Working for DoorDash? A Pro Dasher Shares His Best Tips on Dashing & Cashing

If you use an online service to deliver food to your door, you're not alone.

Whether it's DoorDash, UberEATS, GrubHub or others, millions of Americans are using these services on a regular basis. This decade, the industry has grown exponentially as technology and cultural trends made food delivery an everyday option.

Ever wonder what it's like to be on the other side of that delivery? What it's like to work for DoorDash? To be one of those folks who delivers your food and then disappears into the night?

Wonder no more, good readers!

Today's post comes to you from “Dash Bridges,” the pen name of someone I consider a “professional” Dasher. As a part-time Dasher, he has more than 6,100 deliveries under his belt over the last four years, and his experiences can help you maximize how much you earn.

In 2015, I separated from my wife and moved back into my parents' house. I quickly realized that if I didn't start making more money, I'd NEVER move back out!

So, in addition to my day job as Sales Operations & Program Manager, I decided to earn money on nights and weekends as a DoorDash Dasher (Dasher is the term for their drivers). I immediately noticed the refreshing differences from my office job. I enjoyed the motivation to hustle, knowing my paycheck was tied to the number of deliveries.

I also liked the face-to-face human interaction with restaurants and customers. After all, who isn't happy to see the guy delivering your dinner?

Like other gig economy workers, I tried several delivery platforms, but I made the most money and felt most comfortable with DoorDash.

My Dashing responsibilities are exactly what you'd expect. I receive orders. I pick up from restaurants. I deliver orders. I troubleshoot when there's a problem. I've done all these things for over 4 years and 6,100 deliveries.

(Note: My name isn't really Dash Bridges. I created this pen name when I started writing articles for The Rideshare Guy on the topic. I didn't want to get deactivated for writing something critical. Turns out, I'm exceedingly fair compared to a lot of people out there!)

You Can Schedule Your Dashing

As an independent contractor, I have full authority to schedule myself when I want, for however long I want, and in the location I want.

Here in Silicon Valley, we're broken up into several regions.

After you download the app and set everything up, you have to “sign into” DoorDash to get put into the delivery queue.

Dashers have the ability to sign into DoorDash right now or up to six days in advance (based on availability). When you open the app, the color-coded map shows immediate regional availability.

If regions are shaded pink, you can travel to that geographical area and sign in immediately.

If they're gray, Dasher capacity is full.

To avoid missing out on shifts, you can use the provided scheduler. You may receive an order that sends you outside your region, but generally, all your orders stay within a certain radius.

If I schedule myself for a particular shift, I have 30 minutes after the scheduled time to sign in within the region. So, If I'm supposed to start at 5:00 and I'm not signed in by 5:15, I'll typically get a text saying, “If you don't sign up soon your shift soon, you'll be signed out for another Dasher to join”. So, I get 30 minutes, but if I miss it and the shift gets canceled and there's no punishment.

There are five Dashing regions within 30 minutes of my condo. I tend to drive in just one or two of them because the familiarity of these locations helps me determine the Dashing reputation of the restaurant (well-organized or slow, etc), understand parking options and recognize various destinations. Large apartment complexes can be hugely frustrating and time-consuming if you've never been there, but if you have delivered several times in the past, you're going to know exactly what to do.

How to Maximize Your Order Earnings

Like my scheduling flexibility, I also have the option to accept or decline any order assignment. Smart acceptances and declines are key to making better money.

Upon receiving an assignment, you see several data points helping you determine if it's a worthwhile delivery. Sometimes the decision is easy.

You should accept this order:
You should decline this order:

Sometimes the decision isn't as obvious:

When an order like this pops up on my screen, here's what I take into consideration:

  • I'm trying to earn $20 an hour. To keep that pace, I'd need to complete this $7.56 order in a little over 20 minutes.
  • I know this restaurant is a standalone building. This minimizes traffic and parking delays.
  • I'm not familiar with Fey Restaurant, so I don't know if they're organized or chronically behind schedule. Also, there five items in the order, which is higher than average. The more items in the order, the more likely something will hold it up.
  • It's just under 4 miles through city streets. Midday on a weekday, traffic should be OK.
  • I also consider whether my day is busy or quiet. If I've been idle 20 minutes, I'll accept a lot more orders. If I'm really busy, I'm more confident a better order will arrive shortly.

With a little experience and expertise in an area, Dashers can assess all these factors within a few seconds. If you're new, it'll take a little longer or you'll take a job that isn't as good. Dasher acceptance rates can vary widely, but mine is at the higher end of the range of around 73%.

There doesn't appear to be a penalty for declining “too many orders.” My best guess is that, as an independent contractor, you don't have a legal obligation to accept any work. Therefore, they can't punish you for declining orders. They DO show you your acceptance rate and have the same color-coding system as other metrics (green means good, yellow means moderate, and red means needs improvement).

That said, if you have acceptance rates over 70% then you qualify for a monthly Top Dasher status where you earn certain Dashing priorities.

They experimented with bonuses based on the number of deliveries a few years ago, but nothing lately. The only bonuses they have now are per-order bonuses during busy times. For instance, during Sunday football, rain, and a traditionally busy “coming home from vacation” type of day (Sunday after Thanksgiving), I enjoyed a $3.00 bonus on all completed orders. They just add it right into the compensation for a specific period, like 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm.

They also have the ability to raise it in real-time if they need to entice more Dashers during unexpectedly busy periods – essentially “Surge” pricing.

How Much Do DoorDash Drivers Make?

If you pick and choose jobs, you can get your earnings per hour into the $20 range. I do it.

If you're looking to maximize your total earnings, you can expect to earn $15 to $25 an hour as an average.

How to Become a Top Dasher

I mentioned Top Dasher earlier, to qualify you need:

  • 4.70 star rating
  • 95% completion rate
  • 70% acceptance rate
  • 100 deliveries completed last month
  • 200 lifetime deliveries

It's strictly a statistics-based award and it's awarded on a monthly basis. So, you need to maintain that criterion during a month to retain the Top Dasher status.

What does it mean to be a Top Dasher? It varies from region to region but in my region, it means:

Dash Anytime
“The Dasher app will now allow you to dash in your zone or schedule a dash at all times. Please note that just because you are able to dash / schedule at your convenience, this does not mean that it will always be busy. We still recommend dashing in areas that are red on the map, and scheduling dashes when you know you want to dash ahead of time to avoid having too many Dashers on the road!”

This is a nice perk in case you find yourself with some downtime and want to dash right now.

More Deliveries
“When things are slower, you will be prioritized for new orders. This means that if we have two nearby Dashers who can take on an order, we will break the tie in your favor.”

I think the goal is to give the dedicated (and less picky) Dashers an opportunity to consistently earn money for more hours of the day. The requirements aren't particularly difficult to attain, but you need a certain level of effort to qualify. No poachers!

Does It Matter Which Restaurants You Pick?

I travel to a ton of restaurants.

Of my 100 most recent deliveries, I went to sixty-nine different restaurants. As you'd expect, the most popular ones were chain restaurants like Chipotle (seven times) and Asian Box (four times, a West Coast Asian Street Food Chain).

There are no specific rules about which types of restaurants are good or bad. Many times, even different locations within the same chain can have different reputations. As food delivery apps get more popular, restaurants are becoming better prepared for online orders than when I started four years ago. I rarely wait more than a few minutes to get my food.

How to Maximize Tips & Ratings

My interaction with customers is almost always positive. Part of that success is because I enjoy providing good customer service.

Compared to other Dashers, my professionalism is pretty strong. While many Dashers are perky, with their red lanyards and warming bags, some can be disheveled and disinterested in performing well. With these three minimal-effort customer service tips, you can vault yourself into the upper echelon of Dashers.

1. Be presentable. You don't need to wear DoorDash gear or a cardigan, but you should look professional. Make sure you are wearing something CLEAN and non-wrinkled at a bare minimum.

2. Communication is key! Every time I arrive at a restaurant for an order, I copy-paste the most relevant text message to the customer (I save them in Notes on my phone):

Here they are in text form so you can copy and paste them:

(already got the food)
Hi, I'm Dash, your DoorDash driver. I have your food and an ETA of _. See you soon!

(Waiting at the restaurant)
Hi, I'm Dash, your DoorDash driver. I'm waiting for your food and will provide an ETA when I have it. See you soon!

(Multiple orders)
Hi, I'm Dash, your DoorDash driver. As soon as I'm en route to your location, I'll update you with an ETA. See you soon!

If I wait longer than 10 minutes, I typically send a quick note, “Still waiting (sleeping emoji)”. Once I have the food and put the address in Google Maps, I add a text, “ETA 7:50”. That modest level of personalized service goes a very long way.

People understand that delays happen but if you keep them in the know, they will usually not hold it against you. If you don't say a word and are late, then they will be upset you didn't tell them anything.

3. Keep the order in a warming bag and present it like that upon delivery. No offense, but customers don't want to think about your grimy hands all over their food. Taking the food out of the bag shows them it was well-cared for during transport.

How Much Does Door Dash Pay?

“Just get to it, Dash! How much do you make?”

I quickly learned that my earnings potential varied depending on the day, location, and other circumstances. How much you make really depends on a lot of different factors.

Some days I earned $14 per hour. Other days I made over $22 per hour.

To maximize my earnings, I created a spreadsheet and entered information about all the relevant aspects of my shift. (This is not a job requirement. I'm a stats-loving dork.)

As my database expanded, I was able to confirm some assumptions:

  • Areas with lots of corporate office parks pay well during lunch. Suburbs are busy during dinner.
  • The best night of the week is Sunday, followed by Saturday and Monday.
  • There were also some more subtle factors that led to maximizing earnings. I'm very busy during rain and cold weather.
  • Live television, particularly awards shows and sports (particularly football) are noticeably better as well.
  • Seasonality also comes into play. Summer is poor as customers are both on vacation and going out more often.
  • College students come home and Dash for a few months before returning to classes. The invisible hand of supply and demand is present on a daily basis.
  • Sometimes they run promotional offers, so take advantage of those.

All that said, my daily dashing goal is $20.00 per hour. That's almost exactly what I've averaged over my years on the job. As of this writing, with over 5627 deliveries, I've averaged $19.97 on 1.8 deliveries per hour.

As you can see, how much I make on Door Dash jumps around, but I always tried to keep the average around $20 an hour.

My daily earnings look like this:

On a weekly basis, they look like this:

Those gross earnings are quickly turned around and deposited on the Tuesday following the Monday through Sunday Dashing week.

Of course, that's topline revenue.

Remember that you're using your own car, your own gasoline, and you need to pay self-employment taxes on this money at tax time. Some (though not all) of those expenses are balanced out when you deduct mileage expenses on your IRS Schedule A.

Regardless, your net take-home is demonstrably lower than what the app declares you earned on a particular day.

Coronavirus Pandemic Update: How Have Things Changed?

Jim: I asked Dash how things have changed in 2020 as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and he was willing to share his experiences the last few months.

I've been stuck at 6123 deliveries since March 12, the last day I Dashed before pausing during COVID. Although I'm in my mid-40s and very healthy, I visit my parents often. They're in their mid-70s and extremely careful with social distancing. I didn't want to risk their health.

In the early days of the pandemic, you had people like me who could use the money but didn't absolutely have to earn a certain amount each week. Many of us stopped. However, at the same time, a ton of people lost their jobs and needed to make money immediately. With no real barriers to entry, people flooded food and parcel delivery companies. Of course, this excessive labor led to more drivers than deliveries, and per order earnings fell sharply. Facebook groups were full of screenshots showing pathetic earnings.

These days, more restaurants are open, and many have adjusted to their new circumstances. Safety is better than it was a few months ago. But with high general unemployment and more people working from home (eating fewer meals out), the oversupply of labor has kept driver earnings lower than before the pandemic. So, my understanding is that it's a real challenge out there. Considering the job is more hazardous that it was a few months ago and the payouts are worse, it's critical to remember that drivers should consider these jobs as temporary or a side-gig. This is not a career!

Conclusion

I've thought a lot about what Dashing has done for me. The convenience of working when you want and for how long is exceptionally convenient, especially if you're saving for a particular goal.

HOWEVER…

Finding fifteen lucrative Dashing hours each week is pretty easy. Finding thirty-five hours a week is a grind.

The more hours you work, the harder it is to maintain a high hourly earnings rate.

Furthermore, there is very little room for advancement or a career path as a Dasher. It's great as a side hustle but there's no “next step.”

It's easy to get sucked in to make an additional $60 on a particular night rather than study or look for a better full-time job. Heck, I'm as guilty of that as anyone else, even with it being a side hustle.

While these gig economy platforms are convenient and a quick way to earn some cash, DOORDASH IS NOT A CAREER! I can't emphasize that enough!

Dashers must place this opportunity in its proper perspective. My overall experience has been positive, but there's a fairly low ceiling to what you can accomplish as a Dasher.

If you want to earn some extra cash for doing something pretty easy, Door Dashing might be the perfect little side gig! It's free to sign up!

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About Dash Bridges

By day, Dash Bridges (pen name) is an Operations & Program Manager in Silicon Valley, On nights and weekends he's a seasoned Gig Economy participant, writer, & start up advisor. Taking experience from both corporate life and time on the road, he considers himself the Dasher Who Tries To See Both Sides Of It. Dash has also worked for Postmates, Uber EATS, Instacart, Caviar, and Eaze,

Dash is a Bay Area lifer. He earned a Marketing degree from Santa Clara University and has two daughters. He dreams of attending every major college football rivalry game and definitely knows more Metallica trivia than you.

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  1. Brian Sharp says

    I’ve been dashing since August 2017 and have 15,371 deliveries as of 11/13/20 making over $45000 the last two years and will be making the same this. The tips you gave in your article is pretty much how ive been doing it and its works.

  2. Crystal Ledbetter says

    I have been a dasher for only 8 month I have nearly 1500 deliveries. I started when the pandamic hit in my area. I take both in town and out of town orders. I avg around $600 a week. I was told I was good at hustling in my area and dashers that been dasher of a year told me I already made more deliveries what took them a year to make I did in 8 months. I think when I year comes around in April I will have way over 2k. Would this make me a pro dasher or just good at sometime that challenges me to set limits for myself. I have paid off debts from a divorce very quickly. If I can do this in a short period of what else can I accomplished. I know there is no where to go from doordash at my age. Doordash has been my only job since I was in my 20s. This has changed me a lot.

    • Jim Darby says

      Door dash in my area is cheap as hell. $3 and never hardly bump it to +1,2. Orders are there and constantly pinging my phone. I mean come on DoorDash, 6.5miles for $3???? If the customer doesn’t tip and is more than 1 mile, cough it up. 60 billion dollar market cap. And people are accepting $3. Remember, if everyone says no to $5 or less, we get a raise.

      • Dasher girl says

        I agree with you on this. It makes me upset when they don’t tip then I just get $3. Heck $3 ain’t even enough gas for their order. 🙄

  3. Chalres Luck says

    In my opinion, Top Dasher is a psychological toll to keep some people motivated. What kind of people you ask? Those who need trophy for participating, and didn’t actually win. If you can’t be penalized for turning down work, and as you can see people continue to make $1100-$1200/wk with acceptance ratings way below 50%, then what’s the problem?

    Stop chasing the Top Dasher spot, it really only requires that you accept every $3 deliver they make. Someone has to make these deliveries, but it doesn’t have to be you. You should concentrate on your own wallet; you’re not doing this for your health or for a trophy. If they had any brains at all they would just go ahead and add a $3 promo bonus to every $3 order and people would start fighting over them.

    Well that’s my opinion, and it most certainly is worth the price paid.

  4. ad says

    ive made almost $70 off of 2 hours of active “dashing”…. 3.5 hours on the app bc i was driving around trying to find a good spot. I have to drive 15 min to get to a good location but it seems pretty easy. I stick to peak hours. I have made 6 deliveries but I have found an asian restaurant that’s really busy and has high order prices. It’s not on their “hotspot” map so I will be just going back to their place when I do this.

  5. Ron Southall says

    I am 81 yrs old and need a sizable income. With the cost of gas, taxes, wear ant tear on my car, my time and anything else.
    I’m wondering how much do I have to do to just break even.
    Because I have taken several deliveries that are,a long way off, the pay doesn’t cover my time.
    I am just learning and need,some help as to how to best use my time.
    I have spent $60.00 in gas money in 2 days and I get 24 miles per gal.
    That,seems like,a lot to me.
    The best day that I have had I made $115.00. Expenses,took most of that.
    I am still trying to figure out what orders to take.
    I waited for a good 39 minutes for an order to be filled at a Walmart store.
    I haven’t been good at calling the clients to let them know what was going on, also, I am not good with texting. I have called several clients by phone. The numbers are not always right (phone) that is.
    Do u think that I should get a Dasher warmer 🎒 to deliver food?
    I get very frustrated when I take an order that is far away.
    Several times I have taken orders that are way out of the area I want to stay in without realizing it.
    Sometimes I get 2-3orders. Why do I have to get the bar code off of each of the orders when I deliver them.
    I am not very good with my hands and I have to think about what I should be doing. That take me longer than it would take you.
    Well, that’s it for now.
    Thanks in advance for your help.
    Ron Southall

  6. Ron Southall says

    Since we have to buy gas, pay taxes, wear and tear on our cars and invest our time, is Door Dash worth the time and expenses invested.
    I had a lot of trouble since I just got started and I stopped doing Door Dash for now.
    I am 81 years old and not good with tech stuff.
    I have been sent on wild goose chases with no compensation a couple of times. I, however think it was a google problem.

    I don’t have a Navigation system on my car, so it had to be setup using my phone.

    This takes me several minutes to get started as the information has to be set through my phone first.

    Now, as I think about it, I would be better off just using my phone.

    I don’t know how to send texts either, so, to keep customers in the loop, I have to call them. Sometimes they don’t answer their phones. I need to learn how to text, don’t I?

    The miles I put on my car depreciates its value, along with all other expenses.

    Not sure its worth the trouble.

    • Tad Ervin says

      Sir, I think you might want to try out other roadside apps that work better for you and in your area as well. Perhaps try Uber. With Uber, you do not have always find parking for the restaurants. You just pick people up and drop them off without ever leaving your car. At your age, I think this might be the safest and most effective way of creating an income that works for you.

      I wish you the very best of luck and hope you do well

      Tad

  7. Jonny says

    I doordash here in palm springs, ca. I earn 1200-1800 pr week dashing. I work 40 active hours monday-saturday. 5k-6k a month easily. Ill tell you right now . Do not worry about top dasher crap. Stick to hours ranging from 10-3pm and 5-10pm. You’ll make 200-300 a day easily. reply to me if you need more info on it. Post was informative on the mileage/pay info on how you should accept or decline orders. My acceptance rate is always under 50% but im making bank so who cares. Dashing can be a career. Remember to pay the iRS quarterly taxes. Add the 3 months earned. Multiply by 15.3% business tax, then thats what you owe. Before you pay that subtract your mileage x .59 from the owed balance. Mines usually about 1200 every 3 months, after doing guesstimate math. Im expecting to earn 65-80k this year dashing at this rate. Cheers!

    • gerimaya whyte says

      Can’t you just withhold 20% of your earnings and give it back to the IRS? I’m in central california and the market is pretty good still. Barely started doing this and made 180$ in my first six hours so I feel like can potentially make some good money doing this. Especially since those were lunch hour’s. Also Doordash has been reimbursing .31 per mile for gas because of proposition 22. Can I still report miles on top of that to the IRS?

  8. Janell Kling says

    Hi Dash, I just signed up for DoorDash today and I enjoyed reading your blog. After my kids moved out I took care of my elderly parents for 7 years (I highly admire Ron S. for his resolve and sharing). But now I am extremely bored.

    I have a great day job but I’m looking for something to do on my days off. Before I landed my current job, I successfully did Instacart when they did delivery only, but I recently tried the new Instacart I am not a shopper. One of my daughters is successful at DoorDash while in between jobs, so she recommended it to me.

    Being in (and originally from) Austin, Texas and owning a hybrid, I hope to have some fun and earn some extra cash.

  9. Michael Shropshire says

    I make 1000 a week if I needed to make 1500 I could I don’t take anything under $7 I don’t go over for my sometimes five I don’t go into this city are busy traffic areas I don’t take $4 orders 9 miles out of my deliveries on I take one order of time when there’s a bonus I don’t take $7 orders I take 10 and above if you take a $7 order it’s not a bonus I like to wait and try to double up orders if I get to I’ll separate them ones 914 I dumped the four and sit and wait and then get another nine

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