What Is Roadie?

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Aug 30, 2017

Have you ever been in a jam and needed something delivered ASAP in an affordable, reliable way?

Roadie, an on-the-way delivery app, claims to help you do just that. Using a business model that’s a hybrid of Uber and the United States Postal Service, the company connects people who want to ship stuff with drivers who are already headed where the items need to go.

The company was founded in 2005 when founder and Atlanta resident Marc Gorlin was doing a bathroom renovation in his second home in Perdido Key, Florida.

As he was driving from Atlanta to Florida to work on his home, he got a call and pulled over to the side of the road. He found out the tile he was supposed to install arrived in pieces – they’d shattered during delivery.

Shipping heavy tile on short notice would have been insanely expensive. As Gorlin is sitting there on the side of the freeway, he sees cars zipping by and realizes that there had to be at least one person who was headed to or near Perdido Key and could pick up some tile and drop it off for him.

At that point, says Roadie Marketing Manager Jamie Gottlieb, Roadie was born.

“Four billion cubic feet of unused space hits the road every single day,” Gottlieb said. “If you can put one item in a car that already heading that way, it’s more sustainable and, really, it comes down to people helping people.”

And that concept of filling empty space in cars traveling over the country is what drives Roadie.

If you aren’t too familiar with these Uber-style delivery series, don’t worry. Over the next few minutes, we’ll show you how you can sign up for Roadie, how to send things and how to deliver them.

How to Sign Up for Roadie

Roadie’s app can be found in the Google Play and iTunes app stores.

The sign-up process is pretty simple. You select driver or sender, then you provide some basic information including where you live, a payment method and, for drivers, your social security number (used for a background check).

The app itself has four different options: Map, My Gigs, Messages, and Profile.

The Roadie Map Menu

The map is where you’ll go to see which gigs are available for drivers. The maps are templated on a Google Maps-style setup where you can use two fingers to zoom in, zoom out and move around the map.

Small circular markers dot the map. Each marker is a gig and includes a mileage calculation on it. Gigs that are more than 1,000 miles get a 1k+ symbol whether they’re a 1,500-mile delivery or a 3,000-mile delivery.

When we signed up for the Roadie app to test it, there were three gigs available in Seattle:

  • Moving houseplants from Lake Forest Park to Atlanta for $573 (2,648 miles)
  • Moving furniture from Seattle to Brooklyn for $508 (2,867 miles)
  • Moving windows from Kent to Bellingham for $47 (106 miles)

To learn more about these gigs, we tapped each gig’s marker.

The information that pops up when you tap on a gig marker includes the item(s), where it’s starting/going, a deadline for delivery, size, distance and cost.

If you tap on that information, there’s a more in-depth description of what needs to be moved as well as specifics about the deadline and what type of car could fit the items.

This detailed gig page also includes the sender’s photo, name, and rating, as well as an “Offer to Drive” button and a button for asking questions about the delivery.

If you’re a driver and want to make the delivery, you tap the “Offer to Drive” button, at which point you’ll be taken to a new screen in which you tell them when you can pick the item up and when you can drop it off.

From there, you submit your offer and wait to hear back from the sender.

The Roadie Gig Page

Roadie’s gig page is where you keep track of all the gigs you’ve either sent or delivered. This page is where you can also get an estimate for a gig and set up a delivery gig.

We tested the estimate tool out by choosing a delivery across town in Jacksonville, Florida. The entire trip was 17 miles, according to Google Maps.

Roadie estimates the delivery charge for you based on the delivery distance and the size/type of delivery you’re requesting. Here are the estimated costs:

  • Small: $14
  • Medium: $14
  • Large: $24
  • X-Large: $49
  • Huge: $64
  • Pet: $26

Roadie says small items fit in a shoebox, medium items fit in the front seat of a car, large items fit in the back seat, XL items fit in an SUV or hatchback and huge items fit in a pickup truck. Anything you’d have to tow (cars, boats) won’t work, Gottlieb said.

Pets, Roadie says, must be in a crate and fit in the back seat of a car. Cars and boats that would have to be towed aren’t typically allowed, though some drivers are willing to tow, Gottlieb told us.

The Roadie Messages Page

This part of the Roadie app is pretty self-explanatory. It’s where you receive messages and notifications from drivers, senders, and Roadie.

For example, this is the page to which Roadie sent us our notification that we’d been verified and were clear to drive.

The Roadie Profile Page

This final menu option in the Roadie app features your name, profile photo, star rating and a quick blurb you can customize. Ours read, “Looking forward to helping people move their stuff!”

The real strength of this page, at least for drivers, is the notifications preferences option that lets you choose whether or not to be notified if gigs pop up in your local area.

This subsection gives you options for addresses (we did a home address) and radius and distance (3-50 miles) as well as delivery size.

We believe this feature is helpful because it pares away any gigs that you don’t want either because they’re too long, distance-wise, or too big, size-wise.

You can also choose to customize notifications for longer gigs (more than 50 miles), based on routes you typically drive.

This comes in handy if you commute to work along the same route. You can enter that route into Roadie and get notifications when deliveries pop up on that route.

You can also do notifications that tell you when there’s a delivery between where you are and your home address, as well as notifications for gigs that match ones you’re already doing.

There are a few other notifications you can set up, but they’re unrelated to finding gigs.

Setting Up Roadie for Deliveries

Sending items through Roadie requires a simple setup process. You post a picture of the item, along with the name of the gig, the value of the item and the item’s size.

Once you enter that, you move to the next screen where the Roadie app will ask you where the pick-up will take place and who will be present: you, someone else or at a designated place like a doorstep.

Then, you’ll be asked about the destination address and if you or someone else will be there to receive it, or if you want the delivery person to drop it off at a location. On this screen, you can also set a deadline for the delivery.

The final page in this process is where you’ll give the driver special instructions and also offer up a bonus in addition to what Roadie sets as the delivery fee.

Senders’ Insurance

Roadie offers free insurance on items up to $500 in value. From there, Gottlieb said the cost to cover an item is $5 for every $500 up to $10,000. So, if you were shipping a $10,000 guitar, you’d pay $190 to insure it if you choose to have it insured.

Gottlieb said that Roadie partners with UPS Capital in order to cover items valued at more than $500.

If you have to make an insurance claim you deal with Roadie directly, not through a third party.

Setting Up Roadie for Deliveries

If you want to drive for Roadie, the process is a little more detailed than setting up a sender account but it all takes place, as we experienced, in less than 24 hours.

Here’s what you can expect to give Roadie in order to set up a driver account:

  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license information
  • Bank account information

According to Gottlieb, Roadie runs their background checks through Chekr, the same company who does background checks for Uber.

She didn’t provide any specifics as to what would disqualify you from being a driver. We were verified in less than 24 hours. Our driving record was clean and we didn’t have a criminal record.

Once you’re verified, you’ll be able to choose the gigs you want; you can see all the details of the delivery.

According to Roadie’s FAQs, you’ll need to maintain a 4-star rating in order to drive for Roadie.

Payment is made via direct deposit to your bank account and should take between 4 to 6 days after your completed gig to show up in your account.

Gig Cancellations by Senders and Drivers

Roadie has a specific system set up to handle cancellations; they call it the “Golden Rule”.

Here’s how it works: Senders are charged $10 for canceling gigs already accepted by them and the driver. Out of that $10, $8 goes to the driver. Drivers are charged the same $10; the money goes to Roadie.

No-shows are lumped in under the cancellation charges. Here’s what Roadie defines as a no-show:

  • Driver/sender cancel a gig when the driver is already on their way
  • Show up more than 15 minutes late to pick-up/drop-off without notifying driver/sender
  • Show up more than 30 minutes late to pick-up/drop-off despite notifying driver/sender

Roadie’s policy states that they can suspend or deactivate your account if you tally three cancellations or no-shows.

How to Make Roadie Worth Your Time

As we talked with Jamie Gottlieb, we heard several different stories of people using Roadie to make money on the side or to save it through the Roadie delivery system.

She gave us one example of two guys who did a cross-country road trip and were able to pay for their trip by picking up Roadie gigs.

“They started in Denver, went to the Midwest and Northwest and then south,” she told us. “They were able to pick up around 40 gigs along the way. They made $9,000; they couldn’t’ have done the road trip without Roadie.”

She also pointed out a woman who used Roadie to ship her dog from San Francisco to Chicago and another guy who did a road trip from California to New York and made about $2,000 along the way delivering things like tile and video equipment.

Based on these narratives, we believe consumers who can best benefit from roadie fall into three categories:

  • Those who are planning a road trip
  • Those who drive a set route every day
  • Those who drive long distances for their job

Long road trips, as Gottlieb pointed out, are perfect for Roadie gigs. As we mentioned earlier, there were two cross-country delivery gigs in Seattle.

It can also be a great way to earn side cash if you travel a decent distance to work every day along the same route. This way, you can pick up and drop off without minimal inconveniences (as long as you make it to work on time).

If you drive more than 50 miles to and from work or your job requires considerable driving, doing Roadie gigs (if company policy allows) seems to be a solid way to earn cash on the side.

The Pros of Roadie

Roadie is a simple way to move things from one location to another, whether it’s cross-town or cross-country. The model has worked for individuals who want to send things and also for businesses who want to do courier-style deliveries across town.

The Cons of Roadie

Based on our research, we believe that Roadie’s downside is that the majority of their gigs are found in only a couple of cities across the country.

At the time of publishing, Atlanta was the only city in the United States with more than five gigs.

Our Final Thoughts

Based on what we’ve seen from Roadie’s app and what we’ve heard from Jamie Gottlieb, we believe that the Roadie concept is a good one but that it suffers from a lack of exposure. As we mentioned in the previous section, Atlanta was the only city in the United States with more than 5 gigs.

Of course, that number could change depending on the day you check the map.

Our advice? If you drive a lot, download the Roadie app and set up a driver account. Set your parameters for the types of gigs you want and then wait to see what happens. There may not be any gigs near you or, if you’re planning a road trip, there could be plenty down the road.

If you don’t think Roadie is a good fit in your search for a side gig, take a look at our article on seven legit work-at-home jobs. The various positions we list in the article are the perfect type of work to help you earn money on the side.

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