Archive for the ‘vehicles’ Category

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!

The MPG Fuel Economy Challenge

Monday, May 5th, 2008

Last month I posted several driving tips that get me excellent gas mileage and also posted about why you probably don’t get your EPA rated fuel economy on your vehicle.  At the very end of the EPA fuel economy post, I issued a challenge for people to try the tips and report the results.  George has responded, and his results deserve a post of their own!

I drive a 1998 Toyota 4Runner SR5 V6, which is a mid-sized SUV. It currently has 246,600 on the odometer. Like most big-city drivers, I had a lead-foot and tended to drive aggressively. I don’t know what my fuel economy was, but it wasn’t great. I was filling up the 18.5 gallon tank every 6 or 7 days before having to fill-up again.

I read your article and began researching hypermiling. I then started my own experiment by filling up the car to the tip-top. Then I changed my air filter and began driving 55mph on the highway and using cruise control wherever possible. I also avoided braking, stop light, stop signs, idling, etc. whenever feasible.

Guess what happened? I went 12 DAYS before I had to fill-up, doing the exact same commute everyday. I got 429.3 miles out of my last fill-up and calculated that I was averaging 23 miles per gallon on my mileage. I’m quite pleased with this as that is 2 mpg ABOVE the EPA’s highway rating for this vehicle.

Way to go, George!  That is very close to DOUBLING your miles per gallon, and if you keep it up, it could cut your gas expenses almost in half!

George rose to the challenge, and sounds rather pleased with his results.  Further in his comment he says: “What amazes me is that so few people seem to be trying this. It’s almost as if everyone is screaming about the price of gas, but are not willing to change their behavior to save money.”  That’s an interesting observation, especially with gasoline prices still climbing for summer and crude oil prices going back up near their record highs … which means gasoline prices aren’t coming down any time soon.

How many others have tried this MPG challenge?

I wanna hear from you!  Even if your results aren’t as dramatic as George’s, it still saves you money over the long haul … so what do you have to lose?  If you haven’t tried these tips yet, or just haven’t kept track of the results, grab a notepad and pen and let’s hear the success stories!  Also, I’m curious if anyone can beat George’s results…?

Vehicle Maintenance and Upkeep Expenses

Friday, February 1st, 2008

OK, I am back from lecture and prior to that having all four of my tires replaced on the Pizza Taxi.  Y’all can probably guess: it wasn’t just the tires!  I had a broken outer tie rod on the front driver side wheel.  Since this is a potential safety issue (tie rods breaking at highway speed equals UGLY) I had to get that taken care of on the spot.

The good news is I still spent less than I had set aside for this :)  Since it had been about four years since I priced tires I had about $600 set aside in the account to make sure I could cover the expense.  Total bill of the tires, mounting, balancing, tie rod, labor to install tie rod, and aligning the front wheels still came in just under $400 (clocked officially at $396.38).  So I still have $200 more to toss at the stupid truck note in addition to the $1500 I authorized this morning.

The even better news is I added up all the maintenance, repair, and upkeep expenses of the Pizza Taxi since I paid it off a little over a year ago … and it is still over $100 a month cheaper than the car note used to be!  Over the five year note I carried on the Pizza Taxi I had almost forgotten the joy of a PAID FOR vehicle.  Even though the Pizza Taxi is at that point where the upkeep and replacement starts rearing its ugly head (8 years old and about 88,000 miles) I am so not trading it or selling it because that would cost me much more per month than what I pay out for it right now.

Too many people use the repair costs of a vehicle this age to justify and rationalize the purchase of a new car.  Does anyone out there honestly believe they can get a new car for less than $130 per month average expense (including oil changes and tune-ups)?  Besides … within the next year I will probably have the equivalent of a new-ish car without the car note!