Is multi apping (working multiple delivery platforms at the same time) a good idea right now when delivering for Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats, and Postmates? Is it a necessity? When should you fire up more than one platform? When should you focus on just one? Who are the best apps for multi-apping?
The only thing right now that seems to be consistent in delivery these days is the inconsistency. Some places, things are booming and couriers are making great money. In other places, it's totally dried up.
This has been a good month personally. Really good – I'm making as much doing 22-24 hours a week as I was doing 35-40 prior to the pandemic. But I'm noticing a greater inconsistency with the individual apps. And the thing is, things are about to slow down, maybe a lot. Things are opening up and people are tired of delivery, people are running out of money, and we're getting into summer when things really slow down.
Is delivery slowing down?
I am hearing from a lot of people that things seem to be cooling off for them. That seems to be market by market. I've managed to stay pretty busy in the Denver market, but I'm definitely noticing changes.
Grubhub and Doordash have been pretty steady until recently. With Grubhub in particular, if you were on a schedule you were pretty sure to keep receiving offers. I'm starting to notice a lot more dry spots, where it can be ten to twenty minutes or longer that I'm not receiving any offers.
Related: Seven questions to ask before accepting multiple deliveries
Here's one big sign of change with Doordash: Grey zones have returned. If you're not familiar with Doordash, when you log into the app, you get a color coded map of your region. Zones that are very busy show up as a darker pink or red. Zones that have all the drivers needed show up in grey and you are unable to go available in those particular zones. For awhile, Doordash had removed the restrictions (at least in my market, and as I have heard, in several other markets). It was possible to log into any zone at any time. To me, it was a sign that deliveries were so busy that Doordash gave up any thought of controlling how many drivers are logged in.
Lately, the grey zones have returned. I'll say that one thing I always thought Doordash did well was they were maybe better than anyone at trying to avoid over-saturating the market with drivers. I think things got so busy that they had to kind of scrap those efforts, but the return of the grey zones tells me that maybe things are starting to slow down.
And then there are the app issues
Doordash has remained true to their “Doorcrash” reputation, with regular and frequent outages. I'm a little amazed that they haven't lost more business than they have as a result of all these outages. You know it's getting bad when Dashers are advising the best thing to do is to avoid driving during the absolute busiest times. What that means is that when Doordash needs drivers the most, that's when it's hardest to get people to log in. Too many people have been burned too many times by outages.
I've been seeing more glitches than usual on Grubhub and Uber Eats as well. Usually with Uber Eats the worst thing is that sometimes the payment information for past deliveries won't update for sometimes several hours. However, lately I've had a couple of times where the entire customer information wasn't showing up, the customer name was showing up incorrectly, and the options to contact the customer disappeared. Right away it's time to log off.
The bottom line is, I don't think any of these platforms were prepared for the volume of orders. Especially not Doordash, who already has far outgrown the ability of their app to function properly. So while more business is good, it's not good if it means you can't take orders due to the app malfunctions.
The common denominator I see when people are impacted by these issues:
There are times when I see the things people post in forums or on twitter about everything being slow. My first thought is, man, I'm glad I'm not delivering in that market.
But then I find out some of them ARE in my market. What's up with that??? Is the universe against them and not against me? I KNOW I'm not a favorite son with any of these apps, not when my acceptance rate is below the Mendoza line (you have to be a baseball fan to get that reference).
Here's the thing: For two years now, my income has been steady. The only exception has been since this pandemic has started, and the times I do deliver now I'm actually making a lot more. My hourly profits don't drop much in the summer or other slow times.
Am I just lucky or is there something else?
The thing I've noticed is that the ones who seem to be the most impacted by slow times or app crashes or changes are people who work with only one app.
One of the most common fatal mistakes for a business:
This is almost universal, that one of the worst things you can do as a business is rely too much on one customer. If anything happens to that relationship, you're screwed.
You have to remember, you're running a business. Doordash and Grubhub and Uber Eats MADE THAT CHOICE when they insisted on using independent contractors. That's why I have this site – to encourage people to embrace that business owner role. And the thing is, THOSE COMPANIES are your customers. They are the ones who you contract with, they are the ones who send the payments to you.
When we rely solely on Doordash, or on Grubhub, or Uber Eats or Postmates or whomever, we leave ourselves more vulnerable to the ebbs and flows that go with when they have issues.
How many drivers have been deactivated from Doordash because customers lie about not getting their food? How many Grubhub contractors lose their schedule access for some violation they didn't realize they committed?
Whether it's slow periods, app crashes, or improper deactivations for things outside your cotnrol, if you are relying only on one app, you set yourself up for the wild swings and slow periods.
Three Stages of Multi App Mastery
My experience has been that it's best to ease your way into working with multiple apps.
I have one rule that is very important to me when it comes to multi-apping: I feel strongly that once we accept a delivery, we've made a commitment to providing the best possible delivery experience. Working with a second or third app should not interfere with that commitment.
We do NOT have a commitment to stay loyal to a particular app. In fact, each of these platforms has created the environment where we are businesses, not employees. And it's an environment that has nothing in the agreement that ties us to one platform.
I think you can ease into delivering by doing it in stages.
Stage 1: Get familiar with each of the apps.
If you're only on one app, get signed up with another. If there are bonuses that you get for so many deliveries, then work that app exclusively to get the bonuses. The main thing you want to do when you add an app to your quiver is get to know that app. The best way to do that is dedicate blocks of time to just that app. If you're a Grubhub driver and you add Uber Eats, dedicate blocks of time to only Uber Eats. Focus heavily on Uber Eats until you know it well.
Each app has its own idiosyncrasies. Each platform does things just differently enough. They dispatch differently. They have different customers. Some rely more on having you place orders. They look differently enough on offer screens. You want to get to know as much as you can about how they work. Try to get a feel for the patterns and how they interact with the restaurants. It's a lot easier doing that when you are dedicating time to that particular app. But once you know an app well enough, that will make you better prepared to move to the next stage. You get a feel for things like, when you turn down an order from Grubhub, it's usually two minutes until the next offer comes in, while with Doordash they can sometimes do rapid fire offers to an annoying extent.
Stage 2: Begin toggle-on/toggle-off multi apping.
Only after you're very familiar with how a second app works should you try to work it at the same time as your primary. The same goes for adding a third app or fourth.
The best way I can suggest is choose one app as your primary. That's the one you're going to give priority to. When there's a gap, or things are slowing down, turn on your second app. At that point, you evaluate any offers that come in from either app. The first one that you find to be acceptable, you take it and you turn off the other app.
Some apps like Grubhub, you can't just turn off if you are on a scheduled block. You may have to just commit to rejecting everything that comes in until your delivery on the platform is over. The thing is, at this stage, once you've committed to an offer on one, you do not consider any offer from the other until you are done or close to done. Then you can start evaluating offers from both.
Remember the rule I mentioned above – don't let a delivery offer interfere with your commitment to what you've accepted.
Get comfortable with how different platforms work together.
Play around. Get to know how well one platform works with the other when in your toggle on and toggle off mode. This is an extension of getting to know the platforms in Stage 1. Focus on just two apps, and only those two apps, until you get comfortable with how they work together. Once you are very comfortable, you can possibly incorporate a third.
Phase 3: Slowly add in stacked, mixed deliveries.
You'll notice that sometimes you get two deliveries that are going the same direction. Once you've become very familiar with how apps work together, you can start slowly working your way into stacking offers from different platforms.
Do this carefully. This is where you can really screw up one delivery by taking a second. Your commitment to the first delivery you take is sort of your prime directive. Only take a second delivery if you're comfortable that it won't significantly delay the first one you took.
I started off with a different sort of combo. If I was on a long wait for a high paying delivery, I started turning on other apps and looking for a short filler. If something came in that I was very confident I could complete before the food was ready for the original offer, I'd go for it.
Eventually you'll start finding a couple of deliveries that are originating and ending in similar locations.
When do you decide to take both at once?
This is why I recommend such a slow approach. If you want to really make this work, you have to really know your market and you have to know the restaurants. For example, there are some restaurants where I know they'll have the order ready on an Uber Eats offer but there's a high chance I'll have to wait on Grubhub. You get a feel for when things will be ready and when you have to wait. Do not take one offer that requires you to wait if it's going to delay your ability to complete the other delivery.
I'll tell you that things aren't always perfect for me. Sometimes I'll mis judge where I'm going or sometimes a restaurant is slower than I expected. Sometimes I have to drop the order that's delayed (even if it's the higher paying one), knowing that another courier can get that order and still get it to the customer in time. That allows me to keep my commitment to the other customer.
You'll make mistakes. That's the hazard of multi-apping. Over time though you'll learn from them and find yourself becoming incredibly efficient.
Pros and cons of multi-apping on the main four platforms.
Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses. There are challenges and issues, and there are some good ways they fit together.
Ultimately, the important thing is for you to get to know how each works. That's because some things that present a challenge for me may not feel like an issue to you, and vice versa. Heres' a brief overview of the pros and cons that I find with each.
Grubhub provide a good map to where you're going, and you can pull up address information as soon as you've accepted (usually, anyway, when they're not playing games). This makes it easier to evaluate offers.
It's harder to log in and out, especially if you schedule yourself on a time block. Grubhub frowns on logging out. Multi-apping means committing to being okay with rejecting a lot of offers when delivering for someone else.
Grubhub's dispatching can be a blessing and a curse. The good news is they pace their offers about 2 minutes apart from one another. That sometimes makes it more manageable evaluating offers. They tend to offer to further away restaurants than the others which can be a pain. However, it also increases the likelihood that they'll send me an offer that's close to where I'm dropping off an existing delivery. The last issue with dispatching is their inconsistency with sending you to restaurants LONG before the food is ready.
Doordash provides some of the best pre-acceptance information out there, especially if you have their floating widget. You can actually find the address to the drop off, not just a point on the map, before accepting. That's huge.
Doordash can be rapid fire when sending offers. The moment you reject one, another is blaring at you. That can be good in giving you more offers, but sometimes makes it harder to evaluate whatever is coming in from anyone else.
The smaller zones that Doordash uses can be a problem. With everyone else you can go anywhere and be fine. If you take a delivery on another platform that takes you out of the zone you're logged into with Doordash, you either have to double back once dropped off, OR log out of the zone you were in and log in somewhere else. That's not always possible. On the flip side, you have the ability to pause your Doordash deliveries.
One of the biggest things in Uber Eats's favor is the flexibility in logging in and out. You can just choose to go available or unavailable whenever and wherever you want. This makes it a great fit because it's easier than the first two to just toggle on and toggle off.
In my market, Uber Eats is far more consistent at sending me to a restaurant when the food is ready. I wait far less on UE orders than anyone else. That's critical when juggling with orders from other apps.
For the longest time they were a non-player for me in multi-apping because I didn't know where deliveries were going. They've changed that, actually providing better information than Grubhub or Postmates (and in some instances, Doordash) on the offer screen. Unfortunately, once accepted I can't pull up the customer address. That's only available once I've picked the food up. That makes it hard to evaluate other delivery offers.
Postmates is dead to me.
Maybe that's a little overboard. There is one major issue with Postmates that right now keeps me from delivering anything for them. They have a tendency to just add deliveries to your queue without giving you the chance to accept or reject the addition. They just add it. It's a major breach of the independent contractor relationship and it really makes it hard to work with other apps. You can accept another delivery based on where your Postmates delivery is going, but what happens if they add another? It's just screwed things up for me so often that I'm done with them.
In their favor I do like the flexibility they offer. They're a lot like Uber Eats, where you can just log in and out on the fly. They are also like Uber Eats where you couldn't pull up the customers address until you picked up. The flexibility though made them a good multi-app option up until they started the unauthorized additions to the delivery schedule.
Who is the best app when it comes to multi-apping?
I'm not sure there is a best app. I think it's mixed. There are some good things and some issues with each. If you're in a zone where it's hard to get scheduled on Doordash and Grubhub, those two might not blend well together. Uber Eats has definitely improved, though there's still a couple issues that stand out.
That said, it's not exactly like any of these platforms is motivated to make multi-apping work better. They kinda want to keep you on their delivery. I've seen enough horror stories where someone took deliveries for two apps that went opposite directions, so I don't blame these companies.
The bottom line is, remember your commitment. When you take a delivery, commit to it. Only look at other apps if you can do something without interfering to what you've already committed to. Remember that your commitment only begins and ends with the delivery itself.
That said, start spreading your wings. I've found that multi apping keeps me able to earn when things slow down with any one platform. Uber Eats might get too many drivers in their market for a bit, and that's a good time to get on Grubhub or Doordash. Don't rely on one customer so heavily that a slow time or app crash or even a deactivation derails your aiblity to keep earning.