The pizza gig.

I learned years ago that there were some strange ways people figured out how to make money.

Here’s one that I learned in a curious way.  I had just gotten a new car and my first car payment of about $148.00 bucks a month for a 1984 Honda Accord, my last car had “bitten the big one” so I went to a corner car lot that you see on the side of the road.  I was looking for my third car.   So I was in need of making some money and being a young kid I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for this car I had just gotten with the full coverage insurance and registration.  I had my hands full. I put four hundred down and traded in my 1968 Dodge Dart and I was kind of nervous but feeling good, but the clock was ticking and I  needed some quick cash.

Fortunately for me I met this guy living in Brea, California at the time.  He had asked me to come to work for him about a month earlier but I wasn’t interested then. By this time I was a whipper snapper of a sales man, and I thought I had a decent grasp on whether I could make money.  I decided to listen to his pitch.  You can make some serious money delivering pizza he said.  How serious?  My guys can make up to 8 grand a month using my secret techniques.

Delivering Pizza, doesn’t that pay about 8 bucks an hour?

When I was told about the idea at first I was confused, he had said it was delivering pizza.  This sounded like the crazy get rich quick scheme ads in the newspaper, “make $8000.00 this month,” or my personal favorite is the “if your not making 10gs this month you need to call me.” some of these things make some real money, usually for the guy running the ad. The pizza guy had the fancy car, threw parties with strippers and had a crew of boy geniuses apparently making cash every month just as he promised.  To be honest I think some of them where working just to attend the stripper shows on Fridays afternoons, oh and the top seller got free lap dance and some free alone time. I bet this guy had less than 5k of his own money invested into this cash cow and I bet he made over 40k a month! It really goes to show you what you can do with nothing in this country.

I had to interview for this!

Even though we both knew I’d get the job (it wasn’t a job really) I had to interview.  There were about 30 of us were waiting in a little hotel conference room and called in for a little presentation with lots of hype.  If you’ve ever been to an Amway presentation, imagine that but cheesier.   Frankly, I had a bunch of adrenaline and felt kind of scared that maybe I wouldn’t make the cut.  In hindsight, it was a sure thing.  He needed everyone there to get on board to play the numbers game with him.  He recruited these young men and always had his meetings on Fridays, which of course was stripper day so obviously it was part of a master plan.  I just didn’t know it then as I was slightly naive.

Day one…  I showed up at 8 a.m., OMG are you kidding! That’s right 8 a.m. every morning I drove to Brea to start work delivering pizza or so I thought.  The morning started with an hour long pep-rally and they had these sub groups, it was 7-20 guys kind of like teams and they would talk about where they going to sell and plot a route and all this good stuff. Then all of us would jump in the car in teams of 2-4 guys and drive to the Westminster area to a pizza parlor to pick up the pizza 30 miles away from the office.  Ordinary pizza delivery drivers are employees, we were independent contractors, “fronted” pizzas and selling them from our car!  Crazy, I know.

We would arrive, in the office I  guess you would call it and there were about 40 guys buying and selling pizzas this wasn’t some small operation.  On an average I would sell about 25-60 pizzas a day sometimes even more.  Every pizza I sold I got to keep 3 bucks.  We didn’t have to pay for the pizza up front, the pizza place keep track of how many pizzas they gave you and you sold them for 7 bucks each, and at the end of the day we paid 4.00 to the office for every pizza taken out.  If every person in the office sold 25 pizzas and I am very sure they did, that is $4000.00 a day. 20k a week give or take a few bucks in pizza sold, not a bad little business and with only kitchen employees to boot.

Why is this important?

Well because I decided to break away from the recruiter and do this on my own about two years later! I though this was a really good idea, BUT there are a few issues that I hadn’t fully worked through.

1. You are trying to pedal a perishable product. Here’s what I mean. You get the pizza hot out of the oven, keeping in mind that you are not getting 1 or 2 pizzas, but 20-45 pizzas at a time.  You have about 20 mins of cutting and packing the pizzas and then getting them in the car to go out and sell.  The clock is ticking all this time, so where do you go? What happens if you fail?

2. You are dealing with hot food, the health department gets a little upset when you do this, I found out.

I thought I am going to be like the guy that owns a fancy car! I decide I am going to do this, but where do I start? First thing I did was see if I could find a pizza place that would supply me with the quantity of pizza that I needed to make it profitable. I went to a few of the local pizza places in my area. I couldn’t find anyone to sell me the pizza at the price I needed to make a profit, most of the people I talked to didn’t even think I could move that amount of pizza.  Remember I was just a young kid here.  My pitch was that I needed about 100-500 pizzas a day starting at about 10:30 a.m. till about 7 p.m. I wasn’t even close to prepared for the questions that I got.  I told a few of pizza place owners my idea and then it started to fall apart as if a light bulb went off inside of their head.   All of the sudden they wanted a bigger piece of the action or maybe they figured they’d just get me out of the way and do it themselves.  I had just given them an idea.  It turned into a real mess, real fast.

I felt dejected at first, but I wasn’t giving up, no way.  I had dreams of making huge money on my mind!  I was so sure of myself, I dumped the Honda and bought a new Camero.  I was living the dream before I woke up, I and it was time to get this show on the road! But I wasn’t about to give up just yet, even though I had troubles locating a pizza supplier, I started down my list of other logistical concerns.  I needed to get some pizza warming bags – keep that product hot!  I started to call around but no one knew what I was talking about and for 3 days I called pizza places and suppliers and tried to explain what the bags looked like and no one had a clue what I was talking about. I was shocked, the bags we used were  very efficient.  I could keep all my pizzas warm, giving me about two hours to sell them all or they became trash. So I went back to the place where I used to pick up the pizzas and asked them where they got their bags.  Of course, they had no interest in helping their competition.  As a kid, I had run up against the wall.

I tell you this for one reason – I gave up but now I know the secret.

I was one small step away from creating my own business from nothing.  I’m not telling you to go into business selling pizzas.  I mean, you can if  you want, or any other business for that matter.  What I’m telling you is that if you open your eyes to what is happening around you, you’ll see that people are making money all over the place and it’s not as if they’re smarter than you.  It’s just they find something that works at making money and they persevere through the problems until they finally reach their dream.  You can do it too and try not to get any sauce on you while you’re at it.