I see so many posts where people complain about how restaurant workers seem to just hate us. I don't see that or experience that. That makes me wonder if it's just by area, except I'll see the same posts by people in my same market.

I see the attitude some people walk in with. I can imagine why people would hate dealing with couriers after how I see some treat the restaurant staff. But I've found that when I'm coureous, friendly and understanding, it gets returned back.

Getting the food.

Another day waiting for the food to be rady.

Sometimes the food isn't ready.

Sometimes the food hasn't been started.

I'm finding this is especially bad with Grubhub. They are terrible at getting you to the restaurant well before the food is ready. Worse than any of the others, in my experience.

What you can't control

There's nothing you can do about the fact it isn't ready yet. We're not managers of the staff.

Yelling and screaming won't speed things up. It probably slows things down to be honest.

If they forgot to turn on the tablet or didn't check the orders, that's frustrating. It means it's going to take time. But whatever you do, you can't change that.

What you can control

You can control your attitude. That piece is completely up to you.

You have the right to choose whether to move on. If I have a pretty good idea that I'm looking at a half hour wait, there's a good chance I'm going to politely excuse myself and move on to the next delivery. Unless the pay is high enough to justify the wait.

You may be able to have some influence on how quickly you can get out of there.

This ties in with the relationship you build with the restaurant staff. That may be something you build over several visits, a lot of times it's purely based on your demeanor and attitude in that particular visit.

There are times where I can tell, they WANT to help me out here. When my attitude is good or when they know me, they're more likely to stay on top of how quickly the food is ready. I get priority over other things happening.

Get in. Get Out. Get Paid.

Speeding up the process at the restaurant can make a huge difference in how many deliveries you can complete.

Go back to yesterday: Pay attention to how often the restaurant wait is a log jam, you can avoid a lot of the issues simply by knowing which places will likely slow you down. For instance, there are certain fast food places I won't accept when I know I'll have to wait in a long drive through lane. There are certain places where you always wait.

Start turning those offers down unless they pay enough to justify the wait.

Then control the things you can control that help you get noticed and help you get priority with the restaurant.

The Pandemic has actually helped me here tremendously. Restaurants have been forced to get more efficient. There are fewer crowds to contend with and I can often get in and out faster.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.