During the long break from college, I wanted to make some extra money since my regular job as a tutor on campus was also on hold.
A good friend recently started delivering food for Uber Eats and DoorDash and suggested I go with him one night to see what it was all about. Maybe because I was just watching and not doing it, I thought it would be really easy. It turns out that, as expected, this is not the case. Not at first, anyway.
I signed up for both Uber Eats and DoorDash that night and was quickly approved. On my first night, I decided to focus on Intown, as both apps warned me that they were “hot spots” with lots of delivery options. My phone buzzed and chirped, telling me that many people were hungry and waiting for food.
I started making rookie mistakes almost immediately and my stress level was high.
First of all, I don’t know how people deliver food alone, especially in places like Midtown and Buckhead where parking is impossible.
If you’ve ever been on Peachtree Street or Spring Street and someone with their hazard lights flashing is blocking the lane, chances are it’s a food delivery person. I was one of them that night, getting honked at, told I couldn’t park by security, and worried that my car would be hit or booted while I was inside.
I also tried doing a few pickups and deliveries, which only added to my stress, but it was also an opportunity to make more money. What’s the point, right? One reception went smoothly and I was making my way to the next restaurant and the food wasn’t ready which meant a wait. This added to my stress because other customers’ food was cooling in my car.
While most people just want their food left at the door, some have been instructed to put the food in their hands. This meant wandering the corridors of high-rise buildings while who knows what happened to my improperly parked car.
Although I worked for five hours, I only made about $50. The tip was poor (or non-existent) and I was exhausted afterwards. If I was going to keep doing this, I needed to hire a driver.
Luckily, another friend of mine got bored and offered to be my driver. My stress level immediately dropped and I decided to try the Decatur area for the second night. It was a good choice. I made about five deliveries within a mile radius in less than an hour. Drop off was easy (leave it on the porch) and tipping was generous.
Then. I was lured out of town by a large delivery of dollars and a vibrant “hotspot” of activity in the Battery area around Truist Park. I stopped paying attention to how far the delivery destination was and just started looking at the fee I would earn. This meant I was burning gas adding more miles to my car and literally driving all over the north metro area.
I was also amazed at how much people were willing to pay to have their favorite food delivered. I picked up the order from The Battery and delivered it to Dunwoody. Someone else placed an order at a restaurant near Perimeter Mall and wanted it delivered to Buckhead.
That same night, when we were traveling on the northern subway, a customer yelled at me. He ordered from a restaurant where I waited almost half an hour for food to be prepared. I should have just canceled and picked up another delivery, but I felt bad for the customer waiting so long.
When I finally got to his house, I couldn’t find him in the maze of townhouses and unrecognizable streets. It was also raining and cold. The customer yelled several expletives at me and obviously there was no tip.
We drove for about six hours, put a hundred plus miles on my car and made less than $100. It didn’t seem worth it. I had to come up with a strategy. So I started reading about the experiences and suggestions of other delivery drivers and found the formula: stick to one area, make as many multiple deliveries as possible, and don’t be tempted to go to a new area just because it’s a temporary hot spot. .”
After about a week, I found my “delivery slot”. I decided to focus on the Sandy Springs and Dunwoody areas as people finished work at 5:00 p.m. I also tried delivery at lunchtime starting at 11:00. I did a lot of deliveries within a few miles of homes and apartments, which meant I could drive alone. Some days the deliveries kept buzzing on my phone from lunch to dinner non-stop.
My daily goal was to try to make $100. Some days I got, some days I only got $50 or $60. I’ve learned to stop being greedy and be more careful about making lots of deliveries in as few hours as possible and as close together as possible – this is called “bundling”.
In the three-plus weeks I was on break, I made about $1,200, but if you subtract gas, it was probably closer to $900. When classes started back in January, I continued to make deliveries as my schedule allowed – usually on Friday nights or Saturdays when I was in the mood. And I still do it a few times a month to make a little extra money.
Now I’m trying to decide if I should go on spring break or stay here and make money. It’s good to have a choice, but I’m still learning to do smarter. And don’t forget to tip the delivery guy!