Why are you working 12+ hour days.

One common thread on this forum is the insane amount of hours most pizza shop owners must work when opening their business. I am curious as to what is the most common reason for this.

I also would be interested to hear if there is anyone on this board who opened their pizza shop and only worked 8 hours a day?

One final question if someone wants to answer, “How long did you own the your shop before you were just working 5-8 hours a day?”

Hi Freddy

Unfortunately your poll (IMO) is flawed as there are normally MANY reasons why people work 12+ hours not just one on its own.

Here are some reasons:

  • The business will probably not be able to support you in terms of income unless you work, especially in the early days
    (this is the main reason most guys will start off in the shop). As you have no guarantee of opening sales who is going to be brave enough to commit to paying a full time manager (or even part time manager) on managers pay?
  • I think most of the the guys here are open lunch and evenings so the shop is open 12+ hours. If you’re running the store and you haven’t got a manager yet then that means your in the shop 12+ hours a day!
  • As with any new business you (the owner) will want to be there whilst it gets up an running
  • Even when you can afford a manager(s) you need to train your managers to how you like to work - this takes time.
  • As we all know good help is hard to find and as we also know not everyone who interviews well as a manager candidate actually ‘works’ as a manager. The majority of my managers have come up through the ranks so to speak.
  • Bearing in mind the investment most of us make into this business I’m pretty sure I want to be there to make sure that things are running as I want them to. Even the best systems in the world take time to bed in.
  • Some guys want to be in the shop every day making pies.

In my case I managed to open straight away on some good numbers 10-15k per week and could afford managers. Although my initial recruitment didn’t turn out as I hoped I managed to identify some good quality people when we opened. I worked pretty much open to close 7 days a week for a couple of months. Then as I was able I reduced this down on quieter days. I managed to get myself out of ‘7 day a week’ working after about 5 months.


Awesome post, Thanks!


to add to wizz i have been in business 6 yrs (w/10yrs with dominos b4 this)
i still work 6 days a week 60+hrs a week i choose to do this for several reasons

  1. we are in a small town where people like to bs with the owner
  2. i run a small staff 8 no fulltime with usually only 3 per shift wait, cook, driver
  3. i like being in my store when its open if i’m not here my wife is (the only time we are both gone is PizzExpo)
  4. i get 1 day a week off and that is because we close on Sundays

this is not a business that you can just open the doors and the pizza gods will sneak in and fill your cash register
you get what you give

we are planning on opening a new store that will probabaly do about 3 times the sales the 1st store does, thats when it will get interesting

Well me and my accoutant had a falling out and i got behind on my 941’s and now me and the wife are working open to close 7 days a week, to pay off the irs

We took labor from 6k a month to 1500 a month, and are projected to make about 10k a month, were going to try this for 3 months and then return to 40 hours a week, like normal

I try to work around 40/45 hrs. a week. I’ve worked as little as 15 and as much as 90.

We were approached by an investor who wanted to buy a 20 year old Mom 'n Pop store that was on pace to lose six figures for 2008. After doing all but signing a loan, the investor flaked out and left us holding the bag. We decided to go for it, as long as the shop never took priority over our young son (plus she was 2 months pregnant at the time). She has a good job that gives us enough to live comfortably whether I have any income or not right now.

I would make a good living if I would put my kids in daycare and work 12 hour days, but the extra money is not worth having someone else raise my kids. Right now, I’ve taken the store from loosing a small fortune every year to paying my mortgage and student loans. We’re paying off A LOT on our mortgage and should own the building and equipment outright in a bout 5 more years.

indie, you’re doing great, I happy things are moving for you and yours.

For myself, its not a 9 to 5 job. I’m the owner and also the owner of another business. I’m usually not ‘in’ the store for 2-4 days a week, but sometimes I’m there for 10 straight days. I’m there as much as the business needs me, if not a tad more. I’m involved 24/7 365 days each year. It would be a major milestone for me to be able to take a week away (completely) this year, just don’t know if it’ll happen.

Some great posts there. I think that you only get out of your business what you put in. Whether that be time, money, energy ect. When i first started i used to work 7 days a week to save money but as time went on and the store got busier i was able to take time off. Having said that im still in the store every single day whether im working or not. I might be there to carry out a stock check, mix dough, cook chicken, help prep or just stand about and think of ways to improve the place. I think you have to be passionate about your business and actually want to spend lots of time in it. In fact even when im not working and im at home i still do work related activities. For example i have tonight off but im at home playing about with a new sauce recipe.

Forgot one: We are there because we “ARE” the business.

We opened nearly 11 years ago. We opened our second store a few months later. Over the years my schedule has varied from 2 hours to maybe 20 hours a week. Currently, I put in 3-5 hours a week to pay the bills, do the marketing and talk to the manager about costs and scheduling. There have been times that my hours jumped to maybe 20 when we have had manager changeovers or during the Christmas rush. (We a ski town so X-mas is the biggest week of the year).

I have always focused my time commitment on sytems, payables, and digging into the numbers. I do not believe it is possible to maintain a focus on the business aspect while one is buried in operations.

I do not work 12 hour days if I can avoid it… at least not in one business. If I did the other businesses would suffer from lack of attention.

I think my mindset is close to bodegahwy, although I don’t want to make assumptions on where his heart or passions are at with the rest of my post.

I got into the pizza biz because I enjoy repairing and building. We took a broken business and are restoring it to an important part of our local economy and community. If it were not for my employees who depend on me (most being college students), I probably would have bowed out a long time ago.

My passion is not in food, but I’ve had the chance to give people who are passionate about it a chance to run a kitchen and be a part of operating a restaurant that will allow them to make a career out of it. I just had a kitchen manager taken from me for a great job running the lunch kitchen at a high profile restaurant in the next county. I couldn’t be prouder. I view my business as a place to help people get where they want to go, whether they’re just needing to make rent while they’re in school, or wanting to develop management skills.

I could give you at least 10 other businesses that I am ready to open when the time is right. I may not be passionate about the product, but I am passionate about what I could allow people to do. Whether they are pursuing their passions or simply trying to put food on their (or their families) table.

What I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to spend 12 hours a day in your business if you don’t want to. And it’s okay if that isn’t what you want to do. Just don’t expect to pull in $50K your first year, and every year after that, if you aren’t going to do that. A hobby business can be quite lucrative, trust me (or ask for the financials of my last business I built).

Sorry for the long post. Hanging drywall tonight in my 3 year olds new room and enjoying some “out of date” brews from the vendors.

I work 12 hours days because I’m a workaholic and a perfectionist (a blessing and a curse). I hired a great GM at my first store a few years ago but I still work a lot - just more at home instead of at the store. I’m passionate about the financial and marketing aspects and that’s where I spend most of my time.

My hours are starting to wind back now that I have a family, but I don’t think I’ll ever not work a lot on the business as long as I own it. Real estate would be my passive investment of choice, I prefer to be active in the restaurant business.

I failed to say that you must be passionate about the quality of you final product. I’m confident that we make the best pizza in our town. I grew up on this pizza and loved it long before I was making it. But, a single topping 16" pizza delivered for $18 in a town with a median income of $20K isn’t the right way to work. TT has taught me how to bundle items and still net the same amount of money while leaving my customers feeling satisfied.

my wife stays home with my 3 kids and I like to have nice things

I work 12 hour days because I am an workaholic. I grew up watching my father work a full-time job, running a music studio and DJing weddings and parties on the weekends. I thought that’s what everyone did.

I’m a control freak and need to be here to make sure things are done the right way. We’ve been in business for a little over three years. It has been my plan from the beginning to put the work in for the first three and then to be in a position where I could begin to groom someone to handle the in-store responsibilities that I hand do.

I’m afraid that I won’t find one that I approve of or trust. Much like approving of a boy to date my daughter I guess.

We worked long hours when we 1st opened in 1995. Neither of us had any kids and we had no money, so we were able to make an investment with our time. One would run the inside while the other took deliveries.

After a couple months the business grew to the point where we couldn’t handle it by ourselves on weekend nights, so we hired our 1st driver. When sales started to overwhelm that setup we would hire again, lather, rinse repeat - “slow and steady wins the race.”

Eventually we built up enough staff that we could start alternating the weekdays we would work. Next step was to hire day managers to do the prep and work our lunch rush (which wasn’t really much of a rush back then) and begin to stay open later into the night to go after the college market.

Finally, we got to the point where we could hire shift managers to run the night shifts and just be on call for times when it got out of hand. Right after the 2002 NCAA basketball finals between Maryland & Indiana, we realized our “on call” status had become a crutch and decided to end the practice. We fully turned the day-to-day stuff over fully to our General Managers to run the stores and got about the business of working ON our business instead of in it.

A 7-year process and I doubt I couldn’t do what I did in my 20’s again now that I’m in my 40’s and have children.

I have been working 12+ hours a day for 2 1/2 years. THIS month I started taking a whole day off and one 1/2 day! It’s a bit scary but I have built trust with my crew by building a sense of ownership. The kicker is, I got a phone call from a 5 day a week regular. “Willi, I gotta tell you, Stacy has been one of your best cooks. I ordered a steak that came mw that I ordered mr, she immediately came to our table, apologized and told me she will personally fix it herself. She is a credit to your restaurant, thank you for your attentive staff.” Then I got this email. Direct copy and paste:

Hi Willi!
THe food was fantastic. EVeryone was commenting on it. YOu made everything so easy and it went off without a hitch. Everyone asked who catered and I told them about you and where you were located. They said they would have to check you out. We do hold alot of events at our church so we will be calling you again. Our next one is the day after Mother’s day in May. So you will be hearing from me them . I’ll be dropping the supplies off Sunday so I will see you then. You don’t need to send us an invoice if you don’t want to I don’t need one.
Thanks again you’re Great!!

It pays to work everyday for the first two years, bump elbows with all your staff and pay them fairly. I am truly blessed, and one day I will meet everyone on this board, that I promise.