Say you're ready to dip your toe into being a delivery driver. You want to make some extra money. Maybe you're in the middle of a job hunt and you need to make some money on the side.
A good number of you reading this have already started delivering. How does this help you? If you have friends or family members asking about getting started, what would you tell them? Why would you tell them this?
Remember, the question is NOT who is the best delivery platform. The question is, which is the best place to get started? The answer to those questions can be very different.
Here's an important rule when you are thinking about doing delivery:
Just understand this: You might hate it.
There's nothing wrong with that if you do. For many of us, it's a perfect fit. For many others, it's just not the right fit.
But that's the beauty of gig work like this. You don't have to commit, you know? This isn't like a job where you have to worry about having too many jobs here or there on your resume and having to figure out how to explain it all away. Technically you're starting a business, however it's not like most business starts. You don't have the investments and startup costs.
You can dip your toe in the water and find out you hate it.
And that's okay.
So I don't worry as much about starting off with the best option right away. It's more about, what option is the best at letting you know whether you would enjoy this with the least amount of investment?
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Understand this one thing when evaluating which app is the best to do your first deliveries with:
For the most part, they're pretty much the same thing.
You get an offer on your app. You accept the offer. Next, you pick up the food at the restaurant. Then you drop it off. Rinse and repeat.
Everyone has a different way of providing information. Everyone has a different way of paying you. Each platform has different nuances. There are good and bad things about each. I go into a deeper comparison of delivery programs here.
But the basics are pretty much the same. If you just hate doing this, you're going to know pretty quickly. Right now, I think it's more important to get a feel for it, and then you can hone in on which platform or platforms are your favorite based on all the other nuances.
Who do I think is the best option to start out with?
I should be saving this for the end, shouldn't I? Isn't that how you get people to keep reading? But let's get down to it: Here's who I recommend as the first option to try out:
And it's not even close. Here's the thing: you want something that is going to be as easy to get started, with as little commitment as possible.
Because you might hate it.
And there is one thing about Uber Eats that makes it the best fit for that description. Insurance.
What is Uber Eats different about with Insurance?
One thing you have to understand if you go into delivery: There's a high probability that your car insurance is not going to cover you if you get into an accident while logged into the delivery app.
Read that again.
Most personal insurance policies specifically exclude delivery work in their policies. Transporting goods or passengers for hire (livery) is not covered. In other words, you are driving around uninsured while you are logged into the app. You can read more about that here.
Uber Eats is the only one of the four major delivery apps that provides actual car insurance while you are delivering. THE ONLY ONE. Uber Eats offers $1 million COMMERCIAL auto liability coverage per covered incident, from the moment you accept a request to the moment you drop it off. If you have comprehensive and collision coverage on your personal vehicle, they provide covered for that as well with a $1,000 deductible. You can read about their coverage in more detail here.
Grubhub provides no coverage. Doordash and Postmates say they provide some coverage, but it is NOT commercial auto insurance. Their policy is only a blanket liability policy, there is never any policy that is provided in your name. Your vehicle and your injuries are not covered by that policy. They have a clause that says you must have the proper insurance, and that clause gives them an out that could allow them to deny coverage if your insurance won't cover you. Doordash's policy is only in effect during the time you have food in your car.
There are still some gaps you need to be aware of
When you are on deliveries (or ride share) there are four stages that impact insurance:
- Stage Zero. You are not logged in to deliver. Your personal insurance will cover you at this time.
- Stage One: You are logged in to deliver but haven't accepted offers. This is the one gap with Uber Eats insurance: they provide liability coverage in stage 1 but no coverage for your vehicle. None of the others provide any coverage here.
- Stage Two. You accept an offer and are on your way to a pickup. Uber Eats provides full coverage ($1,000 deductible for damage to your vehicle). Postmates provides ‘excess coverage' for liability during this stage. Doordash and Grubhub have no insurance during this time.
- Stage Three. You have picked up and are in process of delivery. Uber Eats again provides full coverage with $1,000 deductible for your vehicle. Postmates and Doordash have their excess liability coverage. Grubhub offers nothing.
Your one gap with Uber Eats is that your vehicle is not covered during stage 1.
If your car is paid off and you have liability only for your insurance, there's nothing different here for you. If you owe money on your vehicle, you really want to think about whether this is worth the risk. You also have to think about whether the $1,000 deductible is an issue. A lot of comprehensive policies have that high a deductible these days anyway, but what that means is the first thousand dollars of repairs to your vehicle come out of your pocket.
The bottom line is, if you think you want to do delivery for very long, you want to make sure you have your insurance covered. You'll want to address the gaps for Uber Eats and you definitely have to make sure you're covered if you deliver for any of the others. The main reason I recommend starting with Uber Eats is they are the one company to provide coverage of some form while you get started. That allows you to dip your toe in the water without the substantial risk as the others. If you go forward with any other platforms after starting out, you'll want to look into your insurance. I suggest a three step process for that here.
Pro's and Cons of starting with each platform:
Because the insurance is that important, I wouldn't recommend anyone get started with any platform other than Uber Eats unless you know your insurance will cover you. Some policies do provide coverage, and if yours does, that evens the playing field a little. I would still lean towards Uber Eats, but there's some area of disadvantage as well.
Pro's and Con's of starting out with Uber Eats.
We already talked about insurance, so we won't beat that horse any further.
I think there's another factor that weighs heavily in favor of Uber Eats. They're just easy to work with. There's no messing with schedules or time blocks. You log in wherever you are. You log out when you want to stop. There was a time when they didn't provide much information when presenting a delivery offer, but they've since changed that.
Uber Eats sometimes offers some signup bonuses, depending on how badly they need drivers in your area. Lately the bonuses haven't impressed me. Kind of like complete 60 deliveries in two months and get a guaranteed $200. WooWoo. You're going to make that anyway. If there are bonuses, they are usually tied to a referral link from another driver.
There are a couple of drawbacks with Uber Eats. One is that they don't provide a delivery bag of any kind. They're the only platform that doesn't. You're on your own. You can get an entry level bag here for less than $10. Walmart has a 50-can insulated cooler in their camping section for about $5 that can be an option. The dimensions aren't ideal but it's maybe the cheapest way to get started until you know you want to go further. Uber Eats is the only one I know of that has a maximum age for their vehicles, they won't cover anything older than 20 years old. I believe this is mainly related to them providing actual commercial auto insurance.
Pro's and Cons starting out with Postmates
Postmates is up there with Uber Eats as far as simplicity. You log in, you log out. It's that easy. They are not as complicated to work with as Grubhub and Doordash. Postmates does provide a delivery bag they will send by mail.
Sometimes Postmates will have some of the better promotions for getting started. If you click to sign up through them it will tell you your guarantee if you complete so many deliveries in 14 days. Many times I've seen that guarantee be $6 to $8 per delivery. With Postmates, the tips are on top of that guarantee.
The biggest drawback to me where Postmates is concerned is related to some of their practices. I personally don't deliver for them right now because of a couple of htings they do (you can read the comparison I linked to above to get more information on that). Some people don't like them because customers tip afterwards and it can be hit or miss. Postmates in my area isn't as consistent with offers, but that can vary by market. I find that
Pros and Cons of starting out with Doordash.
Doordash is a favorite for many drivers. As the market leader, they are possibly the most likely to keep you busy. Doordash will also provide a soft sided delivery bag. Doordash does provide some accidental injury coverage if you are hurt on a delivery.
Sometimes Doordash can offer the best signup bonuses. Like all the others, it varies based on their need for drivers. I've seen them offer more actual cash bonuses for new drivers instead of just guaranteed minimums. At the same time, you have to complete 200 within two months of signup. Considering you can't start delivering until Doordash has sent items to you and you've gone through an onboarding process, you may be down to 6 weeks or so to complete those, meaning you'll have to do about 15 hours a week during that time to get enough deliveries to get your bonus.
Interested in Delivering for Doordash? You can sign up with them here (Affiliate link).
They are a bit more complicated when it comes to delivery process. They have smaller zones in your region, and you have to log into one of those zones. Sometimes you have to do some scheduling ahead of time to get on those blocks. Doordash has a number of metrics they track you on, including acceptance rate, completion rate, customer ratings, on time delivery rate and the number of people who claim they didn't get their food. They will deactivate drivers for falling below minimums on some of those, and that creates a certain amount of pressure. I've never had problems with any of these things, but I wonder if it's maybe not better to start on a platform that doesn't have that level of pressure to begin with.
Pros and Cons of starting out with Grubhub.
Grubhub has absolutely the best delivery bags out of any of the platforms. They provide a smaller bag as well as a larger bag that can be used for larger food orders or flattened out to carry a pizza. To date they have been providing these at no cost to drivers. Grubhub is probably the best at encouraging tips to customers and many feel that partly because of this, they are the best paying option out there. In my comparison, they came out as the top option.
As of this writing (to my knowledge) Grubhub does not have a referral program. They had a period where drivers were wanting to deliver for them more than what their need was, so they didn't need to recruit as much.
Grubhub does rely heavily on a scheduling system. That can make things a bit more complicated, though it's not hard to figure out. In my two years, I've delivered a lot more for Grubhub than for anyone else. Until recently they've been the most consistent earners for me (Uber Eats lately has caught up).
Final thoughts on picking a platform to start with
Ultimately I recommend you sign on with any and all of the platforms. I have a lot of thoughts and experiences related to each. Your experience may be totally different.
Because of insurance and ease of getting started, I think it's best to start with Uber Eats. I mentioned above, I may get referral fees from Uber depending on how badly they need couriers in your market. Lately they aren't offering much if any but it's possible. Those fees help keep this site and the podcast running. I could be like some and really start pushing Instacart because they're paying out the most, but I don't see them as an efficient option.
After you get a feel for delivery, and you like it, then I recommend digging into your insurance. Find out if you are covered, find out if your insurance will provide options, and then get quotes if not to see if you want to dive in further.
At that point, I say get signed up with Grubhub if possible. If there's a wait list, it gets you on the list. There's not a lot of pressure to get started right away with them because there are no incentive programs that I'm aware of. At the same time, pick one of the other two. Pay attention to any incentives they are offering. Evaluate if you can complete the deliveries in the timeframe offered and choose accordingly. I really recommend you pick one, get the minimum number of deliveries done, and then dive in on the other. Do a significant number of deliveries on all platforms you sign up with, and then start settling in on who you want to focus in on the most.