5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Delivering Food

Today, The Rideshare Guy contributor Jon is going to be talking about some challenges that you might encounter while delivering food and how to overcome those challenges. Jon has delivered a lot of food on a variety of platforms: UberEATS, DoorDash, and Postmates. Food delivery can be a really good way to supplement ride share driving, especially during lunchtime, but it does differ from ride share driving a little bit.

Watch Jon’s video, then read the transcript if you prefer to read.

Challenges delivery drivers face that Uber drivers don’t

You’ll find that there are some different problems that you might encounter when you’re delivering food that you might not encounter while you’re doing ride sharing with passengers, so we’re going to talk about some of those today and give you some ideas for how to overcome them.

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The first challenge you’re likely to encounter is parking. Every food delivery order that you’ll do, you have to park twice, once at the restaurant and once when you get to the customer’s house, and it varies greatly how difficult it is to park. You know, some restaurants, they have a parking lot. Other restaurants, they may not have any parking. They may have a valet or something like that.

Parking challenges and tips

The same thing applies for the customers. Some people will have a house and a driveway, and you just park in the driveway. Other people, they live in these big condos with a parking deck and a gate and a concierge. It’s a big hassle, so finding parking is definitely a big challenge. Here in Atlanta, the parking enforcement is actually outsourced by the city. What that means is that there’s a separate company hired by the city of Atlanta to give out parking tickets. They are very good at their job. They give out a lot of parking tickets and they are very fast, but they’re only authorized to give out those tickets in certain situations, so they are only monitoring what’s called metered parking. Basically, when the space has a number on a side of the street and there’s a parking meter, they’re only allowed to give you a ticket if you’re in one of those spaces and you haven’t paid the meter.

They can’t ticket you if you’re parked in some other kind of no parking zone. That’s up to the cops. What I’ve noticed is that the cops are pretty lenient about actually giving people tickets, so one of the main things that you can do to get around this parking issue is to just not park in a metered space. Park just behind a metered space or in some other kind of no parking area, but still out of the way. That way, the PARKatlanta people can’t give you a ticket, and the cops are generally too busy to go around hassling delivery folks, so you’ll probably get away with it.

The other big tip is to use your hazard lights. Put your hazard lights on if you’re parking somewhere that you’re not supposed to be, and that lets other people know that you’re just going to be there for a second. You’ll be far less likely to have any kind of hassle. Another tip is if you see an order that’s coming from area that you know you’re going to have to be parking at, don’t take that order. This isn’t possible on every app. Things like Amazon, you’ll have to take every order, but if you’re on an app that allows you to ignore an order or decline an order that’s coming from an area where you know you can’t park, it is a good idea sometimes to just not take those orders.

The final tip I have about parking is to network with other people who are doing delivery in your area. Parking is very kind of local. I can give you tips for Atlanta, but those tips may not apply in your city, but there are people doing delivery in your city and they know where to park if they’ve been doing it for a long time, so find those people. Reach out on Facebook or in different driver groups and ask about certain areas where you’ve had trouble parking in the past. That’s a really great way to find out tips. You might find some out of the way spots that you might never even have noticed, so that’s a good way to get around the parking issue.

Waiting for the food takes is a challenge

The second challenge is waiting. Food delivery, it’s not like ride sharing where you have to wait for the passenger. Instead, you’re going to be waiting on restaurants. If the restaurant is busy, it can take 10, 15, 20 minutes to get the food out to you. This obviously varies depending on the restaurant. Some restaurants are pretty fast. You know, places like Moe’s or short order type places, they can be pretty snappy with the food, but other places, fancier places especially, the food can take a while. In most cases you’re not getting paid for that.

Amazon Flex drivers do get paid by the hour, but for a lot of other types of delivery, you’re getting paid by the order, so if an order is taking a long time, you’re losing money there really, because you could be making money on a different order or picking up passengers or doing something else. The longer the order takes, the less likely you will to be tipped because the customer is sitting there waiting for their food, and they don’t necessarily know that their restaurant is taking a long time.

There’s a couple of ways you can deal with this. The first is to let the customer know why their food is taking a long time. That will kind of mitigate the tipping issue. Another way to deal with this is to avoid restaurants that you know are going to be slow. One of the main reasons why a restaurant might be slow is if there’s a sports game. If you get an order from a sports bar during a popular sports game, don’t go to that. Don’t take that order if you can because it’s probably going to take a while.

Restaurants run out of items and you get the blame

The third problem that you will encounter a lot is restaurants running out of various items, so a customer orders, say, a casserole and the restaurant is out of the casserole. This happens all the time and every company has a different procedure, so that can be kind of tricky learning the ropes on this. Sometimes the restaurant notifies the customer, or the company rather. Sometimes the restaurant will tell DoorDash or Amazon, will say, “Hey, we’re out of this item.” Then the company will contact the customer and let them know, or either give them a refund or have a substitution. If they haven’t told the company yet or the customer, you get there and they tell you instead, it might be your responsibility to call the customer or you might have to just tell the company, and then they’ll take care it.

Substitutions can be kind of tricky, especially if there’s no way for the restaurant to adjust what they’re charging the customer. Let’s say the customer wants a different item that’s more expensive. The restaurant has to adjust the final charge, so that can be kind of tricky to deal with. The main way to deal with this is just to communicate well. Let the customer know what’s going on with their order and let the company know what’s going on with the order. Usually, you can get it worked out. It just takes a few orders to learn ropes and how each app deals with this process.

Redeliveries are an unprofitable hassle

The next challenge, I’m just kind of broadly label customer service. If you deliver an order and that order is wrong, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up redelivering. A lot of times the customer will say, “Hey, I was supposed to get this item, but instead I got this item.” They’ll want you to go back to the restaurant and pick it up again, and redeliver it. That can be a huge hassle and a huge loss of your time and money, so definitely check orders. A lot of companies, they’ll tell you not to open the boxes for food safety reasons, food handling laws or whatever, but do check every order as thoroughly as you possibly can to make sure all the items are correct because you don’t want to get stuck having to redeliver.

There was one time I had to go all the way back. It was like a seven or eight mile delivery and I had to go all the way back from the customer to the restaurant, and then back from the restaurant to the customer over one missing barbecue sauce. That is a huge hassle. You don’t get tipped for it, so you’ll definitely want to make sure all the condiments, all the sides, all the special requests have been taken care of before you leave the restaurant. It will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Insurance: Similar to rideshare

Another issue is insurance. A lot of you probably know that ride sharing requires special insurance. Your personal policy won’t cover you if you’re doing a commercial activity. Even if you have a ride share friendly insurance, that ride share policy may not be geared towards delivering to other apps like DoorDash or Postmates or what have you. A lot of the companies do provide liability insurance while you have an order in your car, but it may not apply during period one when you’re on the way to pick up that order, so definitely read the fine print. Talk to your insurance provider and see what they can help you with in terms of getting coverage for delivery activity.

If you don’t have delivery insurance and you do get into an accident, you’re probably more likely to get away with it pretending that you weren’t delivering. There’s no passengers in your car to rat you out, so you will be more likely to get away with it, but it’s not necessarily a risk that you want to be taking on a regular basis. It’s definitely better to have a policy that’s geared towards commercial activity. GEICO in particular offers policies that insure all different kinds of commercial activity, ride sharing, Uber, but also through UberEATS, Postmates, DoorDash, and other kinds of delivery oriented apps. I’ve included a link about where you can find some more info on delivery insurance and other related concerns about the insurance question.

The benefits of delivery app jobs

That’s a lot of challenges with delivering food, but it’s not all bad. There’s definitely some benefits to delivering food as opposed to delivering passengers. I’ve delivered a lot of food in my day. One of the main benefits is that you can have an older car. A lot of these delivery companies, they don’t have a car requirement like Uber and Lyft does, so you can use an older car. You can use a car that’s maybe not on the best shape. A lot of companies will even allow you to use motorcycles, bikes. You can even walk for Postmates and some the other companies, so that’s a good way to definitely make some money if your car isn’t up to the requirements of Uber and Lyft.

Another benefit, there’s no small talk. You don’t have to hang out with passengers. There’s no college kids trying to introduce you to dubstep for the 3000th time, so that’s always a nice benefit for me. I really like listening to my own music, so that’s a nice break, definitely, from dealing with passengers. The requests are shorter, so if you’re on a tight schedule, you can work for shorter blocks of time a lot of time. You won’t have these 20 mile rides or 45 minute rides. Most companies have a radius around each restaurant that’s sort of the maximum distance that a customer can be from that restaurant, so you’ll be doing a lot of short trips, so that can be a benefit. Another benefit is free food. A lot of times, if there’s something wrong with the order, the customer is not home or something, you might get a lot of free food if it’s a big order. If you’re hungry, you might get a free dinner out of it. It’s never a bad thing.

Finally, you’ll definitely get a lot more tips delivering food than you will with ride sharing. People who order food are a lot more accustomed to tipping. This isn’t necessarily true. UberEATS has done sort of a lot of damage in this area by telling customers that they don’t need to tip, but a lot of customers on other apps definitely are oriented towards tipping, so you’ll receive a lot of extra cash and off the app income while you’re delivering food versus while you’re ride sharing. Thank you so much for watching. We’ve included links to sign up for Postmates and DoorDash and UberEATS. These are a great supplement to your Uber and Lyft driving.

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