Should you accept multiple orders (sometimes called stacked orders) when delivering for Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats, and others? How about from multiple platforms at the same time?
I know things are different in different areas, but I've found that during this pandemic, I'm doing a lot more multiple orders. Some of that is because when there are more orders than drivers available, restaurants are figuring out they need to get more efficient. Some of it is just my choice, that I'm finding more options where it makes sense to run deliveries from more than one app at the same time.
Sometimes it's the delivery platform asking you to accept a second delivery. They may add another delivery from the same restaurant or from a restaurant nearby. Sometimes you might be like me where you have multiple apps on, and you get simultaneous offers from two or more that might just make sense. How do you decide?
What is best for the diner who ordered the food?
This is the most important question. All the other questions should come back to this.
Here's another way to think about it. Your agreement with the delivery companies is on a delivery by delivery basis. It begins when you take a delivery offer, and it ends when you complete the delivery. As professionals and as business owners, I believe we have a responsibility to provide the best experience possible within the parameters of that delivery.
In other words, Grubhub, Doordash, Postmates and Uber Eats cannot require that you take all offers. They cannot prevent you from delivering for multiple apps at the same time. At the same time, your customer service ethic may say it's better to say no because it's not the best thing for the diner.
Having said that, sometimes taking stacked orders IS best for the diners. If you have two diners living in the same area who ordered at the same time from the same place, stacking those deliveries means they both get the food faster than they would have if waiting for someone to take one at a time. You have to try to figure out, will your taking a second or third delivery delay one diner's food more than it helps another get their food earlier? This requires looking at the big picture.
Do I have the freedom to adjust my decision?
What happens and what are the consequences if you say no on a delivery offer? If you discover after accepting a stacked order that delivering one is going to cause the other customer to get their food far too late, and you cancel one delivery, what are the consequences? Can you get in trouble for saying no to a stacked order?
Remember this: You are the boss. You have the right to make your decisions.
However, some companies respond differently, and you have to decide based on how you view those potential consequences.
Uber eats Seems to care less about acceptance rate. You can't even look up what your rate is. You may have trouble advancing your Uber Pro standing if you've canceled too many orders after accepting. Do you care about Uber Pro? I definitely recommend you not cancel an order AFTER you pick up the food.
Acceptance rate does make a bit of a difference with Grubhub and Doordash when it comes to their incentives. Personally, I could care less about those incentives, but they may matter to you. Cancelling after accepting can create some issues, especially on Doordash. If you cancel more than 30% of offers you accepted, you can be deactivated.
I have no problem with that. If you are cancelling 30% of what you accept, you're not doing too well at evaluating offers to begin with.
The bottom line is, you have the freedom to make decisions. If food for one order is ready but the other isn't, it's your choice to cancel on the one that isn't. If you find out that one of the orders isn't profitable enough to make sense, that's your choice as to whether to proceed.
This is why I no longer deliver Postmates.
You may notice that I don't list Postmates in the title of this article. Even though I'm signed up on all four platforms, right now I'm not even delivering for them. The reason I refuse to deliver for Postmates boils down to this very issue: Multiple deliveries.
Postmates has a practice of adding deliveries to your queue without my approval. It grew out of their introduction of the Postmates Party. The idea is, once someone places an order on Postmates, other people near by can order from the same place at a reduced rate. The problem is that Postmates doesn't give the courier the option to accept or reject those additional offers. If they do stack on a second delivery that doesn't make sense, you don't have the option to drop the added delivery. If you don't want to do the second delivery, you have to drop all of them.
And then to top it off, Postmates punishes you for dropping deliveries by putting you in a timeout. I've heard of many who have been deactivated for dropping too many deliveries (even though Postmates never tells you what the threshold is or what your drop rate is). It's a total and blatant violation of the control that Postmates is allowed to exert over contractors, and out of principle, I'm just done with them.
What do you know about the restaurants and their food?
The key to working multiple deliveries is to know your area. It's especially important to know the restaurants, and pay attention to what they are like.
Is the offer to pick up from more than one of these restaurants? If so, where are they in relationship to one another? Are you going to have traffic issues between them? How are they handling delivery with Covid-19? Is everyone routed through the drive through or are they even more efficient now with drivers. If you are dealing with more than one restaurant as part of your stack, you need to know if one is going to significantly delay the other.
What kind of food are you delivering? How well does it carry? Does even a few minutes delay due to multiple deliveries reduce the quality? I remember one 100 degree day when I had a stacked order from an ice cream place. The customers were several miles away, in different directions. The owner was very appreciative that I declined the second order, she didn't want to get a complaint from the second customer that their ice cream was essentially luke warm soup by the time it arrived.
What is the likely status of the food?
This too goes back to knowing the restaurant.
Is the food going to be ready when you pick up? Did both orders get in to the restaurant at the same time? Is one order ready and the other is going to take a long time? If you're working with multiple restaurants, is one likely to be ready and the other isn't?
After awhile, you get a feel for which restaurants are ready for you and which ones aren't. Some places can be super slow during less busy times but spot on during the dinner rush (and others can be just the opposite). You also want to get a feel for how it works with the particular application. For instance, when things are busy most restaurants have the food ready when I'm on Grubhub, but in slow times I'm getting the order the same time that Grubhub gets it. So on Grubhub, I might be more likely to take a stacked order from a Poke restaurant than from a pizza place.
The other thing to think about is, how likely is the order to be late? The good news is, the food may likely be ready. The bad news is, if it's late and the customer is already unhappy, now they are watching you go somewhere else first. This can especially be an issue if you care about your customer rating on platforms like Doordash (or if your ability to continue delivering is contingent on said customer rating).
Where are the diners?
More important, where are the diners located in relationship to one another?
Is delivering to one going to significantly delay getting food to the other?
The obvious scenario is if the diners are several miles in opposite directions from one another. In most cases that just doesn't make sense. In my experience, Grubhub is the absolute worst at this. It seems like their computer just says hey, it's the same restaurant, it doesn't matter if the customers are nowhere near close to each other. Every once in awhile I'll see Uber Eats get a little wonky this way as well.
Sometimes, I'll go ahead and take something that is in different directions if the conditions are right. I pay attention more to time than distance in that instance. If it's a quick easy drive a mile or so one direction where I can go out and back in just a couple miles, I might go ahead and take it.
The other question is, is one of the diners in a place that can slow you down? Are they in an apartment complex that is usually time consuming coming in and out? Is there bad traffic between one drop off and the next? Think about if there's anything about taking one delivery that would slow you down a lot on the other. With Grubhub and Doordash, you can choose which one you would deliver to first. Uber Eats and Postmates give you less flexibility, but if you know one location would be slower than the other, maybe save that one for last if possible.
What does the 40 Cent Rule say about the second delivery?
Sometimes these companies like to sneak one in on you. Say you get a double delivery offer for $20. It looks like it makes sense so you take it. Then when you examine the orders, one didn't tip and you're only making a couple bucks for that leg of the delivery. Or you've accepted one and you're getting an offer for a second that's only paying a few dollars.
Is there a time when running both deliveries just doesn't make sense? Here's where I use the 40 cent rule. A delivery has to pay 40 cents a minute (more recently under COVID-19, I've bumped that to 50 cents per minute) for me to consider taking.
What I do is try to estimate how much extra time it's going to take for that second delivery and how much it will pay. Is it going to take extra time to wait for or pick up that second delivery? Do I have to go out of my way at all to deliver it? How long will it take to get the food to the customer?
For me, sometimes I find it's still okay to take the $3 delivery as an add on. I know a lot of people who won't do that out of principle, and I understand that. But if it's the same restaurant, the food's ready, the delivery is right on the way to the second, the only thing it's taking me is the time to stop, run it up to the door and go back to my car. A five minute add on at $2 is still paying me 40 cents a min, at $3 it's 60 cents a minute ($36 per hour).
Is it possible or better to run one at a time?
This is a question that comes up when one order is ready at the restaurant and the second is still several minutes out. If I can run the first order out, get it delivered, and then scoot back and be there when the second order is ready, I'll do that.
What that does is keep the first diner from waiting longer than they should have to. It also allows you to finish things up a few minutes earlier. There have been times where I went back and forth on whether to do that because I didn't want to drive more than I had to. But sometimes when the diner for the first order is close, it just makes sense. Personally, I'm the kind that prefers to keep moving.
The decision is yours
Remember this running theme from this site and from my popcast:
You're the boss.
That goes with being an independent contractor. It's up to you, not the delivery apps. In fact, you are often better able to make decisions about what's best for the diner than Grubhub, Doordash or Uber Eats. Just because they offer more than one delivery does not mean it's the best thing to do, for you or for the diner.
But here's the other thing: Just because a delivery is more profitable when it's stacked, that doesn't always mean it's the best thing for you to do. Remember that you have a responsibility to provide the best experience possible to the diners you deliver to.
You don't have to dwell on each of these questions, obviously. You only have seconds to make a decision. But if you have a good set of principles in place, it will help you make good decisions on whether accepting more than one delivery at a time makes sense.