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.

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How to Make More Money from Tips as a Food Delivery Driver

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Whether you work for an on-demand food delivery app service like Postmates or Uber EATS or you deliver pizzas for your local Italian eatery, there are some strategies you can utilize if you want to ensure you get good tips and maximize your earnings. Here are some things I’ve come up with that help to keep the customers happy, provide exceptional service, and make sure they return to repeat business.

Text the Customer and Introduce Yourself

When customers order food online or through an app it can seem like a very mechanical experience. For all they know, a robot could be delivering the food to them. And while robot delivery isn’t the industry standard (yet!), it is still helpful to introduce yourself to the customer to help humanize the experience.

A simple text message that shows personality, tells them your first name, and offers to be there if they have any questions can go a long way in establishing that you are indeed a real person and are genuinely trying to consider their needs. Of course you need to hurry when you are working on deliveries, so I recommend using your phone’s text-to-speech feature or sending them a picture of a standard greeting so you don’t have to type the message each time.

This goes without saying but be VERY CAREFUL when using your phone while doing deliveries. It is better to send a brief text-to-speech message BEFORE YOU START DRIVING than to text while you are on the road. Always prioritize your personal safety above all else. 

Keep the Customer Updated if There Are Any Delays

If there are any issues, send the customer a text and let them know about anything that could delay their order. If you work for a company like Postmates, for example, where you have to place restaurant orders on behalf of customers, let them know if there is a long-wait time and give them an estimate of how soon you can get on the road.

Should there be any trouble with the delivery or if you need to substitute a menu item, call the customer and clarify what they would like to do.

Get Lots of Condiments and Free Stuff From the Restaurants

Unless the customer specifically tells you they don’t want a certain condiment or utensil, go ahead and grab whatever is available (for free at least) amongst the restaurant’s selection of condiments. If there are ketchup packets, soy sauce packets, salt and pepper packets, parmesan packets, plastic cutlery, napkins, taco sauces, breath mints, or anything similar that you can take for free- GET IT.

When delivering for Postmates, I even keep a small selection of ketchup packets, taco sauce, and soy sauce with me at all times just in case a customer ever needs it. This is a small way that you can show the customer you were thinking ahead of what they might want with their order.

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Smile, Be Courteous, and Make Small Talk When You Drop Off the Deliveries

Your interactions with the customer in-person will be very brief so make it count. You don’t want to act like a zombie who says nothing and just hands over a bag of food. Put on a bright smile, ask the customer how their day is going, and comment on the weather or make other forms of small talk as you hand them their order. If they have a garden or anything interesting in the front of their house, make sure to compliment it.

Plus, if you picked up extra condiments for them, this is a good time to specifically mention this to the customer so you get credit for doing so! Say something like, “I made sure to get some extra ketchup packets in case you needed them” so they know that YOU were the one who thought to pick it up for the customer.

Send a Final Text Message to the Customer Thanking Them

I always send a brief message to the customer after I finish up my Postmates deliveries where I include three things- a brief thanks for their business, a reminder to please leave a review, and a final wish for them to enjoy their food and have a good day. I NEVER mention anything about tipping, but might still casually nudge them in the direction of it.

In the Postmates app, the screen where they leave the review is the same screen where they tip (HOW coincidental! What ARE the chances?!). Thus encouraging them to review me subtly leads them towards tipping.

Conclusion

When it all comes down to it, the same age-old standards of customer service apply. Be helpful and efficient, respond well to the customer’s needs, and go the extra mile to demonstrate that you are going out of your way to make the customer happy. If they can tell you are making an earnest attempt to do well at your job that often can lead to higher tips.

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