DoorDash Driver Guide: How I Make $17/hr in My Free-time

Are you interested in earning extra money after your 9–5? Or maybe you’re looking to earn extra cash between your college classes? Becoming a delivery driver for the popular food delivery platform, DoorDash, is a great potential opportunity.

DoorDash is an app that allows people to order food from their favorite restaurant and get it delivered right to their front door. The restaurant pays DoorDash a cut from the orders, and the Dashers get to take home the delivery fee and tips.

Get ready to learn everything you need to know first hand from a Dasher. All of my DoorDash experience is in San Diego, so some things may vary depending on where you’re Dashing – what DoorDash calls their drivers. But if you are in a hurry, proceed here you can find all the details from signing up to earning hundreds of dollars delivering food with DoorDash.

Do You Qualify For DoorDash?

When I was looking to make more money on my days off, the first place I went to was Uber. Unfortunately at that time my car did not qualify for Uber, so my next stop was DoorDash. I applied on their website and was delivering food the next week. I will go through what that process looked like in a minute.

To qualify to be a Dasher you will just need a few things:

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Reliable transportation. This can be a car, scooter, motorcycle, or bicycle.
  • A valid, in state drivers license, if driving.
  • A social security number
  • A reliable smartphone

DoorDash is operating in 4000 cities, a quick Google search will tell you if yours is on the list. Then, if you have what’s listed above, you can easily get started and start earning money with DoorDash!

DoorDash Startup Process

doordash driver guide - learn to get started

Once you have completed the driver application, which only takes a few minutes, you will be invited to an in person orientation. My orientation was a few days after I applied. During the orientation the new Dashers watched a few training videos, downloaded the Dasher App, and went through what a delivery would be like. The whole process took less than an hour.

At the orientation, the new drivers received a food bag that keeps food hot or cold, two DoorDash red debit cards, a DoorDash hat, and had the option to purchase a DoorDash T-shirt. After completing the Dasher orientation, you’re ready to start delivering!

Overall the signup process was enjoyable and left me feeling confident that I was prepared for success in my new delivery driving venture.

Scheduling Your DoorDash Shifts

DoorDash gives Dashers two options regarding the hours you work. During busy times drivers can “Dash Now” meaning that they can drive to an area of town and begin receiving delivery requests. The other option is to schedule hours in advance. I chose to schedule my driving shifts 90% of the time, and would pick up some extra Dash Now work before or after my shift if it was available.

DoorDash allows every Dasher to schedule driving hours up to five days in advance. That means on Sunday night at midnight you can schedule work up until Friday, and Monday at midnight Saturday hours will be available. Your city will be split into a few different sections, so the drivers are evenly spread out around town. You may find there to be a lot of competition between drivers attempting to get the best hours and areas of town. If that’s the case you’ll need to either wait until midnight and grab the hours you want, or schedule first thing in the morning.

You can also become a top rated Dasher, which includes a few benefits:

  • Schedule up to 6 days in advance
  • Receive priority during slower hours
  • Ability to Dash Now anywhere

To become a Top Dasher and receive the benefits above, you need to maintain a few monthly criteria, which can be achieved during your first month delivering. These are subject to change, but to become a Top Dasher the following must be met:

  • 4.7/5 customer rating
  • 95% delivery completion rate
  • 70% acceptance rate
  • 100+ monthly deliveries
  • 200+ lifetime deliveries

If the criteria above are met in January, you will be a Top Dasher throughout February.

Things To Expect During Your DoorDash Shifts

Let’s go over what a normal DoorDash shift will look like for you as a Dasher. Let’s say your shift is scheduled from 4pm–8pm. You want to be in your scheduled area, ready to start delivering 10 minutes before your shift begins. Double check that you have everything you need, and you will start receiving delivery requests once you open the Dasher App and are physically in your scheduled area. Note that your phone will use location services throughout your driving time, which may impact your monthly data usage. 

When you receive a delivery request you will get to see a few details before choosing if you want to accept it. You’ll see the delivery route from you to the restaurant, to the customer; a time to deliver by; the restaurant and customer names; the number of items; and the expected pay you’ll receive. The average pay per delivery is $5–7, some will be more, some less. Once you get a grasp of your city, you will have an idea of how long each delivery will take to complete. You can choose to reject the delivery offers if the pay is not great, just remember it’s important to maintain a 70% acceptance rate.

As soon as you accept a delivery it’s go time. Remember – time is money! Get to the restaurant as quickly as possible, find somewhere to safely park your car and leave your flashers on. I have had a few close calls with parking tickets, so I printed a sign that said DoorDash Delivery Driver, and left it visible on my inside front windshield.

Grab your phone and DoorDash food bag (so people know why you’re there) get into the restaurant and let someone know you’re there. Your Dasher App will tell you what the order consists of and who it’s for. You may need to order the food yourself, or pay for it with your DoorDash debit card, you get paid extra for both of those tasks. Next, tell the restaurant worker the order details so they don’t give you the wrong food, as there could be multiple orders for Dave. You also want to repeat item specifics such as no tomatoes, or extra mayo. Grab some extra napkins, utensils, condiments, and whatever else you think someone may want on your way out.

If the restaurant is taking a while, just let the customer know. I’ve had to wait 10 minutes or more for food, which is frustrating, but not your fault as long as you communicate. You will get to know which restaurants are a pain, and which always have the order ready to go.

Now it’s time to get the food to your customer ASAP. Make sure you eat before your shift, because a hot, fresh pepperoni pizza sitting directly next to you will always smell amazing and stir up hunger.

DoorDash Driver Pay

This is likely the most important information, how much money can you make as a Dasher? There are a lot of factors that will determine your pay as a delivery driver. Most delivery jobs pay an hourly rate regardless of how many deliveries you make. As a Dasher your pay is determined by how many deliveries you make. That means you want to work as efficiently as possible. Every minute matters and affects your potential pay.

If you are diligent in your work you can make a good wage as a Dasher. I earned an average of $17 per hour, including the cost of gas. A part time Dasher can earn enough for a monthly car payment, insurance, or just to have some extra savings. Again, what you earn is highly dependent on some decisions you make.

Here are some tips on how to maximize your profit potential

  1. Know what shifts are best

I found weekdays to be just as profitable, if not more profitable than weekends. Customers are willing to pay for the convenience of getting food delivered to their workplace during lunch. And more people are likely to want to go out on Friday or Saturday nights, rather than eating in. You also want to think about local events. If there is a big event happening on television, people will be ordering food. Odd weather will also get people to stay home, whether it’s abnormally hot, or cold, or raining.

       2. Maintain great communication with your customers

The Dasher App lets you easily communicate with the customers who are expecting their food. When they place an order, they receive an expected delivery time. If it’s 5 minutes past that and they haven’t heard anything, that’s bad news for you. But if they get a text saying the restaurant took longer than expected, or there is heavy traffic, they will always appreciate the update.

There was one night where DoorDash gave me the wrong customer address. I had picked up their pizza and driven to the given customer location, which was a park. I called the customer to find out where in the park they were, only to find out they weren’t at the park, they were 10 minutes away at their home. Then I called DoorDash support and explained the situation, they refunded the customer and told me I could keep the food and delivery payment. I called the customer back and explained I still wanted to drop off their food, and did so. It all ended up well because they got free pizza, I got paid for the delivery, and got a $10 tip from them.

Things will happen and challenges will arise no matter what, don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance. If you go above and beyond with your communication and customer service, it will pay dividends. Even smiling as you walk up to the door with the food can increase your tips.

What You Need To Succeed As A Dasher: 

Here are a few more recommendations to be a successful Dasher and enjoy your time delivering.

1. Wear clean, comfortable clothes:

I would recommend wearing sneakers, avoid sandals or flip-flops because they look unprofessional. You also don’t want to look like you’ve just worked out, remember you’re handling other people’s food. I chose not to wear any DoorDash apparel, but I will leave that decision up to you.

2. Keep a phone charging cable and car mount in your car at all times:

The DoorDash app uses your location and you need to communicate with customers. The last thing you need is a dying phone. You also need a good phone holder that’s easy to use, as you will need to quickly set up your phone for hands-free directions, missing a turn is not good for your business. You will also need to grab your phone and bring it as you pick up the food. If the restaurant doesn’t have the food ready when you get there (it happens), it’s important to keep DoorDash and the customer updated.

3. Buy extra food delivery bags:

Some deliveries may be for a larger crowd, so you’ll need more than one DoorDash bag. You definitely don’t want to deliver lukewarm food.

4. Have an umbrella and towel:

Some of the busiest times for delivery drivers will be rainy days. Pack an umbrella to keep you and the food as dry as possible. Having a towel handy to dry yourself off can be a lifesaver and make your rainy day shift more bearable.

Overall Dashing Experience

My overall Dashing experience is positive. I found it to be a fun and competitive side hustle that has good earning potential. If you are willing to work quickly and discover what works best in your city, DoorDash is a great opportunity for you to earn money even with a busy schedule. Interested? Become a Dasher – Start Delivering Today!

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