The best times to deliver for Grubhub are times when there's a high number of delivery orders for the number of drivers out there. It's all about supply and demand.
The beauty of being an independent contractor for gig economy food delivery services like Grubhub is, you get to make your own decisions. No one can tell you when you can and can not get out on the road.
Unfortunately, if you choose the wrong times, you may not make so much.
How do you determine the best times to get out there?
Let's talk about how to figure that out. We'll look at when it's good to Grubhub and when it isn't so great. We'll discuss
Six Important rules for when it's good to deliver for Grubhub
The thing is, there's no one answer to when it's best to deliver. A great time for me to deliver in Denver may not be so great for you wherever you are.
In fact, sometimes you can see real extremes within the same market.
We'll talk about good times to deliver. But before we do, I think it's more valuable to understand some basic rules. Those rules help you get better at understanding the nuances within your area and make your own decisions.
1. The more Grubhub needs drivers, the higher your earning potential.
Part of this is, you have to understand how Grubhub dispatches orders. If there's an available driver when a new order comes in, they'll send the order to the driver the same time they do to the restaurant.
There's another thing that I've noticed. The slower things are, the further away they try to send you on delivery orders. My hunch is, Grubhub is trying to time your arrival with when the restaurant will have the food ready.
What all this means is, when things are slow, you have longer waits at the restaurants, and you'll have to driver further. That's expensive when gas prices are out of control.
The faster you can deliver, the more deliveries you can complete in a given time.
When things pick up, Grubhub needs deliveries to be efficient, or else they can't keep up with the demand. That means they start to become more efficient in the kind of orders they'll offer you.
Finally, when things are busy, you can be pickier about what you accept. It's one thing to turn down a three dollar delivery offer if you have to wait fifteen minutes til you get your next order. It's another to turn it down when you know another offer's coming in right away.
2. The number of drivers out there is as important (maybe more) as how many busy Grubhub is.
Grubhub can be extremely busy in your area. However, if they have too many drivers logged on, you can find that you're getting fewer orders during busy times than in slow times.
At the same time, if Grubhub isn't as busy but there also aren't many drivers out there, you personally can be extremely busy.
A lot of time it's called driver saturation. If there's more competition for orders, you may have longer waits and fewer offers for the time you're delivering. This lowers the ceiling on what you can make.
3. Pick times when customers are paying more.
The busiest time may not always be better than slower periods, if pay per delivery is lower.
Prior to the pandemic, dinner deliveries were more frequent than lunchtime. However, with many people working from home, the volume of lunchtime deliveries took off.
I heard many say that lunch was now a better time to deliver than dinner. However, my experience has been that dinner was still better because the average order was better.
Larger meals and more expensive meals tend to pay better because the tips are higher. First of the month may be better than the last of the month because more people just got paid and may tip higher.
Pay attention to when and how people are spending in your market.
4. Understand the vacuum principle.
I first noticed what I called the Vacuum principle on Doordash. Doordash usually has several smaller delivery zones in an area, with drivers being able to switch zones. Compare this to Grubhub who usually only lets you work one zone but it's a much larger overall area.
Doordash uses Peak Pay bonuses to encourage drivers to locate in areas where they have greater need. However, I noticed that when there's a large bonus, all the drivers would flock to that area. So even though there's higher pay for a delivery, you might have a long wait until an offer comes in.
When that happens, it often creates a vacuum of drivers in surrounding areas. Drivers leave one zone for a higher paying zone, and suddenly there aren't enough drivers in that lower paying zone. I found that I often made more money filling the vacuum than I did working the higher paying zones.
Grubhub doesn't have the same type of zones, but there are a lot of ways the vacuum principle still applies. The thing to remember here is that a lot of drivers work multiple applications.
- If Uber Eats or Doordash are offering huge incentives in your market, that can draw drivers away from Grubhub.
- If Grubhub has some great missions, it may draw drivers away from other delivery companies, and you might make more money filling the vacuum for those companies.
- While Grubhub doesn't push hotspots in quite the same way as other companies, sometimes you get a lot of drivers flocking to the so-called busier parts of town. When that happens, you can fill a vacuum in a different part of your market.
5. Know your area as well as possible.
Knowing the times that are generally very busy isn't nearly as useful as knowing your own market.
Is your town made up mostly of lunch eaters, or dinner? When do people tip the most (Rule 3)? Is your market made up more of college students or professionals?
When are things busiest in your area (Rule 1)? What parts of town are saturated (Rules 2 and 4)?
What happens in Denver is very different than in downtown Chicago. And Chicago is going to be a huge difference from some small town in Kentucky.
One thing that made a huge difference for me was when I started tracking deliveries in detail. I tracked every delivery, kept track of profit per hour for each delivery. I was able to use that to figure out which nights of the week were best for me, what time of day was best, and even what part of town was most profitable to work in.
6. Pick the times that work the best for you.
Start with your why. Why are you delivering for Grubhub? Is it because you can set your own hours? Are you a student working around class schedules, or a parent working around your kid's activities?
Your best times to deliver are going to be different as a full-time gig worker than if you're doing this as a side hustle to make more money.
While it's valuable to find the times where you can make the most money possible for the time you put into it, don't sacrifice the things that are most important in order to do it.
What time of the day is best to deliver?
As a general rule, you can expect to be busier between 11 and 2 for lunch, and between 5 and 9 for dinner. This is going to vary in some areas.
If there's more of a tendency for people to eat later in the day in your area, you might shift that back, or vise versa if they eat earlier.
Breakfast deliveries can be hit or miss. Sometimes there's too many drivers or not enough hours. Other times the demand can be extremely high.
Grubhub used to shut their markets down overnight, but lately they've moved to more 24 hour delivery. In your market, if not enough drivers are covering the overnight shift, you might find that to be more profitable than other times.
Pay attention to the busier and slower days of the week.
Again, this is going to vary by market. Typically you will find more order activity happening on weekends, Friday, Saturnday, and Sunday.
Monday and Tuesday tend to be the slowest days for restaurants, and my experience is that holds true for delivery as well. In fact, I almost always take Tuesdays and often Mondays off.
I have to say, I get a kick out of being able to say I have Mondays off.
Pay attention to slower and busier times of the year
You can usually expect that July and August tend to be slower than a lot of months. I think there are a number of reasons for this.
Whether it's weather or vacation or something else, I think people tend to be doing things away from home more often and less likely to order in. There's more a sense of getting out and about during the summer.
College students have gone home for the summer and might feel less free to order in when living at home with mom and dad than when they were in the dorm. Along with that, those same students have more time to go out and deliver, adding to market saturation.
Historically, September tends to be the slowest month for restaurants. However, in my experience that's not always been the case for deliveries. Students are back in their dorms, so that leads to an uptick.
My experience has been the start of sports seasons, especially football season, tends to drive a lot of deliveries. I think people order in more for delivery when watching football than with most sports.
As the weather starts to get colder, you will find that drives a lot of delivery ordering. People are less likely to go out, less likely to want to go to the restaurants, and more likely to want the food brought to them. Expect October through February or March to be the busiest of delivery times.
Pay attention to special events.
Big events can be a great time to deliver, especially if customers are more likely to order food at the same time that competing drivers are more likely to stay off the road because of those events.
I mentioned football season earlier. Sundays are a great time to deliver here in Denver because one, people are watching the Broncos, and two, a lot of drivers are staying home to watch the game.
The Super Bowl can be one of the best times to deliver. Other major championships and TV awards nights (such as the Oscars and Grammy's) can be great times to deliver. Finale nights for popular television series are also big nights for delivery.
Holidays are another big delivery draw. Once again, it's a double whammy because you have more people ordering and often fewer people delivering.
Grubhub put out a list to restaurants of the nine biggest delivery days. Those days include:
- Superbowl Sunday
- Valentine's Day
- Mother's Day
- Memorial Day
- Father's Day
- Labor Day
- New Year's Eve
Your results may vary
That almost sounds like a commercial for an investment or something, doesn't it? But you know something? It IS an investment. What are best times to deliver Grubhub? You're the only one who can tell you that. If you pay close enough attention to what's going on in your market, especially if you do the kind of tracking that I'm talking about, you will be able to tell me the answer to that question.
Here's the deal – if you pay close enough attention, and you have the flexibility to work your drive schedule around the more profitable times to drive, that can make a tremendous difference in how much you earn.