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Doordash Top Dasher Controversy: Does your Acceptance Rate Really Matter?

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Doordash Top Dasher.

If you want to start a controversy among Doordash delivery drivers, just ask if Top Dasher is worth it. I don't know if anything gets as many strong opinions on BOTH sides of the discussion as that.

What's the deal with Top Dasher status? What is it all about and why do people either love or hate it so much?

I'm not going to get emotional or angry here. I want to take an objective look at what it is, what are the benefits and requirements of achieving Top Dasher, and then examine whether it's worth pursuing.

Here's my take in a nutshell. Sometimes it's worth it. Sometimes it's not. That's my opinion. The thing is, my opinion isn't really that important. What I want to do is examine the pros and cons and let you decide for yourself: Is Top Dasher worth it?

Hang with me as we talk about:

  • What is Top Dasher?
  • What are the Top Dasher requirements?
  • Are there benefits?
  • Is Top Dasher worth it?
  • Frequently asked questions about Doordash Top Dasher

Doordash Top Dasher requirements illustrated by a Top Dasher trophy being held out like a carrot on a stick, with a Dasher reaching for the trophy.

What is Top Dasher?

The Doordash Top Dasher program is an incentive program for their independent contractors. It's intended to encourage Doordash drivers to perform well, according to Doordash's idea of performing well.

Here's how Doordash describes it:

The Top Dasher program is our way of recognizing and rewarding the best Dashers! Qualifying Dashers will receive special benefits to recognize their drive to go above and beyond for DoorDash customers.

DoorDash's answer to “What is the Top Dasher Program?”

Here's where I disagree with DoorDash. This isn't about recognition. Maybe I'm jaded, but Doordash doesn't care about any kind of reward program. They don't offer anything unless something's in it for them. It's about incentive.

My experience is, Doordash doesn't care about doing something just because it's the best thing to do for their contractors. They need to get you to do certain things for them.

Why is this important? We're independent contractors. Doordash chose to use the independent contractor model rather than hiring employees. It's much cheaper this way. Howver, there's a problem when working with the gig economy like this.

Doordash cannot require you to accept deliveries. They cannot require you meet a certain acceptance rate of the delivery offers they send through the Dasher app. It's illegal for a company to control the work you do as an independent contractor.

You're your own boss. If they start requiring certain things, they can be sued for misclassification of employees. That would be a huge blow to their business model.

They can't require you to accept offers. The best way to get contractors out there is offering incentives. And that's what Top Dasher is all about. It's not much different than other incentive programs like Uber Eats Pro and Grubhub premier, partner and pro program levels.

What are the Top Dasher requirements?

If you meet a certain number of performance standards as of 11:59 PM local time on the last day of the month, you have met the Top Dasher requirements.

Doordash tracks a number of things. I will give them a lot of credit for their transparency here. Doordash is the best I've seen at being up front about things like this. On the Doordash delivery app, you can tap the menu bar and select the Ratings option. On that page you can see your status on all but one of the top dasher requirements.

Here are the requirements Doordash has for Top Dasher (as of the writing of this article in May, 2021).

  • Customer rating of at least 4.7
  • Acceptance rate of at least 70%
  • Completion rate of at least 95%
  • 100 completed deliveries during the last month
  • At least 200 lifetime deliveries completed.

Understand that Doordash may change the requirements of the Top Dasher program at any time. To my knowledge, I've only ever seen one change in the requirements. When the program was introduced in the fall of 2019, the 70% acceptance rate requirement wasn't part of the criteria. That was added in November, 2019.

Breaking down Doordash's Top Dasher requirements.

As I said, I like that Doordash is pretty clear about what they require. That said, there's a bit of confusion as to how these ratings work, so I want to clear some of that up.

Doordash bases their ratings on the last 100 events. The first three criteria are averages but it's easier to understand if you look at it this way: How many times did it happen out of the last 100 times?

Requirements being checked off with a green highlighter.

Customer rating of at least 4.7.

A Doordash Customer can rate your delivery, on a 1 to 5 scale. The last time I ordered from Doordash, they asked me two simple questions: How was the food? How was the delivery? (I'm not 100% sure this is the exact wording).

It's the question about the delivery that matters here.

Doordash will take the last 100 ratings you received and calculate an average rating. It's really pretty easy to figure out: Add up the last 100 ratings and divide by 100. If your last 100 ratings added up to 470, your average rating is 4.7. If you haven't received 100 ratings yet, the total number is divided by the number of ratings you did receive.

In my experience, customer rating is the one metric that moves the most slowly. A lot of customers don't go back into the app to rate you.

Acceptance rate of 70%

This is the controversial one.

What this means is you have to have accepted 70 or more of the last 100 delivery offers Doordash sent to you.

What is an acceptance? It's pretty simple. When an offer comes in, how many times do you hit the accept?

When Doordash sends you a delivery offer, and you hit the Accept button at the bottom of the screen, you accepted. It's as simple as that. If you did that 70 or more times in the last 100 offers you received, you've met the requirement.

Why is this so controversial? There are a lot of Dashers out there who believe that Dashers should reject more offers than they accept. A group that calls themselves #DeclineNow is adamant that high acceptance rates allow Doordash to continue offering low delivery fees.

If you want to be called all sorts of names, go into a Doordash forums or Facebook groups and tell them you have a high acceptance rate.

I won't tell you whether you should or should not accept offers. Later on we'll talk about how you can determine if it's the best strategy for you.

Completion rate of at least 95%

Some people confuse completion rate and acceptance rate.

Here's what completion rate means: Out of the last 100 deliveries that you accepted, how many did you complete the delivery?

There are times where you may choose to back out of a delivery you accepted. Maybe you hit the accept button by accident. Perhaps you discover that the wait at certain local restaurants is far too long to be profitable. You have the option to change your mind.

However, if you do that too often, you miss the top Dasher requirement. You need to complete 95 out of the last 100 deliveries to qualify for Top Dasher.

Completed deliveries

You have to have completed 100 deliveries in the last month, or 200 deliveries lifetime.

For most Dashers, that comes out to about 40 to 50 hours worth of delivery in a month or ten to fifteen hours per week. It's not a difficult amount to reach but still requires a time commitment.

The 200 lifetime deliveries seems to focus on rewarding a more experienced Dasher.

What are the benefits of meeting Top Dasher Requirements?

Blue puzzle pieces put together in a way that Benefits is spelled out.

Doordash lists two benefits as of this writing.

  • Dash Anytime
  • More Deliveries

I question whether the second is really a thing. I'll get to that in a moment. However, the Dash Anytime can be significant depending on your area.

Here's how it works. With Doordash, you have to lot in to a delivery zone. Doordash puts a cap on many Dashers can be logged into a zone at any given time. If there are too many couriers logged in, you are unable to go available in that particular zone.

However, as a Top Dasher, you can “Dash Now” in any zone at any time. This gives you the freedom to log into any zone on the fly, as opposed to having to schedule or to wait for a driver slot to come open.

If you are in a busy market where the number of Dashers trying to get on outnumbers the available slots in peak times, this is a great way to ensure you can deliver any time.

On to the More Deliveries promise. Here's what Doordash says about it:

When things are slower, you will be prioritized for new orders. That means that if we have two nearby Dashers who can take on an order, we will break the tie in your favor.

Doordash on What rewards do I get from being a part of the program?

I've noticed a lot of people take this to say more than it does. Many will tell you it means you get the better orders. Doordash never promises that. (note – keep reading below – they just made a liar out of me!) All they say is that if all things are equal on any given order between two available Dashers, they'll ‘break the tie' in the Top Dasher's favor.

That could be on a $3 delivery or a $23 delivery.

And then…. Doordash updates the Top Dasher benefit.

I haven't even had the chance to publish this article and Doordash does their first update in a year and a half. They must have been reading my mind.

Updated Doordash Top Dasher Requirement note that popped up in the Dasher app promising "Top Dasher will now give you priority access to high-value orders (customer orders of $35+), helping you get up to 50% more of these delivery opportunities on average."
Screenshot of message that popped up in my Doordash app on May 5, 2021.

Doordash is now promising more access to high dollar orders for Top Dashers.

Is it a real perk? Or a carrot on a stick?

Here's what Doordash has to say on the link in the message:

This new Top Dasher perk will prioritize nearby Top Dashers for high-value orders (those with subtotal value above $35). This means that if we have two nearby Dashers who can take on a high-value order, we will break the tie in favor of the Dasher with Top Dasher status.  This not only benefits Top Dashers, but merchants and customers as well, as high-value orders are typically larger and more complex, and Top Dashers are some of our highest-quality, most reliable, and most experienced Dashers.

Doordash answering the question “How will the new perk work?”

Just when I said “Doordash never promises that.” I should erase what I just said, but leaving it in there illustrates how things have been up til this point. It also points out that things can change. The headline for the page on the Doordash support site that announces this? “New Top Dasher Perk in Select Cities for May 2021.”

What the description says is that if there's a tie between Top Dasher and another delivery driver on a high dollar order, tie goes to the Top Dasher.

Is Top Dasher worth it?

I'm not going to tell you here if Top Dasher is worth it for you. Neither will I tell you that it's never worth it. That's because there are too many variables involved here.

Anytime you want to evaluate if something is worth it, you have to weigh two things: What is the cost, and what are the real benefits? Is the benefit worth the cost?

weighing benefits against costs illustrated by a scale, with Benefits as a large ball bearing and cost as a smaller bearing.

What I can do here is explore what it costs, talk about what the benefits are, and then you have to make the decision for yourself.

Here's what I can tell you from my experience: I have been Top Dasher at times. There are a lot of times I've not been. I like being able to Dash Now at any time. However, most times I don't find that ability to be so worth it that Top Dasher is a priority for me.

Would I think of it differently in different markets? Maybe. I cannot tell you what it means in any particular market without knowing what it's like to find available delivery times, or without knowing the other delivery alternatives in a given market.

In order to determine whether it's worth it, you need to understand that Top Dasher requirements have a cost to them. You need to understand that cost. Then you need to make the decision for yourself of whether the cost is worth it.

What do I mean of the cost of the requirements?

When Doordash originally announced the program, I felt like all of the requirements were reasonable. I have no problem with a 4.7 customer rating. I think that's easily achievable in most cases.

The 95% completion rate is a bit more of a challenge but it's not unreasonable. I feel like once you have accepted a delivery offer, you've made a commitment. All this means is that you should be that much more thoughtful about which deliveries you accept.

When they added the 70% acceptance rate to the Top Dasher requirements, that's when things changed for me. In my experience, it's not worth it to accept 70% of delivery offers.

Your experience may be different.

Here's the important thing to keep in mind as an independent contractor. You are providing a service for Doordash as a business, not as an employee. That makes Doordash your customer, rather than your boss.

Think of it like running a store. Someone can walk in and offer any price for whatever you are selling. Does it make sense to accept everything someone offers? That's your decision to make.

That's how it works with accepting or rejecting delivery offers from Doordash. Each delivery they send to you via the Doordash driver app is an offer for your time. I look at it like every offer is a business decision. Your time has value. Is what you're being offered worth that value?

How an acceptance rate becomes a matter of cost.

Let's go back to what I said about running a business with Doordash as my customer. Doordash is not my only customer. I have many others, including Uber Eats, Grubhub, and a number of smaller delivery services.

I don't have enough time to accept every offer that all of them can give me. So I have to be selective.

I also have not made any commitment to accept offers exclusively from anyone.

That means that every time I complete a delivery, I'm a free agent. I'm open to taking a delivery offer from anyone. It's about the bottom line, how it all adds up, no matter which delivery company it is.

There are times it makes perfect sense to just keep taking offers from one platform. If they're regularly feeding me deliveries that meet my price, it's easier to concentrate on just that delivery company than to try and work multiple applications

And that's where you evaluate the cost of taking every offer or most offers from any one delivery company. Here are the cost related questions I ask myself:

What does it cost me to accept a given delivery? For me, my time is worth 50 cents a minute. My car costs about 30 cents a mile to operate. Does that delivery pay enough for my time?

What's my opportunity cost for taking a delivery from Doordash? In other words, would I have likely earned more by taking an offer from someone else?

What is the opportunity cost of taking 70% of deliveries, compared to 30% or 3%? Sometimes being more selective earns me several dollars more per hour, often $10 or more difference.

Next, ask yourself if the benefits are really benefits?

Let's start with ‘more deliveries.'

Does winning the tie breaker make extra money for you?

My experience has been that I've never noticed a difference in the deliveries I've been offered when I was Top Dasher. If there has been a difference it's been just the opposite.

This is a perk that can work against you as much or more than it works for you. Yes, if a good paying offer comes in and you win the tie-breaker with another Doordash Dasher because of your status, you get that delivery.

However, what about those not so great offers? A $3 base pay offer without any customer tips becomes available. Guess who won the tie and gets that offer? And if you're inclined to accept most of the offers that comes in, that's taken you out of the pool to receive better dollar value deliveries when they come along.

Ultimately, that one depends on how frequently the offers are better paying offers.

What about being able to Dash any time in any zone?

This one can have value, if you are in a highly competitive market where delivery zones don't open up very often.

Personally, I like to move around wherever deliveries take me, and not be confined to Doordash's smaller delivery zones. This can make the Dash Now feature very valuable. If I have to stay within that zone, it often means I have to double back if a delivery took me out of my zone. I'd rather just quickly log into the zone I dropped off in.

There are times that orders are slow enough that it's not an option if I'm not a Top Dasher. I find out the zone I just delivered in is greyed out. However, now that I logged out of my other zone, I lost my ability to deliver anywhere until I'm in a zone that opens up.

I'm in a market where it rarely takes more than a couple of minutes for a zone to open up again. For me, that's not AS critical as it might be where it's nearly impossible to get on and Dash without being scheduled into a zone.

I have noticed that sometimes even the ability to Dash Now at any time works against me. Things often seem much slower when I'm Top Dasher than when I'm not. Maybe that's perception, but I think there's a reason for it.

Say I log into a greyed out delivery zone. Think about it: It was grey for a reason. That meant there are more drivers logged in than are needed. By logging into that zone, I've made that “too many drivers” plus one. It's naturally going to take longer to get an offer because that zone is saturated.

Weighing the benefit against the cost

Because I look at the bigger picture, and because I know there are a lot of better delivery offers available than the first one that comes along, I see Top Dasher as being kind of expensive. My experience in my market is that the better Doordash delivery offers still tend to pay a little lower than what I can normally get from Uber Eats or Grubhub.

From my experience, that usually means Top Dasher isn't worth it for me. Why would I commit myself to more of the lower paying deliveries on the lower paying platform? I'm now making myself less likely to take deliveries on other food delivery apps that tend to pay better.

Okay, so what if you're in a market where Doordash is paying really well compared to others?

After all, there are places where Doordash is dominant. Sometimes they have great peak pay hours that really increase your total earnings. Or you know you'll stay busy with Doordash and not with others.

I think that in some markets, Top Dasher is worth more than in others. You may be in a market that really works.

But again, I think you have to weigh the cost of taking a higher percent of offers.

Here's what I see a lot of times with different food delivery services. Maybe I find I can usually make about $30 per hour on Doordash, and $25 per hour on any other platform. That would mean I'd want to protect the ability to deliver on Doordash at all costs, wouldn't I?

However, what if accepting 70% or more of your offers meant you're only making $20 per hour? That $20 per hour is your reality, not the $30 you were making. That's what I mean by opportunity cost.

Is money the only thing you should measure?

I think like anything else, the most important thing is the big picture.

Maybe you could make more money multi-apping. But what if you're miserable doing it? I think a lot of people can be too selective. They hold out for the big dollar deliveries, but wait twenty to thirty minutes between them. They're often making less than they think.

I've had times where I just said screw it, I'm just taking whatever comes along. Sometimes I made less money because of it. There were times I did a lot better than I expected. Most times I could just enjoy the process a bit more.

You can probably tell that for me, I don't see Top Dasher as something worth pursuing in and of itself. But why have I been Top Dasher at times?

Bicycle deliveries. Usually they've been times where I've done a lot of bike deliveries. I'm a lot less picky with bike deliveries, because I'm out there to enjoy the ride as much as to get extra pay. And here's the thing: In my market, Doordash is really really efficient with bike deliveries. I can get a lot of very short, very fast deliveries.

What's happened here is that there are just fewer offers that I'm rejecting. So now I've kinda become an accidental Top Dasher.

Wrapping up the “is it worth it” discussion:

It's your decision.

It all depends on how you see the cost of the requirements. Especially the acceptance rate. One Dasher will see 70% as unreasonable and decide they can do much better with a much lower rate. Another Dasher will feel perfectly comfortable with what they are making at 70% or higher.

Those two can even be in the same market.

Neither one is wrong.

And that's the important thing. I've given my opinions and experiences a lot here. But the thing is, it's my experience. That doesn't mean it will be yours.

If your need to have that ability to Dash now, any time, any place is high enough, Top Dasher may be worth it for you. Don't let any #DeclineNow person or blogger or anyone else tell you otherwise. You're smart enough to evaluate the cost of the requirements and the value of the benefits FOR YOU.

If you think that you'll improve how much money you get working as a free agent, declining way more offers than you accept, you may find that Top Dasher cramps your style way too much. For you, the cost is far more than the benefit. Don't let any militant Top Dasher tell you how to do things.

It's your decision.

So why did I write such a massive post giving all my ideas? The main thing I want you to do is think it through. Don't just go for Top Dasher because you like the title. It would be dumb to not be profitable because you want a status. At the same time, don't pass it up because someone thinks declining offers will make Doordash pay more (it won't).

Make your own business decision.

Is Top Dasher worth it? If it's worth it to you, yes. If the cost is too great in your eyes, no.

You decide.

Frequently Asked Questions about Top Dasher and its Requirements

Does Acceptance Rate matter with the Doordash platform?

The only place that acceptance rate matters with Doordash is eligibility for Top Dasher. You cannot be deactivated or punished for having a low acceptance rate. A 70% acceptance rate, combined with other requirements, would give you more access to time slots in busy times and markets, and possibly more deliveries.

Does the new perk mean Top Dashers will actually get better deliveries?

If you read the text closely, Doordash never promises that. What they say is: “if we have two nearby Dashers who can take on a high-value order, we will break the tie in favor of the Dasher with Top Dasher status.” When you think about it, that's nothing new. Why? Compare that to the “more deliveries” perk: “If we have two nearby Dashers who can take on an order, we will break the tie in your favor.” In other words, you were already promised that you would get the tie breaker on ANY delivery. So of course you'll get it on a new delivery.

I keep accepting orders, so why isn't my Doordash acceptance rate going up?

Remember that acceptance rate on Doordash is how many deliveries you accepted out of the last 100 offers. Say for example you accepted 50 deliveries in a row and then rejected 50 deliveries in a row. You accepted 50 out of 100 or 50%. Now you accept 50 more deliveries. Your acceptance rate is still 50% because those 50 you accepted replaced the first 50 that you accepted.

Will I become Top Dasher the moment I meet the requirements?

No. Top Dasher is based on your stats at the end of the day on the last day of the month. If you meet Top Dasher requirements by mid month, you will need to maintain those requirements.

Are there exceptions to the end of every month thing?

There may be exceptions. In some markets, new drivers start out as Top Dasher. According to Door Dash: “New Dashers in select markets are added into the program automatically as part of a test, and they will retain Top Dasher status for 2 weeks thereafter.” Unless that person completes 200 deliveries in those two weeks they're pretty sure to lose their status at the end of the two weeks.

Another exception popped up in the recent announcement of additional perks. The announcement stated that Dashers could qualify between Thursday, May 6 and Wednesday, May 12 by delivering 25 orders in that time and meeting the other ratings criteria. As this page is labeled “for May 2021” it may leave the door open for further exceptions.

Can I lose Top Dasher status if my numbers drop below the requirements?

No. Top Dasher status is only given and taken away at the start of the month. It is based entirely on your stats as of the end of the previous month. Many Dashers will operate as normal through the first part of the month and then focus the last several days of the month on building their acceptance rate up to meet the requirements.

Does Top Dasher guarantee access to deliver whenever I want?

Yes. This is a legitimate benefit. You may Dash now in any zone in your market at any time.

Does Top Dasher guarantee more and better deliveries?

No. Top Dasher only promises that if there's another Dasher who's in a similar position to receive a delivery, that the tie will be broken in favor of the Top Dasher. We have no idea how often a tie happens. Unless your market is extremely slow, that is not a guarantee of a larger number of deliveries. The latest update promises priority on high dollar deliveries. The original perks already promise that. Remember, it also promises priority on the minimum dollar delivery.

Do Top Dashers make more money?

They may or may not. In some markets, accepting a high percent of deliveries may make financial sense. In markets where it's hard to get an available schedule spot for Dashing, Top Dasher may mean more opportunities to earn. Top Dasher may also mean accepting a higher percent of inefficient deliveries.

Does being Top Dasher equate to minimum wage?

Not necessarily. I've seen many who do quite well as Top Dasher. A 70% acceptance rate leaves a lot of wiggle room, so the very worst of deliveries can be rejected. In some markets and some situations, a Top Dasher can do quite well. In some markets, the percent of bad orders is much higher and long distance trips more frequent. That can lead to much lower profits. There is no hard and fast rule that Top Dasher earns more OR less because of their status.

Can a high acceptance rate interfere with a high customer rating?

I think there's a potential of this. A high acceptance rating means you may have to take more low paying orders. In some situations, a customer who doesn't tip (thus the lower pay) chooses not to due to bad experiences in the past. Such a customer is more likely to get upset at the smallest thing. It's an easy way to get a bad rating.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

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