Question for those that are profitable and work 30 hrs/wk or less

A little of my background first, I own and operate an upscale Chicago style pizzeria in Florida. We have closed our initial location in order to move it to a better location. We are going from a 60 seat beer and wine only table service to 155 seats with full bar. After breaking my back for a year and a half doing everything to scratch out a living, I want to do it smarter this time. I’m trying to begin with the end in mind.
I know it is going to be stressful and long hourse for a defined period of time, I’m just trying to minimize that time period and set myself up to do what I enjoy most, talking to guests and developing recipes and specials. Ideally I’d like to come in 6 days from 4 to 8 to do those things. I have other businesses I’d like to develop after this one is set up with solid systems. But make no mistake, this is what I love doing and I won’t spend a minute wishing I was doing something else. I am committed to making this a big success and willing to do whatever it takes to get there. I have a trusted kitchen manager and myself to manage things initially, that’s it. I’d like to hire and develop a manager as soon as cash flow permits. I am opening with roughly 40k in working capital and my rent is 11k/month for 3800 sq feet in a major shopping center on the busiest intersection in town. Worst case scenario i am budgeting 700k and best case 1.2 in sales. In our first year of operation we made a small profit after paying investors and my salary. I learned a lot about the market in my first year and we had much better profitability as year went on. I have no investors to pay back at new location, took out an sba loan.
So my question is, what systems and practices do you consider the most essential? What did you do that allowed you to limit your hours? What do I need to do to get there as quickly as possible? Thank you.

We are quite profitable and are open 23 hours a week but we are just my wife, myself(I make all the pizzas/dough), 1 paid full time, and several part timers who have disabilities. Our rent is low, space 1,200 sqft, etc, etc. . Restaurant owners are amazed at how profitable we are and I reply it is just the simple mom/pop model pizzeria I grew up learning/eating in back in NJ-top quality ingredients (many house made), and wow factor food. I don’t know how people manage multiple shops and mega employees. Walter

Wait so you are moving to a bigger location AND want to work less?

What if you just stay in the small spot, keep the rent difference and the headache. Problem solved. More cash and you’ll live longer.

Really though, the only way to work less in this business is to be able to afford paying someone to do exactly what what you would be doing if you were there and hope to god they will do it at your standards (which they won’t).

I have a 300 seat place that makes an amazing gross profit and I have a 36 seat place that makes an amazing net profit. One makes me feel like I’m going to die young. The other allows me to keep the other operating during the off season.

I’m all for keeping it simple. It’s the only way to have a life and operate a decent business at the same time. Unless you can afford/find someone as good as you of course (good luck).

Yes, ha, I seem to want it all. I did roughly 500k out of first store but the location was horrible and the population was much more transient, it would shrink close to 80%, this new location is much more family oriented and year round. But my thought is that there are people doing it, so it is entirely possible, but I have to be willing to put in the sweat equity to get there.

You are a wealthy brave man to be taking that leap

Ha! Not wealthy at all! After years trading on the cbot I don’t mind being aggressive on calculated risk. If this doesn’t work I’ll be starting from ground zero. But I’m happy doing what i do and always believe in betting on myself,

I have run a very busy shop for over 6 years now & I never really “worked” in the restaurant. From day one we hired a full staff of managers that I worked with. Pizzerias can be very profitable if you watch your prime cost. With a full bar doing over 800K in sales you should easily be able to run your prime cost under 55%. You really need to control food costs with all the basic rules like measuring, recipe cards, weekly inventory, ect. As for labor you should be watching your costs daily & weekly.

The one thing I would be a little worried about in your situation is your sales projections based off your rent. My rule of thumb is that rent should never exceed 10% of sales & I really would like for it to be under 8%. Based on your rent of 11K, your best case scenario for sales has your rent percentage at 11% & your worst case has you at almost 19%. At 19% rent you are not going to be working for yourself. At that point you are going to be working for your landlord.

Also keep in mind that your utility cost and cost to staff a store that much bigger are going to grow.

Thanks so much, I just signed up with smart systems pro and am in the middle of doing all the work right now to set up recipe cards and doing menu costing.

How do you like it so far? Does it seem decent? What’s the cost? Seems interesting…

What a small world…

By joining SSP you are already ahead of the majority of pizza places in the country. We have been members for over two years now and SSP has made us a better restaurant, not to mention much more profitable restaurant.

awesome, good to hear, it’s like 350/month but it comes with a lot. that being said, it’s like any tool, it is what you make of it. i’m costing out ea recipe now and holy guacamole, what a job, but i’m sure it’ll be worth it

The work never ends, but the payoff has been well worth it.

I could tell by what you typed you probably were!

Since we had our 1st child in Feb, my wife and i have cut back to next to nothing, i go in on friday and saturday nights and she hasn’t worked at all. Our staffs just had record busy summers in both shops.

I just manage from a far, work on marketing and handle reviews and complaints. Everything has been going really well. its actually allowed me time to start flipping houses as another source of income, since I’m not in the shops i need to do something to pass the time and make money while doing it and setting my own schedule.

We have a 3rd shop in the works with a partner that we hope to open by the 1st of the year

No! A partner! Trust me, don’t do it to yourself. Anything you do special from a systems standpoint to keep operations so hands off?

A buddy who owns a place doing triple my sales stopped by for some drinks as he was driving through. I asked how much he was working and he laughed and said that the fewer hours he worked the busier his shop became. I’m hoping to follow in his footsteps but am having a bit of trouble letting go of alot of my tasks.

I have been working ungodly hours for the last 6 months. The economy in our area is booming and the unemployment rate is low. So turnover has been higher and sales are off the charts. I guess its a good problem to have. My brain does not mind working a lot of hours but my elderly body objects sometimes.

My grandpas would disown me if I only worked 30 hours per week

I think the number of hours you work is based most upon the quality of the processes you have in place in your business… I go to my pizzeria to eat more than work, which allowed me to start the software company… Now I work more than ever… However, I think the thing to consider in your situation, which like my own, was not to be lazy, but to operate other entrepreneurial efforts, is how much can you tax your current operation, to begin building your next business, whether it be of your time and of its money… The only person who can judge that is you and don’t confuse complacency with creativity… maybe it’s time to sell your shop and be a consultant? I will say that proper use of viewable online camaras, POS security monitoring, and other forms of technology make it easier to be a mobile operator and maintain standards… Many people go the route of making an employee a partner, which I think is only a good idea if you make the employee actually save and commit some cash to the deal… If they can’t save to benefit themselves, they will fail as your partner, with no skin in the game… Best of luck as you make your decisions… DAve

My time is much more valuable than making pizzas I would rather spend my time for refining my processes having better management working on marketing looking for the next deal, expanding my pizza stores too 3,4 & 5 locations as well as running my Construction Company there’s no way I could be stuck in the pizza shop 50-60 hours a week it would be a total waste of my talents and multi-tasking skills