Archive for the ‘pizza delivery’ Category

Economic Reality and Delivering Pizzas

Friday, August 1st, 2008

Last weekend I mentioned the numbers on the economics of delivering pizzas changed with the new pay scale that went into effect with the increase in minimum wage.  Today in between deliveries, I ran hard numbers from the last two weeks of this new pay scale and it wasn’t pretty.

Minimum wage went up 70 cents an hour, and to compensate the boss man cut our per-delivery pay by 53 cents per delivery.  Since I could only find two nights recedntly where I only ran one delivery per hour or less, this is actually a PAY CUT for me.  Last weekend I was running 2 or 3 deliveries per hour.

Gas prices have eased a little bit in the past week, coming down from $3.99 per gallon for 87 octane to one station only charging $3.65 per gallon.  Since I can remember $0.68 per gallon in 1999, I say “only” with my tongue firmly in cheek.

What my number-crunching this afternoon showed me is my earnings delivering pizzas has taken a nosedive.  When I started driving just one year ago, I was making an average of $14-15 per hour when figuring in hourly, gas offset/per-delivery pay, and tips.  The numbers from these past two weeks has only been $8-11 per hour.  That’s BEFORE gas expenses are deducted.

I just told the boss man to not schedule me anymore, unless one of two things happens:

  • Gas comes back down to $3.25 per gallon or less; or
  • He raises the per-delivery pay

He didn’t look the least bit surprised when I said it.  We drivers tried to stage a mini-revolt last weekend at the employee meeting, and the Boss Man reminded us that Tennessee is a “work at will” state … which means it’s our choice to work or not.  The insiders have been grumbling that they think we drivers were being paid too much before this pay change.

The Boss Man may not have looked surprised, but he also told me he’d look into whether he could raise our per-delivery rate.  For now, I am not going to be scheduled, by my request.  The economics have changed, and it’s just not worth the time away from my family at present.

We’ll be okay financially … that was the point of getting out of debt!  We just won’t be moving as fast towards our financial goals.  Only owing a mortgage and utilities gives us the freedom to make quality-of-life decisions like this.

The Economics of Delivering Pizzas

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Earlier this summer, I did a cost analysis of delivering pizzas as my part-time job.  This week, it’s time to re-evaluate the situation, as the pay has changed and I am not sure it’s for the better.

The big thing that changed was federal minimum wage went up this week to $6.55 per hour.  That’s a jump of 70 cents from $5.85 per hour, and I knew my boss was dreading it.

He warned us a few weeks ago that when minimum wage went up, he would have to lower the per-delivery gas offset pay … but I didn’t realize he would lower it this much.  We have gone down from $1.28 per delivery order to only 75 cents per delivery order!

We have an employee meeting this morning, and at least one other driver intends to mention to the boss man that this is not enough to keep our vehicles on the road.  In fact, this other driver told me last night he will be putting in applications to other jobs.  My comment was I am surprised it took him this long (this is the one who drives a truck for delivery).

As for myself, I will let the boss man know I will continue to work (for now) but I only want to pull three long shifts, with a minimum of 7 hours per shift.  The store is eight miles from my house, and I drive an average of 100 miles per shift.  Working only three days will bring back down to only one tankful of gas per week while still pulling the same amount of hours.

I have to wonder if this kind of thing is happening at other stores.  I’m also wondering if the gas prices may be the end of pizza delivery as we know it, especially with tips continuing to dwindle.

This should be an interesting employee meeting.

Work Work Work

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Just another post-and-run for ncsu95 who is busting my chops in the comments about being so quiet LOL  Right now I am on Day #6 of at least 10 days straight of working at the pizza joint.  I talked to the boss man about it yesterday, and he said he had no choice as one of the drivers has been flaking out (not showing) to his scheduled shifts and another person who doubles as driver/insider is on vacation.  For the record, one of the other drivers is pulling six days a week and has been since school let out.

On the bright side, it’s hours and tips for me which equal more money.  On the negative side, I am tired and am doing to much thinking in the Pizza Taxi and very little thinking at all in front of the keyboard.  I just can’t remember what was on my mind the night before once I finally get that first cup of coffee down.

I’m not very confident the boss man will be able to hire another driver, either.  It’s not that he can’t afford it; it’s that I am seeing “Drivers Wanted” signs at ALL the pizza places that deliver in my area.  I also haven’t seen the Ford Explorer that drives for PJ’s lately.  I think we are seeing yet another gas-price-related trend here … a lack of people willing to deliver pizzas.

I’m *REALLY* wondering what pizza place managers/owners will do if/when drivers start refusing to deliver to the notorious NONtippers?  Now that’s an interesting thought … !!

Cost Analysis of Delivering Pizzas

Friday, May 30th, 2008

By now, it’s old news to just about everyone but my 14-year-old son that gas prices are hitting record highs every day.  According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report website, today is the 23rd new record gas price … in a row.  I’ve been watching it, naturally.  This morning over coffee I decided to do a “back of bill envelope” calculation to see if it is still worth delivering pizzas as my part-time job.

Gas Prices

The Pizza Taxi takes between 8 and 10 gallons to top off from just under a quarter of a tank.  The last few tankfuls I have gotten the following fuel economy/gas mileage/MPG:

  • 36.0 mpg
  • 33.1 mpg
  • 32.9 mpg
  • 36.0 mpg

It looks like 33-36 mile per gallon is my upper limit on summer-blend regular unleaded gas for pizza delivery.  I can live with that.  It now takes $32-40 to fill that bad boy up, depending on how good I can get at the pump price comparison game, and with my Kroger Plus shopping card.


Overall, tips at work are slowly declining.  There are some gems of customers who have upped their tipping to help us drivers out as they do see gas prices rising, but unfortuneately those gems of customers are few enough that all of us drivers have their addresses memorized.  The trend I am noticing is that people who used to tip $3 to $3.50 per order are now tipping $1.75 to $2.50 per order.  Some have slid down to the insulting range of $0 to $0.75 tip, and of course those customers always tell me “Have a nice night!” when they do it.

Gas Offset Pay and Minimum Wage

I’ve talked to the Boss Man (the owner) several times over the past two weeks, and he has laid out the economic realities for me: He cannot afford to increase our gas offset pay.  He raised the delivery charge by a quarter, but says that is to absorb rising food costs for him.  He is afraid to raise his menu prices because of new competition that opened up in the area over the winter, and dreads the upcoming increase in the federal minimum wage in July 24th.  Federal minimum wage will jump up to $6.55 per hour which is a whopping 70 cents more an hour.

Maintenace and Upkeep on the Pizza Taxi

I’m due for another round of maintenace and upkeep.  Oil change is due/was due about 250 miles ago … which is only about three days in delivery terms.  Since the Pizza Taxi is over 93k miles, I may ask my mechanic about that special oil for high mileage engines, and see if they think it is worth the extra cost.  It is also time for my annual brake check (and probably replacement).  I’ve been putting that one off, which I know I shouldn’t do.  I’m also debating the merits of a tune-up since I passed the 90k mark on the odometer.  I’m looking at $200-500 dollars, depending on the brakes, possibly more if they’ve raised their prices.

Am I Still Making Money Delivering Pizzas?

Bottom line is: Yes, I am so I will continue doing it.  The rising costs have taken a bite out of my money though, so it is not nearly as profitable as it was before the big spring run-up on gas prices.  If I didn’t get as good of gas mileage as I do, it might not be worth it for me.  I have a coworker who says he only gets about 19 mpg in his truck, and I honestly don’t see how he is making any money doing this.

Last summer, I had called 25 mpg the point where pizza delivery makes good money, and I think I need to revise that to something higher.  Maybe 28 mpg now … but if gas prices continue their climb it may end up only cars that get better than 30 mpg will make money.

More posts about the economics and realities of delivering pizzas as a part-time job:

Happy reading!

Safety Tips from your Pizza Driver

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Saturday night I had some guy tailgating my back bumper on a dark country road.  When I turned onto the two-lane highway, he stayed on my back bumper and almost got himself T-boned by oncoming traffic that I was able to easily clear but he shouldn’t have even tried.  This is just the latest example of how unsafe some people drive!

As a pizza delivery driver, I see all kinds of examples of unsafe driving and even some very nasty car wrecks.  As a “public safety announcement” I thought I would list a few of them here (and to vent a bit).

Unsafe Driving Practices

  • SPEEDING:  along with killing your fuel efficiency and gas mileage (MPG), speeding is not a safe thing to do!  It becomes especially unsafe on the curvy twisting country roads I often deliver on, and is a hazard in town where you might not have the time or distance to stop for a traffic light.
  • RUNNING RED LIGHTS:  I understand some yellow lights are very short (I don’t know why) and sometimes people can’t stop in time, but running a red light is dangerous because there are folks who feel a need to to do an extreme “quick start” or “jackrabbit start” off the line as soon as their side turns green, and some jump off that line so fast you have to wonder if they drag race in their spare time!  I’ve seen T-bone wrecks that require the rescue squad, the “jaws of life” and at least two ambulances or even a life-flight helicopter, not to mention the fire trucks, police vehicles, and of course a flatbed wrecker or two to haul what’s left of the car off.  Really, it ain’t worth it … especially if they have to call the coroner instead of an ambulance.
  • TAILGATING:  This one really chaps my (donkey) big time.  I drive a stick shift, which means I will likely slow down without using my brakes!  Also, that lighted sign on top of my car says I am WORKING, and if I am going slowly I may be hunting for an address or road … so driving three inches off my back bumper with your high-beams on will NOT make me go any faster.  No, you are not “drafting” either, because before you get close enough to actually draft I will have slammed  on my brakes to get you to back off.  I am older than most tailgaters, and have much better insurance rates … and YOU will get the ticket for failing to maintain a proper following distance.
  • FLASHING HIGH-BEAM HEADLIGHTS:  I really don’t understand this one at all.  Why do people feel a need to flash their high-beam lights at me when oncoming?  Do they think they are being cute?  Or are they just that much of a total jack(donkey)?  People in tall trucks seem to do it much more than small car drivers, and it really does temporarily blind me.  It’s even more annoying than those (donkeys) who tailgate with their high-beams on.

Now, for a non-driving but even more important safety tip: MAKE SURE YOUR HOUSE NUMBER IS EASILY VISIBLE FROM THE ROAD!!!  As a pizza driver, this would help me immensely in my job.  You may even think it’s amusing to see me go past your driveway three times hunting for your house with my lighted pizza sign showing how hard a time I am having … but will it be just as amusing when you have a life-threatening situation and it’s the ambulance, fire truck, or police car who can’t find your house?!?  Use reflective house numbers that are two inches tall or larger, and make sure they can be seen from the road even during the late summer when bushes and trees have all of their leaves.  Folks, if the pizza driver who is up and down your road regularly can’t find your house at night, the ambulance driver won’t be able to find it easily either.

Now, for a few tips to make your pizza driver feel safe:

  • Turn on your porch light!  It helps us find your house a little easier, and there are some neighborhoods I’ve delivered into that were not safe in the dark.  I carry a large 3 D-cell Mag-Lite flashlight for occasions like that … not just for the light either.  I often tell customers that “porch lights attract pizza drivers.”
  • Don’t leave things laying across your sidewalk at night, especially if you don’t bother to turn on that porch light.  I’ve tripped over all manner of things just trying to get to a house’s porch.  If you think I am just whining, pretend I am a paramedic and your child is choking and blue … then maybe it won’t sound as trivial.
  • If your dog may be aggressive, put it up.  I have nothing against dogs, or even big dogs (I own a 130 pound Rottweiler).  But I get a little nervous when a customer is at the door yelling at me to stay in my car while they catch and contain their dog.  If you have someone coming to your house, get Cujo in his pen or on a leash … before my tires hit your driveway.

These are just a few safety pointers from my experience as a pizza driver.  I am sure other drivers can chime in with more.

Why You Don’t Get Your EPA Fuel Economy MPG

Monday, April 14th, 2008

The EPA fuel economy MPG is those numbers they put on the car window sticker that estimate how many miles per gallon (mpg) you should be getting out of your car.  Most people do NOT get that number, but instead get a lower mpg.

I’ve heard folks who maintain their car religiously, check their tire pressure (tyre inflation for the Brits), get an oil change at every 3000 miles on the dot, get their tune-ups on time, and basically do everything under the sun to get the best number of miles per gallon out of their car, then still fail to acheive the number on the window sticker that they laminated and keep in the glovebox.  They ask: Why?

In a nutshell: It’s your driving style!

That’s right, take a good look in the mirror if you’ve done all the maintenance possible and still can’t get up to your EPA fuel economy number.  As a pizza delivery driver, I have probably seen you in MY rear-view mirror or through my windshield, and I can say that all the maintenance in the world will be undone by driving style.  Here are the official EPA tips to improve your mpg through driving style:

  • SLOW DOWN!!!  Seriously, most people on the road with me are driving 5-15 mph over the posted speed limit, even through known speed traps and school zones.  The EPA estimates that simply observing the speed limit will save you 7-23%, which translates to $0.23-0.74 per gallon at $3.239 per gallon price (what I saw this weekend).  That doesn’t take into account the expense of getting a speeding ticket and having your driving insurance rate raised.
  • Aggressive driving costs you.  Rapid acceleration, especially from a full stop (often called drag racing starts or jackrabbit starts), uses the most gas for the least amount of distance.  I see this the most in town between stoplights!  Why are you in such a hurry to slam on the brakes at the next stoplight?  The EPA estimates that “aggressive driving” costs 5-33% of your mpg depending on just how aggressive you truly drive.  At $3.239 per gallon of gas, that could cost you $0.16-$1.07 per gallon!  So how does it feel to stomp on the gas pedal and know that you just burned 1/3 of your fuel effieciency?  If you can’t tell, this one is a pet peeve of mine, especially when the aggressive driver is directly behind me.
  • Excess weight in your car makes your engine work harder.  The EPA estimate is 1-2% per every 100 pounds of extra weight in your car, which translates to $0.03-$0.06 per gallon of gasoline.  Basically, if you are dragging around excess weight you just negated any savings you might have gotten by price shopping or using a discount card at the pump.
  • Avoid idling.  When you are idling, you are burning gas to go absolutely nowhere.  I always turn the Pizza Taxi off instead of idling at a customer’s house or at the shop in between deliveries. (No EPA figures)
  • Use cruise control (if you have it).   This helps you keep a smooth constant speed on the highway as opposed to the speed-up-slow-down routine, even on the hills.  Hubby’s truck has cruise control, but as a 5-speed the Pizza Taxi doesn’t. (No EPA figures)
  • Use overdrive if you have it.  Once you are up to highway speed, pop it in overdrive to let your engine work less. (No EPA figures)

I know some of y’all are wondering just how well I do against the EPA figures for my Pizza Taxi.  Here are the stats I plugged into the “Find your fuel economy” page: 2000 Ford Escort ZX2 5-speed manual.

  • Old EPA fuel economy: 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway
  • New EPA fuel economy: 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway
  • MY fuel economy on the last fill-up (Thursday before work to Saturday after work)  325 miles travelled, 9.6 gallons of gasoline used for 34.58 mpg!
  • My record for city and delivery mpg: last summer I got 35.8 mpg while driving for Domino’s and delivering into downtown even!
  • My record for highway mileage: 39.2 mpg on a road trip about three years ago immediately after an oil change and tune-up and driving on a windless mild day.

I beat the old EPA fuel economy numbers, and stomp all over the revised numbers.  Why?  HOW?  I follow all the tips I just listed for y’all, plus a few of my personal gasoline-saving driving tips listed last week.

Here’s my challenge for everyone: Try one week of driving like the EPA and I recommend, and figure your gas mileage.  To do this, start with a completely full gas tank and either note your starting miles on the odometer or reset your trip meter to zero.  When you go to fill up again, top it off, and the number of gallons it takes is how much you used.  Then divide number of miles traveled by gallons used for your mpg.  Compare this number to what the EPA says you should be getting (both old and new numbers for fun!) and post it here :)

Gasoline Saving Driving Tips

Friday, April 4th, 2008

gas pricesWith the price of a gallon of gasoline climbing higher than most of us Americans find comfortable, any and all driving tips to save on fuel consumption helps.  I deliver pizzas on the weekends, so I not only know how important saving money at the gas pump can be, I also know what to do to accomplish this!

Most of these tips are simply common sense, and can be found all over the internet.  This is the list of things *I* do to get over 30 miles per gallon in my 2000 Ford Escort ZX2 5-speed while delivering pizzas:

  1. If you have a manual transmission, use that to your advantage!  I drive up and down hills all the time, and am in the habit of pushing in the clutch and coasting downhill.  I also push in the clutch when I see the traffic light has turned red.  Why use gas when you can let gravity work?  Even if you drive an automatic transmission, you can ease up on the accelerator (gas pedal) on the downhill.  (Note: It is my understanding of the law here in Tennessee that this is legal as long as you keep the transmission in gear, not in nuetral!)
  2. Driving on the street is not a drag race!  There are very few times you should need to gas your car off the line after the light turns green.  Smooth and moderate accelerations instead of the quick stomp the pedal routine will add up.
  3. Speaking of speed, there is really no need to exceed posted speed limits.  In addition to the risk of getting a speeding ticket, driving the speed limit or just under it will save on fuel consumption.  Why speed anyway when you will end up stopping at a red light quicker in town?
  4. Routine maintenance WILL save you on gas!  Can I say this enough times?  Get your oil changed regularly (especially if you drive a Ford LOL they are picky about that), have your tire inflation checked regularly, and have your air and fuel filters changed on a regular basis.  Tune-ups can do wonders for your vehicle’s gas mileage when done on schedule.
  5. On a similar note, don’t let repairs go!  If you know something is wrong with your motor, drivetrain, or suspension get those fixed.  I personally don’t consider air conditioning to be a necessity, but different people have different tolerances there.  If you are not mechanically inclined, have your mechanic check your belts and hoses and other moving parts.
  6. Don’t carry around heavy stuff in your car unless necessary.  The more weight your engine needs to haul around, the more work it needs to do and the more gas it will need to use.  I try to limit the Pizza Taxi to only toting around three textbooks per semester.
  7. Plan your route not for the shortest distance per se, but the one with the least amount of stoplights and idling for an opening in traffic.  One thing I learned quickly when I started delivering pizza is that sometimes the “longcut” is much quicker and easier than a “shortcut” that may save you on the odometer.

Those are just the ordinary basic things that everyone could do to save a little bit of money at the gas pump.  If you feel bold you might want to google the term “hypermiler” but I can’t recommend all the techniques you’ll find in those links.  Some more tips that might help you (and again are common sense):

  • Combine errands and trips to reduce the number of times you need to drive.
  • Carpool with a coworker.  Even if you only do this once a week, that is 20% less driving, and you’ll have someone to chat with for the commute.
  • On the flip side, offer to give your coworkers rides for a little bit of gas money.  If everyone riding with you chips in, that cuts the amount out of your pocket.
  • Walk or bicycle if your destination is close enough.  This one might even help with a fitness goal!
  • Use public transportation if available.

These are all things I have used or do use.  I see no reason to pay more for gas for my little car than is absolutely necessary.  Now it’s y’all’s turn:  What are your tips for getting the best gas mileage out of your vehicle (and saving money at the gas pump)?

Photo uncredited, received via email from my dad.

Tip Your Pizza Delivery Person!

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

I got called in to work last night, and had just a horrible night.  Seriously, my worst since leaving Domino’s back in the fall. So:

**** RANT ALERT **** RANT ALERT ****** RANT ALERT *****

I couldn’t believe how many folks either tipped a pittance or didn’t tip at all last night.  One of the reasons I switched stores and employers was because my current store, an independent, has a much better clientele.  No more “ghetto runs” as we called them at Domino’s, where you had to wonder about your safety as your walked up to the customer’s house at night.

And there is also the tipping.  Usually, I make mad money on tips at my current store.  Not last night.  I had two out of 11 runs not tip at all.  On Monday night I had every run tip, but two of them only tipped less than a dollar.

Folks, gas is now officially over $3 per gallon in this town!!  No, the store does NOT buy our gas.  No, the store does NOT provide our vehicles, or any maintenance on them.  I didn’t even make enough last night on ELEVEN freakin orders to fill up my gas tank, and remember the Pizza Taxi is a little Ford Escort that only takes about 11.5 gallons to fill from bone-dry to completely full.  (Good thing it only uses a quarter of a tank on normal nights!)

Y’all probably do not want to know what we drivers say about non-tipping customers.  We definitely have our opinions, and they are not nice.  Read on at your own risk.

To me, if a person does not tip at all, that says two things about them: one, they are a cheap(*skate) and that is censored.  Two, they just have no class.  None.  Think about it: They don’t want to expend their own gas and time and effort to go get their pizza, but they refuse to compensate me for doing it for them.  And for some strange reason, the notorious non-tippers at our store ALL live five or more miles out from the store!  No.  Class.  Cheap(*donkeys).

And every single one of us drivers KNOW those addresses that don’t tip at all.  If we get multiple orders in a run … guess which one gets delivered last?  And gets put on the bottom?  Petty?  Yeah, it’s probably petty.  The boss man won’t cut them off on delivery (well, I take that back, he did cut one off, and I asked him to cut another off last night) so we still have to take them their $30-80 orders for absolutely no reward.  Yes, the non-tippers usually order a lot of food.  At Domino’s, even with many more notorious non-tippers, we still all knew the addresses.

“But don’t you get the delivery charge?”  Um, nope.  When I got my very first job in 1989 working inside a pizza place, we paid drivers $1.25 per run and had free delivery.  Guess what I make today?  $1.25 per run.  At Domino’s they adjusted it to what gas prices did, so we could make as little as $1 per run last summer.  So NINETEEN years later I am making the same money per run as a “gas offset” even though gas prices are almost three times higher.

And to top off my bad night last night, the last order wasn’t even home when I brought the pizza!  This is the absolute pinnacle of rudeness.  The lady was home, but she had no money, so she called up her man on the cell phone, and he asked me to sit in his driveway and wait for him to come home.  Then he stopped by the store and paid for the pizzas, so the boss man called me to tell me to give the lady the food.  Of course … you guessed it … no tip.  So I asked the boss man to cut that address off for delivery.  That guy can pick up his own pizza since he obviously doesn’t value the effort of this delivery driver.  Our time is money when we’re working.  Rude.  No class.  Cheap (*donkey).

Folks, when a pizza driver is sitting idle, that pizza driver is making only minimum wage (in Tennessee it is the FEDERAL minimum wage of $5.85 per hour).  In my store, everyone except the owner is a student.  A few are still high school students working their first job, but the rest of us are in college.  Even us two “old gals” as the kids call us.  When I worked at Domino’s the story was pretty much the same: mostly college students, trying to get money for books and tuition to avoid student loans.

If you’ve read this far down, you’ve either delivered pizzas yourself or have a strong heart.  I found a website the other night run by pizza drivers called Tip The Pizza Guy (ok, they are gender-biased) that will give you even more insight into how we think and what we do. 

It also quoted a rather disturbing statistic: pizza delivery drivers are the #3 workers who DIE on the job.  About 6-8 weeks ago, a driver was shot and killed right here in town (but a totally different neighborhood from where I deliver!).  Most of us drivers are college students, and those that aren’t have pizza delivery as a second job (especially those of us who listen to Dave Ramsey).