Should I accept every offer or should I subscribe to #DeclineNow or #NoTipNoTrip or any of those other ideas?
What's the best philosophy? What is the best strategy for accepting or rejecting deliveries on Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats, Postmates or others? IS there a best way to accept or decline orders?
The best way to evaluate orders: The way that works best for you.
I don't have a problem with anyone who chooses to follow the #DeclineNow bunch. Neither do I have a problem with anyone who chooses to be Top Dasher or Premier.
Where I have a problem is when either side gets militant about telling me or anyone else how we should run our businesses. I'm always glad to look at advice. I have no tolerance for you telling me how to make my decisions.
Personally, I appreciate those approaches more than not having a plan at all. It makes sense to have a strategy. It makes sense to make good decisions.
I believe deciding is an important part of running a business.
Our way of setting our price is by accepting and rejecting delivery offers.
Does the offer meet your price? Accept it. If not, reject.
What's the best way to set your price?
That's where this becomes an individual decision. It's not for me to tell you that you must do it a certain way. Nor is it for anyone else.
I'll tell you a way that works quite well for me. It's not tied up at all to any of these strategies, cults, movements or whatever they call themselves. We'll get to that in a moment.
I won't tell you that you should or should not use my method or anyone else's. There are times where a different strategy may be better for you. So I'm not going to say use this or don't use that.
I do want to look at some of the different approaches. I think they all have merits. In my opinion, they all have drawbacks.
My own approach isn't for everyone.
Markets are different. Personal styles are different. The things important to you are different. To say one method is the only way is simplistic.
An important rule when evaluating strategies:
Time is limited. There are only 24 hours in a day. We each have our own limits on how much time we have available to take delivery offers.
If I can make $80 in the same time that it was taking to make $60 before, that's better.
Ultimately, that's about the only objective way to compare, is to look at a time related rate. Earnings per hour tell you a lot more than just a dollar amount at the end of the day.
I'd take that a bit further. Profit per hour says even more. If I earn $100 but it costs me $80 to earn it, I've only got $20 left. If you went out and made $50 in the same time but didn't have any expenses, you had more left over than I did.
The best measure of a strategy is what kind of profit per hour you can realize using it.
I went into a lot more detail about profit per hour in Episode 8 on the podcast.
A look at some strategies people use.
There are a number of ways that people will look at delivery offers and make decisions. I think they all can work for some people, they can all be disastrous for others. Here are my thoughts about each of these.
Accept all (or most) offers. (Doordash Top Dasher or Grubhub Premier)
Here the idea is, you take anything that's given to you you.
Some prefer to just take everything, no matter what. Others are a little selective but want to make sure they're accepting enough orders to qualify for program status like Top Dasher with Doordash, or Pro or Premier status with Grubhub.
Where this can work for you
I think it starts with your motivation. What is important to you when delivering?
For some people, the total dollar amount doesn't matter. Sometimes it's just the experience. It's kind of like jumping on a road to see where it leads – it's not efficient by any means but that's okay. If that's your main thing, you do you.
Sometimes there's a reward that is worth the cost.
Grubhub and Doordash have program levels that are tied largely to how many offers you accept. If your acceptance rate is 70% or higher at the end of the month, you qualify for their Top Dasher status.
With Grubhub, you can accept 85% of offers and be a Pro level driver, or move to Premier at 95% (requirements may vary by market).
The main benefit I see for either platform is access to scheduling. In some markets that may equate to being able to deliver for these platforms.
Grubhub premier drivers get first access to schedule blocks for the week ahead, while pro gets second access. Everyone else gets access to what's left later. Top Dashers can go available at any time in any region.
What do I mean if it's worth the cost?
Here's my experience: Accepting a high percentage of offers equates to dramatically lower earnings per hour.
Do the benefits out weigh the cost?
Here's where I see a lot of people unable to see past their own perspective. The way I see it, no it's not worth it. TO ME. Who am I to say if it is to someone else?
Especially someone in a different market?
There are times in certain markets where it's next to impossible to get a schedule block with Grubhub. When the market is that tight, getting deliveries off block usually doesn't happen. I've witnessed times in my market where the scheduling gets tight.
The same is true on Doordash – some markets don't have a lot of ability to just ‘Dash Now' at any given time.
If you're in a market like that, the inability to deliver due to those conditions is a big deal. I'm usually going to switch to a different platform at that point, but that may not be an option in some markets.
My biggest concern with a lot of people who take this approach.
A lot of times I see someone explaining why they do it, and it comes from a deficit mentality. If they don't take this offer there won't be a better offer.
My thinking on that is, if there won't be a better offer, this isn't the right business for me to be in. I expect to do better and I have a right to expect to do better. Especially if the gig company throwing those offers wants me to act and think like an employee without them paying for the right to have me do so.
You have every right to have whatever mentality you choose to have. I believe you deserve more than whatever scraps they throw your way. But I'm not going to get mad at you if you take that approach.
Cherry Pickers, DeclineNow NoTipNoTrip
This is not to say all of these are the same. It's more a categorization, people that tend to look mostly at the dollar value when making a decision.
If it's too low, reject. If there's no tip, reject.
Personally, I don't care how much of the pay is the tip.
I make my decision based on one simple thing: Does the amount offered meet my price?
I really don't give a damn how much of it is the tip and how much is from the company.
Is Grubhub supplementing the low tip? I don't care – as long as the delivery meets my price. Is Doordash way too cheap by only paying a $2 delivery fee when the tip was really good? It doesn't matter.
If it met my price, it was worth delivering.
When I made that decision, it really took away the biggest area of stress that this business could offer. I no longer let myself be controlled by the tip or the delivery fee or anything like that.
If it wasn't enough, I didn't take it. It's not worth the emotional energy to get offended. And if the tip was too low, same thing. I'm not giving the person who didn't tip the power to ruin my day.
A more recent phenomenon has been the growth of the #DeclineNow movement which seems mostly centered on Doordash delivery. Their primary approach is to decline smaller in favor of better deliveries.
Okay. I do that. Maybe the biggest difference between what I see going on and how I do things is in how you determine what to decline. They seem to advocate that anything under $7 is an absolute no go.
There was an interesting look at this approach by the Pavement Grinders website. The author was obviously not too fond of the tactics that were used. I do have to admit I'm not real impressed by some of the behavior I see.
I will say that the DeclineNow group does go a bit further than just pushing a minimum amount. They build this on a theory that rejecting lower pay offers can lead to the same delivery being offered to someone else at a higher amount.
It's an interesting theory. I heard one guy in the group call them thought leaders because of that.
If they are thought leaders for that theory, then what does that say for someone who put out that same theory over a year ago when Doordash was still testing the current pay model?
Where do the Cherry Picking methods work well?
We set our price by accepting and rejecting orders.
These companies chose to employ us as businesses and not employees. They then gave us the right to make business decisions.
Cherry picking or declining orders is an essential right for an independent contractor.
I'm extremely selective myself. I sometimes might move over 20% acceptance rate on any particular platform, usually I'm well south. I completely understand and support accepting and rejecting offers based on if it makes sense to take.
Where I differ is on the criteria.
To describe my opinion of the #DeclineNow approach (and that of most cherry pickers):
It doesn't put enough thought into things. It has the potential to leave money on the table.
When not enough thought is put into the higher paying orders, you can spin your wheels for a long time over a $20 delivery. Your costs skyrocket and profit per hour is minimal.
When a flat dollar amount is your only criteria, you pass on some deliveries that are actually quite profitable. I'll take a half dozen $6, 10-minute deliveries over most $20 offers any time. I make more money in the same time and have lower expense.
Depending on the market, it can lead to a lot of down time. If you aren't more creative and putting more thought into what makes a good delivery, you can sit longer periods between orders, only to end up with deliveries that don't make up for the down time as well.
My thought about #DeclineNow:
I think there are better ways to evaluate delivery offers. However, it's a better approach than simply accepting everything. If you are a follower of the idea, more power to you.
That said, it tends to be one of the more militant groups that seems to carry the attitude that their way is the only way. I have no respect for that kind of close mindedness.
The dollar per mile approach.
I'll cover this real quick. I see a lot of people especially among Dashers who evaluate strictly on dollar per mile. If it's a dollar per mile or two dollars per mile, it's a good offer. If not, pass.
I like that it attempts to look at more than just the dollar amount. It's a rough attempt to weigh more than one factor. As a general rule, if a trip is paying less than a dollar per mile, I'll agree it's not worth taking.
However, in my opinion, it's not a good criteria because it leaves too many bad deliveries on the table.
One, a dollar per mile isn't enough. Two, it leaves too many low paying offers on the table. The biggest problem is that in my opinion it completely fails to take into account the most important factor: Time.
My approach: Earnings per minute. The 50 cent rule.
It goes back to what I said earlier. The most important way to evaluate your performance is profit per hour.
My approach reverse engineers that profit per hour. If I'm out there to make a certain amount per hour, what does that translate per minute?
I use a 50 cent rule when evaluating deliveries. The delivery must pay 50 cents per minute to be worth taking.
50 cents a minute is my price.
Now I understand, that's a flat out price. But if I'm meeting that price, at the minimum I'm going to profit $25 per hour.
You can make whatever rule you like.
50 cents per minute = $30 per hour.
I know some find that aggressive. Back when I called it the 40 cent rule ($24/hour) some thought THAT was too high.
It might be for you. I'm going to tell you that whatever you have in mind might be too low.
It takes a little more thought:
You have to calculate how long a delivery will take.
You'll rarely get it right. But once you get practice, you'll be pretty close.
How long does it take to get to the restaurant? To the customer? How long do you think you'll have to wait? Will parking and traffic slow you down?
It comes with practice, but as you get to know your market and the restaurants, you'll start getting a pretty good feel for it.
How much will it pay? Divide that by how many minutes it will take.
Does it add up to 50 cents per minute? It meets my price. If not, it doesn't.
It's as simple as that.
A quick version
When I bumped my rule up to 50 cents, I realized something: It's so much easier now than figuring out if something paid 40 cents a rule.
The math is as easy as it gets.
Double the amount you will get paid. That will give you the maximum minutes.
$5 Delivery? I ask if it can be done in ten minutes or less. Fifteen bucks being paid out? Gotta be able to do it in 30 minutes or less.
If I think I can reasonably get done in that number of minutes, I take it.
I don't care about how much of it is tip, or how much of it is delivery fee. It doesn't matter if it's less that $7. If it pays $30 per hour, I'm good.
Is it for everyone?
In fact I know it's not. I've seen people complain about certain formulas or rules because it takes too much thought. They want quick and easy.
That's okay if you want that. Just understand the trade off. There is no super simple rule that you can look at one thing and say oh, yeah, that's a winner.
If you're part of the first group where acceptance rate matters, this obviously isn't for you.
And I'm okay with whether or not you decide to toss this idea.
It's your business, not mine.
Is $30 per hour too high?
It might be. I thought it was until I went for it.
So how do you know?
Here's an exercise you can try: Set aside a delivery period and just monitor the offers that come in. You have to be willing to tank your acceptance rate to do this, but it gives you an idea what is out there.
The longer you do this, the better it answers your question, just due to the law of averages.
Go to an area you normally deliver during a time you normally deliver. Turn on the apps you deliver with and monitor the offers.
Check out Hurdlr, our choice for the best overall mileage and expense tracking app.
Record every single offer. Estimate what it pays per minute. Write down Every. Single. One.
Take screen shots if you have to, especially if they're coming in too fast.
What's it going to pay? How long will it take? What does it pay per minute?
If you can get several hours of data, that's better.
How many offers would pay more than 50 cents a minute?
Only two or three per hour? 50 cents might be too high. If it's ten or fifteen per hour, maybe it's closer to a good match.
You might find that 50 cents a minute is too high, but that 40 cents is a lot better than you expected. That's $24 per hour.
What if I want something simpler?
Here's my advice.
If you want only one factor to consider, go on time. The faster you can get it done, the more profitable you will be. That's just my experience, shorter faster deliveries tend to average out to better profitability than going by dollar amount alone.
In the end, only you can determine how you should make your decisions.
My biggest beef with some of the folks who champion a particular idea is how they get up in your face. There's no tolerance for people choosing their own method of accepting and declining.
I will champion my per minute rate because I see how it works and why it works. I believe it could help you out.
But I'm not getting up in my feelings if you decide not to use it.
It's your life. It's your business.
You make your choices.
Be the boss.