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Can I Make Enough Delivering Only for Doordash? (FAQ Series)

Quick Reference: Tax and PPP help.

In a time where working multiple delivery platforms is a thing, can I make enough money if I choose delivering only for Doordash? When does it make sense to go with multiple options? When does it make sense to choose just one?

Can I make enough delivering only for Doordash? There is no universal answer to that question. For some it's a definite yes. I know people clearing well over $20 per hour delivering only Doordash. Likewise, there are some not even earning at a minimum wage rate once expenses are factored in.

Can I make enough deliverin ONLY for Doordash?
Can I make enough deliverin ONLY for Doordash?

To try to answer that question, let's ask the following questions:

  • How much IS enough?
  • What do you really make delivering for Doordash?
  • How busy is Doordash in your market?
  • Is Doordash the best option in your market?
  • What are the advantages of delivering ONLY for Doordash?
  • What are the advantages of working multiple apps?
  • What happens when you CAN'T deliver for Doordash?

Then, I'll wrap up with some of my personal experience trying it out.

The answer to the question of if Doordash pays enough when you deliver for them only is going to vary for everyone, to different degrees. I can't answer the question for you. But by asking these questions, maybe it will help you make a decision.

How much IS enough?

How much money is enough when delivering for Doordash?
How much money is enough when delivering for Doordash?

Do you have an idea what you need to make this worthwhile?

It's impossible to answer ‘is it enough?' without knowing what enough really is.

Delivering for Doordash is essentially running a business, since you signed on as an independent contractor. Looking at how you're doing through the lens of a business can be different than looking at an employee.

For one thing, you don't make as much as you think. We'll get into that with the next question.

Are you thinking full time delivery? You may want to factor in things like paid time off or any other benefits that you are giving up.

Or is this a side hustle where you're doing this for extra money? Do you have a goal for that money? How much time are you willing to put into the pursuit of that goal?

Some thoughts on figuring out what enough is.

Set a goal. Decide what you want to get out of this.

You can listen to Episode 6 of the Deliver on Your Business podcast or read the associated blog post to get more into setting goals.

One thing I would really encourage you to do: Frame your goals around time. I say that because there's only so much time in a day. Whether you do this full time or part time, there's only so much time that is practical to go out and dash.

I also say that because there's value in having life outside delivery.

Set your goal and decide how much time you want to put into achieving that goal. Break that down into an hourly amount.

An hourly amount will help you evaluate a lot of things. You can compare it more easily to other opportunities (is it better to flip burgers? or take on some other job?). It also helps you evaluate how you are doing throughout the day, the week, or the month.

What do you really make delivering for Doordash?

It's not about the money coming in, it's about the profit that's left after the expenses
It's not about the money coming in, it's about the profit that's left after the expenses

Let's go back to this fact about delivering for Doordash:

This is a business. Whether it feels like it or not, your contract states that you're doing this as a business. You are taxed like you are running a business.

Because this is a business, it's not as simple as “what Doordash is paying me is what I'm making.” That's because it's costing you money to do this.

When you run a business, what you are making is your profit. In other words, it's what is left over after your expenses.

Here's the thing you have to keep in mind. It costs anywhere between 25 cents and 60 cents for every mile for you to use your car. We don't think it does, because most of those costs don't come out of our pocket immediately. I call it a credit card on wheels because it's like you're piling a debt on that you'll pay later with the big ticket repairs or when your car sells for less due to those miles.

When asking if delivering for Doordash only is paying enough, make sure that your enough factors in what it costs to run your business.

I mentioned measuring your ‘enough' by time. I suggest you go a bit further: Measure it in profit per hour. Figure out your actual cost of running your car and then factor that into your profit per hour, which you can read more about here.

How busy is Doordash in your market?

One of the biggest reasons that I can't give a good answer across the board is that delivering for Doordash here in Denver, where I am, is going to be different than where you are.

Heck, it can vary even based on what part of town you are.

Here's an example with another provider. I track all my deliveries, so I know my profit per hour for each delivery company I deliver for. For awhile, my profit per hour was highest for Postmates deliveries. However, Postmates was incredibly slow here. I made more while on deliveries, but there would be long waits in between offers. It wouldn't have made sense to go exclusively with Postmates.

What's Doordash like where you are? Are the orders constant? Are there long waits in between? Do they have to frequently offer peak pay or other bonuses to get enough drivers out there?

The busier they are, the more selective you can be. You'll be on deliveries a greater percent of your time. If they don't have that much business, it's going to be hard to stay busy enough.

Is Doordash the best option in your market?

What do I mean by best?

That doesn't matter. What do YOU mean by best?

For me, Doordash is about second or third on the list as far as profitability. Delivery fees are higher on some others. That said, Doordash is a lot busier right now than the others.

Best could have as much to do with how easy it is to deliver for them as it does money. Some apps seem to create more stress. Some pay well but make you drive a TON of miles for that pay.

What are the advantages of delivering ONLY for Doordash?

What are the pros and cons of delivering only for Doordash
What are the pros and cons of delivering only for Doordash

I just mentioned creating stress.

There is something to be said for simplicity.

I say that as someone who often works multiple apps. It can be a pain dealing with all the pings and offers from several apps. Trying to measure whether an offer from someone else fits in with where you drop off a delivery can be tough.

The times where I shut everything else off and just focus on offers from one platform often are more enjoyable. Peaceful.

When you focus on one app, you get a better feel for what to expect of customers and restaurants for that app. I've noticed that speed of order preparation varies at the same restaurant based on which app it is for.

Working only one app keeps you at less risk of running afoul of the delivery platform. Lately there have been a lot of deactivations, and it often seems to be tied to delayed or late deliveries.

What are the advantages of working multiple apps?

For me, I've found that the main advantages are profitability and efficiency.

When I can turn on several apps at once, I have more deliveries to choose from. It's easier for me to find shorter and more efficient deliveries.

You can have shorter waits between deliveries. This of course goes back to the question: how busy is Doordash in your area? When Doordash is just rapid fire with their delivery offers, this isn't as much an issue. If you have several minutes between offers, you feel more pressured to take crappy deliveries.

What happens when you CAN'T deliver for Doordash?

Two instances come to mind.

The Doordash app is crap. App crashes are a regular experience for Dashers. What are your options when Doordash goes down completely?

Doordash seems to have been on a deactivation kick lately. Drivers are being kicked off the platform left and right. Some of it, maybe most of it, is justified.

One disadvantage of delivering only for Doordash can be if you're no longer able to do so
One disadvantage of delivering only for Doordash can be if you're no longer able to do so

But there are times where Dashers lose their ability to deliver for things outside their control. Customers lie about not getting their food in order to get their money back. Situations outside a Dasher's control can make them late on deliveries. Mixups with suppport can create situations.

When Doordash is your only option and something like this happens, you're screwed.

That doesn't mean you can't deliver primarily with Doordash or nearly exclusively with Doordash. I do recommend you at least get on with other delivery partners so that you have a backup. Take a few deliveries now and then to keep the account active.

Can I make enough delivering only for Doordash?

Part of what prompted this question has been an experiment I decided to try.

I've delivered exclusively for Uber Eats at times. I've done the same with Grubhub. I've done well enough with both of those.

I have always had the impression that Doordash doesn't pay well enough consistently enough. I tend to mix in the better paying Doordash deliveries, but there was way too much crap for me to ever want to commit.

I've recently started doing a lot more e-Bike deliveries. Doordash has been by far the best platform for doing that. They dispatch well when you're on a bike. The deliveries themselves don't pay much but I can do them very quickly. In fact, I started making more per hour on my bike than I was on my car (especially after factoring in expenses).

I decided to re-think how I look at Doordash. I changed some of my criteria a bit and focused on areas that have shorter and faster deliveries. This week is the first of a two or three week experiment to see how I do focusing only on Doordash.

Here's my experience so far: I'm making a little less per hour than what I have been making. But not a lot.

It's still enough. My hourly earnings are still good. Just not as good as I had been when working the other apps.

But I'm also more relaxed. There's something nice about not juggling offers from several others.

I'll give it some time and mix in some more bike sessions and see how it goes. I probably wouldn't make the switch permanently, but it's been better than I thought it would be.

Can YOU make enough delivering only for Doordash?

Do you already deliver exclusively for Doordash? Have you thought about it?

I won't tell you that you SHOULD do it or that you SHOULDN'T. I look at my experience and at times, feel like I'm leaving money on the table. Other times I think the simplicity is worth it.

It really depends on how all those factors add up for you.

What do you do right now? What makes sense for you? Let me know in the comments.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

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Brent Taylor

Friday 9th of October 2020

You hit on the issue. Stress. Maybe if I practiced more doing two apps at once, with experience it might get easier. And this word "enough." Fact is, for me, money is not the only objective in delivering. Fairly certain if it were, this is not what I'd be doing. Because after expenses, other, easier things would be more profitable. But I like driving around in my car, getting out and, frankly this has long been the case, delivering stuff. Looking back 63 years, mixed with other, nobler things I felt I should try to be doing with my life, delivery has always been the best thing -- since being a kid walking the route delivering mail with the postman through being a newspaper carrier morphed into circulation manager with what (at my walking away) were simultaneously our two major Denver newspapers. And food delivery. Hmmm... do miss the middle of the night hours, fresh snow, sunrises. And delivery is time alone. Even away from the house.

Anyway, I do just Doordash and tinker occasionally (to stay on the rolls) with UberEats. I also firmly believe (as I think you are finding with your bicycle) that the algorithm works with when you work with it.

Wednesday 14th of October 2020

You raise an interesting point about the algorithm working with you. I do notice on all three platforms that there are times where you can just get into a rhythm. You take an offer and then all of a sudden there are several in a row that all fit together. Generally that happens more in the busier times. The one that's interesting though is on Grubhub, where you turn one down and all of a sudden, everything they send you is ten miles for three bucks, and it's hard to get back into that rhythm.

That said, I've also had plenty of times where you take a crappy order thinking okay, they'll take care of me, right? That rarely happens.

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