The United States has embraced a culture where tipping is a must and ultimately doesn’t always seem optional. Every service you receive, whether at a restaurant or being dropped off by your ride share driver, a tip is expected. Those that provide these services welcome and often live off of the tips they receive. This is true for the food delivery service like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub.
Every food delivery app asks the customers what they wish to tip when completing a purchase. They often have recommended tip values, but are those values enough? Should you be tipping more? Or should you be tipping less? But the question still remains, what is an appropriate tip amount for a DoorDash, Uber Eats or GrubHub driver?
If you don’t want to read the rest of this blog, the short answer is whatever you want to tip. However, if you wish to read some of my incites into to best tipping practices for food delivery drivers, please continue reading.
What Is Involved In The Food Delivery Process?
From the customers perspective, the food delivery ordering process is fairly straight forward. You open your favorite food delivery app, browse local restaurants by food category, and decide on the place to order from. You pick your desired food items and checkout. So what next?
For the most part, nothing. The order has been sent into the cloud where it is processed by the food delivery provider. The next steps from the food delivery app include:
- Sending the order to the restaurant
- The restaurant acknowledges they received the order and begin preparing meal
- Delivery app assigns a driver nearby and driver makes their way to the restaurant
- The driver picks up the order from the restaurant and begins delivery
- The driver arrives at your location and delivers the food
Seems fairly straightforward, right? To a certain extent it is, but a lot of variables exist.
Reasons To Consider Higher Food Delivery Driver Tips
Drivers are typically not sitting idle at the restaurant they are picking from. They must drive to the restaurant (say 2-5 miles). If the food is not quite ready yet, the driver must wait for the order. This can be a short 5 minute wait or can be quite long depending on how quick the food is to prepare and how busy the restaurant is.
Once the order is ready, the driver will be on the way. Now is when the delivery distances really vary. During the Pandemic, food delivery apps allowed restaurants to expand their delivery range. Customers can order from restaurants as far as 15 miles away, which will factor into the delivery time and distance for driver. This may not be great for food quality, so consider where you are ordering from as cold food might not be completely the drivers fault.
This delivery process means the driver must make a quick decision when accepting a delivery if the amount for the delivery is worth their time and expenses (e.g. gas, car maintenance). This is the reason the amount you tip can be important in the delivery process. You are essentially bidding for their service.
Higher tips will usually be accepted first. Low tip orders may bounce around until a driver accepts. High delivery mileage orders may take longer to find a driver even when the tip amount is large, so whether to tip a lot or a little becomes a factor in the overall delivery experience.
I’ve ordered through all of the major U.S. food delivery apps in the past so I understand the order process and various fees (e.g. delivery, service). I am also aware that menu prices may be higher through the delivery apps as restaurants raise their prices to offset the commission the food delivery companies charge them for the service.
I have also read through the online message boards where drivers discuss tipping. Obviously they want customers to tip more, but what is the appropriate amount?
I am going to go provide my recommendation for each delivery app and what to tip. This will be based on experiences as a customer and what I have researched on the driver side as each app is slightly different for the customer and driver.
What Should I Tip My DoorDash Driver?
Their order volume and number of drivers on the road make them the market leader in the food delivery industry. This means your order should arrive relatively quickly even with a lower tip. Essentially DoorDash can easily get away with paying a driver a base pay of about $2 to $3, depending on the market area. Thus, many of their drivers will accept multiple deliveries at a time, making this the cheapest option if you are low on funds and need to tip lower. Your best bet is to tip between $2 and $5 for most deliveries. If you live further from a restaurant, increasing the tip will help the driver as DoorDash rarely changes base pay. Basically a 2 mile delivery would pay the same base amount as an 8 mile delivery (in most cases).
Recommended Tip: $2 to $8 (increase with high delivery distance)
What Should I Tip My Uber Eats Driver?
Out of the three delivery apps that I am covering in this blog, Uber Eats allows customers to change the tip amount up to an hour after delivery. If an Uber Eats driver gives exceptional service, you are able to increase your tip. This can be terrible for drivers as they accept deliveries based on the anticipated payout. So if you lower the tip after the delivery, the driver may not make any profits. In some cases the delivery driver would lose money as they need to cover all expenses (e.g. gas, vehicle insurance, etc.), because Uber Eats base pay is also low at just $2, lowered to $1 if doing multiple deliveries.
Recommended Tip: $2 to $5 (increase tip after drop-off if delivery experience was exceptional)
What Should I Tip My GrubHub Driver?
Over the last few years, GrubHub has increased the number of drivers on the road as well as increased restaurant delivery range. The good news for drivers is they are still one of few delivery apps that pays a base pay ($1-$2), plus mileage (varies by market). Thus, drivers can easily start with pre-tip payouts of $5-6. GrubHub has been known to recommend higher tip amounts (based on %), so you might notice you tip higher through this delivery app without thinking about it.
Recommended Tip: $5 (would make many driver payouts about $10 including base pay)
You will notice that I mostly recommended tip amounts in the $2 to $8 range. This is the optimal tip amount as drivers can average $6 to $10 per delivery, which would mean drivers take home per hour above $20 before taxes an expenses (based on completing 2-3 deliveries per hour).
Now you may not agree with my recommended tip amounts, which is fine. You might believe these companies should pay drivers a living wage, just consider to do that these companies would need to raise delivery fees, service fees, regional fees (mandated by local governments), and menu prices. Any savings from not having to tip (higher amounts) would ultimately be negated by these additional fees. This industry definitely relies on your generosity so they can keep perceived costs low. It’s still not a very profitable industry at this time.
What would you recommend as a good food delivery tip amount? $5? $10? Would you prefer that more delivery apps would switch to a tip after delivery model? Share your thoughts with my readers in the comments section below.