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Driving for DoorDash: What to Expect When Delivering Orders

Last updated: September 23, 2021
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vector graphic showing multiple drivers driving for doordash

Do you enjoy driving?

Are you looking to make some money and take a break from the typical nine-to-five job?

Driving for DoorDash could be the answer.

All you have to do is pick food up from restaurants or convenience stores and deliver it to the customer at a set location.

You can make your own schedule and be your own boss.

But what does driving for DoorDash entail and how does it work for drivers?

In this article, we’ll cover the basics – and everything else you need to know.

Let’s jump right in.

What is DoorDash?

DoorDash is a third-party service that coordinates food delivery from local restaurants to homes, offices, or schools.

The San Francisco, CA-based company hires drivers, known as Dashers, to pick up food from partner restaurants and deliver them to nearby customers.

When DoorDash establishes a fleet in a city, the company partners with local restaurants that want to reach more customers without hiring dedicated delivery drivers.

They also fulfill deliveries for stores like Albertson’s and other grocery stores.

Key Concepts to Understand

Though the concept seems simple enough, driving for DoorDash involves more than picking up and dropping off food.

There are some important factors to understand before pursuing a job as a Dasher.

vector graphic illustrating doordash acceptance rate

Is DoorDash Meant To Be a Full-Time or Part-Time Job?

It depends on your situation.

Dashers are independent contractors with plenty of flexibility to work as much or as little as you like, so it’s possible to make it a side gig or a full-time job.

Full-time workers tend to get priority, but it’s a reasonable side-hustle for many people looking for some extra cash.

Is DoorDash Safe?

Like anything else in life, there is some potential risk involved.

However, DoorDash is safe for restaurants, customers, and Dashers.

DoorDash is an established company in the service industry working with hundreds of cities around the world.

In fact, DoorDash helped restaurants stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DoorDash delivery drivers safely delivered food to millions of customers across the United States and Canada.

The company goes out of its way to protect customer information and ensure food remains sealed and secure until delivery.

Of course, there are some tips and tricks to keep yourself safe when driving for DoorDash.

  • Avoid carrying cash on you when delivering.
  • Walk with authority and confidence when delivering an order.
  • Try to park under a streetlight when it’s dark.
  • Don’t leave your smartphone in the car, keep it with you at all times.

Remain aware of your surroundings at all times, especially if you notice somebody following you, and report suspicious activities.

How Fast Can You Start Driving for DoorDash?

According to DoorDash’s FAQs, it only takes a few minutes to create a Dasher account.

You do need to complete the DoorDash orientation and pass a background check.

The company reports that you can start earning money as a Dasher within a few days.

How Does DoorDash Work for Drivers?

Though driving for DoorDash is highly advertised, it’s not well-explained.

Before signing on as a Dasher, it helps to have a solid understanding of what to expect.

Key Concepts

There are two primary concepts to grasp before registering as a Dasher: the overall experience and the DoorDash food delivery app.

1. The Overall Experience

One of the top selling points for being a Dasher is the flexible work schedule.

You sign on when you’re available and mark yourself out when you can’t deliver.

It’s also important to note that Dashers can schedule hours ahead of time or log in when they have free time to work.

That said, the busy times correlate with normal meal times, so you’re apt to get more work at those time slots.

Additionally, priority goes to regular Dashers, meaning that they get better, higher-paying gigs.

2. DoorDash Dasher App

Dashers can download the DoorDash app on an iOS or Android smartphone. That’s where you claim hours and orders.

It’s a convenient app that makes picking up work easy, but there are a few potential drawbacks.

  • You can’t extend a scheduled shift through the system.
  • If you fail to log in within 30 minutes of your shift’s start time, the system will cancel the entire shift.

Fortunately, the system warns you before canceling your shift.

Pickups and Dropoffs

Whether you travel by car, bike, or scooter, it’s all about getting the food from point A to point B as safely and timely as possible.

When you access the DoorDash app, you should see several orders to select.

Be careful when accepting an order, and know that you can reject them if it doesn’t seem doable.

Once you accept an order, you accept responsibility for delivering that order to the customer.

1. Pickups from Restaurants

It’s go time!

Head for the restaurant listed on the order.

If you’re not familiar with the location, your DoorDash app can guide you.

It’s a quick, easy setup that most drivers complete when they register as a Dasher.

Make sure that you double-check the order for any restaurant-specific pickup instructions.

For instance, the restaurant may have a process for you to follow, and it’s crucial that you do!

At the restaurant, confirm your arrival in the app by swiping right at the bottom of your device.

You may have to pay for the food using your Red Card, but some orders are simple grab-and-gos.

The app will let you know if you have to use your Red Card or not.

Don’t forget to confirm in the app that you have the order!

2. Navigating to Destination

Delivering fresh food as quickly as you can is the best way to keep customers satisfied so they keep using DoorDash.

Using the map in the Dasher app can save you time by directing you to the customer’s address.

3. Dropoffs to Customers

There might be instructions from the customer about where to drop off the order.

Swipe right in the app to confirm you arrived and follow any customer preferences to make the delivery.

Once you complete the delivery, confirm it in the app.

Note that it is necessary to confirm your arrival, pickup, and delivery times throughout the process.

After confirming that you completed the delivery, you should have access to other orders in your area.

Scheduling and Shifts

There are two ways to pick up shifts for DoorDash, log on to pick up delivery jobs or early access scheduling.

Simply log into the app and click on the scheduling icon to pick times and dates.

What is Dash Now?

The DoorDash app features a Dash Now homepage that includes a special map.

This map displays the city broken into areas and color-coded.

The “very busy” areas have several restaurants needing Dashers, so you can expect to see orders pop up fast.

“Busy” areas might have a short wait for orders, while “normal” areas suggest a longer wait for work.

Gray-colored blocks indicate it’s not busy, so you may want to head somewhere else.

What is Early Access Scheduling?

Early access scheduling is an option for drivers who meet certain criteria.

It allows them to schedule up to six days in advance.

In the DoorDash driver app, look for the zip code where you hope to Dash, and see what’s available.

Select the beginning and end times you desire and hit save.

Note that you can almost always edit your selections later.

Additionally, if nothing is available in your area, that means they have enough Dashers scheduled.

Dashers can qualify for this type of scheduling by meeting the following criteria:

  • Have at least a 4.6 Customer Rating,
  • Have a Completion Rate of at least 95%, and
  • Either completed at least five orders the previous week (12:00 am on Friday through 11:59 pm on Thursday), or
  • Accepted and completed at least 500 deliveries with DoorDash.

DoorDash notes that you may qualify mid-week, but you would not be able to enter the program until that Friday.

Do DoorDash Drivers Pick When They Work?

Yes, you only work when you’re available and take the jobs you want to handle.

Naturally, standard meal times offer the best opportunities to pick up orders, and you may face lulls with no work.

That said, drivers only handle one delivery at a time and cannot take on additional orders until they complete the existing one.

This strategy helps everybody involved to ensure customers receive their orders as soon as possible.

Pro Tip: Drive during the best times to DoorDash to make the most money.

How Often Do DoorDash Drivers Work?

It depends on the driver.

Some Dashers work full eight-hour shifts while others run orders here and there to make extra cash.

Keep in mind that working more means completing more orders and earning more money.

How Long are Shifts for DoorDash Drivers?

If you opt to work as a full-time Dasher, DoorDash determines your shifts and times.

Part-time Dashers can schedule their own shifts and set the length they desire.

Even part-time Dashers can schedule shifts in advance or pop on at a hot spot to pick up orders.

Payments and Earnings

Getting paid is the reward for shuffling all of this food around town, and it can be a lucrative gig if you do it right.

vector image of a doordash courier riding bike and money falling out of the back to indicate how much do doordash drivers make

How Much Do DoorDash Drivers Make?

DoorDash notes that Dashers make $2 to $10 for each delivery as the base pay, plus tips and promotions, like the PeakPay incentives.

In March 2021, Business Insider interviewed an Oregon-based Dasher.

As part of the story, DoorDash noted that their Dashers earn over $22 per hour.

However, ZipRecruiter cites the average as $19 per hour, and a recent report by Indeed listed the average hourly pay as $15.03.

According to DoorDash’s website, the company determines base pay for each job using three criteria.

  • Estimated time the delivery should take.
  • How far the driver has to travel.
  • How desirable the order is.

For example, an order that could take longer or require more travel isn’t as popular for Dashers, so you can expect a higher base rate to complete it.

DoorDash lists the pay rate for each delivery in the app so that you know what to expect before accepting.

Not only can you work as much as you want, but you can also take on higher-paying gigs if you prefer.

How Do DoorDash Drivers Get Paid?

When you register as a Dasher, you can set up your bank account for direct deposit.

Most Dashers opt for a direct deposit because it’s easy, consistent, and can be changed at any time.

Alternatively, you can sign up for a DasherDirect Business Prepaid Visa Card.

There’s no fee attached to DoorDash pay, and you can manage the funds through a mobile banking app.

When Do DoorDash Drivers Get Paid?

DoorDash offers three different options for getting paid.

The company deposits earnings weekly to the Dasher’s bank account.

However, if that doesn’t work for your lifestyle, you could opt for daily deposits via DasherDirect.

Using DasherDirect also scores you 2% cashback on your gas purchases.

Additionally, if you need money for an emergency and have DasherDirect set up, you can pay a small fee to get paid instantly.

Does DoorDash Reimburse Expenses for Drivers?

Unfortunately, DoorDash doesn’t reimburse any expenses for Dashers.

From parking fees to tolls, you take on the responsibility for those costs when you become a Dasher.

In the wake of the pandemic, personal protective equipment (PPE) became a necessary expense for many delivery drivers.

With many restaurants requiring face coverings to enter their premises, Dashers need to have PPE and hand sanitizer on them at all times.

DoorDash requires all Dashers to use masks, but the company did not provide them for employees or offer compensation for purchasing your own.

However, the company did reportedly send free hand sanitizer and gloves to Dashers in some cities.

Is Driving for DoorDash a Hard Job?

Being a Dasher isn’t an overly challenging job, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pose some challenges.

Some people find it easy to integrate dashing into their day as a side gig, and others prefer it to other hourly jobs.

Is DoorDash Driving Hard Mentally?

It depends on the person, but the basic job is simple enough.

However, whenever you deal with customers, there is room for emotions to flare and dissatisfaction.

Plus, you could do a lot of driving during rush hour with excessive traffic.

Is it DoorDash Driving Hard Physically?

DoorDash isn’t particularly physical work.

You might have to drive for long periods, but other than that it only involves taking food from one place to another.

Aside from dealing with a lot of stairs, it shouldn’t be overwhelming for most people.

Pros and Cons of Driving for DoorDash

No job is perfect, but it helps to have a clear idea about the pros and cons before signing on to any gig.

As with any job, it’s a good idea to weigh the facts and determine what works best for you.

Pros of Driving for DoorDash

There are several excellent reasons to register as a Dasher.

1. Flexible Schedules

You can build your own hours?

Yes, please!

Though you may be at the mercy of mealtime, you can work whatever hours you want.

Maybe you like to sleep late, enjoy a morning workout, and then pick up the lunch and dinner shifts.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a day off for doctor appointments or a special event without issue?

As a Dasher, you can take off whenever you want without penalty.

2. No Tip Sharing

You keep 100% of the customer tips for your orders.

DoorDash doesn’t take a cut, and you don’t have to split the total with other workers.

3. You Can Say No

Though it’s tempting to take every order that comes your way, it’s not always the right move.

You can skip over orders and only accept the ones you want to do,

4. Promotions Equal Extra Money

DoorDash offers several promotions that can earn you extra money on a delivery.

PeakPay is the most common incentive that offers extra money to make the delivery.

However, additional incentives come in the form of a DoorDash referral bonus, which is also very lucrative to claim.

5. Limited Customer Interactions

Unlike restaurant employees, you don’t have to interact with the customers beyond handing over the food.

This is called contactless delivery, and has been made popular during the COVID-19 panedmic.

That’s not even much of a concern anymore since customers can select no-contact delivery where you drop the food and take a picture to confirm you delivered it.

Cons of Being a DoorDash Driver

Like other gigs, hustling for DoorDash comes with some drawbacks.

1. No Set Hourly Pay

Though you can find various estimates for hourly Dasher wages, there’s no set pay.

You may make $10 per hour one day and $20 per hour another day, depending on the orders you take.

Dashers rely on tips and promotions because they do not receive the entire delivery fee associated with an order.

Plus, you could spend a lot of time sitting around waiting for orders to pop up.

You don’t get paid unless you’re delivering, so that could translate to hours without income.

2. No Guaranteed Work

Unless you can sign up for a shift through early access scheduling, you might have to wait until it gets busy to find gigs.

3. Racks Up Mileage on Your Vehicle

No matter how you slice it, driving from restaurant to drop off and back again puts some serious wear and tear on your car, motorcycle, or bicycle.

Since DoorDash doesn’t reimburse for anything, you have to maintain your vehicle of choice.

Pro Tip: DoorDash trackerTo take advantage of tax write offs, always use a to track expenses and mileage!

The Hidden Frustrations of Driving for DoorDash

Driving for DoorDash sounds easy enough, but it’s not always sunshine and rainbows.

There are a few pitfalls to watch for if you plan to register.

1. Waiting to be Matched with Orders

In busy areas, you compete with other drivers to get the best orders.

If you’re not quick or near a hot spot, you could end up waiting a long time to make some money.

Sure, you could listen to a podcast or read a book, but then you might miss out.

When waiting for orders to propagate, you have to pay enough attention to catch them as they pop up.

2. Waiting at Restaurants for Food

If you ever worked in or ate at a restaurant, you know things happen that result in food delays.

It’s frustrating when you have customers waiting on that order and it could impact your customer service score.

DoorDash suggests contacting the customer to let them know about the delays.

3. Waiting at Doors for Customers

Unless it’s a no-contact delivery, you need to hand over the food to the customer.

What happens if the customer doesn’t respond?

You can’t pick up a new order until you deliver the one you have, so unresponsive customers can cost you earnings.

While DoorDash outlines several contingencies for this scenario, waiting to hand off a customer’s food can be frustrating.

How has COVID-19 Impacted DoorDash Driving?

Food delivery services saw a massive boom following the COVID-19 outbreak.

As more people sought to limit contact with other people, Dashers became as important as grocery store clerks.

Dashers must wear masks, and the company created the no-contact delivery system to limit interpersonal contact.

Is DoorDash Worth It?

Yes. DoorDash is a flexible job that can give you extra money or outright cover your living expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions that potential Dashers have about the job:

Will driving for DoorDash affect my unemployment?

By registering with DoorDash you become an employee with the option to make as much money as you like.

How can I stop driving for DoorDash if I don’t like it?

To quit dashing, cancel any scheduled shifts and contact DoorDash customer service to deactivate your account.

Remember to provide Support with the phone number or email address that you used to register.

What disqualifies you from driving for DoorDash?

When you register to be a Dasher, DoorDash does a background check that involves a Motor Vehicle Report and Criminal History Report.

Several things could disqualify you, including not possessing a valid driver’s license, regular run-ins with the law, or a history of violent crimes.

Can you drive for DoorDash and Grubhub at the same time?

Yes, you can drive for as many delivery services as you want, including GrubHub and Uber Eats.

Just make sure that you can manage the schedule.

Are You Ready to Start Driving for DoorDash?

Driving for DoorDash can be a rewarding experience with plenty of earning potential.

It’s flexible and allows you to set the hours you want to work, take time off when necessary, and decline deliveries you don’t want to handle.

If you need a side-gig to supplement your income or full-time work to support yourself, you could always give DoorDash a try.

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