How to Maximize DoorDash Earnings

During the height of the pandemic, I was looking for any excuse to leave the house. That’s why I figured I’d give DoorDashing a try. That and the extra money would come in handy to offset the sudden price hike on, well, everything. 

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with this plan. Suddenly I was competing with tons of other drivers. Although this isn’t always an issue in huge cities, my small town could only handle so many drivers (cue the old Western movie with a cowboy saying “there ain’t enough room in this town for the both of us”). 

I had to get creative and come up with ways to boost the earnings I was making through DoorDash. Here are a few of the things I tried. 

How to Maximize Earnings With DoorDash

As a DoorDash driver, you’ll earn a base rate and keep all of your tips. Nationally, most DoorDashers make about $25 per hour. Still, you may be looking for ways to up your earnings. Here are 12 ideas to get you started. 

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1. Take Advantage of Peak Pay

When restaurants are particularly busy, DoorDash offers its drivers an incentive known as Peak Pay. During these times, typically lunch and dinner hours, drivers get $1 to $3 added to their base pay. 

If you’re strategic and take deliveries that are all around the same small area, these extra few dollars can add up quickly. You can either schedule yourself for these peak times or take them as you see them. Just know that if there are a lot of dashers in your area, these time slots fill up quickly, and it’s first-come-first-served. 

2. Schedule Your Dashes

Depending on where you live, there are times when you won’t be able to dash if you haven’t scheduled yourself to do so. Typically, these are peak times when your town or city is at its busiest. Once you get a sense of when these times are, it’s best to schedule ahead of time.

Consider scheduling long chunks of time, as they might not be available later. And don’t worry, you can cancel your scheduled DoorDash at any time, including when you’re in the middle of it. DoorDash doesn’t recommend this because it puts the weight on other drivers. 

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Decline Orders

DoorDash tells you your acceptance rate is an important part of your rating process. Although it can have negative impacts on other drivers and customers (more on that shortly), declining an order technically doesn’t cause much of anything to happen. I declined orders in the past because they were too far away or because I was already overwhelmed with other orders. 

Plus, if you’re looking to save on gas or you want to get as many orders in as possible, staying in a designated delivery area can help you do so. 

Do know that this strategy does affect other drivers because it can limit the time frame they have to deliver the order. In the event that there aren’t many other Dashers out, it can stop the customer from getting their order in a timely manner. 

4. Make Multiple Deliveries at Once

Often, there will be multiple orders from the same restaurant or restaurants near each other. When this happens, Dashers picking up a delivery at those restaurants get pinged for both orders. 

Accepting multiple orders can increase your earnings because it saves you from returning to the same restaurant over and over again. Plus, if the deliveries are all in the same area, it stops you from wasting time simply driving between customers. 

5. Take Advantage of Incentives and Challenges

DoorDash provides both Incentives and Challenges to their drivers. The Guaranteed Earnings Incentive is an option for new drivers and current drivers.  If you deliver a certain number of orders in a specific time frame, DoorDash will give you a bonus. 

For example, you may get an extra $500 if you make 50 deliveries in one week. These incentives vary by location. 

Challenges are similar to earnings incentives but are often for smaller amounts of money. DoorDash gives an example of a $20 challenge after making 15 deliveries in a week. These challenges can work alongside Peak Pay periods, increasing your earnings even more. 

6. Check That Orders Are Correct

Although the restaurant you’re getting the food from should check that the order is correct, it never hurts to double-check before heading back to your car. Look not only at the order number, but the actual contents of the order as well. 

Double-checking can not only help you avoid some nasty customer phone calls, but it can also help your customer rating, which often correlates to higher tips.

7. Use Insulated Bags for Hold & Cold Items

Although not all merchants require it, many prefer it if you keep the deliveries in the red insulated bag DoorDash provides you. It helps keep the food safe and also helps the customers feel secure. Additionally, hot & cold bags help keep the food at the right temperature, which helps stop customers from making complaints. 

Additionally, these bags can help prevent food from getting damaged or spilling, which can cause you to need to return to the restaurant, leading to a longer commute and a reduced hourly rate. 

8. Follow Customer Instructions

Irritated customers = fewer tips. It’s not always fair, but that’s how the food industry works. 

If you continuously ignore customer instructions on where to put food or where their home is located, this could cause them to stop ordering through DoorDash altogether or tip less when they do. Plus, it won’t help your Dasher rating. Again, not entirely fair, but it is what it is. 

To give you an example, the GPS leads every single DoorDash driver three houses up the street from me. The number of times I’ve had to walk up and get my food from very confused neighbors is unreal. I’ve now learned to leave a note on the app that gives exact instructions on how to find my home. 

Make sure you’re looking at notes like these so you can leave customers with a positive experience. 

9. Provide Great Customer Service

Just like with any customer-facing job, when you provide a customer with over-the-top service, they remember you and they tend to tip better. Although many DoorDash drivers never come in contact with those they’re delivering to, there are some things you can do to provide better service. 

For example, when the restaurant is particularly busy and you’re stuck waiting a long time for an order, take a moment to text the customer and let them know. It helps them know you haven’t ghosted them. If you have to call a customer to ask a clarifying question, be courteous. The small things can go a long way. 

10. Look Presentable

You definitely don’t need to wear a suit when you’re delivering for DoorDash but stay away from any profane or inappropriate clothes. This can leave customers feeling uncomfortable about your appearance and it may not help your rating. To be honest, I wear some nicer sweatpants every time I dash and I’ve never had any issues. 

11. Work for Multiple Food Delivery Apps at the Same Time

Some food delivery apps are simply more popular in certain areas than others. If you drive for companies like DoorDash, UberEats, and GrubHub, you’re tripling the prospects for delivery. 

Plus, some apps may have incentives during times when others don’t. Or the base pay may be higher on, say, DoorDash than Uber one day. Signing up for each service is fairly easy, and because you’re an independent contractor, you have every right to work for as many of these companies as you want. 

12. Take Advantage of Tax Deductions

DoorDash drivers are technically self-employed, which comes with a few tax benefits worth taking advantage of. 

When you use your car for business, there are two ways you can take deductions. First, there’s the standard mileage deduction method. As of 2021, you can deduct $0.56 per mile when using your car for business purposes. 

You can also use what’s known as the actual expense method for finding your car deduction. This involves totaling any and all expenses related to your car, including oil changes, tires, insurance costs, registration fees, and more. You can deduct a percentage of these costs based on the percentage of your car’s mileage you use for business.

Depending on which method provides the largest deduction, you can take it on your yearly tax return

Final Word

DoorDashing is a convenient, relatively low-stress gig. As long as you have a car in working order and are willing to pay for the gas and maintenance necessary to keep your car running, you can earn an honest living as a Dasher. 

Plus, increasing your earnings is relatively easy. You can up your effective hourly rate and tips by offering a positive customer experience, working for multiple rideshare companies, and taking advantage of tax deductions.

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