pizza delivery in Houston?
March 10, 2012 1:02 PM   Subscribe

pizza delivery in Houston, TX.... thoughts?

I work at Kroger's right now and I don't make a ton of money @ 7.35/hr. Long story short, I didn't think I'd be working any job right now with my history of severe neck pain and depression. I'm grateful, but it doesn't fully pay the bills. 30 hours a week @ 7.35/hr is not cutting it. A friend got me the job, so I feel like I owe it to her to stay a few more months. At the same time, my school work would suffer tremendously working another "out of the house" job. I do computer repair on the side, but I don't want to give out my home address and don't have the money to rent a spot per month... so that's out. I do too much traveling for only $40/computer (+ parts) and so that's a problematic income source as well.

I hear pizza delivery guys can make a decent living with only a few hours of peak-delivery work? Has anyone had experience with this? My concerns would primarily be my safety as I don't want to get routinely shot (ideally).

posted by isoman2kx to Work & Money (8 answers total)
How is your car? Pizza delivery can be rough on your starter and alternator because of all of the turning on and off of the car to make deliveries. Also, are you scared of dogs?

It's really easy to get a pizza delivery job, and even easier to quit one. I suggest not thinking about it beyond the basics, and just trying it out.

PS - I hear delivering to hospitals yields good tips.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:34 PM on March 10, 2012

Something else to consider: The price of gas is probably going up this summer (up from the $3.50 it is today). Places like Dominos charge the customer a delivery fee ($1 I think) and so many customers think the delivery person is getting that -- and they don't tip or tip as well. However, I've been told that the delivery person doesn't get it -- it goes to Domino's to offset what they will pay you for mileage (you would get something like 0.75 per delivery for mileage). They say as much on their website: "Any Delivery Charge is not a tip paid to your driver. Please reward your driver for awesomeness."

I've found 2 forums specifically for pizza delivery guys! (Each linked below.) Might be good to ask them directly. But, look at this poll at one of the forums: How many runs per hour?. Ok, let's say you make minimum wage ($7.25) and you get an average of 3 runs per hour. Let's say one of the runs doesn't tip you, and the other two tip you $2 each. Plus you get $0.75 for each run for mileage. That's averaging $12/hour.

Now figure cost. If each run is 5 miles away (10 roundtrip), you've got 30 miles on your car every hour. Let's say you get 30 mpg, and you don't count tires, insurance, etc. -- you made $2.25 for mileage and the gallon of gas was $3.50. So you're out $1.25. Subtract that from the $12/hour, and you have $10.75/hour. Before taxes of course.

I don't know if you consider that a decent living, but it gives you something to work with. Maybe adjust the number of runs down because longer-time employees will get the better hours or the manager overstaffs because his first concern is not your pay but the average delivery times. Or up because you think people tip more on average.

Here's something to ask the pizza place about: Do they pay the full minimum wage during the time you are driving? Many drivers also make pizzas, sweep, just about anything. Some pizza delivery guys are making less than minimum wage (like waitstaff do) during the time they make tips. Then the tips are reported to the boss, because the company must make sure you are making at least the full minimum wage with the tips. For example, maybe they pay you $3/hour and you make $4.50 in tips. In that case, you've made minimum wage so that's legal. It's called the tip credit program. You can see some drivers discussing this for their Domino's here -- find out if it is happening in whatever store you work for.
posted by Houstonian at 3:08 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's been many years, but I picked up pizza delivery as a 2nd job when my 2nd child was born in 1996. I could bring home $100 in cash on a weekend night (tips plus mileage reimbursement which was calculated as a percentage of sales) in the Atlanta suburbs. Minimum was $3.50 an hour - just to give you and idea, and gas was less than $1 a gallon. Oddly, the pizza was about the same price as it is today.
posted by COD at 3:50 PM on March 10, 2012

Really good answers from everyone so far! Thanks a ton! :)
posted by isoman2kx at 7:36 PM on March 10, 2012


my car's pretty reliable. it's a '01 4Runner. not that by itself that instantly makes it reliable, but it 's been very dependable overall. most of the damage I've inflicted on it over the years has largely been my doing. it's healed up now though :)
posted by isoman2kx at 7:42 PM on March 10, 2012

I quit delivering pizza in a Big Ten college town in 2007 (did it for 4 years). The money was not good, people (around here, anyway) tip as poorly or worse than they do in restaurants. We had drivers get beat up and have their money taken. The wear and tear on the car was pretty bad. Not the best job in the world, but not the worst. FWIW, it was one of 4 jobs that I held during that period to stay afloat.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:51 PM on March 10, 2012

Houstonian hits a lot of good points.

At first as you learn the job and the streets, it won't be so lucrative. Really it's a numbers game; the more you take the more you make. Everything balances out in the end. If you get a $5 tip, expect to be stiffed. Through many years of experience, I've found the average tip is about $2/delivery plus your mileage reimbursement, which comes to about $3/delivery. Clearly you want to leave the store with more than one delivery because it cuts the average cost per run down. You can really make a fuck-ton of money if you know what you're doing, and most of it is cash-in-hand. I recommend a neighborhood with college students, preferably more than one college market. Yes, students tip, and it follows the averages. College kids order more pizza. The more you take... When you get good and you know how to route yourself, you can easily take ~8-10 orders/hour, given that your store is busy enough. This estimate may seem high, but I was really fucking good. :P (I made more delivering pizzas (~$20/hour) than I do now at my "professional" job (~$14/hour), but I also didn't have health insurance, so it balances out.)

In the city, orders usually aren't 5 miles away. You will have a set delivery radius determined by the store. Your furthest order may be 5 miles away, but most are not. If you have one 5 miles away, take another order on the way there or for the way back to help balance that out. However, there will be significant mileage and wear-and-tear on your car (brakes!) with the stop and go of the job. Also, you MUST have a cell phone. Which you probably do. You will not be reimbursed for it by the job, but you could probably claim it on your taxes, but you probably don't want to give away the fact that you aren't reporting most of your income either. Just saying.

The delivery charge does not go to you. And actually, stores started charging this fee to cover the rising cost of having supplies/food delivered to the store itself. Delivery drivers received a mileage reimbursement before there was ever a delivery charge. It was never designed to help delivery drivers with the rising cost of gas. And yes, many people think it's your built in tip. Oh wow, a fucking dollar! Thanks man!

Yes, you're going to do more than deliver. At my store, we "caught the oven" (put orders together after cooked), swept/mopped, did dishes, folded boxes, take orders on the phone, trash, and occasionally prepped food and made food. Expect to be working at least an hour after you "close." There are buzzer-beater orders (last second, oh man I hate those) and closing duties like cashing out with the manager and cleaning up.

oceanjesse - They're not always easy to get. At my shop, you had to have a good driving record, and they ran a Motor Vehicle Report on you at least annually to check on that. If your driving record is shit, no way. I think we could have no more than 2 speeding tickets over the past 3 years, no DL suspension for the past 5 years, and at-fault accidents could really hurt you too.

Also, hospitals are generally good tippers, but then again, a $10 tip on a $300 order isn't all that great percentage-wise. And they are a serious pain in the ass, both for in-store people and drivers. $300 worth of food and soda is a lot to carry (sometimes up stairs), and even though I'm grateful for the $10, seriously those folks need to get with the program. I'm a fucking waiter with a car that brings the food to your house or business while risking my car and self in traffic to do so. Pay up sucka.

One last thing regarding the neck pain: You will be on your feet and moving most of the time, so if that neck pain translates into back pain, you're not going to like it. I hope your car seat is comfy.

Major advice: do not EVER ask for a tip; that's the easiest way to get fired on the spot. Just smile and say thank you.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 10:09 PM on March 10, 2012

As a hospital worker (in H-town) and former bartender I hate to agree with the comment above but healthcare workers do generally suck to deliver to. It's a huge order to carry through a big place or wait 20 minutes for us to come down and meet you in the lobby. Disclaimer I generally don't participate in these bulk orders but I feel for the delivery people cause it seems like they end up waiting more than is probably right.
posted by dog food sugar at 12:53 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

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