How to gain a competitive advantage over other employers by offering better perks.

These days, the headlines seem to be packed with stories about restaurant delivery drivers being underpaid. Many report being unable to earn a living. Some have started only accepting deliveries to wealthy neighborhoods, where generous tipping is more likely.

The Big 3 have found themselves in hot water before for not paying their drivers enough. However, the problem these days appears to be low tipping, which is out of any restaurant delivery service’s (RDS) control.

The employment crisis that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed workers’ expectations regarding compensation. Many people are simply unwilling to work for what they deem to be inadequate pay. An RDS that can’t meet those expectations may really struggle to recruit and retain drivers.

Thankfully, there are several ways to approach this issue and remain competitive as an employer, regardless of tipping trends. Here are five different strategies to consider:

Pay your delivery drivers by the hour.

Many RDSs pay per delivery. But if business is slow and tips are low, this can lead to a pretty disappointing payday. If you pay by the hour, they have guaranteed income every shift, which makes budgeting much easier. This makes big tip days very exciting and bad tip days manageable, if disappointing. 

Offer a guaranteed tip.

You might consider guaranteeing your drivers a certain size of tip for every order, even if that means paying it yourself. For example, you might guarantee an 18% tip. If the customer tips the full 18%, then you’re off the hook. However, if the customer only tips 10%, you pay the driver the extra 8% yourself. (Needless to say, if the customer tips over the guaranteed amount, the driver keeps every penny!)

If this idea makes you nervous, consider adjusting your prices or delivery fees to make sure you can cover it.

Train your drivers on best practices that earn higher tips.

You can’t control the individual tipping habits of any single customer. But there are certain extra touches that often prompt food delivery customers to tip a little more generously. This includes:

  • Bringing extras of things like condiments and sauces—and mentioning it to the customer. “I threw some extra ketchups in there for you!” is all it takes to show extra effort.
  • Keeping customers updated. Many customers appreciate regular status updates, such as “Leaving the restaurant now!” or “Slight traffic delay, sorry!” Of course, teach your drivers only to send these messages when it’s safe to do so!
  • Using designated insulated bags to keep hot food hot and cold food cold—and hot and cold foods separated. No one wants a melted smoothie or lukewarm pizza. Good delivery hygiene means good tips. Drivers might even carry orders to the door still in the bag, to show their extra effort.
  • Smiling! Friendliness goes a long way. A cheerful delivery driver could very easily find themselves with a few extra bucks at the end of the night.

Of course, none of these tips guarantee anything. But they can add up in the form of extra dollars in your drivers’ pocket.

Consider mileage reimbursement for delivery drivers.

Not all of the Big 3 reimburse their drivers for mileage and vehicle use. Offering mileage reimbursement can give you a competitive edge and soothe your drivers’ anxieties about that particular expense. Another option is to give regular gas gift cards.

Offer additional creative perks.

There are many, many creative ways to attract new employees, even when hiring is tough. Check out this article about exactly how one small restaurant group hired 64 people in just four weeks, during a labor shortage.

DataDreamers is proud to offer cutting-edge restaurant delivery software designed with the customer in mind. With DataDreamers, you can create a top-quality delivery experience that’ll leave even the stingiest customers feeling generous. Between easy communication with drivers, split pay options, and other great features, DataDreamers never disappoints.

To see DataDreamers in action, schedule a demo >