Owner Operator vs Owner Investor

I was wondering how many owners are operators of their store(s) or just investors/business managers like me. It seems to me from reading here that most get into the business to run their own place.

Personally I’m not a restaurant guy but rather a business guy. I’m driven to be a entrepreneur rather than make pizzas for a living. Pizza making is more of a hobby to me, and I really enjoy going into my place and making my own pie, however my all of my effort is on the business side: marketing, financials, business analysis, website, menu, accounting, bookeeping, etc.

How many others are out there like me? I should also add that I do this on the side and I have a full time job as an IT consultant.

I think most of us would really like to have the time to do the marketing, accounting, menus etc has you itimated, but reality for most of us would be that we need to be more hands on as this is our livelihood.

If I could get my sales up to a greater height (we are slowly getting there) then I could have enough profits to have someone extra come in to lessen my in shop burden so I can do all these things.

A lot of us don’t have the sales figures to have the luxury to step back and do these things but I would think we would all like to achieve that someday.

Then again some of the guys (and ladies) just plain like the idea of being on the spot and getting their hands deep in the flour. They like having pizza sauce running through their veins.

Different horses for different courses.


I do the things I have to do in the kitchen but would rather be face to face with the customers and run the business end of things.

So i guess for now I am an owner/operator but looking to being an qwner/investor.

I was a Comptroller for 15 years before I entered the business. Every moment in my store was dedicated to ultimate quality and there was not a moment I spent on any admin duty.

I spent the time improving, being the best and knowing my customers. This business changed me and if you want to be the best, spend the most time at the grill, the pizza ovens, the prep and with your customers.

Ever make a Rueben, Reuben, Ruben? How about homemade chicken salad/egg salad? Have you ever gone through 700 LBS of fresh chicken tenders a week? How about in excess of 100 salads a day? Lavash wraps? Wow, talk about sales. Turkey, chicken, ham, roast beef, cheese burgs, ham -who has time when these sales are going on?

That is just a chip off my block. OPERATE or lose. I compete and my investment returns.

I have taken the Owner/Investor route. I started out 6 years ago being an owner/operator. I was 22 years old, working 70 hours a week and had no life. I also barely made a living. I made a decision 3 years ago to cut back the hours that I worked and to spend the majority of my time working on the advertising aspect of the business. It was the best move I ever made. I now have 2 shops and have managers that run them. I no longer have to physically work and I earn a pretty good living. Although, I’m always working on my advertising, bookkeeping, improving the systems I have in place, and improving all other aspects of my businesses. I honestly feel that I’m more of an asset to my businesses now that I don’t have to work the endless hours. My advice to anyone that wants to go this route with their business (“abstee owner”), you have to be able to delegate responsibilities and effectively train your managers. You can’t try to do everything yourself. Some people love working 7 days a week and look forward to the busy rush but I’m just not a big fan of all of the stress that comes with it. My goal has always been to have my businesses work for me as opposed to me working in my businesses. My advice is to do what ever makes you happy whether its working daily in your pizza shop or being an Owner/Investor and running the business side of things. In the end being happy is all that matters.

Now I have my manager back (except for the next two weeks when he is a cruise) and have promoted a casual to trainee manager I will be able to step back from the “up to the elbows in flour” scenario and take on a more of customers face to face and marketing drive stlye of ownership.

After 15 weeks without a manager and doing 12+ hours every day since mid November except Christmas Day, I finally had a night off last night, and again tonight.

When my manager returns then I will have him manage the store while I run the business. But I will not remove myself totally from the coalface.

There will be two days a week when I’m making & cooking, with another 3 days where I will be in the store keeping in contact with customers, phoning ala “secret customers”, checking quality of product coming out of the oven and generally doing the behind the scenes things that will drive the business upwards and forwards.

I retrospect the best thing that happened to me was losing my manager for the 15 weeks with his “stupid” injury. It made me re-think the operation and open up more opportunities for staff to progress. (A lot of credit to posters on this forum with their advise, even if some was of a hostile nature). It allowed me to see the operation from a different view point as I had to get people into different areas to get us through the tough times.

The best thing that happened was that quite a lot of the staff saw the hours I was doing and all of a sudden lifted their game. Now they are working at this level all the time which has allowed us not to replace people who have left. We have crossed trained the majority of staff and they are more confident in what they do and are more energetic in their given tasks.

Being in the store as an owner/operator this would not have happened the way it did. I doubt there would have been the same response if I was an absentee owner.

With the team in place working towards our goal then I will relax on my two cherished days off … until the next hurdle comes my way.

I like the merging of owner/operator and owner/investor as I will have “x” amount of time in the shop, “y” amount of time doing the marketing and promotion of the store and “z” amount of time relaxing on the rewards for my efforts.


I cringe at the thought of working 70 hours a week. I am rather displeased that I work close to 40 right now.

Owner investor is so the way to go for me.

At the end of the day, the question comes down to what you want to do with your life and what you are good at. Some people simply would not be good as owner investors. They lack the ability to hire honest people and to motivate them when they are not around. Other people love the grind and even if they could find the right manager they would rather do it themselves.

I want the money. The ceiling is much lower when you have to put substantial hours in elbow deep in flour. Great marketing is so much more important than a great product.

For those who want the money, here is my advice. Come up with your great product and train your managers. Yes, their quality is going to probably be slightly worse than yours. However, chances are it will blow away anything at the big boys. You spend your time running your business and watch how fast you increase sales.

My advice to those who love being elbow deep in flour - more power to you.

its whatever is right for you at that point in time…

For the last 8 yrs, I have been an owner operator…in 10 yrs hopefully I will be retired from this biz because the owner investor scenario does not appeal to me…I put in 70hrs a week with one day off. I handle pretty much everything except food production (yes I can step in at any time and run circles around most of my guys as I did it all my life practically). This works for me as I am 33 yrs old and my wife stays home to raise our kids so I have to work for both of us. I pay myself very generously instead of paying a manager to do a mediocre job and I know that my customers appreciate dealing with an owner operator as opposed to some high school kid getting paid minimum wage and does not give a crap

My blood would boil when I was stuck tending the oven and not handling the customers…the best move for my business was making the switch from pizzaman to counter/phone man…mistakes are minimal, customer is treated properly and I always know what’s going on

I know I am biased, but I feel that all things being equal an owner operator store will more successful that an owner investor store

Both scenarios could work or fail depending on your goals

That all depends on the owner. My stores are not going to do a whole lot more business, if any, if I spend all day there. However, if you take away my marketing intitiatives, some of which I would not have had time to implement if I worked 70 hours, and none of my places would have ever been as successful as they were/are.

If I sit on my butt at home and do nothing, my business will be worse off than if I was there overseeing it. If I spend a few hours a day making it grow, it does better than if I would be there all day. It not only does better, but it does more than enough more to pay the manager’s salary and add extra to my pocket. All that, and I work 40 hours less a week.

Roger (guest)

Would you be interested in talking with me over the phone sometime.

I am in the same position - age, etc. I’ve been open 11 months and still trying to figure the business out (I don’t know if you ever do) - if you wouldn’t mind - send me an email or private message with your phone number sometime. I would be interested in picking your brain for about 15 minutes if possible. Thanks.