Delivering food may not sound like a fun way to spend on an evening on a college campus, but University of Alabama senior Garrett Daily says don't knock it until you've tried it. He's just starting his second year as an “Envoy” for on-demand food delivery service EnvoyNow, and says he's “absolutely loved” working for the company.
“This job is so flexible and laid-back,” says Daily, an advertising major from Huntsville, Ala. “Our campus managers, who are also students, are more like helpers than bosses.”
Giving students the opportunity to learn how to run a business is core to EnvoyNow's model. The company was founded in 2014 by a group of University of Southern California freshman who wanted to provide more efficient late-night food delivery on their campus.
Today, EnvoyNow employs more than 1,000 Envoys and campus managers — all of them students — at 20 college campuses in the United States. Envoy uses PEX Visa® Prepaid Cards to pay for customers' orders, which are sent through EnvoyNow's mobile app. Daily says he makes about $40 to $60 on a typical evening, and significantly more on the busiest nights, such as during final exams.
Helping Envoys Everywhere Succeed
In addition to making deliveries several nights per week, Daily works a few shifts helping to train and manage other Envoys online. He supports others working not only at his university, but also at other campuses where the company operates.
“I did pretty well during my first year with the company, so I earned the opportunity to be an Envoy Success Manager,” Daily says. “I'm one of about eight other team members across the country who have the same role. We communicate with Envoys through Slack (a messaging platform for teams) to help resolve simple issues that drivers may have while they are working their shift.”
One problem that Envoys often encounter, says Daily, is not having ample funds on the PEX Card to pay for a customer's order because a merchant has unexpectedly changed the price of a menu item. “Whenever that happens, we can just push a few cents or dollars over to the PEX Card using the company's internal dashboard,” he explains. “It's very easy.”
Plotting the Perfect Delivery Strategy
At the University of Alabama, EnvoyNow provides its on-demand delivery service from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Drivers work four-hour shifts, and many take on back-to-back shifts. Daily says he usually starts a shift by finding a parking spot on The Strip — where most of the university's popular restaurants are located — and then waits for the orders to come in.
When an Envoy receives an order, he or she must then place the order with the appropriate restaurant, wait for the food to be prepared, and then deliver the order anywhere on campus — including directly to dorm rooms.
“After midnight, when only a few places are open, drive-thru lines can get backed up. There's also a train that runs through campus about every 10 minutes, and that's a constant hitch when making deliveries. So, I need to be sure to stay in touch with customers,” says Daily. (Customers receive order notifications through the EnvoyNow app, but drivers can also text a customer directly if they encounter delays or have questions.)
He adds, “Honestly, college kids just want to know where their food is — they don't care how long it's taking. They just want to be in the loop.”
Daily also makes a point to ensure customers get exactly what they want, even if they didn't think to ask for it when they ordered. “I'll text them and ask if they want condiments like ketchup or hot sauce,” he says.
An Unexpected Benefit: Making New Friends
When Daily decided to become an Envoy, his goal was to make money, of course. But he had no idea that so many of the customers and merchants he would meet on the job would become his friends.
“I really wasn't expecting that,” says Daily. “I've built so many new relationships by being an Envoy. It's been a really cool experience.”
He says he's also glad to have such a good rapport with his EnvoyNow teammates, including the campus managers. “At the end of the night, we meet up to talk about how things went and what we can do to improve,” says Daily. “The work environment may be pretty laid-back, but we're all focused on doing the best job possible.”
Jane Irene Kelly, who has two decades of professional writing, editing and reporting experience, writes about business and technology. Jane is a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and resides in Pennsylvania.