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How to DoorDash for the First Time

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Imagine getting to be your own boss and work your own hours.

If you know how to DoorDash, you can turn those dreams into a reality.

Before you start, consider what goes into being a Dasher.

Then, all that’s left to do is set yourself up for success.

How Do I DoorDash? An Overview

To drive for DoorDash, you’ll need to sign up with the DoorDash driver app.

The company will run a DoorDash background check on you, and after you pass, you can start driving.

Since you’ll work as an independent contractor, you can have flexibility with your schedule.

After you get approved to become a DoorDash driver, there’s a lot to learn.

Like other delivery apps, driving for DoorDash can seem overwhelming at first.

However, most delivery drivers can get the hang of how things work.

Soon enough, you may end up liking the food delivery app.

How Difficult Is It to Doordash for the First Time?

It can be challenging as you learn how to DoorDash for the first time, primarily if you’ve never delivered for other apps like Uber Eats or Grubhub.

You will need to learn how to use the delivery app, so your first few dashes may take a while to complete.

However, after some practice, you can get quicker at the process.

To make your first dash easier, try to look for a DoorDash Zone that isn’t too busy.

That way, you will still be able to get an order, but you may not have to take orders back to back.

Things You’ll Need

As with other economy gigs, you will need a few things to be a successful DoorDash driver.

You can secure some of these things before you apply to drive for DoorDash.

However, you may need to wait until the background check comes back.

That way, DoorDash can send you specific supplies to complete DoorDash deliveries.

1. Reliable Transportation

One of the most important things all delivery drivers need is transportation.

Of course, you can use a car or truck or van.

However, did you know that DoorDash also allows drivers to use other vehicles?

These alternatives include:

  • Motorcycles
  • Scooters
  • Bikes

As long as you can complete orders within the DoorDash Zone you select, you can use the transportation you prefer.

Suggested: DoorDash Bike Delivery: How It Works & What to Expect

Now, driving a car means you’ll have more space to store food, but you don’t have to get a car if you don’t own one.

2. Smartphone & Charger

Everything you do as a dasher, you will start within the dasher app.

Because of that, you need a good iPhone or Android smartphone with plenty of battery life.

Make sure you also have a charger that you can use before and during your shift.

Tip: You can buy a cellphone charging port that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter. Some vehicles also come with USB charging ports these days.

That way, you don’t have to worry about your phone dying in the middle of an order.

While you may be able to charge your phone at a restaurant, having a way to charge it while you drive means you can move around more easily.

3. DoorDash Red Card

After DoorDash approves you as a driver, they will send you an activation kit.

An essential item in the kit is a red card.

This red card is a company card that you may need to use to pay for specific orders.

If a restaurant doesn’t take payment through the DoorDash app, you will need to pay for it with your red card.

DoorDash will load enough money to the card when you get that type of order.

That way, you don’t have to use your own credit or debit card.

Schedule Yourself to a Location

Another thing to consider when you’re ready to dash is to schedule yourself.

You will open your dasher app and find the tab that says “Schedule.”

Next, you should look at the available times under the “Available” tab.

Then, you can select your starting point and available times.

That way, you can choose a dash, so you can plan for when you want to work.

If there aren’t any open slots, you can check back later or choose a different place to start your Dash.

Is Scheduling Required?

You don’t have to schedule a Dash in advance.

You can work whenever you want.

If you aren’t sure you’ll be able to drive at a particular time, you can wait until that day.

This option is excellent if you work other jobs or have personal commitments that could affect your work schedule.

However, if you can’t schedule a Dash, that could negatively affect your earnings.

If a shift has enough drivers, you might not be able to work when and where you want, or even if you decide to press “Dash Now” to start, you may get fewer orders.

Why You Should Schedule Yourself

While it’s not necessary, scheduling yourself to drive for DoorDash is useful.

First, you can ensure there will be space to go and get orders when and where you work.

So if you want to stick to one neighborhood, you may want to schedule a shift ahead of time.

That way, you won’t have to worry about competing with many other drivers for orders.

Scheduling can be handy if you only have a few hours a week to drive.

You can make sure to get a slot in an area you know to help complete orders more quickly.

Delivering During Peak Hours vs. Regular Hours

Peak Hours are some of the best times to drive for DoorDash.

Driving during peak hours, such as lunch and dinner, can be an excellent way to make more money.

You’ll likely have more orders during a shift, and you can get peak pay.

However, the shift will be busier, so you won’t have as much downtime between orders.

That can be stressful on new dashers or dashers who don’t know the surrounding area.

screenshot showing doordash peak hours and the best times to doordash

If you want to take it slowly for your first few dashes, you may want to avoid peak hours.

Then, you’ll be able to get some orders, but you won’t have to work constantly.

However, that also means you won’t earn as much.

Holidays often have promotions as well, and you can deliver on those days to earn a Dasher bonus, which Doordash will explain to you in your app or through text message.

DoorDash First Delivery

Your first delivery as a DoorDash driver can be exciting.

You get to learn how the platform works and how to DoorDash successfully.

Make sure you download the DoorDash app and that you have internet access.

Then, you can start your scheduled shift or hit “Dash Now” to begin a shift.

1. Accepting Requests

Whenever an order becomes available near you, you have the option to accept or decline it.

You may want to refuse orders that are too far away or that have low customer tips.

However, declining orders can affect your acceptance rate.

When you first start driving, consider taking as many orders as you can.

That way, you will get more experience, and you may qualify for bonus pay for that shift.

You can view the basic information about the order and confirm that you want to complete it.

2. Navigating to Restaurant

After you accept an order, you will need to drive to the restaurant.

If you know where the restaurant is, you can drive there using your directions.

However, the DoorDash app will help you use a service like Google Maps to navigate to a restaurant if you aren’t sure how to get there.

When you get to the restaurant, be sure to check your DoorDash app.

Some places may have specific delivery instructions that can help you pick up the food more efficiently.

Other times, you may simply need to head inside.

Tip: Use Google Maps or Waze to successfully navigate to your destination.

3. Food Pickup

When you get to the restaurant, make sure you have your DoorDash bag and red card.

After you enter the restaurant, open your dasher app to confirm you’re there.

The app will tell you if you need to pay for the food or not.

Before you head out, go through the checklist in the app to confirm the order has everything.

If something is missing, you can ask the restaurant employees for it.

Once you have everything, you can check the items off and confirm you have what you need.

4. Navigate to Customer

Now, you’re ready to head to the customer with their order.

You can open the DoorDash app and navigate to the customer’s address.

The app may also include delivery instructions from that individual customer, so make sure to read those.

That way, you can know if there are any specific requests for delivering the food.

Some customers may have a gate, or they might want you to leave the food in a particular spot.

Knowing this can help the delivery go more smoothly.

5. Drop off Food

Finally, you’ve arrived at a customer’s home or business.

Make sure you grab all of the food from your vehicle.

Take special care not to forget drinks or multiple bags.

Then, you can head to the customer.

After you give them their food, you will need to confirm the delivery in your app.

Now, you will be open to accepting your next order, and you will repeat the whole process.

Things to Remember

Another vital part of how to DoorDash is remembering everything you need to do.

As contractors, drivers don’t have bosses looking over them.

It’s up to you as a DoorDash delivery driver to be your own boss and ensure a good customer experience.

Here are a few things to remember.

vector graphic showing multiple drivers driving for doordash

1. Check Food at Restaurant

The DoorDash app will remind you, but you should verify the order is correct before leaving the restaurant.

Customers are counting on you to deliver the right food.

While it can be tempting to just head to the customer to save time, it’s worth checking.

You never know if a restaurant may forget something small, like condiments.

2. Follow Customer Orders

Whenever a customer includes special instructions, follow them as best as you can.

If you have a question about a customer’s instructions, you can contact them through the app.

If contacting the customer doesn’t work, contact DoorDash support directly.

That way, you can complete the order to the best of your ability.

3. Be Presentable

Even if it’s your side-hustle, you need to look good as a driver.

You’ll be interacting with customers and restaurant staff, so make sure you look your best.

Dress nice, and make sure you’re comfortable driving around and walking to and from your car.

You don’t need to wear a uniform, but it can help to wear something that identifies you as a delivery driver.

That way, people will know when you arrive.

4. Communicate Well With Customers

You should also know how to talk to customers.

Drivers work with customers every day, and you need to be friendly and easy to talk to.

Not only will that make the customer feel better, but you might earn more in customer tips.

Make sure you remain calm, even when talking to rude customers.

If you have a bigger problem, you can contact support for help.

Frequently Asked Questions

You may still have questions about how to DoorDash.

Here are some answers.

Can I deliver for DoorDash without a hot bag?

While you can deliver for DoorDash without a hot bag, you shouldn’t.

For one, some restaurants won’t allow you to take an order without a hot bag.

You also risk getting lower ratings from customers.

The bag can provide customers with peace of mind that you took good care of their food.

Can somebody else ride with me while driving for DoorDash?

You can have passengers ride with you when you drive for DoorDash.

However, you need to be the one driving, and you need to have a valid driver’s license and valid insurance.

What happens if I need to cancel a DoorDash order?

To cancel an order before you pick up the food, you can go to the Help section in the app.

Then, you can unassign yourself.

After picking up food, you will need to contact support to unassign yourself from the order.

In either case, you’ll need to share why you’re unassigning yourself, and it will lower your completion rate.

If you cancel too many orders, you are at risk of being removed as a Dasher from the app for good.

Wrapping Up

Knowing how to DoorDash is a crucial part of being a delivery driver.

Ensure you have everything you need to complete orders successfully, such as a smartphone and access to the internet.

If you’re ready to make some extra cash, download the DoorDash app and sign up to become a driver today.

Soon enough, you’ll be able to make enough money to cover your extra expenses.

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