Knowing the right DoorDash tips can make a big difference in your income.
DoorDash has blown up in recent years, and it's still profitable in 2022. But if you just follow the official advice, you might end up working for less than minimum wage.
Let’s not do that.
You can get a great hourly wage by dashing — around $20 per hour. These insider tips will show you how to maximize your payout like the top dashers in the game.
1. Maximize your tax write-offs
As a DoorDash delivery driver, you’re an independent contractor, not an employee. To succeed, you've got to think like a business owner. And what's one thing all responsible business owners do? Take advantage of tax write-offs.
Think of it this way: over the course of your year, you actually end up spending a lot to be successful as a dasher. You might buy a phone mount, for example, or order some courier bags (that are nicer than the free one DoorDash gives you). These are both business expenses, so you can write them off on your taxes.
What if you don't invest in these extras? You will, at the very least, be using your car (or bike) for delivery runs. That means spending more on repairs, maintenance, gas — maybe even an insurance policy that's specially designed for delivery drivers.
Luckily, these costs don't have to come completely out of your own pocket. Because you're driving for your job, your car-related expenses are tax-deductible. And your write-offs don't stop there. You can also deduct a portion of your phone expenses, since you use it to run the dasher app. (For more ideas, check out our guide on delivery driver tax write-offs!)
At the end of the day, taxes for DoorDashers are no joke. If you don't keep track of your write-offs, you'll be in for a nasty surprise when you see your tax bill. (There's nothing worse than having your earnings go straight to the IRS, right?)
That's why it's so important to track your business expenses. To make things easy, you can use Keeper to automatically scan your purchases for deductions. Our app helps gig workers find all of their write-offs and automate their bookkeeping.
2. Find the best times to dash
Of course, you want to be dashing during the busiest hours — but not if every other driver on the DoorDash platform is also on the lookout for orders. How do you balance driver supply and customer demand?
Based on our experience and research, here’s what we recommend.
6 AM - 9 AM
If you're an early bird, get ready for some very profitable hours. More people order breakfast than you might be thinking, and few DoorDash drivers capitalize on these hours.
You can get a lot of high paying orders at these hours — without a lot of competition.
11 AM - 1 PM
For all food delivery apps, lunchtime can get pretty busy.
This is a short time slot, but if you're free during those hours, you can make quite a few deliveries. If you're dashing full time, definitely take this time slot. You can take your own lunch break afterwards, before your next dash.
5 PM - 9 PM
Here's when restaurants and food delivery services are the busiest — especially on Saturdays and Sundays. This extended dinner rush will give you a solid four hours to rack up orders.
Keep in mind, though, this is also the most for dashing. So if you know in advance that you want to work the dinner rush, book them in advance inside the dasher app. More on that in a bit!
After 10 PM
Delivery workers tend to get more customer tips at later hours. That's why late hours are so profitable, especially in major markets like San Francisco and New York City — it's less about the volume of orders and more about how much you're getting per order.
These times tend to work for experienced dashers. But of course, your highest-paying time slots will depend a lot on where you live. You'll have to test it out for yourself!
3. Book your dashes in advance
When an area is filled with DoorDash drivers, it gets greyed out on the map, meaning you can’t dash there. Here's how to prevent this, so you won’t miss out on well-paying dashes.
All you need to do? Schedule your dashes in advance.
Let me explain. Let’s say you dash in an area with well-paying customers, but you notice it's slowly getting more competitive. When this happens, open the dasher app and book the area you want to work in.
This trick will let you get into even the most competitive areas. When you have booked your desired area and time slot, it doesn’t matter if it gets greyed out: your dash is already locked in.
Using this method, you can pre-book dashes up to six days in advance. It’s especially useful for dashing in busy cities.
4. Don't waste time hovering around a single hotspot
You're not more likely to get an order just because you're waiting outside of a busy restaurant. Anyone within a two- to three-miles radius can get picked.
Instead of hovering outside one restaurant, it's better to wait where you'll be close to multiple restaurants. That way, when any of them request delivery, you'll be within that radius.
Pro tip: Find a parking spot at a mall with multiple restaurants. That way, you can reach them all more quickly.
5. Stop worrying about your acceptance rate
When your acceptance rate is over 70%, you get a couple of perks. That sometimes includes priority on higher-paying orders.
This particular aspect of DoorDash's pay model makes it tempting to just accept every order. But it's just not worth it. (Ask any long-time dasher, and they'll tell you the exact same thing.)
Here's why: the platform starts offering orders for pennies and then raises the base pay until someone accepts the order. It's just like an auction. (DoorDash didn't disclose this — long-term users figured it out.)
Bottom line: When more dashers decline low-paying orders, DoorDash ends up raising their base pay.
At the end of the day, it's much more efficient to just skip the bad deliveries and wait for something better. Remember: There are no consequences for not accepting orders. Even if your acceptance rate drops to 20%, that's nothing to worry about.
6. Know which deliveries to avoid
This goes hand-in-hand with the tip above. To maximize your time, you've got to be selective. Driving eight miles for $3- or $4-orders isn’t worth your gas money.
Rule of thumb: Aim for a base pay of at least $2 per mile. ($1 per mile might be okay for a really quick order that you can complete in minutes, but don't bother with it otherwise.)
Ideally, you should try to go for orders above $7. Your best bet for those? Popular restaurants. They’re more likely to be busy and have a higher chance of giving you multiple dashes.
Of course, it’s also important to avoid bad orders. One tip for doing this: go ahead and start your dash 10 minutes before you set off. The first few orders you'll get are probably the ones that have been bounced around and declined by multiple dashers.
Here's your cheatsheet of deliveries to avoid
✘ Walmart groceries
Walmart runs can be more trouble than they're worth — the volume is really unpredictable compared to a restaurant delivery. Always check how many items you’ll deliver. There could be 58 items and four cases of water that you'll have to carry up to the fifth floor of a complex with no elevators.
✘ Fast food drive thrus
These trips tend to come with a lot of waiting. Even if you’re running a delivery, you’ll have to get in line with every other customer. Unless the base pay or tips make up for it, you should skip these.
✘ Orders far away from hotspots
You’re getting paid when you’re delivering — not on the way back to hotspots. Only take these orders if the payout compensates for the time it takes to drive back (or leads you to a different hotspot.)
7. Don't be afraid to cancel accepted orders (sometimes)
It helps to know which orders to reject right out of the gate. But sometimes, you'll need to cancel once you’ve already accepted.
Don't do this too often, of course. Low completion rates can get you kicked off the platform, so it's in your best interest to keep your completion rate high.
Here’s when you should cancel: if you've arrived at the restaurant, the order isn't ready, and you'll have to wait 15 to 20 minutes before it's done.
Since you’re not getting paid when you wait, you'll be better off doing anything else.
If this happens to you, send the customer a message. Let them know that you're at the restaurant, their order isn't ready, and you're canceling so another dasher can deliver it when it's ready.
From the customer's point of view, there’s no harm done — you're just keeping them informed.
8. Restart the DoorDash app regularly
When you're driving, you'll sometimes pass areas with bad cell phone service. That means your GPS will glitch, and the app might crash.
Unfortunately, you won’t get any orders while you're experiencing technical difficulties. So if you find yourself not receiving dashes — or get dashes for the wrong area — just restart the app.
You'll get this same advice from DoorDash support. That's because your dash is registered on DoorDash’s servers, so restarting the app won't delete any progress or data.
Even if you don't find yourself dealing with bad reception, it's good to get into the habit of restarting your app. Why? It's been well-documented that reconnecting to your app can get you new orders.
After every dash, restart your app. And keep restarting it every few minutes until you get an order.
9. Follow customer instructions
This one's simple. Most customers tip and give good ratings when you offer outstanding service. And following their instructions is a huge part of that.
During COVID, for example, a lot of customers wanted contactless deliveries. Some of their asks might seem less reasonable than that. But for the sake of your tips, it's still important to do what they say.
If the customer asks you not to knock, don't knock. If they ask you to put the food somewhere specific, put it there.
Most of the time, DoorDash customers leave pretty straightforward instructions. But if you come across something complicated or confusing, feel free to contact the customer about it.
10. Be careful with hot and cold items
Here's one way to leave tips on the table: dropping off melted ice cream and lukewarm soup.
If your customer orders hot and cold items, keep them separate — ideally in their own insulated bags. (Remember: You can write these off on your taxes!)
This also goes for cold drinks, especially if they have ice in them.
11. Keep a Sharpie in your car
If you've got a permanent marker on you at all times, you can make a habit of writing customers' names on their orders. (Most places will put a receipt on the bag with the customers’ names, but some places won't.)
This simple trick can save you from massive confusion when you’re juggling multiple orders. After all, there's no better guarantee of bad ratings than dropping off the wrong person’s food.
12. Send out updates
DoorDash customers are usually pretty excited to get their food. They like getting personal updates about their delivery — even if they can follow you on the map.
Unless they specifically tell you otherwise, keep them updated at every step. To make this easier, you can write out some messages in advance and save them in your notes. That makes it easy to copy and paste them into your chat with the customer when you're ready.
We recommend scripting out an update for these situations.
When you arrive at the restaurant
Send a message to let the customer know that you’re waiting to pick up their order.
When you receive the order
Once you head out, put their address into Google Maps and send them your ETA.
When there's a delay
Hit some traffic? Let them know right away so they aren’t taken by surprise when their food shows up way past your original ETA.
When you're 3-5 minutes away
Let them when you're approaching the delivery address so they'll know to keep an eye out. This is especially important if you reach a complex or an area without clear house numbers — it'll get them prepared for you to contact them.
When you get there
If you're doing a contactless delivery, send the customer a final update letting them know there food is here.
For in-person drop-offs, it's important to make a good final impression. Unless the customer specifically told you not to knock, you should knock on the door and back away nine feet. If they pick up in front of you, smile and tell them to have a good morning, day, or evening.
13. Look professional on the job
You don't have to wear one of those red DoorDash t-shirts all the time. But looking presentable can have an impact on how much you're tipped.
Don't wear baggy pants, for instance, or T-shirts with slogans that aren't to everyone's taste. (If you want to be really careful, stay away from political T-shirts.)
Bottom line: If you have any clothes that your customers might find unprofessional, leave them in the closet when you're dashing.
14. Contact support if you hit a roadblock
You can never predict what your day will be like when you're dashing. You might get lucky and get a $100 tip — or you can end up driving eight miles to the wrong address, thanks to a typo that the customer made.
There might even be times when you can't reach the delivery address — and can’t get hold of the customer.
If something like that happens, contact support right away. That way, you won't be at fault if you have to cancel the order.
15. Get on more than one delivery app
You can also use these apps to make your DoorDash deliveries more profitable. Once you've accepted a dash, check the other apps for deliveries at the same restaurant or store.
If you happen to find one and take it, it'll basically double your earnings — you're now getting paid by two platforms instead of just one.
Keep in mind: This trick only works if you’re an experienced delivery driver. Otherwise, you'll end up with delayed orders — and that's a recipe for low ratings.
16. Take advantage of Fast Pay
Getting paid instantly can be a lifesaver. It's nice to have the option to withdraw your earnings right away, if you need to pay for gas or something else that just can't wait.
Good news: DoorDash has a service called Fast Pay that lets you transfer your earnings instantly to your account.
There's a $2 fee for every transfer. But your earnings typically get deposited into your account in a matter of minutes, so you don’t have to wait for the next weekly payment.
Keeper is not affiliated or partnered with DoorDash. This article was written independently by Keeper for educational purposes only.
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