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What is it like delivering for Doordash?

It's Doordash's turn, what is it like delivering for them?

This is the third part of a series on what it's like to deliver for the main delivery apps. Two weeks ago we talked about Uber Eats, last week it was Grubhub.

This week will wrap up that series. I kicked around whether or not to discuss Postmates, but this is really meant to talk about the experience of doing those deliveries, and I've not delivered for PM for so long that I don't think it would be helpful going off of memories.

So what about Doordash?

Doordash is the new king of the hill. In fact, I think I find more people finding my site from searches for Doordash than anyone else.

What is it like delivering for Doordash?
What is it like delivering for Doordash?

Let me put it this way: I did a series last fall, where I talked about each of the four. Episode 38 was on Doordash, and it's been THE episode most often downloaded.

In fact it's nearly double the listens to the number two episode. People are searching for stuff about Doordash, so we have to ask that question: What's it like delivering for Doordash?

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In the series I did before, it was more of a big picture look at each of the apps. In this series I wanted to get more into the experience. What happens, what's it feel like?

What's it like getting started delivering for Doordash?

The signup process was fairly simple. Like all the others, you fill out your information on the website and away you go. You can sign up using this link.

Sometimes Doordash will offer a referral bonus if you sign up through someone's referral link. The last one I saw was a $50 bonus if you complete 220 deliveries.

That's a whopping 22 cents extra per delivery. Better get right on that.

The bottom line is, the referral bonus with Doordash (when there is one) isn't usually worth busting your butt for. The other side is, that's probably 100 plus hours of delivery that has to be done within 60 days of the day you BEGIN the signup process.

And Doordash takes their sweet time getting you onboarded.

If you want a referral link so you can pursue that small bonus, shoot me an email.

Back when I signed up, I had to drive to a Starbucks clear across town to meet with someone so they could give me my bag and payment card. I think more recently they just ship the stuff out.

They seem to go back and forth, sometimes letting drivers deliver before they get their starter packet, other times making them wait.

What are deliveries themselves like with Doordash?

It starts with making yourself available.

That's a little more involved than with anyone else.

The other apps have a larger metro area that you can log in to. Doordash breaks the metro area into smaller zones.

Doordash is also the most restrictive as to availability of delivery slots. You have to be scheduled within a zone to receive offers. Postmates and Uber Eats have no scheduling component, and even Grubhub allows you to go available while not scheduled.

A screenshot of the map screen for Doordash drivers. Note that some zones are pink and others grey. Normally, you can only go available in the pink zones, not in the grey zones.
A screenshot of the map screen for Doordash drivers. Note that some zones are pink and others grey. Normally, you can only go available in the pink zones, not in the grey zones.

The good thing about this system is that it's an attempt by Doordash to keep from having too many drivers logged into one particular area. Everyone else is just focused on getting enough drivers available in a particular market. Doordash is more focused on managing drivers on a zone by zone basis.

This set up is more effective at getting enough couriers into a particularly busy zone, while keeping from having too many drivers in any given zone.

However, the drawback is that it can make it harder to deliver where you want when you want. Depending on your market, finding an available zone can be challenging.

Scheduling yourself (and bypassing scheduling) on Doordash

Technically, there are two ways you can go when getting availability to deliver with Doordash. You can “dash now” or you can schedule time slots.

However, even the “dash now” option is a form of scheduling. You still have to choose an end time. Dash Now essentially just means that all the scheduled slots for your zone at that time have not been filled yet.

Even when you “Dash Now” you have to complete the scheduling by selecting an end time

One way to get around having to wait for a zone to open up is to go to the menu bar in the app, and select Schedule. There you can scroll through the different zones and see what times are available.

The schedule screen on the Dasher app will show you available times on a zone by zone basis
The schedule screen on the Dasher app will show you available times on a zone by zone basis

This is a lot like scheduling with Grubhub, where you can guarantee your availability by scheduling yourself ahead of time.

Just understand that with Doordash you're committing to a much smaller region to work within.

There is an option where you can completely bypass the need to schedule yourself. Some markets let you achieve what they call Top Dasher status. As of the time of this writing, one of the perks of being Top Dasher is you can Dash Now at any time in any zone, whether it is grey or not.

We'll talk more about Top Dasher in a bit. You will have to make a decision as to whether the perks of Top Dasher status are worth what it takes to reach that status.

What is it like getting delivery offers from Doordash?

Once you're scheduled and available, you can start receiving offers.

An offer screen from Doordash
An offer screen from Doordash

Doordash does a fantastic job of providing the information you need to make a good decision. The icons on the map stand out clearly enough that there's not much question where you are going.

The name of the restaurant is there. You know how far you are going (notice the “2.9 miles” below the McDonalds name). You know how much you are being paid (for the most part, more on that in a moment). And you know the expected ETA for the delivery.

For people with Android phones, the Dasher app has a widget that gives you even more information. You can find the customer address and what the items are that are being ordered.

Sample information from the Doordash Floating Widget, available on Android, that allows you to see detailed customer and order information before accepting or rejecting orders.
Sample information from the Doordash Floating Widget, available on Android, that allows you to see detailed customer and order information before accepting or rejecting orders.

Doordash does as good a job as anyone out there (only Uber Eats is close) at giving you the information you need to make a decision on whether an order is worth taking.

How do you decide which offers to take on Doordash?

I mentioned this in last week's entry about Grubhub. I use a 50 cent rule, that a delivery has to pay me 50 cents a minute or more. (Obviously you can set your own threshhold).

With Doordash, I do the same thing as I do with Grubhub. I double the price that they are offering. With the example offer above, I double the $7 offer and I get 14 minutes. Then I ask myself, can I deliver that in 14 minutes or less?

Doordash provides a couple of clues to help you figure out how long a delivery can take. One is the distance. The other is the ‘deliver by' time. The miles can give you a clue to the overall drive time.

Pay attention to how accurate that time is – I've found it to be a pretty good indicator of when I can expect to be done. Some tell me they have different experiences. What I find though is that if the deliver by time is significantly later than it seems it should be for the distance, that I'm more likely to have a long wait at the restaurant.

In the McDonalds example above, the deliver by time was 16 minutes away. Depending on how quickly I could get out of the McDonalds, I might feel like I could get it done in 14. However, that particular one is notoriously slow, so I passed on it.

What you see isn't always what you get

Doordash likes to dangle that carrot out there that says “Total may be higher.”

Don't chase that carrot.

There are times that the actual pay from Doordash IS higher. They like to hide the extra amount when the customer has tipped higher.

Why?

It's a psychological thing. If you got more on one order, you might be more likely to take that $3 offer (there's a lot of those on Doordash) because, hey, you might get more.

I've found that about the only times I see more than I was offered have been on orders that already paid sufficiently for the time involved. In my market it almost always happens on orders offering $8.50 or higher.

Here's one area where the order information helps you. When you can see that the value of the food is higher, you know there's a higher probability that the tip is higher.

That said, almost every time I've taken an order because “it might be higher” the pay was exactly what was offered.

Don't chase that carrot. You'll rarely catch it.

Getting paid delivering for Doordash.

So what's the pay model for Doordash?

There is no pay model.

Doordash will tell you they calculate the base pay as being at least $2, but it can be higher based on estimated time and distance. And of course you get your tip on top of it.

I'm curious how Doordash figures in time and distance to come up with $2 base pay on a 5.6 mile delivery.
I'm curious how Doordash figures in time and distance to come up with $2 base pay on a 5.6 mile delivery.

So evidently it has to be more than 5.6 miles before time and distance will bump that base pay up over the minimum.

It appears that Doordash's delivery fee is based more on what they feel like they need to pay for someone to pick it up. They make up a price, add it to the tip, and away you go.

Because of that, most times the Doordash portion of the pay you receive for deliveries tends to be lower than anyone else. Whether long or short distance, anything above $4 seems to be very rare.

Doordash incentives

Doordash is maybe the best of all the apps at staying on top of how badly they need people to deliver for them. As things get busier than expected in a certain region, Doordash will offer peak pay in that reason.

With Peak Pay, Doordash will pay extra per delivery on top of what they normally would.

Sometimes the peak pay is scheduled – they'll announce ahead of time when they are offering. A lot of times the peak pay is one or two dollars extra. Sometimes it's responsive to demand or weather changes or whatever.

I've received as much as $12 extra per delivery. I've found that in bad weather, Doordash will often be the best game in town.

Guarantees offered by Doordash

Here's one area where I feel Doordash is intentionally deceptive.

They'll throw out an offer where they say complete 150 deliveries and earn a guaranteed $1,000.

Do you know how many people are thinking they're getting an EXTRA $1,000. The offer though was that the LEAST you would get for those deliveries was $1,000. In other words, if you earned less than $1,000 in those deliveries, Doordash would make up the difference.

That's sure a lot different than what some were expecting to be a bonus for their deliveries.

When ever you get a promise from Doordash, you have to read it carefully. They'll never outright lie, but if they can make the promise look like it's something it's not, they'll sure do it.

The question is, how many times do people have to fall for it before they quit believing Doordash???

What is the pay like delivering for Doordash? (How does it stack up)?

This answer is going to vary based on where you are, and how busy each of the apps are.

Out of the three that I deliver (including Grubhub and Uber Eats) lately Doordash has been the worst.

Let me put it this way: I recorded 17 offers in a row recently. Remember my 50 cent rule I mentioned earlier? None of them met my 50 cent rule. Only one was for more than $9 (and based on my experience, maybe 2 had ‘hidden' extra pay).

That's not how it always is by any means. Some days, Doordash is paying out quite nicely. Some others in the same market are probably doing much better. Part of it may be that my offers won't be as good because I reject so many. That's possible. I'll get into that more when I talk about Top Dasher.

What I will tell you is that offers are steady with Doordash. I see fewer ‘gaps' between offers on Doordash than I do the other platforms. It's just that the offers aren't nearly as good as regularly. Again, that's my experience.

Some extra thoughts on Doordash

Let's talk about Top Dasher.

I mentioned the scheduling earlier, and that you can gain Top Dasher status which would allow you to Dash Now at any time.

To achieve Top Dasher status, you have to meet certain metrics by the end of the previous month. On the last day of the month, you have to be at 70% acceptance rate, 95% completion rate, and have completed 100 deliveries for the month.

I'll probably never be Top Dasher.

I have no problem with the 95% completion rate. You can be extra careful what you take and keep that rate. The 70% acceptance rate is a problem.

In the end, you have to measure whether what you have to do to get that status is worth the reward. The only real reward with Top Dasher is that you get access to Dash Now at any time you want in any location.

The lower pay that comes with taking 70% of offers isn't worth it to me.

How I feel about the smaller zones

As I mentioned, Doordash has smaller zones that you can log into. That's a blessing and a curse.

At least a blessing in theory. I know a lot of people tell me they like the smaller zones because that means less driving around. Yet looking at the 17 offers I mentioned earlier, six of those were for ten mile drives or longer.

The drawback with the zones is that you can often get a delivery that takes you well out of the zone. At that point, you have to double back OR you have to log out and hope that you can Dash Now at the zone you were originally in. (There's no way to see which zones are available).

The Doordash pressure machine

One thing that stands out to me on Doordash is they tend to micromanage the delivery process.

When you pick up an order, they want you to check off every menu item. That leads a lot of dashers to rifling through the order to check if everything is there. If I'm ordering, I don't want my delivery person digging into my order.

In forums, I'm hearing more from Doordash couriers than all the others combined of being deactivated for not delivering orders. Doordash seems to have made it easier for people to scam them by claiming food wasn't delivered, and drivers get the blame.

Granted, there's more than enough bad drivers out there, so it's not that it's always a scam.

Doordash is the only one that has certain metrics that can get you deactivated. One is their completion rate and the other is customer rating. In principle I don't have a problem with either one, if they're measured fairly and properly. My completion rate has been exactly the same over dozens of deliveries – that's just not possible. Their app glitches a lot on these metrics.

And allowing the customer to rate drivers on things that are out of the driver's control is a bit of a problem.

I'm not sure how much it's a matter of Doordash over-hired during the pandemic and now they have to scale down. I just know a lot of drivers in the online communities are extremely nervous about whether they'll be next.

And we can't forget DoorCrash Fridays.

The app sucks.

That's all.

Seriously, I wonder how Doordash stays in business when the app is crashing as frequently as it does. When things are extremely busy (especially Friday nights) you can almost expect the app to crash in some way shape or form.

Final thoughts on What it's Like to Deliver for Doordash

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As things stand right now, I couldn't do Doordash as my primary form of earnings.

Having said that, when I did the series last fall, if you had told me that Uber Eats would be my primary I'd have told you that you were on drugs.

Things change.

Sometimes the market forces the change. Sometimes the company comes around.

The best thing and the worst thing about delivering for Doordash is their app. The information they provide to help you make decisions is fantastic. The lack of reliability… that's a problem.

Earnings can be good. The fact that Doordash has charged ahead in market share makes them a company you don't want to completely burn the bridge with.

I could never rely solely on one delivery app. It just doesn't fit my style. I could probably rely the least on Doordash in that regard. But when they're the leading player out there, I want to keep them in the arsenal.

I mentioned the micromanaging. It can be irritating, but that's one reason I think Doordash has moved to the front of the class. I fully believe part of why Grubhub has fallen so far is they were horrible at fulfillment. Doordash does seem to pay more attention to the customer experience than maybe anyone. That may keep them in the lead for awhile.

In the end, I see Doordash like all the others. I love em. I hate em. The beauty of it is that as independent contractors, we get to choose to go after what we love, and work around what we hate.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.