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How To DoorDash For The First Time In 2023

With the rise of the gig work economy in the United States, you may be interested in signing up as a DoorDash Driver.

DoorDash is a great way to earn extra income or transition into full-time work.

In addition, you have the freedom to work when you want and where you want for the platform.

DoorDash is not only available in larger cities like New York and San Francisco.

A DoorDash Dasher like you can now earn extra cash every day in smaller communities, as well.

Continue reading to discover more about how to DoorDash for the first time in 2023, including how the technology works, how much you can expect to make, and tips to make delivery as smooth as possible.

What is DoorDash?

DoorDash is a food delivery service similar to its competitors, UberEats, and GrubHub.

It connects freelance drivers, hungry customers, and local restaurants all in one app.

Customers search for eateries and select from their menu right on their phone or tablet.

After ordering, payment and customer tips are sent through the app.

Then, an estimated delivery time is given to customers.

Restaurants expand their business by outsourcing their food delivery service using DoorDash instead of paying for their drivers.

DoorDash Dashers earn money for every delivery made, plus tips and bonuses.

How Does DoorDash Work?

As a driver, you will receive orders pushed to you through the app.

Once you accept the order, you drive to the local restaurant and place or pick up the order.

Once the food is ready, you drive to the customer and deliver their food.

All of the instructions, including location, are listed clearly in the app.

When delivery is complete, the money is added to your account.

How to DoorDash For the First Time

Before the dollars start rolling in, you need to understand how to use DoorDash for the first time.

Then, we will go over the basics to get you on the road and earning.

Find Busy Areas in the DoorDash Driver App

First, you need to download the DoorDash Delivery Driver app onto your mobile device.

When you log in to the food delivery app, you see a heat map in red, pink, and gray shades.

The map indicates where the best times to DoorDash are.

These are busy areas and where drivers are needed most at that particular moment.

Pink zones indicate fewer drivers are needed, while bright red zones mean more deliverers are needed.

If an area is gray, that means you won’t be able to pick up any orders in that area.

The app places a flame icon at hotspot zones.

Zones marked with a flame and a red circle show those restaurants are very busy.

The bottom of your screen will show a “busy hotspot zone” in the most active red locations.

Zones marked with a flame icon but no red circle means the spot was a “busy hotspot zone” before but isn’t receiving as much traffic now.

Nevertheless, these historical hotspots are worth keeping an eye on or driving to, as orders for that area could pick up again.

Hotspots typically refresh about every 10 minutes in the app.

Pick a Zone

Since shifts are selected at 30-minute intervals, select the zone where you will deliver for that shift.

After the half-hour has ended, you can switch to a different zone.

Alternatively, you can schedule yourself for a particular zone for as long as you plan on delivering.

Either way, pick a red zone to stay busy and potentially make more money during each shift you work.

Once you’ve selected a busy zone, click “Navigate” on your mobile device and travel to that area.

Hit the Button “Dash Now”

You are ready to start delivering after you have located, selected, and traveled to a busy zone.

Hit the Dash Now button to indicate you’re in the correct zone you selected.

To have a successful shift, you need to confirm with the app that you have:

  • If you drive a car, you will need gas.
  • Bring your Red Card if you need to pay for food.
  • Your mobile device and a charger to stay connected.
  • A delivery bag to keep all of the deliverables together and warm.

Once you’ve confirmed that you’re ready to begin accepting orders, click on “Start Your Dash.”

Suggested Read

DoorDash Schedule: How Scheduling Works For Drivers

Accept the Delivery

After indicating you’re ready to start your Dash, the app cycles through orders for delivery requests in your zone.

The app shows busy zones with flame icons.

If you are closer to those busy zones with flame icons, you will be more likely to receive delivery requests.

The app sends details of the order so you can accept or decline the delivery, including:

  • The base price of your order, excluding any tips or challenges, or bonuses
  • The name, location, and distance of the restaurant
  • Items in the order
  • The time it should take to complete delivery of the order

To continue, click Accept or Decline.

If you touch Decline, the app shows how declining the delivery affects your acceptance rate.

First-time drivers need not be as concerned with acceptance rates as veterans.

However, some challenges are affected by how many orders you accept in a given timeframe to get that bonus.

Newer dashers should be more concerned with getting used to the system and process of delivery.

Head to the Pick Up Location

If you click Accept, the app prompts drivers to find directions.

Users can utilize a map app of their choosing, like Google Maps or Apple Maps, to navigate to the restaurant.

Select whichever one you feel most comfortable using.

Use the slider that says “slide upon arrival” to let the app and customer know you have arrived at the correct location to pick up the food.

Double Check and Pick Up the Order

After arriving, you need to pick up the order.

Head inside with the order information on your mobile device.

Since there are three different types of orders, how you pick up the order is reflected in the next steps.

Your device prompts you to action based on three scenarios:

  1. The order has been placed and paid for: Show the restaurant staff the order information on your device. Then, since everything has been paid for, you can pick up the food and go.
  2. The order has not been placed and has not been paid for: Place the order once you arrive at the restaurant and wait for the food to be made. Then, pay for the food using your preloaded Red Card and deliver it.
  3. The order has been placed but has not yet been paid for: Pay for the food using your Red Card. Then, collect the order and deliver it.

Once everything is paid for and you’ve received the order, ensure the number of items is correct.

Also, check that the items themselves are correct.

For example, if the customer ordered a salad, but you arrive with french fries, they’ll probably file a complaint.

Double-check the app for special instructions from the customer.

For example, ensure that it is indicated on the receipt if they didn’t want pickles on their hamburger.

It’s good practice to pick up extra napkins, flatware, and a drink carrier from the restaurant before you leave for delivery.

When you’re certain the order is present and correct, click “Confirm.”

The app and customer will know you’re headed to the delivery location.

Deliver the Order

Since you indicated that you’re ready to deliver, the navigation app of your choosing will appear with the customer’s address.

If you’re unable to find the location, there are text and call options so you can reach the customer directly for further directions.

Navigate to the location and check the app for notes on how the customer wants their order delivered.

Three types of delivery are:

  1. Door drop-off: Knock, ring the doorbell, and wait for the customer to arrive. Then you can hand off their order in person. (Make sure to wear a mask when delivering this way.)
  2. Leave it at the door: You should return to your vehicle after leaving the delivery at their door. Customers will come to get their delivery later.
  3. Give it to the customer: Some customers prefer to leave their homes and meet you outside. They should be watching the app and waiting for your arrival. Wear a mask to hand their delivery off directly.

If no one responds to a hand-off or a door drop-off, report it on the app using the “Can’t Hand to Customer” button.

Wait a bit for a reply.

Then, drop the order off at their door if you can’t reach the customer.

Take a picture as evidence that you completed the delivery.

Tap on “Complete Delivery.”

Get Paid

Once the delivery is complete, the app lets you know how much you have earned.

This payment includes the base fee for the delivery, any challenge bonus earned, including peak pay for delivering during busy times, and 100% of the tip from the customer.

Your earnings are directly deposited once per week for free.

It typically takes 3-5 business days for the money to show up in your account.

Or you can elect to use Fast Pay and receive your earnings on a linked debit card within one day.

Before this option becomes available, dashers have to

  • Be with DoorDash for at least two weeks.
  • Make at least 25 deliveries.
  • Connect a debit card linked to your bank correctly.
  • Fast Pay in the United States (not available in Canada)

There is a $1.99 fee every time you cash out using Fast Pay, and those fees add up quickly if you use this option frequently.

But the option still stands if you need a quick payday.

Tips for First Time Dashers

Keep these tips in mind when you begin your time as a Dasher.

Understand the Process and Technology

If you have questions about the process, you can always contact Dasher Support via chat or phone at (855) 431-0459.

During a lull in deliveries, click through the DoorDash app to get used to the technology.

The DoorDash site is full of helpful tips for new drivers as well.

Get to Know Your Delivery Areas

Get to know your delivery areas as soon as possible.

Learn the locations of restaurants and figure out the quickest ways to reach residential areas.

Take different routes every once in a while within your delivery areas, so you feel comfortable making your detours if necessary.

Sometimes the biggest streets are the slowest during rush hour, sporting events, or lunchtime.

Plan Your Routes Carefully

Part of quickly reaching your destinations means planning your routes carefully.

For example, you may want to avoid busy highways where traffic backs up frequently.

Spending an extra minute planning your route can save lots of time in traffic.

Bring the Necessary Gear and Supplies

Necessary gear and supplies for Dashers make delivery easier and safer for everyone involved.

Items covered by DoorDash include:

  • Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as required masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers

Other items not provided for free may be purchased in the Dasher Gear Store.

Items to make delivery by car include:

  • To keep food warm, they have insulated totes, pizza bags, and catering bags.
  • Drink carriers to prevent spillage while in transit
  • Brand car magnets, parking signage, and shirts to make delivery drivers more recognizable.

Bike Dashers’ lives are made easier by using necessary gear, such as:

  • Reflective safety armbands
  • Bike helmets
  • Phone mounts to view their delivery route.

How Much Money Can You Make Door-Dashing?

How much you earn as a delivery person for DoorDash depends on three things:

  • When do you make deliveries? Peak hours, such as during the lunch rush or sporting events, pay more than off times in the middle of the day.
  • How frequently do you deliver? More deliveries imply more potential for money, such as customer tips and bonuses.
  • Where do you make deliveries? Deliveries further away from your starting point take longer. If you choose shorter-distance deliveries, you can accept more orders and make more money.

Average Pay for Dashers

The average pay varies by city, plus tips. This average is calculated based on up to four contingents:

  • Base pay earned per delivery is calculated based on location and time.
  • Tips are received either before or after delivery or in-person using cash upon delivery.
  • Promotions require you to deliver during peak times or make a certain number of deliveries during a timed challenge.
  • Shop and Deliver orders are delivered when customers create shopping lists in a store.

Do Dashers Get Tips?

Yes, dashers receive tips.

Customers are prompted to give a tip when checking out in the app.

Some customers prefer to wait until they receive the delivery and then tip on the app.

Others tip in cash upon delivery.

You keep 100% of the tips you receive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of some of the most common questions when starting as a DoorDash Dasher.

Do Dashers pay for the food?

On occasion, dash drivers receive prompts to pay for the food using their Red Cards.

Other times, you can just grab the food and go.

If the restaurant allows prepaid orders, the dasher will not pay using their card because payment has been made through the app to the restaurant already.

If the restaurant doesn’t allow prepaid orders, the dasher needs to use their card.

Drivers receive a “red card” as part of their activation kit package.

Once you accept delivery, it is preloaded with the exact amount of the order.

Dashers also use their Red Cards to pay for groceries and supermarket delivery orders.

There is no PIN, so dashers use it as a credit card to pay for items.

Does DoorDash pay gas?

In March 2022, DoorDash unveiled its gas rewards program.

The two-fold program helps dashers keep more of what they earn in two ways:

  1. Dashers receive 10% back on gas purchased using the prepaid DasherDirect Visa.
  2. Delivery workers who complete 100 miles of driving in a week receive $5 on top of their usual delivery fees, tips, and challenge earnings. The incremental system increases this bonus the more miles they drive. So if a dasher drives 175 miles in a week, they earn $10.

In Review

DoorDash is a terrific opportunity to supplement your income with some extra money.

As a freelance deliverer for the platform, you have the flexibility to work when and where you choose.

Hopefully, this guide on how to DoorDash has answered a few of your questions and helped you on your way to your next independent contractor gig as a DoorDash driver.

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