Would becoming a deliver driver be a good in into the industry?

As I think I would like to open my own pizzeria in the future but have no experience in the restaurant/food industry, I thought that applying for delivery driver positions would be the ideal means to get my foot in the door to learn more about every facet of the business before I put my own money on the line.

I’m from Melbourne, Australia and there appears to be many openings for this type of entry level work, but not so much for inexperienced kitchenhands/pizza makers. Some of the advertisements I’ve read state that delivery drivers are often expected to assist with other duties when not out on the road, so this would be an opportunity for me to make myself a valuable, wouldn’t want to lose him because he works hard and can be relied upon staff member who is keen to learn more (oh, a kitchenhand called in sick? sure, I can step up!). I figure just being around the business in any capacity is going to allow for me to observe a lot of the goingson.

I imagine the 2 most important things an employer looks for in a delivery driver is a reliable person with a reliable car, which I am and have. Would you guys have any other advice? Am I being naive in thinking I might be able to swing my way into the kitchen of a pizzeria to get more hands on experience?

I’m in my mid 30’s, and having paid off my mortgage a few years ago and saved up another 50k, I’m in a good position to make 2016 all about learning the business before going into business for myself. I suspect I would do best to keep that to myself because I am not the typical person seeking such a position.

The short answer to your question is yes.

I got my start in the industry as a delivery driver at the age of 32. If you show you are interested in doing what ever is needed to help in the any part of the operation you will learn plenty. I observed how things were done and pitched in when things were busy.

I started delivering for a mom and pop shop, then a franchise, and finally I ran a delivery service that served a number of different shops. I was able to see what each of the different places did and learn what I felt was the most effective way to do each of the tasks.

I never officially worked in any pizza kitchen before I opened my shop. What I learned from being in the different stores was enough to get me where I am today. I have been open for 11 years and won runner up in the Canadian Pizza Chef of the Year.

I agree with Daddio. Anyone who shows up and is willing to work and learn will go far.

My only additional advice is that you not get this job in the exact same area where you plan to open a store. That would likely create some bad feelings. Same city is fine but not same delivery area… unless it is one of the international chains and then all bets are off! lol

Thanks for your input. At first I thought my age (34) might put an employer off but gauging from when you started driving and some of the comments other owners here have had with delivery drivers in this forum, it might work in my favour as I’m of an age where I have no interest in going out partying, being slack or lazy (to be honest, I 've never been this way, but it is more common among younger people).

Perhaps a fair call, but isn’t all fair in love and war… and business?

My area (which has undergone a boom in real estate values over the past 15 years, recently finished a rebuild of the train station to turn it into a massive transportation hub for the area, and major extensions to the local shopping centre) has a mixture of chain pizzarias with their tasteless rubbish and independant pizzerias - with the best one making great pizza but on an inconsistent basis, talk about frustrating. Anyway, I have quite a bit of learning to do before I even consider opening my own store.

FWIW, it’s Domino’s who seem to be in need of delivery drivers (multiple advertisements), and I plan to apply there first.

Communities are small places… and we tend to live in them longer than we work in any particular place. Yes, all is fair etc but on the other hand, going to work for an indy place and then opening up down the street would be pretty bad form in my book.

On the other hand, Dominos is a great place to learn systems which is something you will likely not learn in most indy shops… so there you go. My second pizza job was delivery driver at Dominos (store 1902 in 1979) and I went from there to manager trainee and then to being a substitute manager for stores that needed a temp or whose managers were on vacation or which were not big enough to have full time trainees. It was years before I was back in the Delco business (1999) but much of what I learned back then was useful to me and still is to this day.

I’m not so sure I would do this anyway unless it was certain to meet a need in the market. Anyway, it is all a bit cart before the horse at this point and I’ll cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

Well, that’s good to hear. I’m going to start approaching them for a job in the new year. The only reason I’m holding off these next few days is I don’t wish to be thrust into NYE for a first shift.

Although I have not purchased one of their pizzas for at least 5 years, the business itself has done really well in Australia with the share price going from $2 a share in 2005 to over $55 a share this year.

I am also in OPs shues, thinking also to do my own soon but need to learn more, I am done Professional baking and pastry school and working as a pastry cook for a while but like I sad want to run pizza place more than bakery, tried to get in for pizza cook in several place but they need experienced in the field, thought staring as a delivery guy would be waist of time as you have to be on the road most of time. now it seams that this will be only way to get in somehow.

Interesting that places can be so picky as to only hire with pizza experience. Sure, I would like to have pizza experience (if we don’t have to get them to “unlearn” too many things) but I find that anyone with kitchen experience picks it up really fast. It has been a while since we hired anyone as cook with zero kitchen experience but we have in the past.

Another starting place is phones/customer service. In some ways this is even better because you will have more knowledge of the computer and it is even easier to transition to cook from there because you can ask for training during slower moments. Pretty soon you have the basic hang of it and someone quits, is sick or whatever and you can slide into that spot.

As a broad generalization I would rather hire someone who I think will be reliable, honest and had working that has a good attitude and gets along with the other crew members… we can teach them to make pizza.

Going by the description of your area I take it you are in the Ringwood area? If so carefully check the demographics first. What I see is not a large population area with industry circling the area which reduces your customer reach.
Not being from Melbourne but visiting a fair bit a couple of things I have noticed about the pizza industry in Melbourne
a) Every second corner seems to have a pizza outlet. Melbourne has an over supply of food places to make a good income
b) Price seems to be the determining factor. Everybody is chasing each other down to the lowest sell price. Exceptions are the top line outlets and Crust and Pizza Capers but they spend heaps getting their message out there
c) There are so many places to get take away food that you would be competing so heavily for a wide spread spend dollar

As far a getting driver experience Dominos may hire you but they pay peanuts (legally). You won;t be getting the Fair Work Australia hourly rates as they have done a sweetheart deal to keep their wage rates down. Other places only hire young people (17 -20) because of the high wage costs and if you get a start with an Independent you will find a lot will pay $xx per hour cash in hand. This has dangers as if they get caught you will go down with them for avoiding tax. You also miss out on Superannuation that has to be paid, workers compensation would be questionable as would be getting the correct hourly and delivery rates.

Don;t want to rain on your parade but as an experienced operator there is no way in a million years would I consider entering the pizza industry in Melbourne. It is too crowded and too low price driven.

And one more thought. Don’t get into a franchise as you will lose 12.5% off your gross sales in franchising and advertising fees and at this time their is not enough profit in the industry to pay that and get a living out of it. Only the franchises win.


You’re more accurate than Google Maps! Yes, I live in Ringwood. You are right in that it does not currently have a large population compared to some other suburbs, but there are many blocks of units being put up around the place and the population continues to grow given many working class people can no longer afford to buy closer towards the city.

Yep, there sure are a lot of pizza shops around, but surely that’s a sign of its popularity? I can’t really speak to whether or not there is an over supply of food places relative to the income they generate, but it’s food for thought.

Isn’t price a demographics issue? For example, when I was in my late teens and early 20’s, I’d hunt for coupon codes online so that I could buy Domino’s at the cheapest price possible. In my 30’s, price isn’t the deciding factor and I wouldn’t eat Domino’s even if they were giving their pizza away for free. I don’t mind spending $20-$30 for 2 pizzas from my local despite the fact they’re not consistent with the quality. I’ve never had Pizza Capers, but Crust is no better than Domino’s - it’s mutton dressed up as lamb and is a rubbish product. There is no doubt these chain venues are popular and do a lot of business but surely that market and the better quality market are seperate.

That’s a good point. I’ll sometimes order Indian or Thai despite wanting pizza, but again, surely this is true of just about any place?

Yeah, I know they pay little and from what I’ve read on sites like whirlpool and others, they can be dodgy too. But really, taking such a job is only about learning more about the industry and the business, I don’t need the job to pay my bills or anything like that. I look at it as a gig for a 3-6 month period to help me decide whether to risk my own money. I’d rather work for a pittance and lose a bit of my time than sink my money in a failed venture.

I appreciate the honesty Dave and I’d much rather hear what you have to say even if it means raining on my parade. I’m certainly not in a rush to open a pizza shop.

A couple of suburbs over (Lilydale[/URL]) there is a pizza shop for sale and from reading their [URL=‘https://www.facebook.com/Gradire-Pizza-Pasta-Ribs-682318885133299/’]Facebook page, it appears they might’ve even shut the store without finding a buyer for the business. I’ve been looking at these type of things and trying to explain why they’re selling, why it failed etc.

Your franchise advice is well noted and I’ve previously read of the complaints operators have had selling $4.95 pizzas in the Pizza Hut v Domino’s war.

Thanks again.

Good to see you have an alternative look at things and take my notes the right way.

We are in the $20 - $30 bracket for a large pizza but our demographics are more middle to middle upper levels and people don’t mind paying for quality but with a large section of our area FIFO workers sales have crashed in line with the downturn in the mining boom. Probably wouldn’t have been hit so hard if we were in a less socio-economic area where the income is disposable rather than paying off $1 million mortgages.

What has got us through the tough times is our review rankings on WOMO (Word of mouth online) where we are ranked No: 1 of pizza shops in Australia
with 232 5 star rankings making us the highest 5 star ranked pizza shop in Australia. Check it out and see what can be achieved with quality and service without bastardising price. It has been a really tough 18 months where we have dropped around $2k per week but we are now seing an increase over the past 8 weeks where we are showing growth.

With all the make sure you go into business for the right reasons and not just because you want to make pizzas. It’s hard and demoralising at times and in the end of the day make sure you are not just buying a job.

Feel free to pm if you want a phone discussion.

Best wishes for the New Year.


The downturn in the mining boom is a concern, as is the greater economy in general. I guess we’ll have to see what happens but if the economy takes a turn for the worse, I might have to scrap the idea of opening a store until things improve. I guess we’ll see what happens over the next couple of years.

As for review rankings, I would think online is definitely the place to focus on, especially with the under 35 crowd. I always look for reviews online to read before ordering from a new place, and look at the negative ones first - but taken with a grain of salt because you can’t please everyone, and there is no pleasing some people. I would think most people (at least I hope) understand this too.

I’ll be sure to take you up on your offer of a phone discussion sometime in the future if/when I think opening is definitely going to happen.

Thanks again.

If I paid my mortgage off in my late 20s and had 50k saved up in my early 30s I’d probably keep whatever job I had…