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The Great(er) Uber Eats Challenge: And the Results are In

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Is it possible to earn as much when Uber Eats is your primary source of income as it was when I was relying more heavily on Grubhub?

This is the thing that I set out to discover this past week. I've tried it for a part of a week, but how would it go for a full week? How could I do when I'm trusting Uber Eats during the busiest delivery times?

Have you been following along? Last week, I wrote about my decision to go all in on Uber Eats for a week . You can also see updates on how it went extremely well the first day (Monday) then after taking Tuesday off, things slowed a little on Wednesday but were still acceptable, Thursday was another solid day, and Friday was an extremely successful start to the weekend. So you can read up on all of that, or skip the insomnia cure and see how it finished up the last two days.

The Great(er) Uber Eats challenge wrapped up this past weekend. How did it go?
The Great(er) Uber Eats challenge wrapped up this past weekend. How did it go?

The times they are a changin'

The one thing that I wondered was whether all the changes this past week or so related to the Coronavirus precautions would skew the results. Would it make things so incredibly busy that it throws things off? Or would things grind to a halt?

It's hard to gauge for sure. Saturdays and Sundays are usually some of the busiest. However, I noticed things changing on those days last spring, especially on Saturday afternoons. The other thing that can throw off perceptions is that usually I'm working a block with Grubhub and offers have always been steady when on a block (though not necessarily ACCEPTABLE offers).

Overall, I would say that the frequency of orders was slightly lower than I expected. I had 45 minutes of down time on Sunday, something that is pretty unusual. And there were times where I had grabbed a block with Grubhub as a backup, was logged on with Grubhub, Uber Eats, and Doordash, and still sat a bit waiting for offers to come in. I have a feeling that if conference basketball tournaments and Selection Sunday for March Madness had been going on, maybe things would have been a little busier. But the flip side is, how many people are ordering in that might not have because they are staying at home now? In the end, it's hard to say.

A solid Saturday.

Overall, I would call Saturday average. Things were fairly steady.

I approached the day thinking it was mostly about volume. I wanted to get in as many deliveries as quickly as I could. It was the second day of a 30-delivery quest, that was paying $32 for completing 30 deliveries. I had completed 9 the day before, and I thought if I could knock out as many as possible on Saturday, that would give me a greater sense of freedom on Sunday.

Lunch was fair. Part of the issue was I started off right away taking a little higher paying offer. So I deviated a bit from my plan – one thing I've been finding is that Uber Eats works best when you reject the higher pay offers and accept the ones that are closer to whatever the minimum is for the moment. Higher pay offers with Uber Eats mean they are generally (not always) longer distances, and I got sucked into one right away that took me away from my prime delivery times. So much of lunch was me trying to work my way back into a busier area, and I started out at about a $17 profit per hour pace.

Mid afternoon, that 2-5 time slot, is usually the one that drags for me on Saturdays. It seems harder to get good offers then. I did knock off and take a lunch break during that time, however the deliveries I worked were actually not that bad, averaging about $20 profit per hour.

Wrapping up Saturday

Saturday evening was steady. I did about 11 deliveries between 5 and 9. I didn't land any real whoppers and did get stuck with a couple of no-tip deliveries – always the risk you take with Uber Eats. But this is why I focus on short and sweet: I only made $10.72 combined, but they took a total of 21 minutes. In other words, I still averaged well over a $20 per hour pace. One thing that was unusual is that I'm used to picking up a couple of really nice higher pay orders on Saturdays, and none of that happened. But the short, quick deliveries I did still added up to over $24 per hour.

For the day, I ended up with $191.35 in 7-3/4 hours. So it was $25.51 per hour revenue, and profit per hour was $21.45. I completed 23 deliveries (3 on Doordash, one with Grubhub and 19 on Uber Eats). I drove more than usual, making $1.56 (my goal is $2 per mile).

It was a pleasant surprise how many Uber Eats deliveries I could get in. I brought my total for the 3-day quest to 28, just two short of the goal. That allowed me to go into Sunday not feeling too dependent on Uber Eats deliveries.

A slow but strong Sunday

Part of the challenge for me on Sundays is I don't usually get started til early afternoon. When there's no football, mid day Sunday can be a bit slower, and this was the case yesterday. I had about 45 minutes idle time in the 6-1/4 hours that I worked. That's actually pretty high for a Sunday.

I went into Sunday just going wide open. I only needed two deliveries to complete a quest, and there was a small bonus quest (5 deliveries for $6) available. So I only felt the need to complete a total of 7 Uber Eats deliveries. So I felt comfortable opening things up to Grubhub and Doordash.

But that's the crazy thing – with all three apps going I still sat for 45 minutes. That tells me that things were actually a bit slower overall (not just Uber Eats).

A slower day, but the deliveries I did get more than made up for it.

In the end I completed 8 Uber Eats deliveries for the day, four on Grubhub, and five on Doordash. It was the only day that the majority of deliveries weren't Uber Eats (8 of 17). I knocked off earlier than usual, I just felt good with where I was at 8 PM.

In the 6-1/4 hours I delivered on Sunday, I completed 17 deliveries total. I was really happy with that considering the 45 minutes idle time. I earned $178.23, or $28.52 per hour, and profit per hour was $25.64. The miles driven were at a minimum, I earned $2.47 per mile. Overall, Sunday was a bit of a mix. The downtime was a bit surprising, but the deliveries in between were solid enough to make up for it.

So, how did the final tally for the week come out?

39-1/4 hours, $1,033.95. Earnings per hour $26.34, profit per hour $23.09.

Let me put it this way: It doesn't matter who I'm delivering for, if you would have told me that on a week where there weren't crazy high incentives, the weather was mostly very nice out, and there were no major sporting events or tv events that would drive high delivery volume, and I were to profit $23.09, I'd be thrilled.

My average profit per hour over the last four months has been $20.60 (November) $20.87 (December), $21.05 (January) and $22.35 (February). The only times that I've ever been over $23 per hour have been when there's been bad weather or there were major events on TV.

I'm not sure how well this chart is going to line up on your browser but here's a breakdown for the week.

HoursDeliveries/HourEarningsDollars/MileEarnings/HourProfit/Hour
Monday6.753.11$186.94$1.78$27.69$23.81
Wednesday82.38$174.68$2.16$21.84$19.30
Thursday62.5$141.02$1.72$23.50$20.09
Friday4.752.74$161.73$3.30$34.05$31.47
Saturday7.53.07$191.35$1.57$25.51$21.45
Sunday6.252.72$178.23$2.48$28.52$25.64
TOTAL39.252.75$1,033.95$2.02$26.34$23.09

My takeaways from the Great(er) Uber Eats Challenge

The first time I decided to try Uber Eats on larger scale, I was thinking I might come in about 80 to 90 percent the profit per hour of where I normally was. I had bought into this idea that with the way they slashed their pay under the new model, it just couldn't pay as much as Grubhub or Doordash.

When my first Monday through Thursday experiment brought in as much or more than when I was focusing on Grubhub, I was shocked. The second time I was a little surprised to find that the first one wasn't an anomoly after all. So for the week to go as well as it has didn't really surprise me but does have me ecstatic. I'm all about having options and I'm thrilled to see that Uber Eats can be just as viable for me (if not more) as Grubhub or Doordash.

Was it skewed by the quest?

One thing I've learned with Uber Eats, you never know what to expect on their promotions. The promotions tend to dry up over the summer. I'm sure there are drivers in markets that would LOVE to have a quest available like $66 for 45 deliveries.

So is Uber Eats a legitmate option if there is no quest?

If I take away the quest money, I still made $23.65 per hour and $20.44 profit per hour. My averages for 2019 were $24.02 overall and $20.73 profit per hour. So even without the quest, I'm finding that I wouldn't be seeing much of a drop in earnings.

I LOVE the greater freedom doing it this way

A week ago I wrote that it was so refreshing not being tied down to picking up Grubhub blocks at exactly 10:45 on Sunday morning. There's just a greater sense of freedom when you aren't tied down to schedule blocks. I love being able to log on and log off, not worry about whether I should drop a block or whatever.

The other thing is, there is no pressure related to acceptance rate. They don't even display it for drivers. Doordash has been tying it to incentives and Grubhub puts tremendous pressure on drivers to accept a certain percentage, so the freedom of not worrying about how much I'm accepting is pretty great.

And here's the crazy thing: I didn't track it this past week but I'm pretty sure my acceptance rate with Uber Eats is dramatically higher than it's ever been with Grubhub. Part of it is because their efficiency in dispatching is dramatically better.

Understand that this wasn't 100% Uber Eats.

14% of the money I earned came from Doordash and 11% from Grubhub.

This is something I really stress: Keep your options open. Even when I'm relying heavily on Grubhub, 20% or more of my revenue is coming from other apps. There are times your primary app is slow. There are times there are just better offers elsewhere.

That was no different this week. The main difference when doing this test was, my go-to was Uber Eats, not Grubhub. But the bottom line was, there were times it made sense to go to a secondary platform.

You can never just assume.

I think I earned a total of $600 on Uber Eats in all of 2019. Part of that had to do with my car aging out, Uber Eats is the only platform of the four major ones that has an age limit on the car you use. But part of it was related to the fact you didn't know what you were getting into on any order.

When they changed a few things such as giving you more information on the offer, they also slashed their delivery fees. Because of that I just continued to assume that they were always going to be much lower pay.

The thing is, I discovered this before with Postmates, that even when it has a reputation for being low pay, there are still a lot of good opportunities and a lot of good deliveries available. I think in the end, there is no one delivery platform that pays dramatically less than the others. The key is learning how to work with each one.

How do I feel about Uber Eats now that this is done?

This might be more than a one week experiment.

This last Saturday, I did grab a few blocks on Grubhub. I picked up a few 2-5 PM blocks, times that tended to be much slower on Uber Eats.

Other than that, I expect to still do dramatically more with Uber Eats than any of the others. I'm still committing to a 45-delivery quest to start the week, and I'm giving Uber Eats the opportunity to be my primary again during the peak times.

I don't know that they'll end up number one overall. Actually I'm kind of thrilled with the results of this past week because, I prefer NOT to have a number one. I would rather not be in a place where I have to rely too heavily on any one option. Being able to flip flop Uber Eats and Grubhub and still do well gives me a lot more freedom.

And I have to say, with the way that Grubhub tries to control drivers, I'm more than happy to have a solid alternative.

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

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