Pizza Delivery Driving Tips

I’m writing this article after having worked at Domino’s as a delivery driver. I start with a discussion of my personal philosophy on the job and earning money as a pizza delivery driver. I then introduce some nuggets of wisdom that I received before my first shift. This culminates in a number of common-sense items that I believe are the foundation for working effectively in this capacity, and I’m writing a follow-up article to discuss one simple trick that I found significantly increased my earning potential within the scope of this job.

First, some history and philosophy about the job:

I took up delivery driving because I’d gone without a regular source of income for months on end, and market forces were working in my favor. My lack of an occupation left me feeling out of place: I was essentially living the life of a retiree at the age of 25. Concurrently, crude oil bottomed out at $45 a barrel. This made using my car to make money a fairly attractive proposition.

My delivery driving experience started with very little in the way of training, not that I could have expected much. The job itself is simple: all you have to do is safely take the order over to the customer, making sure not to forget anything. You find doing this that you’re entirely at the mercy of the customer. After all, they are the ones who wield the power. They decide how much money you will make during any given shift. Do this for a while, and you’ll have your share of good and bad experiences.

When I started at Domino’s, I went under the impression that I would be going just to do my job, and to get out as soon as my shift was over. What I found was that by consciously working to be the best pizza delivery driver that I could be, the customer came to appreciate that, and so with every interaction I sought to make a good impression. Likewise, I found that good work ethic earned me the respect of my peers, and I quickly became a trusted and valuable member of the team. It was the least that I could do, and the most that my position required of me.

A brief aside

When starting a new job, you can shorten your learning curve and save yourself grief by learning from the experiences of others.

Start by looking at an example of a very poor delivery experience. The pizza delivery driver appears thirty minutes late at your door, badly in need of a shave, and there’s pizza sauce smeared across his shirt (wrinkles, wrinkles everywhere!). His beat up car, music blaring, sits idling noisily on your driveway. It expels the occasional puff of off-white smoke between misfires. The pizza delivery driver shoves your order at you before presenting his upturned hand in your direction. If yours was a credit card order, he reaches into his pocket and brings out a crumpled receipt for you to sign (of course he has no pen). If cash, no change to offer. Naturally, he receives a poor tip.

Three functions in optimizing revenue

  1. Increase revenue potential
  2. Minimize lost revenue opportunities
  3. Maintain work efficiency

If you pay attention to these three functions, you’ll be a smooth operator.

Discovering the Key to Earning Fat Tips

I saw it written once that a rich man is someone who makes 15% more than you do. With that in mind I set about on my pizza delivery career for Domino’s Pizza seeking a way that would guarantee I would make greater tips than anyone else for the time that I spent on my shift.

To make 15% more than your peers, simply reaching the level of acceptable is not enough. You have to go a step further.

I started by querying WF about his delivery driving experience. WF had been working at Jimmy John’s, mostly as a delivery driver, since he came to Houston just over half a year ago. He had recently decided to pick up a second job as a delivery driver – he tried Domino’s against a Houston-based pizza chain over the period of one week. I knew that he’d have some wisdom to pass down about the job.

WF’s tips on delivery driving dealt primarily with the core tasks of navigating and presentment of the customer’s order.

On navigating:

  • Know your delivery area: have a general idea of where an address is so that you can get headed in the right direction as soon as you leave the store
  • Avoid traffic: when there are long waits to make a turn, cut through an adjacent lot to skip the line

On presenting the customer with their order:

  • Hold the order above your head, with your arm out at an angle to your body (like a server at a restaurant)
  • Employ some theatrics: make the experience engaging for your customer. At events with groups, ask where they would like you to place the food items

I thanked WF for these tips, and searched for more to add to the list.

Pizza Delivery Driving Tips

Here are some tips that I found through my experience working at Domino’s, ways to create a good impression upon the customer, in partial service of Domino’s corporate goal of, “Sell more pizza, have more fun!”

A quick refresher on the three functions of optimizing your pizza delivery:

  1. Increase revenue potential
  2. Minimize lost revenue opportunities
  3. Maintain work efficiency

Judge for yourself how these tips apply to the three functions.

The first tip: be prepared. This is the Scout Motto, and something that you ought to hold close to heart. This means reviewing the order before it leaves the building. I left the store without customer drink orders a couple of times in my first week at Domino’s, adding unnecessary time to my delivery run. In the event that you leave the building with a botched order, it’s highly likely that you will be the one who has to make it right with the customer. Eliminate repeat trips during which you won’t make anything, and you’ll have the capacity to take more deliveries during your shift.

In the event that you arrive at the delivery address without the customer’s soda, it’s probably worth your time to go to the nearest store and purchase the soda with your own money. You can inform your manager about the incident later.

If your customer has paid for the order with a credit card, a good place to keep the receipt is on top of the pizza box, and inside of the bag. This ensures that the receipt won’t get lost, soiled, or come out looking like garbage. Bonus points for keeping receipts on a clipboard (more on this, later, in the section on tools)

If a customer is paying cash for an order, let the customer know aloud how much change they are due. Go through the process of counting out the customer’s change, and hand it to them. Customers will tell you if they want you to keep the change or not. It’s always safe to assume that the customer wants all of their change, unless they say otherwise.

On my first few cash orders, I’d prepare coin change before leaving my car with the customer’s order. I no longer do this, because I find that most of my customers will tell me to keep the change right away. I do keep sufficient coin change in my car. My BMW E46 has a very neat coin holder. If your vehicle isn’t equipped with a good coin holder, it may be worthwhile to invest in a coin holder.

Treat your customer with respect. This goes without saying. Unless they prove otherwise, assume that the customer is deserving of your respect.

If you are late to the customer’s address, make some type of apology to the customer in recognizance of this. It can be as simple as telling the customer that things got hectic at the store. Most people will be quite understanding. In these situations, I always thank the customer for their patience as part of my greeting.

Take pride in your job, and take it seriously. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about working any job, it’s that. Your customers (and your coworkers!) can tell the difference. When you behave professionally, you eventually establish a good reputation. This results in myriad benefits that you wouldn’t be aware of otherwise.

Weigh the costs and benefits of speeding, especially inside of residential areas. When you accelerate and decelerate rapidly, you introduce added stress on your vehicle. Tickets are counter-productive to your hustle. Are the potential rewards from arriving a few minutes early worth the risk?

Keep your vehicle street-legal. Getting pulled over for any issue with your vehicle will slow you down at best, and may result in a ticket at worst.

Maintain your vehicle, both inside and out. Under normal conditions (read: garaged, driven to the grocery store and back every week), I might check my vehicle’s tire pressure once a month. When I’m relying on my vehicle as a money-making tool, I increase the frequency of these checks. I am careful to account for my vehicle’s needs, because keeping it running well means that I can perform my job with fewer unexpected setbacks. The customer will almost never see the inside of your car, but in the off chance that they do, what does your vehicle’s interior say about you?

Take good care of yourself. Aside from your vehicle, the most important machine to take care of for this job is your body. Make sure to treat your body well. Get enough rest so that you are vigilant on the road. If you’re working hard, you deserve to eat well. You can do much more in good health than in poor health.

Appear professional. Like it or not, you will be judged by the customer based on your appearance. At Domino’s, there are rules on facial grooming standards and the use of hair colorings and dyes. Not every pizza shop is going to have such restrictions on how you look, but it’s always safer to err on the side of caution lest your customer take offense.

Finally, avoid these unproductive behaviors:

      Passive aggression
      Dwelling on the bad customers. I’d rather do something about them, instead of fretting about it.
      Avoiding what needs to be done. If it’s part of your job description, you should see to it that you do it in a timely manner to the best of your ability.
      Substance abuse. If it isn’t helping your work performance, then don’t bother with it. If you want to be the stoner pizza delivery guy, you can be that guy, though I think you owe it to yourself to try it sober.

Potentially Useful Tips

Dave Ramsey has apparently been a vocal supporter of taking up pizza delivery driving for extra money. If your customer knows Dave Ramsey and has heard him speaking, you might get extra consideration by using the line, “I’m doing better than I deserve” when you exchange pleasantries.

Using a highlighter to call attention to the tip, total, and signature lines on a credit card receipt may help, but I don’t bother with this because I use my time before leaving the store doing something else (you can read about it, soon)

Probably Bogus

I’ve read some reports of pizza delivery drivers with multiple cars stating that they’ll drive their beater, reasoning that a customer spotting a nice car might not tip as well, assuming the driver to be well off. I’ve gotten a handful of compliments and humorous comments on my BMW E46 from customers. Most customers will hardly notice your car, so long as it doesn’t draw attention to itself in a big way.

Possibly Damaging

You might ask the customer if they need their change, but some customers may take offense to this question.

Tools

– Get on Amazon.com and pick up a 6″ x 9″ clipboard, or look into Vaultz for a premium touch
– Pens (keep a spare in the car)

One simple trick to make fat tips

It’s easy to get upset with a customer, say, for leaving no tip on a $70 order. From the customer’s point of view, there is no obligation to leave a tip for a basic service. Remember that tipping, while polite, is by no means mandatory.

As a driver, you should ask what you have done to earn a tip. Once you lose the sense of entitlement, you can move forward, and begin to uncover solutions to making more money. It requires that you be an active participant within the game.

Sometimes in customer service, we have a tendency to forget about the customer’s needs because we’re so fixated upon our own. Remember that the customer is your best friend. If not for the customer, you would have no one to serve. Consider this tenet of customer service: take care of the customer, and the customer will take care of you. Exceptional service is the key to earning exceptional tips on the job.

That’s the thinking process that led me to discovering my game changer…

Anti-Stiff Field Test #2

Scenario

Delivery to a credit card customer totaling $20.

Before leaving the store, I routed the destination into Waze. I used the store’s phone and called the customer (one trick to make fat tips). She sounded pleased, and thanked me. I grabbed the order, bagged it, and walked over to my car.

I pulled up to the address. Three vehicles in the driveway. One late-model Mercedes Benz, one pickup truck, one nondescript sedan. The Benz and the pickup truck both had vinyl signs on them, advertising (presumably) the owner’s business.

An African-American male opened the door. He was clad in blue, plaid boxers and a worn white shirt. Chains and a big watch on his wrist. I handed him the order, the receipt on top of the stack, and offered my pen.

He signed for the order. I examined the receipt. He’d filled the tip section with:
$00.00

and wrote in the order total.

Enter Anti-Stiff.

“I noticed that you didn’t leave a tip. It’s my goal to provide exceptional customer service. Were you satisfied with the service that you received tonight?”

He told me that last time, they (the store? the delivery driver?) had forgotten something.

My response with terse, bordering on curt.

“This time?” I inquired.

“This time,” he let out a chuckle as he mumbled my words to himself, retreating behind the door. “Hold on, let me get you something.”

I heard the sounds of coins jingling in the background. Pictured him bringing back a fistful of pennies and throwing them in my face.

He returned. His hand was balled up, and into my upturned palm he placed eight quarters. $2 tip. Modest, by most estimations, but better than nothing.

During his absence, I’d reflected on the exchange. Time to smooth things over with the customer.

“Thank you for your generosity,” I said, “I’m sorry that you had a bad experience with our store in the past. I can promise that if I’m delivering to you, I’ll make sure that everything is right with your order.”

He thanked me, and I returned to the store to take care of my next customer.

Anti-Stiff works. I’ve played with the script in my mind, running through interactions enough times to feel confident deploying it on a whim. My only regret is that I didn’t issue my apology to the customer earlier, instead of falling back on my wits. Not quite smooth yet, but getting there.

No matter – another opportunity to deploy Anti-Stiff will present itself.

Anti-Stiff: Tipped Workers & Dealing with Stiffs

Use this powerful technique at your own risk

Despite the prevalence of tipping in American culture, the ongoing discussion about an increase to the minimum wage, and wide-spread awareness of tipped workers’ fixed wages, every tipped worker deals with the occasional stiff. This article is written for the tipped worker, and it provides a tactful method to dealing with the stiffs that you come across in your line of work. I assume herein that you do an impeccable job and communicate effectively with your customers.

If you’re reading this, I want you to dwell on that for a moment. If you aren’t doing your job well, then this doesn’t apply to you, yet. You must follow all standards of your role before employing what I’m about to tell you.

As you get to know the clientele, you’ll quickly grow aware of the stiffs among them. Your co-workers know the stiffs, as does management. However, the latter isn’t willing to do anything about it, because the mantra in customer service is “the customer is always right.”

Tipped workers generally deal with stiffs by giving them inferior service, passing the stiff to the new guy at the establishment, letting others know about the stiff, but rarely by mustering up the courage to confront the stiff. You engage in these behaviors to keep from having to endure the stiff. Meanwhile, we all want to land the customer who is known to be a good tipper – you know, the one that makes up for all the bad tippers!

The question: how to handle the stiff for the best possible outcome?
Passive-aggression is not going to work. If the customer stiffs you, it’s likely that they stiff others, too. While most people prefer to avoid confrontation, it’s the only way to turn most stiffs around.
Brief aside: can you imagine what service must be like for the customer known to be a stiff?

I came up with this one while delivering pizzas in the spring of 2014. It gradually coalesced while I was mulling over the few particularly distasteful experiences I’d had on the job.

Introducing: Anti-Stiff

The goal is to call attention to the customer’s behavior in a way that doesn’t make you out to be an entitled tip-seeker, while providing the customer with multiple outs. These word tracks can uncover the customer’s hidden objections, put otherwise lost money into your pocket, and might even provide feedback on how you can perform your job better.

I noticed that you didn’t leave me a tip.

I pride myself on delivering exceptional customer service.

Were you satisfied with the level of service that you received? Have I met your expectations for customer service? (In what way did I fail to meet your expectations?)

Why haven’t you tipped me?

This is inherently different from the question, “Where is my tip?” or, “What about my tip?” because it focuses on the customer and is a request for an explanation, as opposed to focusing on the tip. “Where is my tip?” and “What about my tip?” both come across more negatively, suggesting a sense of entitlement.

Anti-Stiff is unexpected because we seek to avoid confrontation on a societal level, and calling people out on their behavior forces them to reexamine it. It never solicits a tip. Ultimately, it’s not a pleasant line of questioning, as it places the other party on defensive. However, it works.

Most probable positive outcome: you get a standard tip from a customer who is a known stiff

Most probable negative outcome: you leave the interaction having gained insight into how you can perform your job better to the benefit of all your customers, benefitting you in turn

Using Anti-Stiff reinforces the social contract of tipping. Use it when the situation calls for it, but don’t tell your coworkers about it when you do. Because you’ve confronted a customer, you’ve engaged in behavior that most people would find uncomfortable. If anything, let them in on your secret after you’ve cashed out.

Some of you may be wondering what to do if the customer threatens to speak to your manager, and actually follows through with it. More on that, later, with a personal story involving one particularly angry customer.

Articles I read during the writing of this piece:
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/26/hey-waiter-just-how-much-extra-do-you-really-expect/?_r=0

The Best Trick to Making Bigger Tips as a Pizza Delivery Driver

The single factor that has had the largest contribution to my pizza delivery driving success was treating every customer as if he or she were a new customer.

At Domino’s, we have a policy that whenever there is a new customer, the delivery driver assigned to that order needs to make a call to the customer before heading out the door. This serves primarily to cut down on the number of prank calls, bad orders, etc.

It’s useful: there have been times where I’ve attempted to make a delivery, only to find that there was nothing there. Perhaps the customer service representative who fielded the call misheard the customer, or keyed in the wrong number. This call is extremely important, so why not do it for every customer?

As delivery drivers, we get very few chances to make an impression upon the customer. Most drivers wait until they are in front of the customer before making their first impression. By making the phone call before going to the customer’s location, you are doubling the number of impressions that you’ve made upon the customer.

My typical customer phone call script goes a little like this…

[call connects]

Hi, “Customer?” I’m calling from Domino’s Pizza. My name is Alex, and I’ll be your delivery driver.

[wait for customer acknowledgment]

I’m calling to let you know that your order is fresh out of the oven, and I’m ready to bring it to you.

If the address is in a known business park, I’ll ask the customer “what to look out for,” and they’ll provide some guidance on finding their building

Usually, I’ll have the customer confirm the address that I have on the ticket: “I have your address as … – is that correct?”

Great, I’ll be (there / at your door) at (ETA).

See you soon! / Looking forward to seeing you!

This script sets me up for a positive interaction with the customer.

Why else is the phone call important?

Expectation management. No one likes to be left in the dark, not least when they’ve paid for service.

On busy nights, orders at our store get backed up. We are understaffed on the make line, so most everyone (drivers included) is pulling double duty. More often than not in these situations, I wouldn’t be able to make it to the customer’s door at our quoted time without seriously endangering other drivers on the road. A brief phone call to the customer telling them that things at the store have gotten a little hectic, but their food has just come out of the oven and I’m looking forward to getting it to them soon goes a long way to keeping customer satisfaction at a high. At the door, I’ll greet them and tack on a “thanks for your patience” to make clear that I understand any frustration they may have experienced during the wait.

Resetting the timer. The wait between placing an order and receiving delivery feels unbearably long for a hungry customer.

Everyone wants their order yesterday. By giving the customer a call with an ETA, the customer now has a new time to look forward. Otherwise they’re looking at the clock with the expectation that their food will be delivered at the time that was quoted during ordering. I give an ETA with a slight buffer (under-promise and over-deliver)

This also helps cut down on the number of phone calls back to the store from customers whose orders have yet to leave the building. These phone calls typically come in at our busiest times, when all hands must be on deck. My phone call helps the store maintain operational efficiency by reducing the number of interruptions that the in-store personnel must handle.

Finally, the phone call affords me an opportunity to demonstrate my professionalism and commitment to the customer’s satisfaction. My phone call separates me from the vast majority of other drivers in a positive way. This commitment to customer service is important by itself, but it also functions as ammunition in the event that I need to deploy Anti-Stiff.

Other sound bites / word tracks

Your order is a priority for me.
My goal is to provide exceptional customer service.

Goals of First Call

  • Introduce yourself
  • Verify and gain information
  • Reset timer
  • Demonstrate professionalism