Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tips on how to be a good pizza driver (thus making more money!)

(I would like to put a small note in here. My 07-Ghost post was nearly done when my internet decided to be a jerk. Thus I have no screenies. I will try to post it tomorrow if the internet cooperates. Since this post was nearly finished I am posting it today :( So this time…my lateness is not my fault! Carry on.)

So you have decided to be a pizza delivery driver. Whether you were already working at a pizza place and you got bumped up to that position (aka you got your own car) or you actually applied to be a driver CONGRATULATIONS! Welcome to the wonderful world of making tips.

I am sure when you applied you were told what to expect and how to do your basic job. Or maybe they didn’t and you had to learn as you went along. Whatever the case may be I decided that being a fellow delivery driver I would share my vast knowledge with the world and pass on some helpful advice.

Please note that all of these might not apply to you. I myself work at a family run restaurant so it might be more lax than a corporate run place. But perhaps you can see a tip and change it around to apply to your situation. Now on to the show.

Things you need to have in your car during a delivery:

GPS unit/map, pen, pad of paper, flashlight, a CHARGED cell phone, driver’s license, bank (at least 10 dollars). The flashlight is for late night deliveries and it is difficult to see the numbers on the houses/mail boxes.

Probably the most important thing a delivery driver can have is a GPS. I myself….do not have one. Yes I am starting off this tip session listing something I don’t have. To be fair sometimes technology kicks my butt and I think it is easier to look at a map and see the road instead of trying to back track to a voice saying one road at a time. But most people would find a GPS to be helpful.

But I am not saying you have to go out and buy one. Most places should have at least a big map for you to research the neighborhoods and stuff. Mine has a big book where you can locate the streets and use map pages like a grid to pinpoint your delivery.
So no matter if you have an individual map or a GPS unit don’t leave the store without knowing where you are going. Once you get “lost” it is hard to figure your way around unfamiliar streets. It is much easier to get directions in the store where you have room to get a map together and ask if you are confused.

If you do get lost or confused along the way the best way to get unlost is to call the owner’s house/location. At my place of business (we do not do internet orders so this might be slightly different) we always take down a contact number. We always say “can we have a number we can reach you at” and not “what is your phone number”. Because some special people will give you their house number and yeah they can only be reached by cell phone.

So yes, if you do get lost make sure that you call the owner’s house/business first. They can help you more than your co-workers back at the store. Sometimes people get a little grumpy so act super nice and innocent and like this isn’t your fault. When you call make sure you are parked somewhere and have the pen handy. It is easier for the person on the phone to give you directions from the beginning of the neighborhood or main road than you being lost deep in the middle of nowhere.
One way to avoid this lost mess is to be happy good friends with your co-workers.

Your co-workers will affect your job a lot so it is best to play nice with them. The people who take the orders have to make sure they write down your directions correctly and perhaps get down the neighborhood the street is located in. If the counter person writes down the street name wrong or gets a wrong phone number you can be screwed. The speed of the pizza makers will determine how long it will actually take you to get to said location. If they are taking their time you might be late. Even if it takes you only 10 minutes to get to their neighborhood you still might be late if your pizza isn’t in the oven after 20 minutes.

So with that all being said…you have to make sure your co-workers are on their A-game. And that might be hard considering these types of places like to hire young kids. These people really don’t care about your tips so it’s not in their best interest to make sure you have all the correct information or make life easier for you. But it’s also not going to make them work harder if you yell and scream at them. Or at least it doesn’t work when I do that. XD Instead just try to show them how thing would go smoother if they did things a certain way. “Hey, instead of just putting the street name down can you get a general location or neighborhood for me?” goes a long way. Or perhaps ask your boss if things can be done a certain way to insure deliveries get out faster so customers can be happy. XD

So yay you have a delivery! Now before you get in your car you need to make sure you have everything in order. Nothing sucks more than getting to someone’s house and you forgot their salad. Do you know where you are going? Do you have everything, pizza, salads, sodas, ect? Plates and napkins if you are delivering to a business? A pen for credit card slips? Has the ticket been rung in already? Once that is in order it is time to hit the road.

Once you become more familiar with the roads delivering will become easier. You will know little short cuts and what streets to avoid during rush hour. And once you become familiar with your delivery area you can gauge how many deliveries you can take at once. How much you make in tips depends on how many deliveries you can do in an hour. If you work in a bigger place whoever is there takes the delivery. Speed is the key. But by speed I mean…a reasonable amount of speed. I am not going to say I always go the speed limit but I am not going 60 in a 45. A two dollar tip will not pay a 124 dollar speeding ticket.

Please do not speed in bad weather. Again a two dollar tip will not a pay a 5 thousand medical bill or for a new car. Wet roads can be dangerous and most other drivers will be going slow as dirt because of the weather. Drive with your lights on and don’t take turns that are slightly iffy and that you would usually take in better weather. Hopefully your store will tell people there will be a delay in their delivery due to the weather so the pressure to deliver isn’t so high.

Being a delivery driver will make you hate people. And the people you will hate the most are the other drivers on the road. Before you become a delivery driver you might be a little pissed off at slow drivers or idiots but now that time is important and it affects your wallet you will be more pissed off. Close to RAGE! People driving slow in the middle lane, not going just because there is no arrow but it is obvious you can go, and people who randomly slam on their breaks are just some of the problems you will encounter. Before you take a baseball bat to their car remember that some crazy people have guns in their glove compartments. You can show that you are pissed off at them but be careful. And learn how to be a more aggressive driver. And pay attention since most drivers out there are in LALALA land half the time anyway.

So after all is said and done you finally have made it to your destination. It is time to plaster on a smile (fake or otherwise) and get your tip!!!

Now….as a rule of thumb if I get there any time after 30 minutes from the time they order I start with “I am sorry about that wait”. Granted most places have a much longer wait time than 30 minutes but you must get inside a customer’s brain. They tend to sit by the clock and multiply the wait time by 100 or something. 5 minutes becomes 20 when they are sitting in a store so who knows how long they really thing they have been waiting. But if you open up with a cute (okay I am a girl so I can get away with cute) little I am sorry before they have a chance to bitch it is more likely they will say OH the wait wasn’t that bad. Because they don’t want to look like douche.

Now in any other setting it would be poor form to blame your co-workers for a mistake made or something. But right now all the customer sees is you. If your delivery time is 45 minutes and you get there in 50 there is nothing wrong with saying “Sorry, things got really backed up in the kitchen!”. I am not saying going on and on about how they are slow but try to place the blame off yourself. XD

Of course, there are other ways to appease a customer if you are late. If traffic was bad say so! If you had to call because the streets were confusing, say something like how you got slightly confused and your map was out of date. But don’t say it in an accusing way. Say it in a joking way where you are picking on yourself and acknowledging the customer had to wait for their precious pizza.

Now most places you go to will require you to have a bank on your person. Sometimes it will be a bank you will have to pay back at the end of the night (20 dollars in small bills) or maybe you are required to bring your own. In any event I find that I get more tips when I have a bunch of ones on me. My personal bank is supposed to be 10 dollars. If I had 5 ones and a five and someone’s change is 6 dollars…I might only receive one dollar if that is all the cash they have on them at the time. But if you give them 6 ones they will be more generous. Just something to keep in mind (and proof I am a greedy person).

So you ring the doorbell and you do the hello, sorry I am late issue lala. Whether they ask you for the total or you remind them (gently) of the total, always say “And the total for the pizza is $XX.XX.”. Don’t say “And your total is $XX.XX”. There are some people out there who are under the impression that the tip is already included in the delivery price. By saying this is the total for the pizza it is gently telling them that it’s not and you aren’t outright saying GIMMIE A TIP!

Now let’s say the total is 12 dollars and the person hands you a 20. There are two ways you can go about this. You can ask “And how much change will you be needing back?” Because there are some people that still won’t grasp the concept of tipping unless you are a bit…aggressive. But this can be viewed as RUDE as it is all their money and it is them who will determine how much you get or if you get any at all. Another approach is to say and your change from your 20 is 8 dollars. Don’t just hand it to them, people are BAD at math.

Now when you get a tip act gracious, even if it is tiny one like one dollar. Keep that fake smile on your face while you think HOW CHEAP THESE PEOPLE ARE! Say thank you and walk away rolling your eyes. If it is a big tip act surprised and very humble. That will make the person giving you the tip act good and know that you aren’t just expecting a great tip. It feels better giving to someone who is genuinely happy and most of the time when I get a big tip my acting surprised is real surprise. And yes this might all sound bad…but this is a social job where a lot of your income is based on tips and how people perceive you. You honestly don’t think waitresses care about your day right? XD

If you don’t get tipped….keep to keep in the rage! I understand that it is upsetting, especially when you go above and beyond for some people and you get the exact change down to the penny. Some people just don’t tip. Some people might not know (which I doubt) and others want to be cheap and rationalize the issue with “since a delivery pizza is more than the carryout pizza I ain’t tippin on top of that”. Just take a deep breath, plaster on a fake smile, and say thank you. Because I am sure some people are expecting a tantrum. Don’t prove them right. Just tell yourself they are assholes and hope the next one is better.

A way to help ensure you get a tip is if a kid answers the door ask for a parent. I mean…it makes sense in a safety point of view. That and they can’t sign the credit card slip anyway. Kids don’t know to tip so the chances of them giving you anything is low. Sometimes parents send their kids to the door on purpose to get out of tipping. Just be nice about it and say OH the pizza is hot, I don’t want junior to
get hurt.

Now…some of my fellow employees find it helpful when there is a credit card slip involved to circle the tip line and the signature line. I don’t like that. It looks a little greedy even though you deserve a tip. But some people will give you cash for a tip even if they paid with a credit card for the pizza. It is awkward when they had you a few dollars then you had them the sign slip all circled and dramatically highlighted. I just think the tip line is good enough for people to be “reminded” that it is polite to tip. That and when you hand them the slip say “And I need you to fill this paper out” instead of “You need to sign this”. So I am against the dramatic circling of the tip line.

Now at most places you will not be the only driver. So the way to get the most deliveries thus making more money is to be fast and efficient. So while your store might have lax policies about out of the store time ( AKA you can go and pick yourself something up to eat) it will cut into your potential delivery time. And it will make you that much later to the next delivery and people who get their food faster tend to be more generous tippers. So while you don’t need to break the speed barrier getting back to the store, it wouldn’t hurt to be slightly faster than just a normal ride in the car.

Now most people think that being a delivery driver means you spend most of your time on the road and the in store stuff doesn’t affect you. For some places that might be true. But if you are scheduled during a slower shift or your restaurant doesn’t have a very high volume of deliveries you will probably have to do some in store work. It can range from doing the dishes to doing the prep work or to actually being a “real” employee answering the phones, knowing the product, and helping out other stations when you are needed. This should probably be explained to you before you are hired but it might be sprung on you out of nowhere. Just know that most places aren’t going to hire a delivery driver who can sit on their butts when there are no deliveries up.

Make sure you get your tips after every delivery. I am not sure the system at all stores but people aren’t going to keep track of your tips as carefully as you. That and there might be other drivers and things can get mixed up. Whatever policies there are at your place make sure you get your cash in a timely manner. Someone might just take that credit card slip and put it in the register without remembering you need your cash. Don’t be totally bossy about it but just keep track of how much is given to you and that things are adding up.

Delivering will take a toll on your car. For me it doesn’t really matter as my car is over 10 years old. But there are some things you do need to do to make sure you don’t crash into phone poles. First of all…don’t be a delivery driver if your car is unreliable. I mean that it is prone to randomly breaking down and this happens once a month. No one needs to be rolling a dice to see if you can make it to work that day or not. Always have money for gas nearby. Some days might be busier than others and you might need to fill the tank sooner than you thought. Do regular oil checks on your car. Your breaks are going to give out faster than normal so make sure that is taken care of. Make friends with a mechanic as your car is basically your job. Oh and it wouldn’t hurt if you cleaned your car out so it is easier to load your car and things don’t smell like feet.

Here we are at almost 3000 words. I think that this is a good place to stop. I think I have covered the basics and given you a good idea what to expect or how to improve your current delivering skills. I think the most important part is how your personality comes off to people and your customer service/bs skills. Other than that don’t get discourage at those who don’t tip and keep your car in good running condition (especially your breaks). Hopefully things work out for you. Happy delivering!


Karen said...

Wow if I or someone I know ever becomes a pizza driver I know where to have them head! Very informative.

Christina said...

Karen- Thanks XD My husband finds my theory of "blame your co-workers for late pizza" funny. Hey, my co-workers aren't the ones trying to get tipped and no one is the wiser. XD It is okay in my book.

It does take practice to not glare at nontippers. Cheesy smiles have to look real. ;)