Everything Postmates Couriers Need to Know About Deliveries
This is a post from guest contributor who goes by “Silver Lining.” He is a single father and a Postmates Courier and Instacart shopper in Los Angeles who typically works 20-30 hours a week. He shares his experience completing Postmates Jobs and navigating the Postmates Dashboard, Postmates Pay Structure, and the Postmates Pay Schedule as a delivery driver in Los Angeles.
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So there I was. No more toxic 9-5, with a business income that was growing, but didn’t yet pay all of my bills. And so began my LA Postmates Courier Career! I started delivering as a Postmates Courier last summer and once I got past the learning curve of what hours and areas of LA to work, I started to make an income once I knew about the Postmates pay structure and Postmates pay schedule.
I enjoyed my new found freedom in the Postmates pay schedule as a Postmates courier to create an income on my own terms as I pursued my passion without the handcuffs that a corporate full-time job included. There were days when I made the $25+ an hour Postmates advertised and other days I made so little as a Postmates driver that I wanted to throw my smartphone out the window and drive home! An ideal situation was working 3-5 hours as a Postmates courier and reaching my goal for the day so then I could work my business and spend time with my kiddo. I had some days that the tip line remained 0.00 and I had many consecutive short delivery orders as a Postmates driver. But overall, I had more good days than bad and no boss breathing down my neck and my work being micro managed!
If you’re interested in signing up for Postmates, you can use the below link to sign up to get a small signup bonus!
Sign up to be a Postmates Courier
Products and Apps I Use as a Postmates Courier
Below are some of the products I use as a Postmates driver on a day to day basis:
- Smart phone – this is a standard among sharing economy jobs
- Car charger – USB Quick Charge 3.0 Dual Car Charger
- Portable charger – Ultra High Capacity 20100mAh Portable Charger
- Ear buds with microphone – there will be times when Postmates driver need to contact the customer and this will keep your hands free to continue to shop or hold things while you talk to your customer.
- Phone mount for car – Cell Phone Car Mount Holder
- Hot and Cold Bags – Postmates (and Uber Eats) usually provides Postmates courier with one. They will either mail you one or you can pick one up at the office.
- Navigation application – Google Maps or Waze – to navigate to the restaurant and dropoff
- Mileage Tracker – keep track of miles so drivers can deduct the miles
When you start the Postmates Courier app, the first thing you see is the Postmates Dashboard. On the Postmates dashboard, you will see the any announcements by the local Postmates office, the coverage map with the demand in your area, blitz pricing and priority dispatch. On the Postmates Courier App, the areas are highlighted in red on the Postmates Dashboard with the highest activity. It is ideal if you are working near the highlighted areas, like with Uber and Lyft. At the start of a shift, I go online and head to the red area but it’s not always a guarantee you will be busy. I will hang out in those general areas, but I recommend not to chase the red as a Postmates courier! You may need to drive around a little to find a busier area before receiving notifications.
Also on the Postmates Dashboard, you will see if you have priority dispatch. Priority dispatch is when Postmates Couriers are on schedule. You can add yourself onto the schedule up to 24 hours ahead of time. This means that you will get priority in Postmates jobs requests. I personally haven’t seen much difference between having priority dispatch and not having priority dispatch.
When there is blitz pricing, the amount of blitz will be displayed on the Postmates Dashboard. It will be highlighted in Green, along with the green lightening bolt on the button where you go online with. Even if blitz pricing is on, you may not get Postmates jobs with blitz pricing. The only guarantee is after midnight when blitz pricing is set at 1.5x the entire evening.
You can also turn on Blitz Pricing notification through settings. When you are on the Postmates Dashboard, click on the top left button, then scroll down to settings. I find that Blitz pricing activates a few times a day. Sometimes, it only lasts for a few minutes and other times it last for an hour. I have worked various shifts and received Postmates Jobs during blitz pricing, but I have never gotten a Postmates jobs with Blitz pricing.
How to go Online as a Postmates Courier
As a Postmates Courier, all you need to do is turn on your App and toggle the button on the top right of the Postmates Dashboard. You don’t need to be on schedule or have priority dispatch to go online, but Postmates claim it helps to be on schedule. I haven’t seen too much difference between having priority dispatch and not having it.
Accepting Postmates Jobs
A notification sounds when Postmates jobs are available and you can see the location for pickup which gives you the option to ACCEPT or DECLINE. You won’t be able to view the drop off location and details of the Postmates jobs until it’s accepted. After you hit accept on the Postmates jobs, you will see the list of items to be picked up or shopped for. Once you have gained some experience as a Postmates Courier, you will know which Postmates jobs you will want to accept right away, and which Postmates jobs you will debate before accepting.
Different Types of Postmates Jobs
Once accepted the Postmates jobs, you are given a list of the items to order or shop for and the Postmates Courier App connects with your GPS to guide you to the location. Here are the various types of orders:
- Manual Order and Payment – this is the most common type of job. You will see a list of items to order when you arrive. You will normally need to wait in line to put in the order. Try to call the restaurant and place the order ahead of time to save you some time. Not every restaurant offer this option though.
- Order already placed – this happens with restaurants integrated with Postmates, like Chipotle. On the order screen, it will tell you in how many minutes the order is ready. All you need to do is get the receipt for the order and pay for the order with the provided PEX card.
- Order already placed and paid for – All you need to do is say the customer’s name from the app and pick up the food. You will need to take a picture of the receipt before starting the delivery.
- Orders at Grocery/Drug/Liquor stores- you shop for the items, pay and deliver.
What if Items are Unavailable?
In most cases, there will be a comment if item is unavailable. Normally it is pretty clear but sometimes they didn’t leave a comment or the instructions are still confusing. This is when you will need to text or call the customer about the order. I normally text the customer and then wait two minutes before calling.
Payment for Food
Typically, this is done after you placed the order or when you arrive when the order has already been placed. Postmates courier can pay before the food is ready, so this can help you save a minute or two from the delivery. You will swipe a PEX card Postmates provides, take a picture of the receipt, enter in the order total, and then hit deliver. This will start the delivery portion of the job.
If the job is too large, your PEX card may not go through so you will need to contact Postmates to clear up the issue. This can be frustrating to wait to pay for an Postmates order.
The Delivery as a Postmates Driver
The drop off location for the Postmates jobs may bring a smile to your face, or it could greatly alter your day depending on what time you find yourself delivering in LA traffic.
Once you click deliver, the app will then go to the dropoff screen and you can click the top right to navigate to the dropoff location. Try to remember the location from the Postmates Courier app. It may not match where Google or Waze sends you. I had a few situations where the addresses from the Postmates Dashboard were a few blocks off and cost me about 5 minutes.
Giving great customer service, friendly attitude, getting the order to the client quickly, and keeping the food warm or cold will definitely play a role in your tip amount. When I arrive at the client’s door, I hold up my phone and physically show them I’m completing their order. I let them know that an option will pop up on their end allowing them to rate and tip if they choose. I thank them for their business, flash a big smile and tell them to have a great day.
At this point I’m waiting to receive another notification or I’ve “stacked” a job, which means I’ve already accepted another order as I was delivering the current order. Postmates allows you to accept another job (or “stack” jobs) only when you are on the delivery portion of the job. Stacking allows you to use your time more efficiently and create more income when the demand is high. It is similar to a back-to-back ride on Lyft or Uber, but you can choose to accept or reject the job.
When I first started as a Postmates driver last summer, there was always an option to “stack.” At times it was frustrating because I would be waiting on an order to be ready and my notification kept going off as I was trying to pay or upload the receipt info before delivering. I was turning down jobs left and right! I only accept another job if I know for sure that the one I’m waiting on is almost ready, and if the new pick up is near my drop off. Postmates have changed when you can start stacking jobs to prevent this issue. As I continued with as a Postmates driver, the option to stack wasn’t as frequent. It all depends on the time of day and if it’s a lunch/dinner rush and what area of LA your working. This is all about trial and error. You just have to experience a few situations as a Postmates Courier to see what works best for you.
How I typically handle wait times?
When arriving at a restaurant I usually looked forward to waiting on an order so I could catch up on business calls, emails or read a few pages of my personal growth book. This was a nice break occasionally, but I couldn’t do this my entire shift as a Postmates driver if I wanted to make money! Postmates added a new feature months after I started that gave Postmates driver an estimated pick up time for orders that were already placed. You could view the time estimate before accepting Postmates jobs. I began accepting Postmates jobs at restaurants that were notorious for long wait times! The time estimate was sometimes accurate and other times completely useless due to a long wait. Sometimes, the Postmates jobs are ready early so make sure to check in on it as soon as you have found a place to park.
Postmates Pay Structure of Postmate Jobs
Postmates pay structure is that it provides Postmates driver a base delivery fee and a commission based on distance. The Postmates pay structure base rate varies by city so check with Postmates to find out what they are. Postmates may turn on blitz pricing (similar to Surge Pricing on Uber or Prime Time on Lyft), especially during lunch and dinner. On the Postmates dashboard, you will see if there is blitz pricing and how much blitz pricing is. This can give a nice boost to your Postmates pay.
The Postmates pay structure base delivery fee will go up by 1.25-1.75x in addition to your tip. Add in a longer delivery distance and you can make a nice chunk of change based on the Postmates pay structure.
I started driving as a Postmates driver during Sunday brunch/lunch, dinner hours, and during the weeknight dinner rush. At midnight, the blitz pricing on the Postmates dashboard is automatic and if you wanted to work the hours when club goers and “medicinal smokers” were hungry, you could cash in on the Postmates pay structure. I quickly learned which restaurants to accept or decline based on regularity of tips and ease of parking and pick up. There were days when I went back and forth to 1-2 restaurants as a Postmates driver because of the usual payout and convenience of pick up.
The Postmates pay structure typically favored a Postmates driver that is close to the restaurant but far away from the delivery. The Postmates pay structure is such that it pays for every mile you drive while making the delivery, so it is often in the interest of a Postmates driver to have a long dropoff, taking into account traffic and parking.
Postmates Pay Schedule
Postmates pay schedule is not weekly. The Postmates pay schedule is that they pay out for your Postmates Jobs four business days after you completed those Postmates jobs. Say you worked as a Postmates driver on Monday. You will see a payout on Friday, based on the Postmates pay schedule. If you work everyday, the Postmates pay schedule is such that you will get paid everyday with a four day delay. Remember that the Postmates pay schedule is based on business days, so if you delivered on Friday, you won’t see it until the following Thursday. In this case, the Postmates pay schedule will combine the earnings from Friday, Saturday and Sunday into one large payment on Thursday.
The Postmates pay schedule has a small downside in that you will pay a Stripe fee of 15 cents for every payout. This is very low compared to other services that provide daily payouts. The Postmates pay schedule has a 4 business day delay, so it is not like other pay services where they pay out the day after. However, if you work everyday, you are paid daily based on the Postmates pay schedule. This is not the case with other services in that even if you work everyday, you will be paid once a week.
Postmates Pay Potential
Los Angelenos will understand how parking is a major variable that can determine your income and the flow of your day. It can cost a Postmates driver time and money. Once you work for a few days, you will know which restaurants to accept and which ones to skip based on their location and parking availability.
The biggest chunk of your Postmates pay schedule comes from clients tipping on the App. The ideal situation is when you complete a job and you see the tip show up under your payments on your Postmates Dashboard right away. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case and tips can take a few hours to a couple of days to sometimes show up on your Postmates dashboard. This is the reason why there is a delay in payouts on the Postmates pay schedule. Clients don’t always close out their orders right way, especially if they’re hungry and want to dig into their grub. This is why I use the verbiage mentioned in the “Delivery” to encourage the clients to close out and tip right away. I advise against constantly checking your payout screen on the Postmates dashboard because it can drive you crazy waiting for the numbers to change on your Postmates pay schedule. Check at the end of your shift and you could be pleasantly surprised.
Earning about $15-$20 an hour on Postmates
I turned on my Postmates courier app on a Monday evening around 10pm in the Hollywood Zone and I received a notification on the Postmates dashboard for Sugar Fish, which is an upscale sushi restaurant. Once I accepted the Postmates jobs, I was disappointed to see the drop off location was further than I anticipated, but I decided to make the best of it. Once I picked up and dropped off the Postmates jobs, my base payout in addition to travel was $8.20 and the tip $19.37! The earned $27.57 for the hour so I decided to call it a night! These little “winks” from the Universe are appreciated, but don’t occur often.
The following week I started around 9:30pm and my first job earned me a delivery payout of $6.17 with a 0.00 tip. The next order I picked up at was a delivery payout of $5.85 and a tip of $2.65 earning me $8.50. The next restaurant earned me $5.62 for a delivery payout and a big fat 0.00 for tip. I was getting the vibe this wasn’t my night so I turned in. The drop offs and pick ups were quick and in the same general area so I worked about an hour and earned $20.29.
A few days later I jumped on the Postmates platform around 12:21am to take advantage of the 1.5 “blitz pricing.” My first Postmates jobs was a delivery payout of $11.25 with a 0.00 tip. The following pick up was a delivery payout of $7.89 with a 0.00 tip. Next I accepted a Postmates jobs that earned me $7.79 for a delivery payout, tip of $2.41 with a $10.20 total. I decided to accept one more job and it turned out to be a $6.23 delivery payout with a 0.00 tip. I worked about two hours and earned around $17.79 an hour.
Postmates Bicycle and Driver Couriers are protected with Postmates insurance while you are on shift. Here are the below terms of the Postmates insurance:
- General liability insurance: $1 million limit covering liability for Postmates on bikes for bodily injury and/or property damage of third parties.
- Auto excess insurance: $1 million limit covering liability for Postmates in automobiles for bodily injury and/or property damage of third parties.
- Accidental occupational liability: $50,000 limit covering Postmates’ medical expenses for injuries incurred while on the job, which is unmatched by any competitor.
- Deductible: $2,500 if you are at fault
Postmates is also offering its couriers free memberships to One Medical, a primary care startup that makes it dead-simple to set up day-of appointments with high-quality doctors. That yearly membership typically costs $149.
Expenses of a Postmates Driver
There are other factors you have to include such as wear and tear on your vehicle, gas, mileage and parking fees. Fortunately, these can also be used as a business deduction on your income taxes. A hybrid or gas efficient vehicle will help you keep the biggest profit as a Postmates Driver.
Make sure to always read parking signs, feed meters and don’t take chances! I’ve taken a few chances, and received expensive tickets that almost cost me my entire day’s earnings.
Common issues as a Postmates Courier
Blind Destination System
The blind delivery system won’t allow you to see the drop off location of a job until you ACCEPT the Postmates jobs. Last summer, the drop offs for my Postmates jobs were typically in the general vicinity I was working, but there were times I wish I hadn’t accepted the Postmates jobs! Postmates jobs from an indigenous or exclusive restaurant tend to be delivered longer distances than other Postmates jobs. One day during lunch time, I had a Postmates jobs from a popular restaurant in Hollywood that took me out near the beach (30-40 min from Hollywood in traffic) and the blitz pricing wasn’t active at that time! The tip if any, wasn’t good and it took up an hour of my time and wasted my gas. Although, if it would have been blitz pricing that delivery fee alone could have been a nice hourly pay.
Order Issues at the Restaurant
You can also factor in orders being messed up by restaurants, and having longer wait times than expected. Sometimes when you accept a job, it will inform you to proceed to the restaurant and place the order yourself, since Postmates Job Support wasn’t able to place the order. Typically it’s because the lines are busy during peak times. I recommend pulling over when you can safely do so, calling the restaurant and trying to place the order yourself to limit your wait time. Sometimes this is not possible since they have no phone to call.
Delivery Issues with the Customer
Here are some delivery issues that I encounter:
- The client not answering the door and nowhere to be found – you will need to contact Postmates support if you encounter this. They say for you to wait 5 minutes and then contact support.
- Address not correct or numbers not visible at night – try to use Google or Waze GPS in order to find the correct building. Google is pretty good at showing you exactly which building it is. It won’t tell you where the front entrance is.
- Underage customer – alcohol delivery is legal in California, as long as the customer is of age.
I have scored a few great meals and bottles of nice liquor due to a missing or under age client!
Why Did I Transition Away from Postmates
About a year ago, Postmates changed the Postmates pay structure and Postmates pay schedule. The base delivery was decreased, but you were now paid while waiting at a pick up location for the food to be ready, or while shopping for items. The payment for miles traveled and tip were still included, but if you had Postmates jobs that required no wait time, the drop off was a short distance from the pick up and the client didn’t tip, the delivery you accepted wasn’t going to be a high payout. Add a few of these Postmates jobs back to back and it can make for a discouraging shift for any Postmates driver.
Around this time, my interest in Postmates was dwindling especially since I discovered another platform called Instacart. I will be writing a similar post about Instacart in my next post. Stay tuned!Have more questions about Uber or Lyft? Head on over to our Rideshare Driver Training Course! Driver Promotions
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