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Accepting and Rejecting Offers on Uber Eats: The Reverse Cherry Pick Approach

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Uber Eats has made a lot of improvements that help us with accepting and rejecting offers, but we still don't know the total amount that we will earn. How do you know whether an order is worth taking or not?

Uber Eats is different than Grubhub and Doordash. With Grubhub, you know what you will make on a delivery. With Doordash, most times you know (and sometimes it may be higher).

You don't know what an Uber Eats delivery will pay. As part of recent updates, Uber Eats has added a value in their offer screen, however you don't know the tip amount, so you're still rolling the dice.

Cherry picking on Uber Eats is a little different than it is with Grubhub and Doordash - what is the best way for accepting and rejecting offers?
Cherry picking on Uber Eats is a little different than it is with Grubhub and Doordash

Accepting and Rejecting Offers on Uber Eats Just Got a Lot Easier.

If you haven't delivered for Uber Eats lately, you may not recognize their offer screen.

I all but stopped delivering for them for awhile because I didn't know what I was getting into on any delivery. I didn't know the restaurant, the distance to the customer or how much I was going to get.

Uber Eats rolled out a new pay model late in 2019. With that pay model they started to introduce some changes. They did slash the delivery fees and took away the transparency in how they calculated fees. However, they added more information.

They started out with adding the customer location on the map. They started displaying the restaurant name and a guaranteed dollar amount. This was a huge improvement.

Screenshot of an Uber Eats offer shortly after their changes showing the restaurant name, customer location on a map and a guaranteed dollar amount.
Screenshot of an Uber Eats offer shortly after their changes showing the restaurant name, customer location on a map and a guaranteed dollar amount.

It was still far from perfect. In a lot of situations the map didn't show up, so you still didn't know much more than you did before. Even still, now you had some ideas of what you were getting into. Uber Eats all of a sudden was in play for me as a delivery option again.

And then they added in some more information. Now you know the total miles you can expect to drive, an estimate of total minutes, and cross streets near the customer.

The most recent offer screen from Uber Eats now includes the nearest cross streets to the customer, giving more data for accepting and rejecting offers
The most recent offer screen from Uber Eats now includes the nearest cross streets to the customer

Now, even if you don't have access to the map, you know all the other things. All of a sudden you have as much information from Uber Eats to help with accepting or rejecting as you do with any of the others.

Except the total amount.

Cherry Picking Methods with Grubhub and Doordash won't work with Uber Eats.

I had someone comment they would never take that $3.91 offer on the above screenshot.

If that were an offer on Doordash or Grubhub, I wouldn't either. You can almost guarantee that $3.91 is all you would get. However, the $3.91 on this offer doesn't include the customer tip. You don't know what the tip will be. You don't know if you will get a tip.

I use a 40 cent rule on Grubhub and Doordash. The idea is to take your pay for the delivery and divide by the estimated number of minutes. If it's more than 40 cents a minute, it's worth taking.

How do you do that when you don't know what you will get?

The big difference with Uber Eats when accepting and rejecting offers is you have to play the averages.

The bottom line with Uber Eats is, you don't know what you will get for a tip.

If you know your averages, you have an idea what to expect. You still don't know, and sometimes you will get less than what you expect.

Sometimes you won't get a tip.

But when you know your averages you know that the times you get more than you expect will offset.

So you shoot for an average that is acceptable.

You can try to estimate a tip amount.

Sometimes you can look at the restaurant you will pick up from, and get an idea that the value of an order will be higher or lower. Or you can just figure out your total average tip and add that to the offer value, and use that to decide if an offer is worth it or not.

Again, when you KNOW your averages, the times where you underestimate will be offset by the times that you get more than you thought.

My experience with Uber Eats when accepting and rejecting offers: The Dollar Value is Irrelevant.

I know a lot of Grubhub and Doordash cherry pickers who would think that's idiotic. That's okay. I'd rather they go after the high dollar orders because, for the most part, doing so will leave the better offers for me.

I'll let you in on a secret. With Grubhub and Doordash, a higher dollar offer reflects how much the customer tips. It could be a short delivery or it could be long distance. In most situations, a high dollar offer on Uber Eats means one thing: It's going to be a long drive.

In fact, reverse cherry picking on Uber Eats probably works better.

During the period before they added the second wave of new information, if I was already in progress on a delivery the only information I got was the dollar amount, restaurant, and distance to the restaurant. The map was not available so I didn't know how far I was going.

That's when I developed the reverse cherry pick idea. I would take the lowest offers and reject the highest. Why? A low offer meant a shorter drive. A $3 offer was far more likely to take 15 minutes or less. A $5 offer was far more likely to take well north of a half hour.

Once you add tips to that $3 offer, the profit per hour is considerably higher. Even if someone didn't tip at all, it doesn't hurt as much because your hourly rate is still reasonable and it's easier to overcome with the next delivery.

This is when you go back to playing the averages. A long distance delivery that doesn't get a tip is more disastrous, because you've lost 30-45 minutes, maybe more, and it's harder to make up.

Accepting or rejecting offers on Uber Eats relies on knowing your averages
One of the keys to estimating what you'll make on Uber Eats is to understand the averages

What is the most important factor in accepting or rejecting offers on Uber Eats?

Here's what I've learned:

Ignore the price.

It just seems counter intuitive, doesn't it? But when you don't have the total price the partial price that we do get just isn't enough.

The most important factor is how quickly you can get the delivery done.

I took my last 100 Uber Eats deliveries and sorted them every way I could think of. There was one factor that showed a very clear difference in profit per hour: Time.

Here's how much I made, in profit per hour (pay minus my mileage cost) based on how long the delivery took

  • 15 minutes or less: $34.12 per hour
  • 15-20 minutes: $30.84 per hour
  • 20-25 minutes: $25.38 per hour
  • 26-30 minutes: $19.98 per hour
  • 30 minutes or more: $13.79 per hour.

There's an interesting pattern here. If I get the time, I want to do this on a lot more deliveries to see if it continues.

Do you see the nearly $5 per hour difference for each 5 minute increment? It's really breaking down to an average of a $1 per hour difference for every minute that a delivery takes, no matter the offer value or anything else.

What I am finding with Uber Eats is the most important factor in whether to accept a delivery is, how quickly can I get it done?

What's the best way to estimate how quick a delivery can be done?

Uber Eats does provide a minute estimate in the offer now. No one else does that. I don't know how accurate it is, I haven't tracked that so far.

If it's fairly accurate, that is in my mind THE best way to evaluate whether accepting or rejecting an Uber Eats offer makes sense. The few times that I paid attention, it seemed I was able to get done a little quicker than the estimate. Guess what I'll be tracking in the future?

One thing I'm not sure the estimate of minutes takes into account: Wait time at restaurants. Some restaurants are notoriously slow. These days, with long waits at drive throughs when the lobbies are closed during the quarantine you can get hung up a long time.

The better you can familiarize yourself with restaurants and the wait time, the better it will help you estimate total delivery time. No information on an offer screen is going to take that into account.

Ultimately, you have to look at the estimated minutes with a wary eye. If you are finding it to be an accurate number, it may be the best single factor in making a decision.

Accepting or rejecting Uber Eats offers based on total miles

One short cut to making a decision could be your total miles, now that Uber Eats includes that in the offer screen. I sorted those 100 deliveries differently, this time on total miles. Here's how it broke down:

  • 1 mile deliveries: $28.60 profit per hour
  • 2 mile deliveries: $30.28 profit per hour
  • 3 mile deliveries: $27.75 profit per hour
  • 4 mile deliveries: $17.05 profit per hour
  • 5 mile deliveries: $19.78 profit per hour
  • 6-7 mile deliveries: $22.81 profit per hour
  • 8 Miles plus: $16.05 profit per hour.

Notice the dramatic drop between the 3 and 4 mile deliveries. The 1, 2 and 3 mile deliveries were paying around $28-$29 per hour. Then it drops off.

If you want to decide based on one factor only, miles may be the best factor.

My decision process on Uber Eats and whether I'm accepting or rejecting offers

Uber Eats decision process on offers: Yes or No with dollars on the line
The decision making process accepting or rejecting offers on Uber Eats can make a difference on what kind of money you can earn.

I'm not a fan of oversimplifying things. Drivers that stick to $1 per mile on Doordash often get hung up on very slow nonprofitable deliveries. Drivers that stick to a dollar amount pass up on highly profitable quick deliveries.

Here's the process I go through in evaluating a delivery offer.

The bottom line is, I'm trying to get an estimate of the time a delivery will take. That's my primary consideration.

  1. How far am I going? How long is it going to take to get there? Distance may be THE most important indicator of how long something will take, especially out of the information on the offer screen.
  2. Is the restaurant fast or slow? I try to get an estimate of how long I can expect to be at the restaurant, based on previous experience, and whether the restaurant slows down a lot in busy periods, things like that.
  3. Is the area I'm delivering to likely to slow me down? Is it downtown where I have to deal with parking and often getting to a suite or apartment? Or is it a residential area mostly of single family units that are often quicker?

Here's something I'm thinking of: Start making my own estimate based on these three things. Then I'll write that down along with Uber Eats' estimate. Which one is more accurate? Okay, I'm kinda psyched about that idea, to be honest.

Once I've estimated time, here's my thought process:

  1. If I think it's 20 minutes or less, I'm probably taking the delivery.
  2. If I think it's 30 minutes or more, I'm likely rejecting.
  3. For those between 20 and 30 minutes, I'll weigh other factors. This is the borderline range. Here's where I'm thinking about things like if the tip potential is higher. I find that for Sushi, Steakhouse and Thai restaurants, tips tend to be higher. I'm more likely to reject that mid range McDonalds order where the tip will likely be lower.
  4. Are there other factors? If Uber Eats is offering a quest (a bonus for completing so many orders) and I'm close to completing it, I might relax my standards a little. If the delivery is taking me towards a place I want to work, I might take something that otherwise I'd reject. This is a lot like the loss leader concept that stores use.

Notice what's not in the thought process? The guaranteed offer amount. The only time that I'm letting that influence me is that reverse cherry picking idea – if it's a $3 offer I might just jump on it right away.

I don't worry about the tip other than in that borderline range. If there's no tip on a short quick order, it doesn't hurt me as much. The flip side is that the tip has to be so much higher to make the longer (30 minute plus) deliveries worth while, so not getting a tip on those is more damaging. Of the ten orders that took more than $30, only one had more than a $20 profit per hour (and total pay on that one was $16.55).

Play the averages and focus on profit per hour.

The most important measurement when it comes to evaluating if a delivery was a good one or not is profit per hour.

Remember that it costs you money to use your car, and it's more than just gas. The wear an tear make your car a credit card on wheels where you're piling up future expenses. That's why the profit part is so important, that it comes down to what's left after the delivery.

Dollar amount by itself is meaningless. A $40 delivery is awesome. But if you sat out there for 6 hours and only did one $40 delivery, that's not so great. A $3 delivery sounds horrible, but if you can do six of those in an hour, those same 6 hours paid you $98.

Which one is better?

With Uber Eats, if you get side tracked by the dollar amount, you can get sucked into longer and slower deliveries. It will cost you more and leave you with less. Play the averages and go for the quickest, shortest deliveries you can find, and I think you'll find that you can do quite well.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

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John Sterling

Monday 20th of April 2020


New driver here for Uber eats. I have heard or watched that there is some penalty for not accepting 85% of your offers while you are online on Uber eats? I seem unable to verify either way and logically what hurts you will in turn hurt Uber if they were to penalize you at the cost of speed to deliver to the customer? Do you know what the reality of ignoring or declining trips to your accepting trips ratio means to Uber and their assumed logarithm? And is there any difference from ignoring or declining a trip?




Tuesday 21st of April 2020

Hi John

I know that Uber Eats quit displaying your acceptance rate - back when I started tehy used to show your acceptance rate and rejection rate. They've moved away from that.

I never know how much that stuff about penalties is reality and how much of it is stuff they want you to believe. There's a couple of the platforms that I think really try to push that belief more than Uber Eats does. But I don't feel that with Uber Eats as much as I do with the others.

I don't think there's a difference between declining or ignoring. Personally, I'm declining that sucker pretty quick because the chime is annoying, AND a new offer is more likely to come in quicker.

I don't think Uber Eats has as big a problem with orders not getting picked up as Doordash or Grubhub do. The other plaforms you can tell when there's no tip and so some orders are an easier reject. But the other thing is, as soon as you reject an order, they're kicking it back out to someone out quickly.

One thing I will say is that Uber Eats can go hot and cold, where I can be slammed for a bit and then it gets quiet. Sometimes I wonder if it's related to my rejecting orders, though there are some of those times I'm taking a pretty high percent and it still happens. But the thing for me is, even if there is a penalty, I have to ask myself if taking everything is a bigger penalty, you know what I mean? I find that taking longer less profitable deliveries costs me more than any pauses between orders. The other thing is, if any one platform is slow, I've got the other platforms ready to go so if Uber Eats does slow down, I can grab a Doordash or Grubhub order.

I can't say for sure whether they do or do not punish you. I'm less inclined to believe that they do because I just don't feel them pressuring drivers at all when it comes to acceptance rate. That would tell me it's less likely to be happening.

The crazy thing though is, I'm pretty sure I accept a much higher percentage of offers on Uber Eats than I do with Grubhub and Doordash. Maybe that's me being stubborn - they pressure me less, and I accept more.

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