Every decade or so when the wounds heal and painful lessons are forgotten, venture capital will pour into food-delivery startups trying to execute the Web 1.0 business model of Urbanfetch and Kozmo.com, may they rest in peace.
It seems so simple since pizzerias have done it forever. But pizza shops are largely deeply rooted local businesses that know of a few good men (and women) to deliver their pies. Doing something on a far grander scale requires an abundance of drivers willing to make $5 a pop (plus tips) to deliver meals. And that’s just one problem with the system. Perhaps someday when they’re are plentiful driverless cars or delivery drones, the dream will be realized.
DoorDash, one of a multitude of start-ups with a mobile app that lets people order and get food sent to their doorsteps, relies on contract drivers like Brian Navarro to make the deliveries. The problem is that workers like Mr. Navarro don’t always stick around.
Mr. Navarro began driving for DoorDash and another delivery start-up, Postmates, in Los Angeles about four months ago. Mr. Navarro, 40, who previously drove for the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, said he had seen plenty of contractors quit DoorDash and other delivery companies during the time he has worked with them.
“Drivers do jump around,” Mr. Navarro said. “The general consensus is that drivers really only stick around for three to six months.”
That churn has become expensive for DoorDash. A large number of drivers left the start-up less than a year after they joined, according to two people who have seen the company’s driver data. DoorDash spends upward of $200 in recruitment and referral bonuses for some drivers, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details are confidential. Other delivery companies, like Postmates and Instacart, face similar retention challenges, these people said.•