Safety Tips for Delivery Drivers

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If you have a vehicle and a smartphone, delivery driving can be a good means of earning income. Whether you are delivering with an on-demand app like Postmates or UberEATS, or are delivering pizzas with a local pizza shop, you’ll find many options out there for work.

There are certain precautions to take into consideration, however, if you plan to start delivering. Here I’ve assembled some safety tips for delivery drivers.

Beware of Dogs

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Just as it is with postal workers, who are infamously at risk of dog attacks, delivery drivers must be concerned about dogs and other animals at the homes where they are delivering to. If you see a large animal or a “Beware of Dog” sign at the residence where you are dropping off a delivery, consider calling the customer and seeing if they can meet you outside before entering their yard.

According to an article from WikiHow, if a dog approaches you and appears aggressive, stay calm and don’t run. If the dog senses fear they will feel more comfortable attacking. It’s also better not to engage with the dog, and to stay motionless. Only when a dog is clearly going to attack you should you speak to it in a commanding voice and tell it to go away.

There’s special equipment you can bring with you that deters dogs, but doesn’t harm them, such as a dog repellant buzzer or a fog spray. This should only be used if you feel a dog is aggressive and might attack.

In the event that a dog does attack you, seek immediate medical attention, contact the police, and if you feel it’s necessary seek legal action, certain states hold dog owner’s liable for attacks. It’s important to seek medical treatments and contact the authorities immediately to determine if the dog has a history of attacking or has a disease such as rabies.

Keep Your Eyes on the Road

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When driving for a service like Postmates or GrubHub, you have to use your smartphone in order to accept deliveries, get GPS directions, and communicate with the customers. When you are balancing out your time working from your smartphone with driving to pickup and drop-off deliveries, however, this can be particularly dangerous if you aren’t careful.

You should shorten the time you use your smartphone when driving to the absolute minimum, if at all. While waiting to accept deliveries, wait in a parking lot (where you feel safe) and don’t start driving again until you have finished accepting the order, plugging in your GPS directions, and texting the customer. Keep a dashboard mount in your vehicle so your phone remains in your line of sight while driving if using turn-based navigation.

It’s always better to pull over to the side of the road and take a couple of minutes of time out to use your phone while you aren’t driving, than it is to sacrifice your personal safety by using your phone when driving. Always drive safe and resist the urge to speed. You can expedite your time by working promptly when at the drop-off and pickup locations.

Stay Alert and Aware of Your Surroundings

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Delivery driving is a job that requires you to walk onto the private properties of strangers, which comes with a number of risks. Stay on your guard and use common sense when walking to and from people’s homes. If someone ever offers for you to come inside, politely decline and remain at their door- don’t ever enter someone else’s house or apartment.

If you are delivering to a neighborhood at night or to a region that makes you feel uneasy, minimize the time you are outside of your vehicle. Make sure you have pinpointed exactly where the house or apartment is that you are doing the delivery and call the customer before exiting your vehicle so they know you’ve arrived. If for some reason the customer doesn’t answer the door, go back inside your vehicle while waiting for them to respond.

Always prioritize your personal safety. If the the customers asks you to do something that seems unusual like deliver to an abandoned parking lot, trust your instincts and decline their request. Make sure to report any suspicious activity to the company you’re working with.

You Come First, the Food Comes Second

Remember that your personal safety is more important than someone receiving their food order, period. Should a customer make you feel uncomfortable or a situation arise that would jeopardize your delivery time in exchange for taking extra safety precautions, put yourself first. ALWAYS.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure to follow this blog for more tips on side gigs to make extra money, as well as follow me on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!

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Working as a Postmates Courier (aka Delivery Driver): What It’s Like!

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As you may have read from my other blog entries, I have previously worked as a GrubHub delivery driver. This was an interesting experience that was an overall good way to pick up some extra cash. When I found out about an opportunity to work as a Postmates Courier, however, I decided to try it and see how my experiences could compare to GrubHub.

I will go over the differences between being a driver for the two companies in more depth in a separate blog entry, but for now will recap the basics of what working as a Postmates Courier is like.

How Postmates Works

Postmates is different from other companies in that the customers can order things for delivery through their app from ANYWHERE. This could be food from restaurants, groceries from a grocery store, gardening equipment from a hardware store, toiletries from the pharmacy- if it is a product you can purchase from a store or restaurant then you can order it for delivery from Postmates (certain items like alcohol or tobacco are banned but these vary by region).

While you can technically order from anywhere, the app does still direct the customers to specific, featured merchants when they first open the app. Stores and restaurants that have partnered with Postmates will be prominently featured as part of Postmates Plus where they have a flat delivery fee of $3.99. Merchants that are not part of Postmates Plus will likely have higher delivery fees, although Postmates frequently sends out promo codes for reduced fees to the app customers.

The Hiring Process

To become a Postmates Courier you must be 18 years or older, have a smartphone with  a data plan, and a valid U.S. driver’s license. In some regions you are required to drive and own a car, but in others you can deliver by biking or walking as well (typically in major cities like LA or San Francisco). You apply online and in my region the hiring and orientation processes were entirely over the internet- there was no “in-person” training or interview.

You must pass a background check (including your driving history) in order to get hired. I was literally asked zero questions for the interview process other than the online application form. It seems that if you apply at the right time and have a decent driving record you’ll get in. The training was VERY minimal. There was a brief video to watch (approx. 3 minutes long) that goes away after you watch it and that was it!

You must rely on their Postmates Fleet Help website for most of your basic instructions for how to do the job.

What the Actual Work is Like

You are completely on your own for this job! There is no driver support phone line, just a series of troubleshooting menus to go through in the app if you run into any problems. You definitely need to be prepared to work independently and think quickly if you have any issues.

You do not have any specific shift either. You can literally get in your car and work whenever you want (or stay home when you don’t want to work for that matter!). This flexibility is very nice, although it also means there could be times where too many drivers start working and you don’t get as many orders. There’s nothing to stop “overstaffing.”

When business is booming and there aren’t enough drivers on the road, however, it triggers a “blitz” where you can get paid extra. It will send you a notification when this is being offered. Like with other delivery services; bad weather, holidays, and special events like the Super Bowl will trigger more delivery orders from customers.

You will receive a tote bag to transport your deliveries in that keeps the food temperature regulated, and a Postmates credit card to make purchases with (more details below).

Using the App and Picking Up/Dropping Off the Orders

Your phone will send you a notification when you are logged into the Postmates Fleet app (separate from the app the customers use) when there is an order available. You have the option to accept or reject an order. That I know of, there is not a penalty for rejecting an order. Be aware, though, that if you do not accept the order VERY QUICKLY, it will pass it on to another driver.

Once you accept an order, the app will give you a button to tap on for directions to the restaurant or store with a map. Each business has its own set of interaction with Postmates. Some are set up like GrubHub (if you’ve driven with them) where the order goes directly to the restaurant for them to prepare and the payment is processed solely between the business and the customer. With others there is nothing set up between Postmates and the merchant, so you must use your Postmates credit card to make the purchase at the store.

How this works is that whenever a customer submits an order for a merchant that hasn’t set up a payment system directly with Postmates, Postmates will add a balance on the card for the approximate value of the customer’s purchase (they always round up a little bit to accommodate everything). You will go into the store or restaurant and pay for the order with your card just like you’re a regular customer. You will NEVER have to pay using your own money- you only ever use the Postmates credit card.

Once you’ve picked up the order, you indicate this on the app and it will give you directions to the customer’s drop-off location. If gives you an option to text or call the customer if you need any help finding their place. Once you’ve dropped off the order you indicate this on the app and it closes out the order.

Certain items like tobacco products or alcohol will prompt for you to check the customer’s ID before giving them the merchandise.

The Pay

Now here’s the big question everybody has- how much do they pay? This is something that varies by region, but you can see detailed information by region here. The basic structure is that you get a base payment for every order, plus a small mileage reimbursement, payment for the time you spend waiting for orders to be prepared, and 100% of your tips. There is NO hourly pay or hourly minimum but there is a minimum guarantee per order.

This means that if you receive few to no orders you will not be guaranteed an hourly minimum so it is better to work during times where there is a guarantee of being busy.

Your pay is automatically transferred to your bank account within five business days of earning it. There is a $0.15 fee for every transfer to your bank.

Here’s an example of their payment structure

In Minneapolis you get a base payment of…

$1.75 per order + $0.14/minute for time waiting at pickup location + $0.91/mile for distance from pickup to drop-off location + your tips. You are also guaranteed a minimum of $4.10 per order (regardless of tips).

On your first order you had to wait 20 minutes for the restaurant to prepare the food and you drove 3 miles to deliver it, plus you got a $5.00 tip. So you get $1.75+$2.80+$2.73= $7.28 as your payment and $12.28 including your tip.

On your second order you didn’t have to wait because the food was ready to pick up, the customer was only 1 mile away, and you got $2.00 as a tip. Because $1.75+$0.91= $2.66, your payment would round up to $4.10 for a total of $6.10 with the tip.

Let’s say in this example it took you a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete these two orders, including the time to go TO the pickup locations. This means you made $18.38 for two orders, or ~$13.80 per hour (not factoring in gas expenses). 

I would say a realistic expectation for Couriers in most midsize cities is to make $10-$15/hr. after factoring out taxes (take note that taxes are NOT deducted from your pay, but you will of course still have to pay them)  and gas expenses. I’ve heard people from cities like New York and San Francisco say they could make more than that due to more frequent orders and tips from larger ticket items, though, so it will probably be influenced heavily by the region you are working in.

Conclusion

The ability to get in your vehicle and work whenever you want is a very nice component of working for Postmates. For people with unpredictable schedules, or those that are trying to squeeze this work on top of another job, the flexibility Postmates offers could be a huge asset. Between GrubHub and Postmates, I will say that each company has it’s own pros and cons but I do consider one to necessarily be superior to the other. I will make a follow-up blog post where I discuss the differences in more depth.

If you are interested in trying out delivery driving with Postmates, I say go for it!

To apply to become a Postmates Courier, follow this link

For information on other delivery driving jobs, go here

Check out the Postmates Fleet Help Center for more information

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