#1  
Old 01-27-2011, 06:03 AM
Journeyman
 
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Location: MN, USA
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Default Curious about mobile pizza

It seems that mobile ovens are popping up everywhere. (maybe it just seems that way since I'm more in tune to it, but I digress). What I'd like to know is if you can really make a living at it, or just a nice bonus check. Of course I understand it relates to how many bookings you get (lets say 2 a week), the varied costs (realted to making the pizzas, the STANDARD of living I'm referring to (not rock star rich, just paying the bills and not having to worry how you make payments).
Just, in general, can you make a full paycheck doing this? I know you can make just about any business plan look good, I'm looking for real life responses and situations.

Thanks
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Old 01-27-2011, 07:35 AM
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Default Re: Curious about mobile pizza

I think it is possible to make a subsistence living with a Mobile Pizza operation...if your living expenses are low. Some of the things involved that make it difficult, from my perspective, are the legal requirements in most places...like having to have a certified commercial kitchen to prepare and store ingredients. I understand some states allow your home kitchen to be certified for preparing dough type ingredients, under some conditions, but for the most part, no home prepared foods can be sold to the public.

Another thing that makes pizza difficult is you need help...you can't take orders, take money and make change, and prepare and cook pizzas. Once you are making pizzas, it is all consuming.

Just those 2 things are big obstacles, commercials kitchens and help are expensive...at that point there isn't much left over to live on. Plus, there are lots of other expenses...and it is difficult to work with dough in extreme temperatures...and it is very hard work. Construction like hard work.

Now, if you have free help and no need for permits...you might be able to make a little money.
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Old 01-27-2011, 08:02 AM
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Default Re: Curious about mobile pizza

Nobody says it's going to be easy.. then everyone would do it!!

Here in MN, the land of 10,000 rules (state motto is land of 10,000 lakes) you need to have a hand wash sink, and a triple sink set-up to even get close. I also don't think simple coolers will suffice for refrigeration of perishables. But, I have seen trailers doing this here. I think the help need not be expensive... but you do need it. My 11th grade daughter and her friends pose potential help (hey, they want to make money too) for reasonable cost.
I don't discount what you're saying, just wondering if anybody out there has given up there day job? Obviously, what doesn't work for one, works for another as some brick and mortar pizza places work, and some don't.
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Old 01-27-2011, 08:38 AM
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Default Re: Curious about mobile pizza

Why not partner up with a local (hopefully growing or expanding) pizza place? Utilize their existing (approved) kitchen facilities and purchasing leverage and have them supply doughballs, sauce and toppings. You agree to onsite advertising and WFO cooked pies while shortening the learning curve, reducing your original ramp-up in capital, equipment and food prep facilities. Once you've learned the processes involved you could decide whether or not to dive in.
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Old 01-27-2011, 08:53 AM
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Default Re: Curious about mobile pizza

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tman1 View Post
Nobody says it's going to be easy.. then everyone would do it!!

Here in MN, the land of 10,000 rules (state motto is land of 10,000 lakes) you need to have a hand wash sink, and a triple sink set-up to even get close. I also don't think simple coolers will suffice for refrigeration of perishables. But, I have seen trailers doing this here. I think the help need not be expensive... but you do need it. My 11th grade daughter and her friends pose potential help (hey, they want to make money too) for reasonable cost.
I don't discount what you're saying, just wondering if anybody out there has given up there day job? Obviously, what doesn't work for one, works for another as some brick and mortar pizza places work, and some don't.
The hand wash and triple sink setup, once you have a place to make and sell pizza's, is no big deal...or even the refrigeration (if you have access to power). Like I said, it's the certified commercial kitchen requirement that makes things difficult...you either pay for commissary privileges or set-up your own commercial kitchen. Go online to your state health department and see if they require a certified commercial kitchen to do a mobile operation.

We do a monthly market with our mobile WFO and it is a lot fun (did I mention hard work? ...we are busy the entire weekend and sell a lot of pizzas. Do I think I could make a living at it if I did it every weekend (even if that was possible around here)...no.

Your mileage may vary.
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Old 01-27-2011, 10:23 AM
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Default Re: Curious about mobile pizza

My husband is running his own mobile wood-fired company. His first year was with a partner (mistake!); he fired the partner in Jan 2010 (the partner gaver us the money to start and claimed he'd be doing massive marketing, etc. etc. and he really did nothing). We took out a loan, paid him off, and started fresh.

He started with the public thing but there were just too many restrictions, too many hurdles for it to be enjoyable. He switched to private party only and is much happier.

We have a website for him but have not done a ton of marketing (most of his clients are word of mouth; he seems to get 1-2 new parties from every one he does).

2010 was his first year on his own where he wasn't splitting profits. Just did our taxes and he did $14K gross in sales. 2009 he had nobody call during the winter months. 2010 he booked several parties in Nov/Dec - (even did one in the pouring rain, thank you ez up). He's already booked for superbowl and has 3-4 parties in February. 2010 just provided us a great loss for our taxes. We'll be getting back $2500.

We project he will be slammed by next year, and doing pretty well this summer. He's doing a freebie in February at a little league park - in exchange for handing out fliers and handing out tastings. I think he'll get a ton of parties from this.

He loves what he does, his pizza is phenomenal, but it is a LOT of hard work. We started off doing it together (I was the fire lady, he was making the pizzas). It was very hard for me because I have a day job too; I was exhausted. I got to retire when I found out I was pregnant with twins. YAY! He figured out a way to do it all himself.... much better for our marriage!

Last edited by mattieandG; 01-27-2011 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 01-27-2011, 10:28 AM
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Default Re: Curious about mobile pizza

I did not mention that he is a trained chef who worked in busy restaurants for 10 years before venturing out to do this. He does not just doing pepperoni, cheese, etc. Most of his pizzas are gourmet and specialty. I think that is why the private party concept works out much better for him.
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Old 01-27-2011, 11:39 AM
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Default Re: Curious about mobile pizza

Quote:
Just, in general, can you make a full paycheck doing this?
Your reference to a "paycheck" leads me to believe that you don't have much experience with small business. As small business goes, food service has the reputation of being difficult and unprofitable. I can't claim any food service experience, but a lifetime in small business has shown me that there are a lot of days when you are an unpaid sales rep for your suppliers, and more than a few where you're digging into your wallet to stay in business. If steady cash flow is your aim, this might not be your thing. I think, in general, you should only go into business if you are driven by some sort of passion.
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Old 01-27-2011, 11:45 AM
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Default Re: Curious about mobile pizza

I hire out my oven mostly and let people do all the cooking themselves. Because I'm worried about transporting it I deliver, set it up and pick it up again. Sometimes I work the oven, for an extra charge, especially if the party is large.Certainly couldn't make a full time living out of it, average about one and a half bookings a month last year.
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Old 01-27-2011, 03:05 PM
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Default Re: Curious about mobile pizza

.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmun View Post
Your reference to a "paycheck" leads me to believe that you don't have much experience with small business As small business goes, food service has the reputation of being difficult and unprofitable. I can't claim any food service experience, but a lifetime in small business has shown me that there are a lot of days when you are an unpaid sales rep for your suppliers, and more than a few where you're digging into your wallet to stay in business. If steady cash flow is your aim, this might not be your thing. I think, in general, you should only go into business if you are driven by some sort of passion.

Ya, I guess 15 years owning my own business doesn't account for much. The others who have replied seemed to have gotten the jist of my question, no need to be so literal.
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