Under the hood with gig economy drivers | Deliver In Person
Under the hood with gig economy drivers

Under the hood with gig economy drivers


Many of our interactions with gig economy professionals can take mere seconds – as a takeaway is handed over, or quick greetings and farewells are exchanged on entering and exiting an Uber. So as a new player in the same-day delivery space who will use a mix of salaried employees and independent gig economy drivers, the Deliver In Person team spent several weeks talking with over 50 gig economy drivers to learn more about why they work, how they work, and how we could work better together. 

Those surveyed came from varied backgrounds, demographics and were located in Melbourne and Sydney. To protect their privacy, we’ve chosen to keep their comments anonymous and not disclose the other companies they work for. 

The biggest insight to come through – these guys love what they do. They revel in the freedom and flexibility of choosing when and how long they work, with ‘flexible hours’ quoted as what they love best by 85% of the group. Additionally, there’s an added sense of being their own boss that appeals.

The freedom to work when you want… It works around my life the best and good to be your own boss and manage your own time. I also really enjoy driving and mixing with new people.” 

Driving was another recurrent theme, with a love of driving itself, being able to listen to music and explore new areas. 

I can listen to my own music, do the jobs I want to do and have alone time!

So, the extroverts love mixing with new people, and the introverts love not having to deal with co-workers all day!

Our #1 driver Jimmy with GM of Operations Wes Marley-Wallace

This need for flexibility was underscored by the variety of blended employment, with just 10% indicating delivery driving was their only job. Over 50% had another job in a different industry, and another 26% were studying, with others having home duties and child care as their primary profession.

When asked what was the most important aspect of delivery driving, fair pay became a far more prominent response, with 58% of the group indicating how important it was to them – but there was a gap in their desires and the reality.

Sometimes you can work for 3 to 4 hours and not earn more than $30. Too many people are doing it now and I make $300 – $450 less a week.”

If it’s quiet, the delivery rate isn’t worth driving for. $5 an order is terrible.” 

When surveyed as to their average hourly rate, 38% of the group earned between $20-$25, with the second cohort, also of 38% earning $25-$30. 12% earned $30-$35, 10% earned $35-$40 with just 2% earning over $40. 

Drivers are also vulnerable to the ‘gamification’ from the delivery companies, or incentives being weighted to lure new or dormant drivers back to work.

The pay isn’t fantastic. Also, the way that delivery apps reward infrequent delivery people and do not reward their full time reliable delivery people. There are just no incentives for committed delivery drivers but they go out of their way to tempt the occasional delivery drivers to work for them. This makes me feel very unappreciated.” 

Driver welfare and the working conditions of these independent contractors has become an important topic in Australia, made more pressing by ALP’s campaign pledge to allow the Fair Work Commission the ability to mandate minimum pay and conditions for the gig economy community. There’s been action from the big delivery companies in recent months, with Uber striking a deal with the Transport Workers’ Union supporting an independent regulatory body that will create minimum standards for the industry. 

In line with this, 45% of respondents said they’d prefer a fixed hourly rate to give them security while not sacrificing the flexibility that’s a must. Only 13% opted for today’s model of a lower hourly rate with higher pay during peak times and after meeting milestones such as completing 50 deliveries. 

The other main source of unhappiness stems from tension between the drivers and the restaurants they service. Multiple comments expressed disappointment stemming from the lack of respect workers faced while trying to do their jobs. 

Drivers pride themselves on being able to offer great customer service, but often felt this was compromised by factors out of their control – such as delays at restaurants, traffic, or difficulty finding the home of a customer. Adding to their frustration was a lack of perceived support from the delivery companies themselves, such as support being offered by message rather than phone contact. 

…They don’t pay you for long wait times and tell you to cancel the order and keep delivering but then they punish you for cancelling the order by lowering your completion rate and you risk getting your account deactivated if it gets too low, so it’s a lose-lose system.

Despite these challenges, over 54% reported they had no plans to leave the industry, and would work in it for as long as they could. 22% saw themselves working for the next 1-2 years with 15% opting for short-term, planning to move onto other employment within several months. 

These insights have been fundamental in designing the Deliver In Person business model. Independent contractors can expect to earn significantly more per hour, with minimal waiting times, while continuing to enjoy the flexibility of choosing when, where and how long they’d like to work. Because it’s same-day delivery, not same hour, there are fewer pressures and time constraints.
We know that independent contractors are absolutely essential to the health and growth of our business and our customer happiness – and we want our delivery professionals to know how much they’re valued as the foundation of Deliver In Person.