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How to Increase Your Tips on Instacart and Postmates
This is a post from guest contributor who goes by “Silver Lining.” He is a single father and a Postmates driver and Instacart shopper in Los Angeles who typically works 20-30 hours a week. He shares his experience as a delivery driver in Los Angeles.
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Almost all of us eat out, valet our car, use a bellman for luggage, take a taxi Uber or Lyft. It’s second nature (or should be for a good human) to give an 18%-20% gratuity for the services rendered. In these types of service jobs, the pay structure is based on expecting a large portion of your income from gratuities and you can usually expect better service. So what about when you order food or items to be delivered from Postmates? What about when an Instacart personal shopper carefully handpicks your produce, shops your grocery list and delivers to your door? You would think the same 18%-20% gratuity rules would apply, right? You may be surprised…..
Over a year ago as I took the leap to escape my horrible part time 9-5 so that I could build my business and raise my child. I began driving part time as a Postmates Courier and then as an Instacart Personal Shopper. Both app platforms rely on tips to provide the a sizable portion of your income.
YOU WANT ME TO DELIVER WHAT?
With Postmates, you can pretty much have anything delivered 24 hrs a day, from prophylactics all the way to Maestro’s steakhouse. And everything in between. Stay in the comfort of your own home, pull out your smart phone and order from stores and restaurants that might not even offer their own delivery option. Your amazing and efficient Postmates courier will look for parking, shop your order, wait in line for your food and deliver to your front door asap. Based on this process, and the type of services offered I feel a minimum 20% tip is deserved.
I’ve had a wide range of tips from Postmates orders and some of the best where I would have least expected. The best case scenario is when you find the tip already added with the delivery charge. But unfortunately, this is rare to see right away. Quite often it can take hours or even days later to show up. The tip is always appreciated, but why does it sometimes take days? This has been a Postmates issue for years, and is a matter that has been highlighted repeatedly to corporate. My theory is that people are excited to chow down and unfortunately it’s not their first priority to tip. I just delivered your Sugar Fish Sushi or Tatsu Ramen so please give me some love!
My tips have ranged from “you’ve got to be kidding me” to “thanks, I can go ahead and call it a night!” As you become familiar with the restaurants and popular stores to shop you soon figure out which jobs will be worth your time and when to hit the REJECT button!
INCREASING TIPS ON POSTMATES
Once I make a Postmates delivery, I physically show the customer I am closing out their order on my phone and that they will be given an option to rate and tip me if they choose. I flash a genuine smile, then off to my next pickup adventure. I have witnessed other postmates couriers make a delivery and there appears to be no customer service or interaction at the end whatsoever. On a few occasion it looked as if they couldn’t wait to drop the order and run. Spending a few extra minutes at the drop off will greatly increase your chances of being tipped more, or even at all!
Other tips for earning more tips:
- Look profesional or at the very least presentable. I often see postmates that look as if they just rolled out of bed or even wearing their pajamas! I’m not suggesting to wear formal clothes, but try to step it up a notch and I think you’ll find your tips will increase. People view you as a professional, not just a delivery person. I feel that my tips increase on days if I wear a button up(untucked of course) or collared shirt versus a t-shirt and shorts.
- Double check a food order before leaving a restaurant. Nothing says a bad review and no tip like a missing appetizer entree, or drink.
- When shopping in a market or store, if an item is unavailable double check a replacement with the customer.
- Always have a cold/hot bag to keep the pinkberry from melting, or the food hot. I feel a nice warm slice of pizza can earn you a few extra bucks.
- Stay in communication with the customer. If the order is taking longer than expected or you’re stuck in traffic, send a quick friendly text to the customer so they aren’t left in the dark. It’s better to always play offense instead of having to be on the defense.
I’M MORE THAN A DELIVERY DRIVER
As Instacart Personal shoppers, we fulfill your shopping list and deliver to your front door usually within two hours. We carefully hand pick your produce, search and fulfill your shopping list, wait in those lovely deli counter lines, brave Costco on a busy Sunday, lug cases of water to the 15th floor office at the end of the hall, get creative with parking and we do all of this with a smile. We truly do more than a server, so depending on the order I feel our tip should definitely be no less than a minimum 20% and beyond. One time I shopped a $180 order at Wholefoods and lugged the bags up 3 flights of stairs. The client smiled as if she was handing me a $50 dollar bill, and once I walked away and opened my fist, I discovered a $5 bill! They clearly didn’t understand how this works! Cash tips are rare, and the majority is placed on the App. However, you will usually not have the long wait period for a tip to appear on Instacart as you would with Postmates. Occasionally a tip will appear a few days later, but usually it’s within a few minutes or same shift. A lot of Instacart shoppers depend on tips as about 50% of our income. They can be “quite nice” to “please shop for yourself next time.”
INCREASING TIPS ON INSTACART
A few of my “tips” on how to earn more tips.
- Shop and fulfil the order safely and quickly. The customer is always happy if it arrives sooner than they anticipated.
- If the customer approves communication, stay in contact if the checkout lines are long or traffic is rough. A quick friendly text sets a great tone.
- When making replacements, double check with the customer in their prefered method of communication. If they prefer “not to be contacted” use your best judgment with a replacement.
- Double check the bagging process to make sure cans of beans aren’t on top of a loaf of bread or strawberries. The Whole Foods staff is exemplary at bagging, but other stores can be hit or miss.
- Use insulated bags to keep that rotisserie chicken hot, or a cooler to keep the ice cream from melting.
- Customer service at the end is important. In Los Angles, about half the doors are answered by staff, but always have a smile, ask about their day, and tell them thank you before leaving. Don’t just drop and go.
- Make sure to inform every customer about the service fee
On 9/22, Instacart made an announcement that they would be changing the pay structure. They tried to market is as “we asked for this and it’s in your best interest,” but we saw right through it and decided to not quietly accept this change that would greatly alter our income. Instacart planned to pay more per item in some markets and a higher delivery fee, but remove the tip option for customers and replace it with a “service fee.” The new “service fee” would be distributed to all Instacart shoppers in the form of higher pay and an allusive “weekly bonus for top shoppers.” (You can read more details in the post: “How Instacart is stealing tips and cutting pay by changing to a service fee.”) A few Instacart shoppers in many markets crunched the numbers and some of us estimated that without our tips, we would be making 30%-50% less doing the same job and be expected to provide the same level of service!
Instacart shoppers nationwide got busy and organized. We decided we weren’t going to quietly allow Instacart to steal our tips right from under our noses, in order to make a profit. Many of us met with management on numerous occasions, sent daily emails, calls and several journalist and tweeters jumped on the bandwagon to expose this injustice that was about to be committed in the name of profit over people. Massive campaigns were launched along with talks of boycotts and strikes. Instacart received the message loud and clear and on 10/15 they announced that the “customers want a convenient way to tip” and that the new pay structure would still be in effect and the tip line would remain! However Instacart chose to market their sudden change of mind, I want to congratulate them for recognizing that the Instacart personal shoppers are the most valuable assets of the company and should be compensated with higher pay and tips The tip system is what makes the company great and helps the Instacart shopper provide exceptional service.
A QUEST FOR THE TIP BUTTON
All Instacart Shoppers breathed a sigh of relief last month when Instacart announced that it would be keeping the tip button option on the customer’s Apps. Instacart shoppers thought we had it made with a higher payout, a bonus option and keeping our tips! We quickly discovered that the transition may not be so smooth after all, and the income we were able to make is still under threat. Instacart agreed to keep the tip button, but it appears that they aren’t going to let go so easily. After speaking with several of our regular customers today, and placing orders ourselves to figure out the new App, it appears that the customer needs to go through a few additional steps to locate the tip button. It also appears that the “service fee” can be confused for a tip especially by customers that are in a hurry and don’t want to go through extra steps to hunt it down.
INFORM THE CUSTOMER
If you’re comfortable doing so, I recommend informing your customers of the new App change. Today I quickly explained that there are changes on the app and that a “service fee” has been added. I told them that this fee doesn’t go to me, and if they choose to tip please do so under the tip line which all goes to me. Everyone was very receptive and appreciated the info. I feel this communication is what earned me two tip batches out of the six I completed today.
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