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  • dhilario24

I was a DoorDasher, here's what I learned!

A majority of us are familiar with DoorDash and some of us use it on a consistent basis, especially during these Covid times. I've always appreciated the convenience that it has brought, I mean, you basically have your pick of neighborhood eats (and sometimes neighboring town eats) at your fingertips. And with an average delivery time of about 40 minutes, that's just enough time to watch another episode of whatever Netflix show you've been binging, while you wait!

During my transition from corporate employee to small business owner, I thought about picking up a pizza delivery job to pass the time and earn some extra cash as I built my business. No disrespect to the pizza delivery profession, but I thought that it would be a pretty simple and mundane job to add balance to my day. I didn't end up pursuing a pizza delivery job, but weeks later, a friend of mine told me that she started driving for DoorDash and it piqued my interest.

She explained that the deliveries were pretty straightforward and estimated that about 90% of her deliveries were contactless (drop off at the door without having to interact with the customer). Pick up, drop off, minimal contact with others during this pandemic? I'm in!

My Dashing Experience

Signing up was a breeze. Just enter your details - tax info, contact information, vehicle specs - and submit to a background check. Not sure how extensive the background check was, but it came back in less than hour (not like there's anything in my background that could be shady, but it was a different experience compared to the days or weeks it would take for other background checks that I've been a part of).

Needless to say, I was approved and on the road in a little over an hour after I began the sign up process.

It might be me, but I don't think this job is as easy as it sounds. Obviously, you get a notification on your phone, pick up the food, drive to the customer's house and deliver said food. Simple, right? Well, conceptually yes, but there are other factors involved, which is what I was interested in experiencing.

Typically, it's a one-order transaction, meaning you pick up from one place and deliver to the customer. In some cases, I was able to pick up two orders at once and then deliver to customers who were in close proximity. I liked those, not only did it extend the delivery time for the first order, it also saved on gas and time.

What was really interesting was the range of deliveries that I did. There's the obvious ones (restaurant deliveries) but there were also some unexpected ones. For one, I had to pick up a Kitty Litter Box from a pet store.

"Delivery for Mr. Snuggles?!?!"

I also had random trips to 7-11 where I picked up things like aspirin and leg razors. A few times I had to pick up alcohol and mixers from liquor stores and deliver those. First off, I didn't know that was possible and secondly, kudos to the customers for figuring this out and leveraging the app for one of its greatest uses. "Nothing will get in the way of our house being dry, I shall summon the services of DoorDash to replenish our stock so the party can continue!!!"

After a few deliveries, I got the hang of the process and figured out that dashing for one to two hours a day wasn't going to cut it. This was a four to eight hour commitment you'd have to make to really get the most of the experience money-wise. You might have heard that Dashers can make about $20 - $25 an hour, but that's averaged out over a large amount of deliveries. When I started, there was also a promotion that if you completed 60 deliveries during that week, you'd earn an extra $100. So that was all the motivation I needed to see this through for the week.

Some Cons

Obviously, the first question people ask when they know you dash is "How are the tips?" They're not too bad. Usually they range between $1 - $5 depending on how large the order is. And yes, there have been multiple occasions where I didn't get tipped. The app allows you to decide which deliveries you accept, so Dashers can see in advance what the customer planned to tip. For non-tipping orders, DoorDash puts the caveat in that customers can add a tip after the order has been delivered. I didn't dash for very long to see if anyone does this, but other blogs out there have said that post-delivery tips are rare. Since I committed to doing this for a week (and to reach the 60 delivery bonus milestone) I accepted all delivery requests I got.

Another thing that I found a little frustrating was the difficulty in finding the customer's home. For houses, it's pretty easy, since for the most part their address isn't hard to find on the map. For apartments, it's a different story. In some cases, these complexes felt like mazes without much clarity on the order and locations of the apartments. Maybe that's why they called it a complex?!?!

"Excuse me, can you tell me where Apartment C-218 is?"

The biggest pet peeve was having to deliver to long distances, around 12-15 miles (~30 miles round trip) for one delivery. This definitely hurt my pocketbook because not only did it take longer to do a delivery, it used up a lot of gas to go there and back. These deliveries were fairly common and it made sense, because there were not very many restaurants around these areas, so delivery makes sense as a more convenient option for them.

Overall, it was a very eye-opening experience. I had to overcome my initial anxieties of being tracked and on-the-clock, feeling rushed to complete orders quickly. I also had to deal with constantly-changing logistics from directions to the restaurant, navigation to the customer, and instructions on delivery preferences. And in some cases, I completed these deliveries without getting tipped (7 out of 60 deliveries, to be exact).

I wanted to do this experiment to understand what's it like on the other side of the DoorDash app. The convenience that we experience when we make a DoorDash order comes at a cost of someone doing this for a wage and in some cases for a living. I learned that for the most part, almost everyone is appreciative of the service, but it was definitely humbling to experience what goes on.

The funniest part? On my 60th and final order, I got a request to deliver a pizza from Round Table. So I guess I was able to cross that experience off my list, as well! All in all, I've learned that just like anyone else helping you put food in your belly, Dashers and all other delivery workers deserve gratitude for their patience, determination, and safety.

For fun, I've included my final delivery totals below:

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