Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rule-Breaking Euphoria

It was my first delivery of the night at Sparano's, and I was already feeling great. During the 40 minutes between the end of my Pizza Hut shift and my first delivery at Sparano's, I got my $2.00 after 2 pm Mocha Frappucino, and Michigan had turned a 19-0 deficit into a 19-14 mid-4th quarter gleam of hope.

When I pulled up to the beautiful Marble Cliff condo with 4 pizzas that totaled $64.50, I had a good feeling. The mid-50s lady at the door asked me if I could bring the pizzas downstairs for them. I jokingly told them that they seemed like pretty safe folks, and the crowd of baby boomer Buckeye fans roared with laughter. Before entering the condo, which was probably built in the last year or two, I astutely noticed the very light carpeting. As I kicked off my trashy, old, pepperoni-grease lined walking shoes, I told the McCain voters that I did not want to ruin their beautiful carpeting. They all commented on what a nice gesture it was, not realizing that it was an obvious attempt to pad my tip. As the lady handed me 4 crisp $20 bills and told me to keep the change, I smiled, thanked them for their generosity, put my shoes back on and left.

I walked back to my CR-V thinking of the 'delivery driver safety' sign at Pizza Hut that states "NEVER enter the customer's house" among other arbitrary rules. As if the sign could hear my witty reply, I thought to myself "Yeah, never enter the customer's house...unless you want a tip big enough to buy lunch for you and your wife after church the next day". As I got into my car, I quickly noticed that the display on my SIRIUS Sportster said "WISC 19 MICH 20". I did a quick fist pump, hit rewind, and listened to Frank Beckmann's call of John Thompson's Pick 6.

Now that is how I like to start a shift.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dear SIRIUS, I love you.

SIRIUS Satellite Radio,

You've been in my car for a year now. Please forgive me for giving you the smell of anchovies, onions, and flatulence when you've clearly given me so much more - where do I begin?

A year ago, I thought new rock meant sprinkling in a couple new songs by Beck and Red Hot Chili Peppers with the large standard dose of 10-15 year old songs by Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains. Now, I like "Even Flow" as much as the next guy, but it's good to get a break from songs like that and here some music that's been released this decade! Artists like MGMT, The Arcade Fire, Carolina Liar, Flight of the Conchords, and Atreyu would have slipped under my radar if it weren't for you. But if I do want a steady diet of Jane's Addiction and Filter, Channel 24 is only one preset button push away.

It's also nice to listen to music without being interrupted by people telling me why I'm missing out by not consolidating my debt, checking out the new bar that just opened (and will close in 2-3 months), enlarging my genitalia with their pill, and saving money on my car insurance.

Let's talk about artist and song alerts. You really came up with a winner on this one. I could be listening to 1 of the 2 NPR stations, but you will bring to my attention the fact that Avenged Sevenfold's "Beast and the Harlot" is about to play on Channel 20 with several seconds of notice so I can listen to the song in its entirety. Brilliant. And when I want to listen to the song a second, third, and fourth time, you give me the option with the rewind button.

But you don't end with merely the rewind button. If I am in the middle of a captivating Dave Ramsey call and I pull up near my customer's house on a delivery, I no longer have to decide whether to lay low and listen to the rest of the call or miss out on Dave's brilliant advice. Instead, you give me a pause button, and I can come back after getting my $2.52 tip and find out that the caller should not have a car payment of $650/month on a $2000 monthly take home budget.

You cost me a little bit of money ($400 for the lifetime subscription, $150 for the receiver), but you've already paid for yourself and then some. Why, you ask? I have not bought one CD since I got you, and I have worked more hours than ever before and actually enjoyed it! It never feels like work when I always have the aforementioned entertainment at my disposal, as well as a 24 NFL talk network, any musical genre I've ever wanted to explore, every NFL and NBA game, some very funny and thought-provoking talk radio, multiple stand up comedy channels, and the ability to get an alert any time any artist I like is on any station.

I prefer to take my 150k mile CR-V on long trips with the wife instead of her comfortable, nearly new, highly fuel efficient Accord Hybrid, and I owe it all to you.



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Party's Almost Over

Before I get into the key points of this post, I want to discuss why I despise the 2 run rule. The 2 run rule, the brainchild of some overpaid Pizza Hut executive, limits drivers to doubles. Even if 3 neighbors order at the exact same time, the arbitrary 2 run rule typically applies...unless the drivers are running the show, which is currently happening at my shop. :) More on that later. Here is what's wrong with the 2 run rule:

-In the era of $3.00+ gas, it cripples the driver's opportunities to beat the costs of gas by picking up an extra run reimbursement for the delivery.
-Maybe my biggest pet peeve scenario for delivering: Driving by a house and not delivering there, despite their order being ready to go...coming back to the shop to deliver right back to the same house...wasting gas and the customer's time in the process.
-I took a quad in 17 minutes tonight. (Made $15 in tips on that run, my hourly wage, and $5.20 in reimbursement, I might add) For a point of reference, drivers are expected to take 3 deliveries per hour. Multiple runs can catch a busy store up during rush, which increases business. ("How long for delivery? 80 minutes? No thanks, I'll call Donato's.) Without multiple runs, shops have no way of keeping up with the rushes, other than overloading the schedule with drivers, which is expensive and bad for morale.
-It takes away from the skill function of the job, and neuters drivers with mad skills.

Now, why is the party over? We are about to get a new general manager at Pizza Hut. A former McDonald's multi-unit manager, this man undoubtedly achieved his 'suit' status by following the letter of the law to a tee. This means that he will likely be very adamant about hiring a bunch of new drivers (eww...), and enforcing the 2 run rule (blah...).

I couldn't have picked a better time to cut down to 2 nights at the Hut and go to 4 at Sparano's, where the 5 run rule is liberally enforced.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Frickin' Ragers Season 3 Fantasy Draft

Round 1 (First 4 rounds include keepers, for any lurkers that thing we are awful at drafting)
Farvebugr Scurvy - Tony Romo
Lions for the Win - Joseph Addai
Il Trill - Clinton Portis
Sofa King Awesome - Eli Manning
Columbus Claymores - Adrian Peterson
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Larry Johnson
MAMC Warriors - Ben Roethlisberger
The Indy Surprise - LaDainian Tomlinson
Makin' It Rain - Derek Anderson
Tropics Football - Tom Brady
fraud - Steven Jackson
rojo - Michael Turner

Round 2
Farvebugr Scurvy - TJ Houshmandzadeh
Lions for the Win - Edgerrin James
Il Trill - Peyton Manning
Sofa King Awesome - Marshawn Lynch
Columbus Claymores - Maurice Jones-Drew
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Torry Holt
MAMC Warriors - Marvin Harrison
The Indy Surprise - Marion Barber III
Makin' It Rain - Willis McGahee
Tropics Football - Terrell Owens
fraud - Larry Fitzgerald
rojo - Frank Gore

Round 3
Farvebugr Scurvy - Darren McFadden
Lions for the Win - Carson Palmer
Il Trill - Brandon Jacobs
Sofa King Awesome - Wes Welker
Columbus Claymores - Antonio Gates
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Steve Smith
MAMC Warriors - Laurence Maroney
The Indy Surprise - Reggie Wayne
Makin' It Rain - Braylon Edwards
Tropics Football - Brian Westbrook
fraud - Jamal Lewis
rojo - Andre Johnson

Round 4
Farvebugr Scurvy - Chad Johnson
Lions for the Win - Marques Colston
Il Trill - Kellen Winslow
Sofa King Awesome - Earnest Graham
Columbus Claymores - Plaxico Burress
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Ronnie Brown
MAMC Warriors - Willie Parker
The Indy Surprise - Ryan Grant
Makin' It Rain - Reggie Bush
Tropics Football - Randy Moss
fraud - Drew Brees
rojo - Calvin Johnson

Round 5
Farvebugr Scurvy - Jason Witten
Lions for the Win - Brandon Marshall
Il Trill - Santonio Holmes
Columbus Claymores - Anquan Boldin
Sofa King Awesome - Chris Cooley
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Roy Williams
MAMC Warriors - Tony Gonzalez
The Indy Surprise - Roddy White
Makin' It Rain - Greg Jennings
Tropics Football - Jonathan Stewart
fraud - Dwayne Bowe
rojo - Thomas Jones

Round 6
Farvebugr Scurvy - New England Defense
Lions for the Win - Lee Evans
Il Trill - Donald Driver
Columbus Claymores - Hines Ward
Sofa King Awesome - Lavernaeus Coles
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Matt Hasselbeck
MAMC Warriors - Chris Chambers
The Indy Surprise - Dallas Clark
Makin' It Rain - Lendale White
Tropics Football - Jeremy Shockey
fraud - Jerricho Cotchery
rojo - Javon Walker

Round 7
Farvebugr Scurvy - Selvin Young
Lions for the Win - Matt Forte
Il Trill - Santana Moss
Columbus Claymores - Donovan McNabb
Sofa King Awesome - Bernard Berrian
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Todd Heap
MAMC Warriors - Joey Galloway
The Indy Surprise - Rashard Mendenhall
Makin' It Rain - Anthony Gonzalez
Tropics Football - David Garrard
fraud - Kevin Smith
rojo - Marc Bulger

Round 8
Farvebugr Scurvy - Jerry Porter
Lions for the Win - Minnesota Defense
Il Trill - San Diego Defense
Columbus Claymores - Fred Taylor
Sofa King Awesome - Julius Jones
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Patrick Crayton
MAMC Warriors - DeAngelo Williams
The Indy Surprise - Nate Burleson
Makin' It Rain - Jay Cutler
Tropics Football - Ted Ginn Jr.
fraud - Vernon Davis
rojo - Felix Jones

Round 9
Farvebugr Scurvy - Brett Favre
Lions for the Win - Heath Miller
Il Trill - Amani Toomer
Columbus Claymores - Kevin Curtis
Sofa King Awesome - Aaron Rodgers
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Reggie Brown
MAMC Warriors - Chicago Defense
The Indy Surprise - Jon Kitna
Makin' It Rain - Donte Stallworth
Tropics Football - NY Giants Defense
fraud - Pittsburgh Defense
rojo - Owen Daniels

Round 10
Farvebugr Scurvy - Isaac Bruce
Lions for the Win - Darrell Jackson
Il Trill - Kurt Warner
Columbus Claymores - Vince Young
Sofa King Awesome - Indianapolis Defense
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Ahman Green
MAMC Warriors - Matt Schaub
The Indy Surprise - Jacksonville Defense
Makin' It Rain - Seattle Defense
Tropics Football - Vincent Jackson
fraud - Justin Gage
rojo - Dallas Defense

Round 11
Farvebugr Scurvy - Nick Folk
Lions for the Win - Chester Taylor
Il Trill - Derrick Mason
Columbus Claymores - Devin Hester
Sofa King Awesome - Sidney Rice
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Tampa Bay Defense
MAMC Warriors - Bryant Johnson
The Indy Surprise - Jabar Gaffney
Makin' It Rain - Tony Scheffler
Tropics Football - Shayne Graham
fraud - Chris Johnson
rojo - Mushin Muhammad

Round 12
Farvebugr Scurvy - DJ Hackett
Lions for the Win - Jake Delhomme
Il Trill - Chris Perry
Columbus Claymores - Philip Rivers
Sofa King Awesome - Reggie Williams
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Jeff Garcia
MAMC Warriors - Justin Fargas
The Indy Surprise - Ahmad Bradshaw
Makin' It Rain - Deuce McAllister
Tropics Football - Deion Branch
fraud - Jason Campbell
rojo - Matt Ryan

Round 13
Farvebugr Scurvy - JaMarcus Russell
Lions for the Win - Adam Vinatieri
Il Trill - Kenny Watson
Columbus Claymores - Benjamin Watson
Sofa King Awesome - Nate Kaeding
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Alge Crumpler
MAMC Warriors - Stephen Gostkowski
The Indy Surprise - James Hardy
Makin' It Rain - Bobby Engram
Tropics Football - Ricky Williams
fraud - DeSean Jackson
rojo - Eddie Royal

Round 14
Farvebugr Scurvy - Chris Brown
Lions for the Win - Donald Lee
Il Trill - Phil Dawson
Columbus Claymores - Josh Scobee
Sofa King Awesome - Leon Washington
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Jason Hanson
MAMC Warriors - Mark Clayton
The Indy Surprise - Dave Olsen
Makin' It Rain - Jerious Norwood
Tropics Football - Tavaris Jackson
fraud - David Patten
rojo - Ronald Curry

Round 15
Farvebugr Scurvy - Charles Ali
Lions for the Win - Drew Bennett
Il Trill - Ben Utecht
Columbus Claymores - Baltimore Defense
Sofa King Awesome - Shawn McDonald
Jon Kitna's Revenge - Mike Furrey
MAMC Warriors - Marty Booker
The Indy Surprise - Mason Crosby
Makin' It Rain - Robbie Gould
Tropics Football - Antwaan Randle-El
fraud - Rob Bironas
rojo - Jeff Reed

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pizza Hut's Plan to Decrease Sales

Over the past year, Pizza Hut has launched a strategic product line, seemingly with the sole purpose of lowering ticket sales. While this assessment may seem negative, let's closely examine what they have done with 3 products:

1. The Tuscani Pasta Line - Don't get me wrong. I love the diversity that the pasta line has brought to the PH menu. Made strictly the way Pizza Hut wants them, the Creamy Chicken Alfredo and Cheesy Mac & Bacon are outstanding. Plus, they give me a rare opportunity to use silverware. Additionally, they allow me to be creative and make different things than I normally do, such as alfredo pizzas, new marinades for wings, and other TBD recipes. But back on topic: the pasta is marketed to a family of 4 (over 3 lbs./feeds 3-4 adults), and costs $11.99 with 5 breadsticks. If everyone family of 4 orders this, we lose. Families of 4 should be ordering the Family Feast (2 med. 1 top, 5 sticks, 2 liter pop $19.99), or 2 large pizzas ($18.99 with coupon). Though the pastas are an extremely high profit item, sales are what is important to Wall Street, management, and the employees schedule.

2. Bringing back the P'Zone - A great 1400 calorie meal for one, and sometimes shared by 2. A P'Zone costs $5.99, and 2 cost $10.99. The problem with the P'Zone is that it is not an add-on or a suggestive sell (like Hershey's dunkers or 10 WingStreet wings), it is a replacement for more expensive meal items. I seldom deliver more than 2 p'zones on an order, and it is even rarer to deliver p'zones as part of large tickets.

3. The Pizza Mia - The other two items I mentioned were just a warm-up for this one. Seemingly targeted to large families, and sold at a mere $5.00 apiece, this product is attempting to change Pizza Hut's brand image to one that caters to the bottom rung. Instead of families ordering 2 larges, 10 wings, and cheesesticks for the mid-30's, the same family will now order $20 worth of this half-cheese, undertopped pizza. The real shame is that Pizza Hut allows this product to occupy its boxes. This pizza seriously makes the Hot 'N' Ready from Little Caesar's seem like something that a mom & pop shop in North Chicago would sell. This pizza has increased labor demands, over-occupied valuable oven space during peek times, and lowered average ticket prices, profits, and sales for Pizza Hut. I cringe every time somebody asks for this on the phone.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Slow Night

Tonight was a slow night.  I could have easily handled the after 9 pm traffic single-handedly, but had another driver with me.

I should take advantage of slow nights more than I do.  Here are a few things I should do when it's slow:
  • Slower nights mean excess dough.  I should make pizzas with the excess dough and sell them to bars.  "Hot selling" or the less PC "pimping pizzas" are the terms used to commonly describe this practice.
  • Set up food trades.  I actually tried to with UDF and Steak & Shake.  All I wanted was a stupid milkshake.
  • Extra cleaning tasks. (just kidding)
  • Clean my car.  Hey, this would be a cleaning duty if I drove a company vehicle, as delivery drivers do in other countries.  I shouldn't be denied the chance to do this on the clock just because my company does not provide me with a vehicle.
But tonight, I just wanted to get my work done and go home.  I have to be in just the right mood to pimp pizzas, otherwise I feel too much like a door to door vacuum salesman.

On a brighter note, I posted this on TTPG today, in the topic "Why do you do it?":

I love driving.
I love working unsupervised.
I make very good money.
I get time off when I need it and extra hours when I need them.
I get free food.
I can even trade the free food for food from other restaurants or things like oil changes.
I love listening to music and I get to pick what music is on at work.
I am out of market for all my favorite teams (Detroit/U-M), but I get to listen to them via satellite radio, which is a tax write-off.
I always have great stories to tell.
As LoneStar once said, "pizza delivery is the last great job in America".

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Blockbuster is Still in Business?

As a Guitar Hero enthusiast, I have been coveting the opportunity to play Guitar Hero Aerosmith.  On my way back from the gym yesterday, I turned my sweaty head to check traffic and happened to catch a Blockbuster Video location out of the corner of my eye.   Although the $8.54 I spent to rent the game for 6 days seemed high, it was a great alternative to paying $50 plus tax, especially considering the way I shredded through the game, quickly beating 30 out of 31 songs on Expert.  "Train Kept A Rollin'" is insanely difficult, and I have only made it 52% of the way through it.  My gut tells me I will have it beat before I turn the game in.

How is Blockbuster still in business?  With so many more convenient alternatives, I wonder how they are doing it.  I was the only person in that store besides the cashier, and most of their Wii games appeared to be collecting dust.  Netflix is so convenient.  Go to any gas station, grocery store or (soon) any fast food restaurant in Columbus, and you can rent a movie out of a machine for a buck a day.  Blockbuster tried to sell me some monthly plan for $22, and I pretty much laughed.  I know what real estate leases cost around that area, and I wonder how much longer they can stay open with their business model.

Speaking of real estate, I noticed something on Craigslist yesterday called "Housing Swap".  I think this is a great idea, and I wish it were more popular.  Take this ad for instance.  A family from New York needing to stay in Columbus for the weekend and offering up their place in Manhattan.  Brilliant.  More stuff like this needs to happen.

Monday night stiff:
Quoted time: 45 minutes
Actual time: 23 minutes
Total: $17.00 (3 Mias on CC)
Interaction went as follows:
Me - (reads order back), Sign and total, please.
IC - (signs slip w/o totaling)
Me - Can you put a total on there please?
IC - Oh, I'm sorry, dawg.  (writes in $17.00 and 0 on tip line)
Me - Is there anything I can do to serve you better?
IC - Oh naw, man.  Y'all are doin' great.
Me - (about to say something else as IC slams door, writes on back of receipt and leaves on porch)

Sometimes you just get stiffed, even when you make 2 aggressive attempts not to.  Fortunately I work at a place where I will not get in trouble for leaving TTPG materials at stiffer's houses.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

15 Year Fixed

There are a few non-negotiables Lindsey and I want in our next house.
-A nice kitchen (according to her very specific list)
-3+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms
-Hilliard Schools (or comparable, but not Southwestern or Columbus city)
-2 car garage (since I get the street right now)
-Needs nothing:  As some realtor on HGTV said, a lot of young people think they want a fixer-upper, but run away when they actually see one.

Additionally, it would be nice to have a good-sized yard, a large finished basement that could be converted into a projector/movie room, and walking proximity to local schools.  But these would be extras.

Unfortunately, Lindsey and I live in one of the most heavily taxed areas of the country.  A $200,000 house (which looks like the minimum price we will pay for this house) carries around $4,300 in annual property taxes, or $358 per month.  The 30 year fixed payment on a 200k loan at 6.5% would be around $1,264, so $1,622 with taxes.  Dave Ramsey says people should only have a mortgage payment of 25% of their take home pay.  Lindsey and I would be in this range, but Dave says you should forget the 30 year loan even exists and only do a 15 year fixed.  The problem with this, even at the lower interest rate of 5.75%, is that the monthly payment goes up to $1,661, over $2,000 with taxes.  And even if we did take home over $8,000/mo, I'm not so sure I'd want a 2k mortgage payment.  Right now, we're paying less than $650/mo for our condo and building up equity, albeit at a snail's pace.

What do those numbers mean?  The first one is the total interest paid in the 15 year fixed example, and the second is the total interest for the 30 year fixed example.  This means that if we can sacrifice, save up $60,000 or so in a combination of equity and savings, we can get Loan A, and save over $156,000 in interest payments.  Sometimes, it's frustrating to hear Dave Ramsey say "act your wage", as so few others around me do so.  It's very tempting to go out and get that 30 year loan right now, as we could qualify and comfortably make the payments.  However, this is the time we need to buckle down, not try to keep up with the Joneses, and live well below our means.  It would be really nice to get this taken care of in the next 3 1/2 years.  How amazing would it be to have a paid off house by the time our first kid graduates high school!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Delivery: Like Running a Business

Disclaimer: This will be a lengthy post, and it will be pretty in-depth about pizza delivery.

Business owners are faced with tough decisions when it comes to things like cost control, equipment selection, and involvement. In my job as a delivery driver, these decisions can make the difference between running a successful $1,000/week driving "business" or a losing proposition involving $1,900 transmission repairs. And while I am currently enjoying the former and then some, I suffered the consequences of the latter in previous years.

The two most important decisions drivers make involve which shop they will work for and their vehicle. An outsider might think a rich town like Dublin would be the best to deliver in. However, when an experienced driver breaks a city like Dublin down, it is only slight favorable compared to a ghetto shop. Let me explain: First, Dublin is a town full of 9-5ers. This makes for a very tight dinner rush and an awful late night. To be successful as a driver, late night hours must be spent on the road, not in-shop. Second, a common misconception is that rich people tip well. Rich people typically became rich by being cheap, not by tipping the pizza guy $7. Per capita, I've gotten more $1 tips from $500,000+ houses than anywhere - except the retirement home. Components of a great shop include management that allow triples and quads, slight understaffing of drivers, smooth traffic flow during rush hour, and a demographic of lower-middle to middle class. A bonus for late night traffic would be a state college campus, and having a lot of businesses in the delivery range can boost lunch traffic, which is traditionally a slow time in Pizza World.

3 things are important to a delivery driver when it comes to a vehicle. Fuel efficiency, reliability, and comfort. The first 2 are obvious, but the 3rd can easily be overlooked. To be successful, drivers must work a lot of hours. In addition to increasing weekly income, working a lot of hours gives drivers the chance to get to know the repeat customers, which leads to a higher tip average. If a vehicle is too small, uncomfortable, or not equipped with heat/AC, the driver will not enjoy the job as much, and not want to work as many hours. I can't say anything about fuel efficiency that hasn't already been said here. An important thing to note is that only the City EPA rating is relevant to delivery drivers, as they typically spend over 90% of their driving on city streets. Reliability is extremely important to drivers. The way I see it, a driver can never go wrong with a Honda or Toyota for a delivery vehicle.

Driving style is a big decision for pizza guys. There are three schools of thought here. One is the idea of hypermiling to save gas. While this is the cheapest way to drive, I personally think pizza guys who hypermile too much will save even more gas by missing out on a lot of runs. Idea #2 is the standard style of driving, what they teach you in driver's ed. This can also include slight speeding. This is basically what I do, but I would also point out that I have developed the skill to cut into traffic quickly over time. This probably gains me more time than excessive speeding ever would. The third and final idea is to excessively speed, drive very aggressively, and hope the cops see your cartopper and give you a free pass because your shop gives them free food. In the past, I have incorporated #3 into my arsenal, but I do not attempt this much any more because of the cops in Hilliard. It is very important to know about the cops in the town you are delivering. Depending on where you are, cops may be much tougher, much easier, or impartial to delivery drivers. Generally, I feel that no tip is worth a speeding ticket. While it's true that the tip is much lower than the cost of the ticket, the worst parts of a ticket are the added insurance cost and another strike toward delivery ineligibility, as determined by the shop's insurance company.

There are a lot of additional decisions that can influence profitability:

-Buy gas now while I'm half full or wait until tomorrow to see if it goes down more.
-Rent a car for $30 while my car is in the shop or give my shift to someone else/call off. (this should be an easy one for any serious delivery professional)
-Be frugal on expenses or buy items like TTPG pens and dog treats to boost tips, and hope the break-even analysis works in your favor.
-Take the single run that's close to the shop or take the double that is further away.
-Confront the stiffer and risk the consequences or stand there and take your beating.
-On a double, take the guy who always tips $5 first or the unknown who will be late if taken second, et al. (There are very few situations where I won't give preference to the high tipper, one happened tonight when I had a known $5 tipper 27 min OTD on a 60 minute quote, and an unknown 42 min OTD on a 40 minute quote. Tough call, but I knew I would still be quite early for my good customer)
-Tip out cooks/managers on exceptional nights or keep it all. (see below)

A lot of decisions that drivers make may serve no benefit at the time, but will come in handy for the future:

-Tip out: If I have a great night, it means the inside staff worked their butts off while I cashed in. Spreading the love is not only the nice thing to do, it keeps these insiders happy to the point where it can hopefully happen again in the future. Additionally, this helps underpaid insiders to root for drivers to have good nights, instead of becoming upset that they are making significantly less money than drivers. My favorite thing to do is buy the closing insiders ice cream at UDF.
-"Forgetting" the TTPG pen at a stiffer's house.
-Buying a first class stamp to send the TTPG letter to a stiffer's house.
-Building rapport with customers to sow the seeds for long term business relationships.
-Learning how to cut pizzas and make pizzas: While this doesn't seem necessary, just today I got a double that I would have missed if I didn't make pizzas. With just Grant and me as the drivers, I saw an H-10 pop up 9 minutes after a J-10 was already on there, and Grant already had his run allocated in D-9, far away from mine. I rushed the pizza in the oven, the two orders came out 4 minutes apart, and I got them both to the door in under 30 minutes, collect $6 and $4.75 tips for my efforts. The $6 was from the second order that went in. On a close-together double, the second reimbursement becomes free money, so it's like I got an extra $7.30 for knowing how to make pizzas in just that one instance. Breaks like that can mean the difference between good and bad days.

I think I had more to say on all this, but I'm getting tired and I've already written a lot. I'm done at Pizza Hut until next Saturday. I'm going to San Antonio with the youth group this week. I will finally get to see my wife as well.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Income Ceiling

One of the only drawbacks of my job is that it seems I have come close to reaching my income ceiling. I cannot learn the delivery range any better, as I know every street and how to get there upon seeing an address. My demeanor at the door is top notch (IMHO!), I am unparalleled at turning stiffers into tippers and turning low tippers into average tippers without being pushy (or being pushy when the situation calls for it).

It's not that my income is too low, my income is great. I average $2.84/tip, $1.30/run from the store, and take 3.5 runs per hour. Add my wage of $7.07 over 50 hours a week, and do the math. The part that I don't like is that the opportunities to improve that are limited. As an extremely competitive person, this is very tough on me.

"Climb the ladder"

Assistant managers make $28k salary. 50 hours per week with no extra overtime pay. Yuck.

General managers make around $35k salary, and can work 45-70 hours per week depending on a variety of factors. They also have an opportunity to make a quarterly bonus if they can overcome the ridiculously tremendous odds, keep labor under control, and put up with all the BS. Basically, they have to keep the store understaffed as the norm and do the work of 4 insiders themselves. No thanks. I don't want to take a pay cut just to be a pseudo-white collar employee who is under constant stress.

Area coaches probably make around $50k, and they get all the cool perks like a car allowance. I don't know if I would want to put up with what it takes to get there, namely several years in the 2 previously described positions.

"Get a 'real' job"

With my 4 year business degree, I could go somewhere and make close to what I make now, with a good chance of passing it in the first few years. The problem with this is I do not think I could sit at a desk all day, I hated the ethics issues in my sales jobs, and I am vehemently opposed to a job that pays hourly/salary and pays no attention to performance. This rules out just about every job. And even if there was a job that didn't fall under this category,

I'm spoiled. I sit in a comfortable vehicle all day. I make personal phone calls when I feel like it. I eat wings and drink Diet Pepsi at my leisure, free of charge. I listen to Dave Ramsey, great stand up, NPR, Detroit sports, and the music of my choice on SIRIUS. I get scheduled during the prime hours, but still get Sundays off to enjoy with my friends and family. I can get time off whenever I need it, but seldom do because I actually enjoy and look forward to going to work. I can be rude to a stiffer, and I always get the benefit of the doubt from my boss, despite the fact that I work for a Big 3 chain. I find it hard to give this up for the "opportunity" to waste away slowly in an office.

"Start your own pizza place"

This will probably be my next job. I might put in a year or so as a manager, but it surely won't be at a Big 3. For a while, I thought owning a pizza place was way too difficult. I never saw it as an option until recently, and this is mainly because of Pizza Hut's way of doing things. Like any corporation, they have a ton of paperwork, layers of management, and an abundance of rules - all things I am opposed to. After researching successful local pizza joints like Sparano's, I see that pizza shops can be pretty simple, and I know I could make it. Right now, this is not a possibility, as I have a lack of capital, a kid on the way, and uncertainty about the future of the local economy. Plus, I would be committing to Columbus for life, which I certainly am not ready to do. I think this would be an awesome way to make a living, but I want to make sure I have the capital, time, and knowledge necessary to win.

As for now, I'll put up with well-meaning people that ask me why I don't have a 'real' job, and I'll keep trying to get that tip average and runs per hour higher.

Crazy Caller on Dave Ramsey Show

Yesterday, a 50's/60's-ish lady called Dave Ramsey about a car dilemma. She wondered if she should trade in her paid off SUV to save money on gas. With gas obviously at record prices, and her SUV getting 16 MPG overall, the lady had the best of intentions, and wanted to save some money on gas. Dave has been getting a lot of these calls lately, but this one was quite ridiculous.

I'm all for saving money on gas, and I think conservation is important, but two things about this call really made my jaw drop:

1) The lady wanted to trade in her 2004 Trailblazer for a new CHEVY AVEO. Not only is the Aveo the ugliest car on the road, it has sketchy crash test ratings, poor reliability scores from Consumer Reports, and it really isn't that great on gas for its size at 26 MPG overall.

2) The lady bought her Trailblazer new in 2004, and has put 19,000 miles on it. I'll say it again: She has put an average of 4,750 miles per year on the vehicle. Elderly lady + low miles = practically new vehicle.

Dave Ramsey correctly told this lady off, and I was happy he did. I did some additional research on the situation, and Kelley Blue Book quotes this Trailblazer's trade-in value at $6,790. And any used car manager with a pulse will try to steal it for $5,000, even though it probably drives like new, as most cars driven 4,750 miles per year by an elderly lady would. Most people are so emotional about getting out of their SUVs that these snakes can get away with it. After taxes, document fees, and title, A new Aveo will cost around $16,000. Here is a break-even analysis of how long it will take this lady to save money on gas with her driving habits:

Break-Even Analysis (Trailblazer vs. Aveo)

Trailblazer Aveo
Fuel Economy Overall 16 26

Gas Costs ($4/gallon, 4750 miles per year) $1,187.50 $730.77
Annual Gas Savings
Additional Vehicle Cost - $9,210.10
Amount of Time needed to break even, in years 20.17

It's not always the correct choice to hold on to your guzzler, but in this situation it is. The phrase "worth more to me than anyone else" is especially true for this lady. Why anyone would even think of trading in their 4x4, towing capable, roomy, comfortable, practically new SUV for a low quality, unsafe, underpowered, subcompact just so they can start saving money on gas in September 2029 is beyond me.

For the record, I put about 3,000 miles per month on my CR-V, so I am not in the market for a guzzler. However, there are unbelievable deals out there for businesses who need trucks, large families that do not drive much, and people looking for a good deal.