Food delivery drivers know that it’s not just customers you need to get along with—it’s restaurants, too. Whether you’re working for Postmates, GrubHub, UberEATS, or some other food delivery service, you have to be able to work with restaurants.
How do you as a food delivery driver tailor your dealings with restaurants in order to maximize your time (and earnings)?
The type of restaurant matters
Fast food restaurants don’t tend to have the best customer service. They also tend to be busy on top of it. Plan to be patient—and double check the order. A busy fast food kitchen is more likely to get the customer’s order wrong. Even though an error wouldn’t be your fault, it’s probably going to be your tip that is the object of the customer’s frustration.
Fast casual restaurants (think step-up from fast food—places like Chipotle or Five Guys) are very used to carryout, online and phone orders. This makes them good at efficient order delivery and customer service. However, you can also use their phone ordering familiarity to your advantage. If you have a bit of a drive to get there, call and place the order over the phone. That way, you have less wait time when you get there.
As always, be sure to exercise safety precautions when using your phone and driving.
If you get an order from a bar, be aware that open and close times may be for the bar, not the kitchen. If you get a late night bar order, call and make sure the kitchen is still open before you drive there.
High-end restaurants have a lot of upsides, but they also may not be used to carryout orders. As a general rule, don’t wait more than twenty minutes without saying something about needing your order. High-end restaurants can be lucrative deliveries for food delivery drivers, but you have to be assertive. Be respectful, but also remember that they may have made as simple an error as packing food and leaving it on the counter getting cold.
The type of food delivery order matters
Fast food chains tend to have smaller orders, which can translate to a smaller tip. Most people tip based on a percentage of the order, so if the order isn’t that big to begin with, you can’t expect a very big tip. If you’re on the Postmates platform or another platform that allows you to see where orders are from, try to pick orders from a sit-down restaurant if they’re available. Busier times are more likely to have sit-down orders.
Late-night work is probably only going to have fast food orders, so you’re probably better off not waiting around for high-end orders if you’re working late at night. Bars are also common for late night orders, but be aware that these tend to be orders from a younger (and possibly poorer) crowd.
High end restaurants tend to be busiest between about 4 and 6 p.m., depending on the area. These are most likely to tip well due to both order size and price as well as the type of clientele. Learn when rush times are in your particular area, and try to wait for high-end orders and reject others.
Your fast casual restaurant is probably going to be a mixed bag. Orders might still be smaller, but probably not as small in dollar amount as fast food. It’s better than fast food in terms of tips—but probably not much.
Where you order matters
For fast food, order inside. Ordering inside the restaurant rather than at the drive through will save you gas money that you’re not spending while you’re waiting in a line of cars. Additionally, it’s easier to check an order before you drive off—which saves you both time and gas by insuring you don’t have to drive back (or deliver a wrong order). This is especially helpful if you end up having to call a customer (or take a bathroom break).
Also, ordering inside either fast food or fast casual restaurants can let you grab extra condiments—a customer service trick that’s sure to be a customer hit.
A high-end restaurant obviously doesn’t have the option for a drive through anyway. However, before you leave the carryout counter, check the receipt. Checking for accuracy between the food and the original order is a good practice regardless of where you’re ordering from, but the receipt is important especially in high-end locations. These restaurants often will add some kind of automatic gratuity for orders over a certain size—a frustrating practice for couriers who know a customer won’t want to tip twice. If you see gratuity added onto a receipt, challenge the restaurant. This is your tip at stake, and while you don’t want to be difficult, you also don’t want them to be unfair to you.
Waiting inside a bar for an order, especially a higher end cocktail bar, can also be uncomfortable depending on the dress code of the venue.