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Tips for delivery drivers to earn more money

How can Uber Eats, DoorDash, Shipt drivers maximise their earnings?

When you first start working with a delivery company, you should not rush to any conclusions regarding the possible income right away. Give it time! Like everybody else, you have to learn how the company works and need to acquire sufficient information about the market you serve. Longtime delivery drivers stress the importance of providing great customer service to increase tips (and the net income). In many cases, the base fares paid by the companies are not that high, so workers depend a lot on tips to earn a decent income. 

So how to earn more money? Small changes in your work routine could lead to more completed deliveries and higher tips. In the following sections, you’ll find plenty of delivery driver tips on how to better utilize your hours, prepare yourself for your shifts, communicate with customers, and improve your customer service in general.

Here come 30 tips and tricks for couriers looking to boost their income

Photo by Patrick Connor Klopf on Unsplash

1. Know your city

Some people say it’s best not to use a GPS, others swear by it. If you’re new in town, you probably need some assistance to find the pick-up and drop-off locations fast. It helps if you spend some time examining the map of the city or drive around for a few hours in your free time. 

Anytime you go somewhere, look at how the main and side roads are connected. Make sure you know all the shortcuts in your city and develop familiarity with the most popular stores and restaurants. With enough knowledge of your city, you’ll decrease the number of hours wasted on navigation. 

Find a job in your city!

2. Listen to the traffic news

Especially part-time or occasional delivery drivers should follow the news to make the most of their time working. During rush hours or when accidents happen, drivers often find themselves in traffic jams. To avoid them, listen to the news on the radio every hour. Check also your city’s website and/or social network sites daily or hourly to learn about road closures due to construction work or film shoots. 

3. Work with multiple apps

Remember that many of the popular on-demand delivery service platforms don’t demand exclusivity. It’s also good to know that some of them pay on the same day or within a few business days. Feel free to download several apps to find the ones that work best for you. As a new delivery driver, you may focus on one app at a time.  

4. Use a reliable vehicle 

Delivery service apps usually don’t set such strict criteria for vehicles as ride-sharing or ride-hailing apps. What’s more, they often allow drivers to choose their means of transportation. Not always, though. (Always check the requirements for vehicles.)

Whether or not you have freedom of choice, you must consider one thing: your vehicle has to be in good condition. A flat tire or a battery failure can lead to not only delayed or canceled deliveries but also injuries. Your safety should always come first. 

Read also: Ways to Turn Your Car into a Money-making Machine

Start earning money driving your car!

5. Be presentable 

You don’t have to entirely give up your own style to look professional—even if you need to wear a hideous uniform. It’s quite obvious but always dress according to the weather. Delivery drivers who live in California, Arizona, Florida or hot places should carry an extra T-shirt. Especially if they sweat a lot. Also, wear a hat or a cap and sunglasses to avoid sunstrokes. In northern states, it gets bone-chilling in the winter sometimes. Riders must get ready for that!

Experienced drivers suggest you wash your clothes every two days, take a shower or bath and brush your teeth before your shift. Male delivery drivers also recommend shaving before work. But it’s up to you. If you prefer to wear a mustache or beard for any reason, do it. If you have the possibility, look in the mirror before knocking on the door to see how you look. Just had lunch? Check your teeth too! 

6. Put together a playlist but don’t listen to loud music

Between the news, entertain yourself by listening to your favorite music or podcasts. This will keep your spirit up, boost your motivation, and help you through your shift. Use Spotify, YouTube or another video streaming service to create some playlists. However, never turn up the volume. You could come across as inconsiderate. Also, not every customer will appreciate your style of music. 

If you’re a cyclist!

Delivery drivers who ride their bikes should not wear headphones/earphones and listen to music. Some cyclists do, but it’s dangerous, especially in places without developed cycling infrastructure. Drivers and cyclists don’t have a thriving relationship in many cities. Therefore, bike messengers should fully focus on the road while working—to avoid accidents. Check also the rules and regulations on the necessary equipment (lights, helmet, etc.) cyclists need in your city. 

Read also: What Is It Like to Work as a Delivery Driver? A Foodora Rider Answers

7. Carry a clipboard/binder, some paper, and lots of pens

Why do you need these obsolete things if you can just use your cell phone to work? It’s quite unlikely that you have to keep a lot of (signed) receipts organized, but it may happen. That’s when a clipboard or a binder comes in handy. When to use the paper and pen? Sometimes a personal note left for the customer works better in a given situation. (In case you take up mover jobs, you can jot down the instructions given by the client.)

Completing a list of pre-arranged deliveries?

Even people with the best memories face some trouble to remember everything. If it keeps you more efficient and motivated, write down your deliveries on a sheet of paper and cross them off once they’re done.

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash

8. Plan your route

When working with Postmates, Jolt, DoorDash, TaskRabbit, Flavor, MedZoomer, Uber Eats or other delivery platforms, you may not know where your shifts take you. However, if you complete a list of deliveries, always plan your route. Why? To save money on petrol and time on detours. Visual learners can add extra detail to the list we mentioned earlier. Rank your deliveries to know what comes next. 

9. Use some equipment and tools

As an independent contractor, you have to pay for gas. Sometimes the delivery company offers some reimbursement, but it’s still not that common. GasBuddy will mark the cheapest gas stations near you. The good news is that travel expenses are tax-deductible items in the USA and many other countries. Several companies have developed a (free) mileage tracker for delivery drivers. When the tax day comes, you just submit the report generated. Read about them and useful tools here

10. Prepare an emergency kit

What to put in your emergency kit? This depends a lot on where you live, what kind of vehicle you drive or ride, and the number of apps you work with. In a car, wet wipes, towels, and some extra napkins and cutlery can save the day. If you spill something on the car seat, the wet wipes offer easy and fast solutions. If you forgot to pick up some knives, forks or spoons at the restaurant, grab one of the stored ones. Those delivering through multiple apps daily should count their delivery bags before every shift. 

What else to put into your kit?

You may never work more than 6 hours a day, but your cell can die during that time. (If you own a phone that lasts for days, you’ve made a good deal at the store.) It won’t cause any problem to charge your phone if you drive a car with a USB port. If you ride your bike, carry a portable power bank. Whether you drive or ride, think ahead, purchase a toolkit and learn the basics about how to fix a car, a bike, or a scooter. 

Emergency situations and COVID-19

A traditional emergency or first aid kit contains plasters, alcohol-free wipes, safety pins, disposable sterile gloves, sterile gauze dressings. Don’t forget to stay hydrated! Considering the time we live in, follow the regulations and recommendations of the CDC and your local authorities regarding COVID-19.

Read also: How has COVID-19 influenced the US gig economy?

Visit our COVID-19 Support Center

11. Wear a fanny pack to store cash

Delivery drivers working for a traditional company may handle cash on a regular basis. Not all restaurants or stores offer card payment as an option. A fanny pack or a larger wallet or something similar makes it easy to store money. 

Do you accept deliveries via an app?

You still need something to collect money—in addition to your personal wallet. Many customers prefer cash when leaving a tip. Of course, pockets are great inventions, but what if the pockets rip and you lose your all well-deserved money

12.  Double-check the orders

Grocery shoppers and delivery drivers receive a list of things to pick up. Due to the nature of their jobs, Shipt Shoppers and Instacart Shoppers carry out more complex tasks. They go to supermarkets, visit various aisles and shelves to find all the listed items, and then pay for the fresh produce and everything else. 

While still in the store or the restaurant, go through the list at least twice. When picking up a meal or other products, always check what’s in the bag. You don’t want to leave with a hamburger if the customer has ordered a veggie one. Showing up with the wrong meal/item won’t encourage them to leave you a tip.

Find grocery shopper jobs here!

13.  Contact the customer if something is not available

It’s not the end of the world if an item is out of stock. Simply call or text the customer and ask for further instructions. Before the call or text message, check the menu or similar products—or wait close enough to the board or shelf. (If the music is not that loud, of course.) They may ask you to give them information about what’s available. Giving them some options will show you’re on their side. Hopefully, they reward your proactive attitude with a generous tip.

Read also: Ultimate Guide to Become a DoorDash Driver in 2020: Requirements, Payment & Support

14. Pick up extra stuff

No space to store extra stuff when working? Then look for extra condiments, seasonings, napkins, cutlery, etc. in the restaurant—even if the customer didn’t ask for them. When handing over their orders, mention that you put them in the bag. A small act like this will demonstrate that you aim at providing great customer service. And your reward? A larger amount of tips. 

Thinking about single-use plastic and the environment? Read this post on how to live and work sustainably!

15. Call the customer if you’re running late!

Sometimes you can’t do anything but wait patiently: the order gets delayed because the restaurant or the store is too busy or you may find yourself in a traffic jam. So you need to recalibrate your route. If you end up in a situation with the unwanted result of running late, contact the customer as soon as possible. If you can’t call, leave a message. Honesty will pay off.

16. Make your messages more personal!

Nope, we don’t think of spicing up your texts with lots of emoticons. Rather it’s about letting your customers know you’re not a robot. We’ve all been greeted by chatbots that produce generic user-centric messages without a personal touch. Show your customers you’re an actual human being. 

What to include in your message?

Mention that everything went smoothly and write your estimated arrival time (ETA) to them. Updating them regularly is also an act of professionalism. And pros tend to receive more tips. 

17. Keep the speed limits

Photo by Mark Stenglein on Unsplash

When the clock is ticking, we’re more inclined to step on the gas pedal and speed up. On the one hand, it’s understandable as you want to deliver the items on time. On the other hand, getting a speeding ticket may cost you a fortune—more than the tips received. Not to mention that it can affect your insurance rates. And your safety should be above all!

If it’s certain you’ll be late, just inform your customer about it. Maybe give some explanations and assure them you’re doing your best. A trick some people do is to rush to the door and then back to the car. This could give the impression that you always try to arrive on time. 

18. Wait for your customers!

If you’re not in a hurry because of another delivery, you may wait for them for 10 minutes or so. Near the end of the ten minutes, give them a call. If no one answers, call the support team of the delivery company you work with/for, and ask them what to do. If you transport something other than perishable food, you may come back at the end of your shift. Customers will appreciate your efforts. 

Safety concerns: A few drivers say you should not approach the door if the lights are off inside. 

19.  Address your customers by their names!

Some people have strong feelings about their names being mispronounced. So if you can’t pronounce your customers’ names, just say hi. While some would appreciate it if you ask them about the correct pronunciation, others may not like it at all. It’s worth a try in case they seem nice and understanding. Sharing your similar experience could be a good conversation starter.

20.  Be polite and professional

Regardless of the customers’ attitude toward you, make sure you are friendly and drop off your deliveries with a smile and lots of positive energy. Engage in small talk (of circa 30-40 seconds) about the weather, the store or the restaurant they’ve ordered from, or about the traffic. You can even make compliments about their front yard or pets. Some delivery drivers say they also prepare some treats for the pets

21.  Don’t hand over the item until you get paid

This piece of advice is for those delivery drivers who get paid at the door. Grubhub, Bellhops, Senpex, Dolly, Peach and many other app- or Internet-based platforms operate with a built-in payment system. So the probability of the customer shutting the door without paying is small.

Which delivery companies do you want to try next?

22.  Offer to bring the bags in

Shoppers doing rounds with Instacart and Shipt will see how much this could mean to some customers. For example, to the elderly, pregnant women, parents with babies, or to those unable to carry weights. If they invite you in, maybe ask them about shoes. In many households, wearing shoes in the house doesn’t lead to problems, but some people are fussy about their carpets.  

We’re all humans and we all make mistakes even if we try to not to. The word sorry can save nearly every situation. Important: If the restaurant messes things up, don’t apologize for their mistake, but show customers you’re on their side. 

23.  Apologize if you’ve made a mistake!

Some experienced delivery drivers have also pointed out that finding the house number can challenge them. Sometimes even the GPS can’t tell you where to go. If you can’t spot the number, maybe an ambulance either. Kindly express your worries to your customer. If you ring the doorbell at someone else’s home because of the lack of signage, it’s not your fault. 

Delivery people handling bills probably don’t want the customers to miss this part. Draw a red dot, an arrow or something that would catch their attention. A lot of people don’t leave a tip because they aren’t told they could. Highlighting the line counts as a subtle reminder.  

 24. Highlight the line for tips

Some delivery apps encourage customers to tip their delivery drivers through the app, but not all of them. For example, Postmates customers automatically suggest a 20% tip for each order within the app.

Read also: How to Make the Most Money with Postmates

earn more money courier

25.  Carry one-dollar bills and lots of pennies

Those having years of experience under the belt will tell you this every single time. If the total sum of the order is 15 bucks and your customer pays with a 20-dollar bill, don’t give them a 5-dollar bill. Lick your thumb (as some drivers recommend) and start counting five one-dollar notes. 

Of course, this only works if the customer pays upon delivery. Nonetheless, they may say, “Oh, I’d like to give you a tip but I only have a 10.” Then you can open your fanny pack (discussed above) and tell them it’s not a problem. (Read the social cues in the given situation to predict the reaction to your action,

26. Send a message after the delivery

Try to always send a thank-you message. Sometimes a simple Thank you or Thank you for your order would do. In situations where the customer orders some scrumptious meal, close the conversation by saying Enjoy your meal. You may ask for a review, too. Many delivery companies monitor reviews and rates regularly: good reviews and higher scores may lead to more shifts and better pay. 

27. Remember good tippers!

Not every customer orders every day but maybe once or twice a week or month. You may meet some people who always leave a generous tip. Try to remember them and always serve them first. (If dropping off their stuff first doesn’t mean taking a detour, of course.

28. Work during sports events and bad weather!

Plenty of national holidays and sports events take place throughout the year, and some people must attend them. They don’t want to skip any minute of the game or the celebration. They may also stay inside when it’s raining heavily and grab their phone to order something delicious. If you don’t mind working on the Fourth of July, on the day of the Super Bowl or when the weather is awful, just turn on your preferred delivery service app and complete a few deliveries. During these times, surge pricing may occur.

Read also: 17 Unique Ideas on How to Make Money for Christmas

29. Evaluate your day

Why is it important to know the exact amount of your earnings? Easy. You spend money on gas, insurance and the maintenance of your vehicle, and maybe pay tolls and other fees. And you have to pay taxes, too. Your disposable income (the money you can spend) is the sum after all the expenses and taxes paid. 

Tracking your expenses in a spreadsheet (or Excel sheet)—or as a member on Appjobs—would allow you to compare companies in terms of earnings, popular areas, the average tips received, and many more. This way you would not waste more time with an app that doesn’t work for you. Some companies enjoy more popularity in certain places. Others attract more customers in other parts of the city, state, or country. What works for others may not work for you.

Read also: 60+ Essentials Tools and Apps for Freelancers

30. Exchange ideas with fellow delivery drivers

Don’t think you’re alone just because you work as an independent contractor. The chances that more than ten delivery drivers serve customers in your area are quite high. 

Standing in the line next to them? 

Take advantage of the situation and initiate a conversation. Share and exchange experiences. If you’re a beginner, don’s miss an opportunity to ask them about tips for delivery drivers to earn more money. 

Look for delivery driver jobs here!

SUMMARY

The delivery driver tips shared focus on preparation before work, picking up and dropping off orders, and interacting with customers. In all stages of the delivery process, you can do something to become more efficient and to elevate your customer experience hoping to earn more tips. The key to great customer service lies in the attitude toward customers. Consider the difference between on-demand and scheduled deliveries and how the delivery apps calculate their base fares (and reimbursement). Don’t forget either that your location affects the number of jobs available and the size of the possible net income. Something to keep in mind that you need to pay taxes on the tips received from customers.

Barbara is a trained journalist, working in the field of media since late 2009. She holds a master’s degree in Communication Studies and Cinema Studies and has attended several freestanding courses as she believes in lifelong learning. Her passion for (audiovisual and written) content has led her to work on projects related to film programming, content production and management, social media management, event management, and project management. She enjoys doing research and sharing the acquired knowledge with others.

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