The matchup has been set. The GOAT goes up against the one guy who could eventually replace him as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). I was never a Tom Brady fan but have always been a football fan, so I gotta respect what he's pulled off.
But that's neither here nor there.
Should I go deliver during the Super Bowl? Will it pay well or will it be a disaster? Based on past history, the Super Bowl has the potential of being one of the most profitable times to deliver of the year.
To drill it down further, my experience has been that the best times to go deliver are from about an hour and a half before kickoff through the end of the first half.
That's one man's experience, in Denver Colorado. One good delivery or one real stinker can throw the numbers off significantly.
And then, this year is totally different. So who knows?
My past history delivering during the Super Bowl for Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, and Postmates.
My experience has been that the Super Bowl is one of the best times to deliver.
Folks are gathering with their friends. They don't want to miss the action. Or those that don't care about the action don't want to miss the commercials. So they want to bring food in.
I've done delivery gigs in the past, usually as a side job working directly for a particular restaurant. I did a couple of Super Bowls back then, and they were always good days to deliver.
I started delivering about a week after the SuperBowl in 2018, so I didn't get a chance to figure anything out then.
I always saw 2020's Superbowl as disappointing compared to 2019. But when I look at the numbers (because I'm a geek enough to actually track them) the experience wasn't that far off.
Breaking it down for me by time of day
When I broke it down by two hour periods, I noticed a pattern.
And that reminded me how frustrating the first few hours of the day were for me last year. I started earlier last year than I did in 2019.
For point of reference, I started delivering last year about 1 PM MST (Denver) and kickoff was 4:30. In 2019 I didn't start until 3.
And those first two hours were not so great. My profit per hour (what's left over after figuring in actual car expenses) was $16.48. Not horrible but nowhere near what I'm used to bringing in.
Orders were slow coming in. And when they came in, they weren't all that great. I was seriously starting to think about hanging it up. But then about 3 (when I started the year before) things picked up.
So here's the breakdown by time of day, all in profit per hour:
- 1-3 PM: $16.48 in 2020. Did not deliver in 2019.
- 3-5 PM (Kickoff 4:30). $24.45 in 2020. $25.41 in 2019.
- 5-7 PM (basically through just after halftime): $29.33 in 2020, $33.45 in 2019.
- After 7 PM: $20.56 in 2020, $15.84 in 2019.
Bottom line: Early on was kind of a bust. After 7 was below average. But between 3 and 7 were the best times.
Should I deliver for Doordash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, Postmates etc. on Superbowl Sunday?
That depends on a lot of things.
The hard thing to know is, how much of a difference will current circumstances make? That's the thing about delivery these days.
Things aren't like they were.
I won't try to answer the question myself. Instead I'll ask some questions that might help you make a decision.
How important is the game to you?
Let me put it this way:
Why do you deliver? For a lot of us it's about enhancing our lives in some way shape or form.
One thing I always try to stress: Remember your why. Remember why you're doing this.
There's a time when your why would make you want to stay home and just enjoy the game. Or maybe your why says nah, this is too great an opportunity. You decide.
I'm a huge football fan. But I've been more than content to just enjoy the game on the radio, mainly because delivering is fun for me.
And oh by the way, Kevin Harlen is a national treasure. If I were to stay home and watch it on TV I think I'd be inclined to turn down the volume on the TV and listen to Kevin announce it on the radio.
Just putting that out there.
There was a different situation a few years ago. My favorite team was in the big game. I was delivering on the side for a local pizza place. But that was a time in my life when finances were very different. I needed the money more than I needed the game.
It's weird to think of things in terms of “needing” the game. But that's where I think it's just a quality of life thing.
And the beauty of it is, we get to make that decision.
Who's going to be ordering food?
There are a few factors here.
Fewer people will be at the sports bars. Between bars being shut down and others having capacity limits, there's just less space for people to watch games.
That means more people at home.
In a time when we're still conscious about social distancing, I think that also means there will be fewer and smaller watch parties.
That can lead to opportunity.
Will viewership be down?
Sporting event ratings have been off quite a bit this year.
That surprises me some, because you'd think that with fewer people being able to actually attend the games, there'd be more watching it on TV.
But maybe it's because it's harder for people to feel engaged when you can't be there from time to time? I think about baseball – I love going to games from time to time. I felt a lot less engaged this past year with the baseball season and I think a lot of it was not being able to go to games at all.
Will people just be more apathetic about the Superbowl this year? That could make a different.
Will there be too many drivers?
This to me is the wildcard.
Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats, Instacart, all of the delivery companies have signed up drivers like crazy this year.
And even though it seems demand for deliveries has dropped quite a bit from the peak days of last spring or so, those drivers are still here.
Many markets are extremely saturated out there. If there's the same number of orders (or even more) this year but a lot more drivers, that still translates into a lower paying day.
Remember that these gig delivery companies don't have your best interests in mind. Their main priority is to make sure they get as many orders delivered.
If it comes to a choice between having too many drivers on the road and thus drivers not getting paid, or not having enough drivers on the road and orders not getting delivered, they're going to go with too many drivers every time.
What's your market like in other times when you should be swamped?
Big events and major sporting events were always great times to delvier in past years.
For me, in my market, not so much. Things have been slower than normal during the playoffs and during other major events.
Snow has been another major thing that has ALWAYS meant good pay in the past. The past few times it's snowed, earnings have been average or less than average.
What that tells me is that in my market, there are a lot of drivers who know when they can make good money and they're all going out at the same time.
In fact it's been significant enough that I'd be much more tempted to stay home just for that reason. If I go out this year on Superbowl, it's got more to do with having something to write about than it does anticipating some really good profits.
Will Peak Pay Syndrome raise its ugly head?
Peak pay is the term for the per delivery bonus that Doordash uses. I call it Peak Pay syndrome when Doordash offers a ridiculous bonus in some zone and all of a sudden everyone wonders why they're not getting any offers.
It's because everyone's chasing the peak pay and, surprise, there are now too many drivers in the zone.
There's nothing like a bonus to get drivers out of the woodwork. If Doordash is offering unusually high peak pay, or Uber Eats has a nice surge going, everybody and their brother will be out there.
I've learned that usually a regional bonus works like a vacuum. All the couriers get sucked into an area where the bonus is high. If I can find an adjacent zone that has a smaller bonus, I can usually make more money because it's so busy I have my pick of offers.
However, if everyone is throwing out bonuses at the same time, they're often competing for the same drivers. Sometimes in the worst of weather, even the best of incentives and peak pay bonuses will not be enough to get enough drivers out on the road.
What will tips be like?
Tips could be down. That's tied to what I said about smaller parties.
I've delivered some large orders of wings and other things on Super Bowl Sundays. I've had a harder time finding parking at the customer houses because of all the people there for a party.
If there are indeed fewer and smaller big parties, that also means fewer big orders.
Which means smaller tips.
There's another piece to the tipping puzzle: How are people tipping lately anyway? That $600 stimulus is going to be long gone for a lot of people. Tipping in general seems to be down anyway.
Smaller tips means less pay per delivery. Keep that in mind when deciding.
How are the restaurants at keeping up with orders during times like this?
High demand delivery times usually mean one of two things:
Wait times at restaurants are at their very lowest, or they're at their very best. There's rarely any in between.
The restaurant may be overwhelmed and, as some of my family like to put it, they can't get their poop in a group.
Or there's enough of a shortage of drivers that the food is almost guaranteed to be ready when you get there.
Last year, I took an offer from a Buffalo Wild Wings, against my better judgment. This particular restaurant often had some long waits. The pay was good on this offer, and if it looked like too much of a circus I could always cancel out. I pull up to the restaurant and…..
It. Was. Ahhhhh. MAZING. They set aside a party room as a staging room for deliveries. It was incredibly organized, there was someone to direct traffic, and I was in and out so fast. I had four different deliveries that day from that particular store and it was incredible.
You know your restaurants. You know the ones who have it together and the ones that don't. Think about what they'll be like.
Would the risk of unhappy customers create a bigger problem than rewards?
Here's one big difference I'm seeing this year than I did last year:
Unhappy customers mean greater consequences today than they did last year or the year before.
Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Postmates, all of these apps are all cracking down on bad deliveries.
Unfortunately they're also cracking down on good deliveries that might look bad. And all the companies are too lazy to really investigate.
If a customer is angry about their food being late, they may report it was never delivered. Or perhaps an item was missed and customer service interpreted it as not delivered.
Chaos at the restaurant may mean someone else picked up your order, and somewhere along the line you get accused of picking it up and not delivering. It happens.
Doordash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, none of these companies have your back when it comes to the customer.
Is there a greater risk of an unfair deactivation, and is that risk worth the few extra dollars?
What does that mean about if I should deliver Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and others on Super Bowl Sunday?
As I write this, I'm on the fence.
After delivering in the snow recently and seeing things very slow for what is normally a very busy and profitable day, I'm leaning towards staying home.
For me, Super Bowl Sunday is always a fun thing. Even if I don't care about any of the teams. I kind of look at it like I do bad weather: I'm only going out there if I'm reasonably certain I'll be able to make more than usual.
You might find that driving around on Super Bowl Sunday is the perfect escape from the madness that goes with the day. Delivering may be a no brainer for you.
I don't know what this year will bring. There is no more normal thanks to the pandemic. I think in some towns, delivery will be extremely profitable. In other areas, it's going to drag.
So I can't tell you whether it's a good idea to deliver for Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Postmates, or Instacart or any of the others. The delivery companies will be busy. Will the individual couriers?
Hopefully these questions helped you think through whether it makes more sense or not. Maybe you give it a shot and what's the worst that could happen? You decide it's not worth it and call it a day.
And maybe it's just a good day to sit back and watch some cheesy commercials and hopefully some good football.
- How important is the game to you? You do these delivery gigs for a reason - to add to your life. Is this one of those things in life that adds enough enjoyment that it's better to stay home and watch?
- How many people will be ordering food? Think about it - bars are either closed or less capacity. More people at home. Probably fewer large at home parties. That could mean more orders.
- Are people less interested this year? It's been a weird year and hard to keep up the enthusiasm for a lot of sports. Will that slow down the orders?
- Will there be too many drivers? That's been a trend lately. There are more drivers than ever on the roles with Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and others. Will that mean fewer orders for you?
- How has your market been in other times it should be busy? Are things slower than normal during other big events or weather events that normally mean busy delivery times?
- Will Peak Pay syndrome raise its ugly head? Gig companies may pile on the bonuses to get drivers out. Will that mean fewer orders per driver?
- What will tips be like? The parties may be smaller this year. Does that mean the orders are smaller and thus the tips are smaller?
- How are restaurants at keeping up with orders when it gets crazy? Will you get bogged down when restaurants are overwhelmed and behind due to the volume?
- Is the risk of unhappy questions a bigger problem? When things are really busy, orders get late. Customers get mad. They complain or lie about not getting food. Will that create longer term problems that are bigger than the opportunities?