Being frugal is popular again, as is making some money on the side. Yesterday, I saw what I thought was the perfect definition of “recession”. It was a current generation red Audi S4… with a Papa Johns sign on top. I wasn’t quick enough to snap a picture, but here is my artist’s rendering:
Is there any way that such a job could even cover the depreciation on this $50,000 car? I’ve worked as a restaurant cashier, host, and even drive-thru window person, but have never done pizza delivery. But my friends have, so I asked them for their experiences. I also found a few interesting discussions online about the job here and here. In fact, pizza delivery even has its own Wikipedia entry. Let’s take a peek into the lifestyle of a “food transportation engineer”…
The compensation varies, but a ballpark number seems to be minimum hourly wage + ~$0.75 per delivery to cover car expenses + tips. You pay for your own gas. Some places can pay under minimum wage by treating you as a waitperson since you technically get tips. Other places will pay car expenses per mile. If your pizza parlor charges a delivery fee, you will probably get a cut but your tips will probably go down as well. A rough average for tips is about $2 per delivery (10-15%). However, tips can be hit and miss, and can also depend on things like the day of the week and neighborhood. Surprise! Many ex-drivers say that residents of upscale neighborhoods are the worst tippers.
Back of the envelope calculation: A busy 6 hour night shift at $7 an hour plus 6-10 deliveries/hour x $2 tip per delivery is about $115-$165 gross. (I’m leaving out the per delivery charge because it supposedly offsets car costs, though most drivers say it doesn’t cover all of it.)
(Aside: It’s funny how all my friends will probably remember their big tips until the end of time. I still remember my $20 tip from working as a parking attendant almost 10 years ago.)
Pie shops are always looking for delivery people, and the entry requirement is a car and a valid driver’s license. You can work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends in addition to your day job. You can also quit whenever you want.
Lots of short, stop ‘n go trips will kill your car and cut into your profit. Most people have beater cars, which is why the Audi was also surprising. Factor in the cost of more frequent oil changes, higher mileage bringing your car value down, replacing tires more often, and higher overall maintenance from wear and tear. Note that your personal car insurance might not cover accidents that occur while working. Also, gas prices aren’t getting any cheaper!
Drivers-sales workers, which includes taxi drivers and pizza delivery workers, are the 4th most dangerous job category in America, right up there with fishermen, timber workers, and construction laborers.
You are often expected to help out around the restaurant in between deliveries, including things like taking orders, food packaging, garbage disposal, and other tasks.
The Fringe Benefits
For some reason, pot and pizza seem to mix very well – from the managers to the workers to the people buying the pizza. I’ll leave it at that. And although illegal as well, taking in much of your income in unreported cash tips can be very tempting for tax evasion. Oh and of course… free pizza!