Author Topic: Will work for free??  (Read 4161 times)

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Offline Franko

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Will work for free??
« on: July 19, 2006, 01:53:08 AM »
Would it be crazy to ask to work in a Pizzeria for free for 2-3 weeks in return for the owner to teach me how to run a pizzeria?

I'm in So Cal now and want to open an authentic NY Pizzeria in my area and am willing to work for free in return for me learning A-Z about the business.  I'm from NY, been in so cal for 6 years so my stomach has plenty of experience with NYC pizza so the establishment that i work in must be an authentic NY pizzeria.

Thanks!!!!

Frank


Offline Fio

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2006, 08:44:43 AM »
I've had the same thought, though just to learn how to make pizza.

The shop owner will want to be damn sure you're not going to steal his secrets and his business.  I'd give him plenty of assurances of non-competition.

Failing that, offer to open restaurant using HIS name, split the investment and the profits.  He doesn't worry about losing business, you get your apprenticeship, and everybody's happy.

Of course, you only own and run half a pizza joint.  But you've got a nice buffer in the short term.  After a few years, you can bail and open your own joint.

Since joining this forum, I've begun using words like "autolyze" and have become anal about baker's percents.  My dough is forever changed.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2006, 10:58:01 AM »
I don't think you will find a pizza operator willing to take on Frank for a couple of weeks on Frank's terms since there would be no upside for the operator. Since Frank would be the prime (and maybe only) beneficiary of the arrangement, to protect the owner there would have to be a non-disclosure/non-compete agreement in place, which means having to hire and pay lawyers to do the job right, not to mention the later possibility of hiring even more lawyers to enforce any actual or perceived breach of such an agreement. It is also unlikely that Frank, as hard and as good a worker as he may be, would be able to convince the owner that he is good enought to open a new place after only 2-3 weeks. Too much money would be at stake plus a lot of risk to the owner. 

I think Frank's best bet is to find a job with a pizza operator and learn the business that way. I wouldn't state my intentions, just work the job to gain the experience and knowledge. Who knows, Frank may discover that he doesn't like that line of work or that it's a lot harder to run a pizza business than it may have first appeared.

Peter

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2006, 12:03:17 PM »
I agree with Peter: perfect analysis

Offline youonlylivetwice

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2006, 07:57:57 AM »
I would add that I'd be skeptical of anyone willing to accept such an offer.  Owners that are doing it right and have a good thing going, the type of business you want to emulate, are not going to go for it UNLESS they sincerely see potential in franchising their name, recipes, processes, etc. 
Let me know if you need a lawyer :)

Offline gschwim

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2006, 08:28:44 PM »
The prospect of future competition is not an issue.  Afer all, the proprieter already faces that prospect with any of his current employees, some of whom may have worked there for years and presumably know a lot more about the business than you're liable to learn in a week or two.  Also, at least in New York, if it's the corner pizzeria and not some high-falutin gourmet place, his super-secret-if-I-tell-you-I'll-have-to-kill-you dough recipe is probably the generic NY pizza dough, the same as the guy's on the next block.  And the next... and the next...

The real problem is, presumably, the proprietor, presumably, has a sufficient number of experienced employees.  Why spend the time and energy to train a new guy who, in a couple of weeks, just when he has learned the ropes, is going to leave?

Which is not to say that it cannot be done.  My suggestions are:

1.  Patronize the place you have in mind a lot.  Buy a lot of pizza.  Get to know -- and become friends with -- the proprietor and, preferably, the employees, too.  In other words, become what we New Yorkers call a "regular."  Then make your proposal.

2.  Offer (preferably after completing suggestion #1) to pay the proprietor to teach you how to make pizza, perhaps before or after hours.  Perhap offer to help around the place, too.  ("You want to pay me to work here?" "Yeah!")

3.  Even better:  Do you know any other pizza enthusiasts in the area?  Perhaps, two or more of you could convince the propietor, for a price, to teach a pizza-making/business class before or after hours.  If the proprietor is up to it, and you get enough people to participate, at a sufficient price, maybe you could get your lesson for free.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2006, 08:34:02 PM by gschwim »

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2006, 09:11:06 PM »
I read a lot about how pizza operators run their businesses and I have come to the conclusion that the easiest part of the business may be the pizza making part, especially if it is a fairly standard operation such as a NY style pizzeria. Franco says he wants to learn the business from A-Z. That entails a lot more than pizza making. It includes marketing, advertising and promotion; hiring, training, staffing and scheduling; insurance (especially where drivers/vehicles are involved); vendors and pricing; menus and pricing; leases; equipment and maintenance; POS/credit card/telecoms systems; utilities management; compliance with local health and other regulations; basic accounting, finance and legal issues; and taxes and tax compliance. Each of these items can be broken down into many more pieces. Very few employees get exposure to all these things. They may rotate among jobs, but that is usually it and if they left there would be little that they would take with them that would be of much value other than the direct experience they gained on the job. But giving someone everything from A-Z for two weeks of free work would not make any sense. Even if any one thing has little value, in the aggregate they have significant value. Often that is the competitive advantage.

Peter

Offline youonlylivetwice

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2006, 08:32:57 AM »
Peter is right on with his comments.  I worked for awhile in a consulting role to small businesses, it was a free SBA program.  I think most small businesses fail because the owner is passionate about the product, but doesn't know how to run a business. 

Offline gschwim

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2006, 09:48:42 AM »
Is there a Barnes & Noble bookstore in your area?  The one near me has a whole section of books on starting a business, developing a business plan, etc., including several books specifically about starting and operating a restaurant.

Offline gottabedapan

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2006, 10:35:51 PM »
Is there a Barnes & Noble bookstore in your area?  The one near me has a whole section of books on starting a business, developing a business plan, etc., including several books specifically about starting and operating a restaurant.

Knowing WHAT one needs to do to manage a successful business is a very far cry from knowing HOW to do it, and if you think reading a bunch of books is going to teach you how to run a business, you're living in a fantasy world.

If learning how to operate a restaurant were as simple as following the procedures laid out in a book, the failure rate for restaurant start-ups should be close to zero. Even the most conservative estimates of restaurant failure rates, however, concede that, on average, 26% of all restaurant start-ups in the US in a given year fail within the first year of operation, 57-61% fail within 3 years, and 70% fail within 5 years (H. G. Parsa, John T. Self, David Njite, Tiffany King, "Why Restaurants Fail," Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 46, No. 3, 304-322 (2005). Interestingly, the Parsa/Self/Njite/King study found only a marginal difference between the failure rate of franchise restaurants (57.2% within 3 years) vs. independent operators (61.4% within 3 years).


Online Pete-zza

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2006, 12:00:07 AM »
gottabedapan,

If I wanted to start a pizzeria, I think I would start by going to the PMQ Think Tank and read every post there, including the archives. The people who post there are real people, with real problems, and with real solutions, and everything is narrowly focused, with all warts, on the pizza business, not restaurants in general. The danger in doing this is information overload, and you can spend too much time "sharpening your saw" and not "cutting wood". At some point, you will have to act, either by buying an existing business if you have access to capital and having the owner teach you the nuts and bolts of the business, or by getting a job in a pizzeria somewhere and leverage off of that at some point. Books or software on how to write a business plan might be helpful, and maybe even necessary as a precursor to starting a pizzeria, but you are unlikely to get any banker to lend you money solely on the basis of a business plan and without having any actual experience. As you pointed out, the failure rate is high even for people who have all the right knowledge and experience. And if you don't have the right location or cater to the right demographics, you can be toast also.

Peter

Offline gottabedapan

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2006, 01:39:55 PM »
Pete-zza,

I agree with you. My reponse was directed at gschwim who apparently belives—wrongly—that managing a restaurant is something that one can learn by reading a few books in one's spare time.

Online Pete-zza

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2006, 04:24:49 PM »
I suspect that I am a lot older than Gene (gschwim), and I try not to hold youth against anyone because age and experience have a way of clarifying issues and putting them in perspective. Gene's suggestions were well intentioned and I accepted them in the spirit in which they were offered. Given a choice, I would still rather be young even if it means repeating many of the bonehead things I did in my youth :).

Peter

Offline youonlylivetwice

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Re: Will work for free??
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2006, 04:43:16 PM »
I can't help but jump in here as the topic turns ever so slightly to age.... while all the suggestions about diligence and information are very well intentioned, Peter made one additional very profound statement about how long you sharpen the saw before you cut wood.  I stand before you a person who offered assistance to small businesses and embraced the idea of having that passion and freedom that would come with owning my own business, regardless of the hours and dedication.... and yet never just DID it... and now I have a family and a home and a very good (albeit sitting at a desk) job and I will likely never see through that goal/dream.  Don't make the mistake I did, either.


 

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