Secrets Of Food Delivery Drivers And The $38 Billion Dollar Industry

Chances are you’ve ordered food from DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates or Uber Eats at least once. The technology companies behind these food delivery apps have been in existence for fewer than ten years, but they’re making a big impact on the way we eat.

Forbes estimates that food delivery sales are expected to increase by more than 20% by 2030, with the industry projected to be worth $38 billion by the end of 2020. Delivery drivers have a huge role in America’s new habit. Here’s what they had to say about one of the fastest-growing services of 2020 and some lesser-known info customers should know.

Drivers Can’t Stand When Restaurants Make Them Wait

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Unsplash/Wonderlane
Unsplash/Wonderlane

Have you ever gone to a restaurant to pick up your take-out order at the time provided, but end up waiting 5-10 minutes for it to be ready? That’s exactly what delivery drivers have to deal with on a daily basis.

Drivers admit that they are often frustrated at the waiting times at restaurants. Waiting ten minutes at a pick-up will end up killing their overall hourly earnings. And unlike Uber rides, delivery drivers aren’t paid for their time — just the orders completed.

Experienced Drivers Have Their Strategies

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Unsplash/Melissa Mjoen
Unsplash/Melissa Mjoen

Since driving for a food delivery service doesn’t pay drivers for the length of the ride, as Uber and Lyft do, every minute counts for making money. Experienced delivery drivers maximize their income by starting their hour close by popular restaurants.

Peak hours also see a higher volume of orders, offering more opportunities to claim deliveries. Lunch is generally from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. while the dinner rush is from 5 p.m. until as late as 9 p.m.

Delivery Is A Good Option If Your Car Isn’t Up To Par

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Unsplash/Ivan Angelov
Unsplash/Ivan Angelov

While some drivers wouldn’t mind picking up passengers instead of chow mein, they choose Uber Eats because they think it’s a better fit for the car they drive. If a driver’s car is rundown or dirty, it hurts their chances of getting a good rating on Uber, Lyft, or other ridesharing apps. But that’s not a concern with food delivery.

While a customer and her friends might not appreciate a junky Honda hatchback driving them to brunch, burgers and fries won’t complain. However, Uber Eats requires a driver’s vehicle to be newer than 1998.

Many Uber Eats Drivers Drove People First

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Unsplash/Dan Gold
Unsplash/Dan Gold

Drivers who are already registered and approved as an Uber driver can easily sign-up to be a driver for Uber Eats. Those who already drive for Uber can simply open up their Uber driving app and turn on delivery notifications.

Enabling the “Yes! I want to do delivery!” button is all Uber drivers need to do to get started. If rides are slow, many drivers take this delivery option to maintain their Uber income.

1 In 4 Drivers Admitted To Tasting Customers’ Food

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Unsplash/Obi Onyeador
Unsplash/Obi Onyeador

It takes a lot of willpower not to reach for a couple of fries on the drive home if it’s your own food, but what about a meal you just picked up for a customer?

Food delivery drivers have admitted to giving in to the sweet aroma of your order, sampling a piece before delivering the food to your door. US Foods conducted a survey, asking 500 drivers if they’ve ever eaten customers’ food — 25% said they had!

Customers Order A Lot Of Junk Food Through The Apps

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Unsplash/Erik Mclean
Unsplash/Erik Mclean

Food delivery apps have become increasingly popular. By 2021, more than 20% of Americans with smartphones are predicted to use food delivery apps. The convenience of having food delivered to your door without so much as talking to another person is undeniable. One thing the app doesn’t do, however, is to encourage healthy eating. As it turns out, Americans are mostly ordering unhealthy food.

The most popular dish that U.S. customers order from Uber Eats is french fries. Also on that list is mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, cheese pizza, onion rings, and a cheeseburger.

Drivers Report Making Around $8-12 An Hour

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Unsplash/Griffin Wooldridge
Unsplash/Griffin Wooldridge

Unlike Uber rides, where the payment is based on driving time, Uber Eats drivers are based on fulfilling the order. According to RideSharingDriver, in May 2018, the average Uber Eats driver was making $8-$12 an hour, after accounting for vehicle expenses.

Of the 92 Grubhub drivers who reported their earnings on Indeed, the average earnings came out to $11.05 an hour. That’s still more than what you could earn working at a sandwich shop.

Drivers Wish Customers Considered The Weather

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Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Drivers wish that customers would be more understanding of how the temperature could affect the quality of their order. Although drivers use insulated food delivery bags to transport hot and cold foods, it doesn’t mean your order will be of the same quality as you’d get dining in.

Customers crave frozen yogurt on a hot day and want to warm up with soup in the winter, but travel time and air temperature might not make the meal as magical as you hoped, and your driver hopes you manage your expectations.

There’s Added Wear And Tear On Your Vehicle

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Unsplash/Nabeel Syed
Unsplash/Nabeel Syed

Drivers can track their earnings on the app, but there are some hidden costs of the job that might not be as obvious. Driving around town steadily wears down a car’s tires, brakes, and fluids — not to mention the gas!

Car Bibles recommends that delivery drivers use a hybrid car or a smaller economy car while slinging orders. Models like the 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid offer excellent gas mileage and affordable repairs and maintenance. Using the wrong vehicle for deliveries can cost drivers a lot in the long-run, lowering their revenue from the gig.

The Service Isn’t Without Controversy

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ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images
ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images

Drivers who sign on to deliver food quickly realize that not everyone is happy about the apps. Small businesses are shocked at the hefty commission (roughly 17% according to NPR) that the technology companies are charging the businesses on every order.

Restaurants already miss out on more revenue when customers decide to take out rather than eat in, but business owners aren’t happy with the extensive costs that the technology companies charge for working with them.

Uber Eats Received An F With The BBB

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Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

If you’ve had some complaints to voice about Uber Eats, you’re not alone. The technology company received an F rating with the Better Business Bureau, mostly due in part to their failure to respond to customer complaints.

As of 2020, the company’s BBB rating has changed to “NR” meaning “No Rating”. That doesn’t stop people from using the app though. The company is bringing in $1.46 billion in revenue each year.

200,000 People Drive For DoorDash

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Unsplash/Cory Bouthillette
Unsplash/Cory Bouthillette

DoorDash reports that 10,000 new drivers sign up for the app each week, employing 200,000 on-demand drivers. However, it’s unclear how many of those drivers are active, and what the turn-over rate is.

According to Glassdoor, 70% of drivers would recommend the company to a friend. Many of the drivers noted that it’s a good side gig with flexible hours, with the opportunity to make good money during peak delivery hours.

DoorDash Was Sued In 2019 Over Their Tipping Policy

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Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

A class-action suit was filed against DoorDash once a New York Times reporter discovered that the company was taking tips from their drivers. It was found that the company manipulated the percentage of delivery payments and tips. DoorDash is fighting the lawsuit, which has angered drivers as well as customers, who say they feel mislead by where their tip is going.

The attorney general’s complaint says, “DoorDash did not provide any restitution for consumers who had been misled by DoorDash’s deceptive tipping practices, nor did it provide any relief to workers who had their tips taken by DoorDash to subsidize its business.”

The “Hustle” Mentality Is Real

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Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon
Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

Trying to keep their hourly earnings up, delivery drivers admit that consistently completing their daily order goals can be difficult. Working with both the restaurants and the customers, with no direct customer service to contact for help, drivers are basically doing business on their own.

Getting held up in traffic can lose drivers money, and not finding easy parking can lead to a customer’s food being cold, amounting to a smaller tip. Adopting a hustle mindset can help motivate drivers to stay on task and achieve their goals.

Drivers’ Cars Have That Special Scent

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Unsplash/Dex Ezekiel
Unsplash/Dex Ezekiel

A downside of working as a delivery driver is the smell– consider how many varieties of food are picked up and transported each day. Sure, the more orders, the more money, but by the end of a shift you could have the lingering smells of food from four different cultures settling into your polyester car seats.

Properly sealing the food in the insulated bags helps, but drivers admit that it can be embarrassing picking up a date after work with your car smelling like a pile of cheeseburgers.

DoorDash Customers Aren’t Too Happy

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Unsplash/Anthony Espinosa
Unsplash/Anthony Espinosa

While DoorDash is a fast-growing, billion-dollar company, that doesn’t mean its customers think highly of the company. When looking at their ratings on Sitejabber, the app received a painstakingly low 1.14 out of 5 stars, with 220 customers reviewing their experience.

Customers were particularly irked about the added fees, which send the overall cost skyrocketing, even before tip. When all is said and done, the meal ends up costing far more than expected. Customers also report long wait times when trying to get their money back from orders that went wrong.

Drivers Hope Customers Consider A Decent Tip

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Unsplash/Spencer Davis
Unsplash/Spencer Davis

Food delivery isn’t always easy, and oftentimes the delayed wait time is due to the restaurant, not the driver. One driver reported waiting so long at a restaurant for a customer’s order that he nearly watched an entire game of soccer.

The drivers know that customers are being hit with fees, but still, they hope they will go the extra step to tip their delivery driver accordingly. The tips make all the difference, as 60 percent of Uber Eats drivers reported that a low tip, or even no tip, was the worst part of the job, according to a study by US Foods.

Driver And Restaurant Reviews Remain Anonymous

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Unsplash/Paul Hanaoka
Unsplash/Paul Hanaoka

Uber Eats customers have the option of reviewing both the restaurant and their driver based on their experience. These remain anonymous, as Uber wants to encourage their customers to be totally honest.

Uber Eats has a better reputation than its competitors for taking the reviews into account. Customers can expect a service comparable to Uber rides. The driver’s star rating is based on the average of 500 reviews and can be a contributing factor as to whether or not Uber allows them to keep driving for them.

It’s Not The Best Way To Support Your Favorite Spot

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Unsplash/Clem Onojeghuo
Unsplash/Clem Onojeghuo

When you place an order to your favorite restaurant through an app such as DoorDash or Uber Eats, you are giving them business. However, if you want to support them in the best way possible, you might want to consider picking up the take out order yourself instead.

Many restaurants have reported that the delivery service both helps and hurts their business, as the fees are high. Many elect to use the service anyway, to keep up with the competition.

Save Money By Using Uber Rewards

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Unsplash/Amber Engle
Unsplash/Amber Engle

Certain regions offer Uber Rewards for returning customers. By opting into the free program through the app, customers can collect points for the money they spend on both Uber Eats and Uber rides.

They can use those reward points towards meals or rides in the future. The program also offers benefits like priority pick-up and locked-in ride prices. Signing up can help relieve some of the costly future delivery fees.