in article about dos and donts of being a Dasher, illustration of a red DoorDash bag
Illustration by Julia Reddell, George Fox University
College /// Thoughts x
in article about dos and donts of being a Dasher, illustration of a red DoorDash bag
Illustration by Julia Reddell, George Fox University

Being a driver certainly has its perks, but it can come with some unwanted headaches as well. 

Delivering for DoorDash is a nice side hustle for busy college students. To make the most of the part-time job, I decided to deliver food for multiple vendors between 20 to 35 hours a week. In the last year, I’ve delivered over 2,500 orders. I’ve made food deliveries since 2020 and have done nearly everything except for Gopuff and Ricepo: I’ve delivered for a local pizza joint, Postmates, Uber Eats and my favorite — DoorDash.

Once a delivery driver starts working in their market, they’ll figure out which app they prefer rather quickly. I would personally recommend either Uber Eats or DoorDash over delivering for a local eatery because drivers get to be their own bosses and can schedule themselves whenever they’d like. If you’re interested in becoming a Dasher, here are some dos and don’ts to consider before starting the job.

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Do Be Nice to Restaurant Workers

Some Dashers are so impatient! If they have to wait more than five minutes, they throw a fit like a kindergartener. Actually, that’s not fair to the five-year-olds, who are oftentimes nicer.

Dashers’ childish behavior doesn’t get them their customer’s order faster. Most of the time, restaurant workers are busy and are struggling to keep up with their tickets during staff shortages and dinner rushes. I’ve noticed that if Dashers are willing to be friendly with workers, they are remembered kindly and are more likely to get the help they need.

Do Be Picky About Which Orders To Take

It bears repeating that Dashers are not DoorDash employees. We are independent contractors, which means we can pick and choose which work we would like to take. This is important because Dashers are not paid well when it comes to hourly earnings. It’s better to be paid per order, so we must be picky to maximize our profits. This method is called cherry-picking. There are some criteria that I recommend a Dasher consider when choosing orders.

A general rule of thumb is to take orders that are at least $1 per mile. Many Dashers charge $1.50 or even $2 per mile because of increasing gas prices. For example, I consider a decent order to be $6 or more for three miles. A really bad order would be $2.25 for any distance. Yes, DoorDash is that stingy. Without a customer tip, workers are basically expected to pay out of pocket (if you consider gas and wear-and-tear to vehicles) to deliver food.

It’s important for a Dasher to also be mindful of what food they’re picking up and where they are taking it. I recommend prioritizing orders from nicer restaurants as they’ll have shorter wait times and bigger tips. I only pick food up from fast food restaurants when I don’t have an abundance of orders. Dropping food off at hospitals, schools or certain apartment complexes that are annoying to navigate is a no-go as well because Dashers may spend 15 or more minutes trying to find their customer.

DoorDash is sneaky with their prices, but Dashers can be sneaky too, and make the system work for them. For example, an order can pop onto someone’s screen as $6.25, but when it is dropped off, a Dasher may receive a total of $20 or more. There are a few ways to look for these orders: You can pick up orders from nicer restaurants, look for orders that are $6.25 or higher or accept large orders. So, an order of 10 items from Red Lobster would be a good candidate for a high tip. The one drawback is that scheming doesn’t work 100% of the time, and sometimes the Dasher only gets the promised $6. So, Dashers need to make sure they are happy with the total before they accept the order.

Do Use Multiple Apps at Once

Multi-apping is a technique where delivery drivers use more than one app at once. It’s a good way to ensure that a driver gets the best orders that they can. Start by turning on both of your apps, say Uber Eats and DoorDash, and see what offers come through. If you get a good order on DoorDash, close out Uber Eats and focus on the other app. If the opposite happens, pause DoorDash instead and focus on the Uber Eats order. Sometimes Dashers get lucky and a rare $20 order will come through, but if they didn’t have both apps on, they wouldn’t have realized it. I usually just stick to one app, but when it’s slow, I like to use more than one.

Don’t Be So Picky That You Sit in a Parking Lot for Hours

Most Dashers have experienced slow business at one point or another. We’ve sat in a parking lot for more than 30 minutes because DoorDash is acting like DoorTrash and won’t send us profitable offers. There does come a time when a driver has no choice but to take an unsatisfactory order so they won’t fall asleep in their car. If nothing worthwhile comes along after the hour mark, it’s time to end the Dash to go home and take a well-deserved nap.

Don’t Take Your Frustrations Out on Customers

While every single driver would love to be paid more, they should be frustrated with DoorDash rather than customers for low wages. DoorDash is not a cheap service: A $5 hamburger can easily cost $22, and that’s before the tip. While it is valid for a Dasher to be frustrated with people who do not tip, harassing customers or providing poor service will not change their minds.

DoorDash can help students kill time, avoid homework and fill their bank accounts all at once. I don’t recommend doing it full-time, but it’s a good tool when you’re broke – or if you want some extra spending money.

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