How Does DoorDash Work?

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If you find yourself with some extra time on your hands and like the idea of earning some extra cash, you may have already considered signing up to work for one of the leading delivery services available to us. If so, you’ve probably heard of DoorDash.

Alongside the likes of Uber Eats, Postmates, and GrubHub, these services have revolutionized the way customers and restaurants interact.
DoorDash alone has over 300,000 partnered restaurants, meaning customers have access to a plethora of different takeout options which were once unavailable.

More and more of us are taking advantage of this method of ordering, whether it’s as a customer or as a delivery courier. For those that are looking to maximize their overall income, whether it’s part-time, full-time, or just the occasional excursion to boost your bank balance, delivering with DoorDash allows you to do that.

As far as side hustles and extra income goes, self-employed contracted delivery workers are at the forefront of the industry. This kind of work offers a unique opportunity to earn money on your own terms. The flexible nature of the work means you are able to choose your own hours and work when and where it suits you. And equally important, there is a lot of work available so real money-making potential actually exists.

As with any job, this type of work has its flaws. The aim of this article is to provide you with all the necessary information to make an informed decision as to whether or not this is the right option for you.

→ Related reading: DoorDash vs. UberEats vs. Postmates

What is DoorDash?

Founded in San Francisco in 2013, DoorDash is a food delivery service that allows customers to place orders with a wide range of merchants across the United States, Canada, and Australia. With over 300,000 partnered restaurants, DoorDash is one of the biggest apps of this kind.

By downloading the DoorDash app to their iOS or Android device, customers can view all partnered merchants currently operating in their area. Before placing the order, the customer is required to agree upon a tip and delivery fee.

After the order is placed, DoorDash will notify any drivers who are currently logged in to the app within the area. As a driver, you can choose to either accept the order or wait for the next one. The directions for the order will be provided within the app and the driver is required to drive to the restaurant and pick up the order, before delivering it to the customer.

Currently, DoorDash is thought to be the most popular food delivery app, ahead of both Uber Eats and GrubHub. It is currently available in 4,000 cities across the U.S., Canada, and Australia, and there are plans to expand DoorDash worldwide. DoorDash also announced plans to expand into grocery deliveries. 

The main incentive of working with this type of company is the flexibility it offers its workers. You are free to choose when and where you work, which in theory means you are able to earn as little or as much as you desire. In reality, this may not always be the case. Earnings are heavily dependent on a number of variables. If the restaurant is particularly slow producing orders, this could eat into your potential earning time considerably. Similarly, if the order requires a lot of traveling or the address is difficult to find, you may miss out on other orders and earning opportunities.

Another perk of working as a delivery driver is that no particular experience is required. Just about anyone with a car can do it (DoorDash allows you to use any car, as opposed to ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft that have strict vehicle requirements).

With that being said, if you’re looking for a flexible and profitable side hustle to earn some extra cash in your free time, working with DoorDash (or as a ‘Dasher’, as they are known), could enable you to do this.

If you’re thinking of signing up as a contracted delivery driver, and feel that DoorDash might be the right fit for you, it is important to consider a few key things. Here you will find everything you need to know, as well as the possible pros and cons to consider when signing yourself up as a Dasher.

→ Related reading: 7 Ways to Get Paid to Deliver Groceries

How Much Can You Earn With DoorDash?

The amount you can earn with DoorDash depends on a few different factors:

  1. The distance you are required to travel
  2. The time it will take to complete the order
  3. The desirability of the order to fellow Dashers.

DoorDash will provide you with the guaranteed pay rate before you accept the order, however, it’s worth noting that this amount often increases once the order has been completed, although not always. It is speculated that DoorDash operates in this way to encourage drivers to take on lower-paid jobs, on the off chance that the rate increases and they end up being paid more than originally proposed.

DoorDash claims that Dashers can earn anywhere from $15-$25 per hour and $7-$10 per delivery, but again, this is dependent on the speed of both you as the Dasher and the restaurant, as well as the distance you are required to travel. As of yet, DoorDash does not cover any of their drivers’ expenses, including gas, phone usage, or uniform (Dashers are required to buy their own uniform from DoorDash). This is something to consider, and you should keep track of any expenses to factor into your tax return.

DoorDash found themselves at the center of some controversy in recent years regarding their payment and tipping protocol. Prior to the changes the company made in 2019 as a result of this backlash, customer tips were not passed on to Dashers as you would expect but were instead used to offset the pay rate guaranteed to the Dasher by DoorDash. So if the Dasher was offered $6 for the job, and the customer tipped $3, The Dasher would still receive only $6, with $3 being paid by DoorDash and $3 covered by the customer’s tip.

Understandably, both customers and Dashers felt that this was unfair practice, forcing DoorDash to rethink their tipping policy. As of 2020 DoorDash now pass on all customer tips to the drivers, as well as the full guaranteed pay rate.

Requirements of DoorDash Drivers

All you need to get started as a DoorDash driver is a working mobile phone with a stable internet connection and a mode of transport. Whether it’s a car, bike, motorbike, or scooter, as long as it gets you around your local area efficiently, it’s fine.

As a Dasher, you are responsible for the upkeep and insurance of your vehicle or chosen mode of transport, as well as your mobile data plan and any other expenses such as gas. As well as this, you are required to buy your uniform from DoorDash before your first job. You will need a t-shirt and pizza bag, and possibly a catering bag for larger orders. Altogether this is likely to set you back somewhere around $30.

As previously stated, you are solely responsible for your taxes. You will be required to keep track of all earnings and expenses so that these can be accurately recorded and filed. There are many apps available to assist you in this process, making this fairly straightforward, even if you have no previous experience in filing a tax return.

No delivery experience is required to become a Dasher and applications are open to all, provided you are over 18 years of age and have no driving violations in the last seven years. The sign-up process is quick and easy. You will be asked for personal details such as your telephone number, zip code, and email address. After this, DoorDash will carry out a background check which will also require your social security number and date of birth, as well as your chosen mode of transport.

After reviewing your application and carrying out all the necessary checks, DoorDash will get back to you with their decision. If your application is successful, you will be prompted to purchase your uniform and then you’re free to log in to the app and begin accepting jobs.

→ Related reading: 9 Companies Offering Flexible Food Delivery Jobs

How to Boost Your DoorDash Earnings

While DoorDash estimates that Dashers can earn on average around $18 per hour using the app, many Dashers have claimed to earn more than double that amount through various tips and tricks.

The main tip is to deliver during peak times. Lunch and dinner times, particularly on weekends, tend to be the times when most orders come in. Delivering during these times is likely to reap the highest number of jobs and the biggest orders, meaning generally, the most money can be earned during these times too. DoorDash’s ‘Peak Pay’ promotion also comes into effect during these times, meaning pay rates are much more lucrative than at other times.

Similarly, avoiding areas that are likely to be high in traffic, especially during these peak times, will mean you are able to complete orders faster and fit in more jobs. Having a good knowledge of the area in which you are delivering is important, and means you’re less likely to be slowed down by traffic or lack of parking facilities.

Large orders pay higher, so only choosing these jobs will likely mean you are able to earn the most money. The bigger orders also tend to come with higher tips. It is worth noting though, that DoorDash will track your acceptance rating, this means the number of jobs you accept in relation to the number of jobs you are offered. So it might be worth taking on some smaller jobs during off-peak times just to keep this rating up.

Another tip is to drive if possible. Driving is undoubtedly the fastest and safest way to deliver and means you’re able to complete larger orders much quicker than if you were to cycle. If you have a car with good gas mileage this is even better, given that you are solely responsible for keeping your car fueled.

As well as each of these tips, it’s important to maintain a high-quality delivery service. Each customer you deliver to will give you a rating based on your speed and customer service. The higher your rating, the more jobs you will be offered. Your completion rating is equally as important, failing to complete an order could ultimately result in you losing your job as a Dasher.

After considering the facts, here are our basic pros and cons of delivering with DoorDash:

Pros

  • The work is flexible and allows you to take on jobs whenever and wherever it suits you. This is great, especially if you are treating this as a side hustle and a way to earn some extra cash alongside your current job or studies.
  • There are plenty of opportunities to maximize your earnings with DoorDash. By implementing some of our tips and tricks to boost your income, you’re free to earn as much as your time and the area you reside in will allow.
  • The improved tipping system means that Dashers could earn a considerable amount through customer tips. Particularly if you maintain an excellent customer rating and are able to accept larger orders.
  • There is no previous experience required for this job. As long as you are open to a background check and have no driving violations, you’re able to earn money with DoorDash. This is great for college students or those with little work experience.
  • The sign-up process really couldn’t be much easier. Applicants will generally receive a response within a couple of days, meaning it’s quick and easy to get started.
  • DoorDash is operating in most U.S. states and also in Canada and Australia, so a huge number of people have the opportunity to make money by becoming a DoorDash Dasher.

Cons

  • The lack of coverage for expenses or uniforms may be off-putting to some people. This does require the Dasher to pay for their own gas, vehicle maintenance, and data plan as well as their uniform and any other expenses. This could eat into your earnings considerably, but depending on how much you earn over the year, you may be able to claim some of this back at a later date.
  • The nature of the work means that it is unpredictable and not guaranteed. Depending on the area you live in and your availability, you may experience periods where very few jobs are available. This may balance out over time, but is still something to consider.
  • You will need to be open to having a background search carried out by DoorDash. This may seem invasive to some but it is a necessary part of the sign-up process and similar to many other gig economy jobs.
  • Your earnings are heavily dependent on various external factors. These include traffic conditions, the speed at which the restaurant produces the order, the number of other Dashers in your area, and the times at which you are available. Each of these things has the potential to negatively impact the amount you are able to earn using DoorDash.

Maintaining Your Safety as a Dasher

As a DoorDash courier, your safety is the most important factor. It’s important to be aware of the risks that this type of work may impose, and how to keep yourself safe while doing your job.

Firstly, it is extremely useful to have a good understanding of the area in which you are to be delivering. Being aware of your surroundings reduces the risk of getting lost and possibly finding yourself in an unsafe situation. It also makes it easier to ensure that you only deliver to legitimate addresses. Knowing your route also makes traveling safer and means accidents are much less likely on the roads.

The great thing about these types of delivery services is that they eliminate the need to carry cash. As a Dasher, this alone means you are much safer. Following basic safety guidelines such as staying in well-lit areas and using your initiative when it comes to situations that may potentially put you in danger are of course also necessary in this line of work. As long as you follow these basic guidelines, as well as those specifically laid out by DoorDash, you are unlikely to experience any safety issues in this job.

Conclusion

As a DoorDash courier, you have all the benefits that come along with flexible working. You are essentially your own boss and can set your own hours. This is extremely valuable to many people, especially if this is to be an extra source of income alongside other commitments. The freedom to earn on your own terms is something that most people like the sound of.

While DoorDash is not without its flaws, it seems that in recent years they have taken on both customer and courier feedback and worked to improve their policies and procedures to better protect and incentivize this type of work.

With these delivery services and DoorDash in particular, gaining popularity so rapidly in recent years, it is clear that even if DoorDash is not currently available in your area, it is likely to be popping up soon. New partnered restaurants are consistently being added to DoorDash’s repertoire, so keep an eye on their website for updates that may relate to your locality.

After considering all of the facts surrounding DoorDash and contract couriering, as well as the pros and cons of working in this type of role, you should be well equipped to decide whether this would be a good fit for you and your lifestyle.

Overall, DoorDash is one of our favorite gig economy jobs. If you’re looking for a way to start earning money quickly, this may be an opportunity that you want to consider.