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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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