Delivery Boy to Owning a Pizza Empire with Nick Bogacz

mentors collective | Best mentor collective

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Jay Feldman 0:02
What’s up mentors collective community? On this episode, I have a very special guest for you. He went from a delivery driver in 1996 to now owning six brick and mortar, pizza locations, pizza and beer. He now has over 250 employees. He’s the author of the book that pizza equation and host of a weekly podcast, the business equation. Nick bogus, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s an honor to have you on the show.

Nick Bogacz 0:26
Hey, than me. I really appreciate being on.

Jay Feldman 0:29
So not a lot of my guests are brick and mortar owners, but 250 employees, a lot of my guests seem to be online business. And I think there’s a lot of people listening right now who are interested in going your route, which is figuring out what they’re passionate about and opening up stores that reflect that. So I would love to hear a little bit about your journey as an entrepreneur how you started as a delivery driver. And what were those steps that you took to go ahead and open the stores that pizza and beer places of your dreams?

Nick Bogacz 0:56
Yeah, I love to tell a story. It’s, you know, it’s one of those things That I grew up in a family of four brothers. We always loved sports. We always were out cutting grass, lemonade stands, baseball card shows, whatever we could do to make an extra bucks. I think the entrepreneurial bug started early, I started delivering pizzas because one of my friends told me that the tips are better than washing cars, which I was doing at the time. I started delivering pizzas and I fell in love with the team atmosphere of the pizza industry. You have this product that people just absolutely love, no matter where you go to the door or baseball field, wherever it is, you’re delivered a pizza everybody’s happy to always see the pizza driver. And I just fell in love with with the team atmosphere that somebody’s answering the phone, somebody’s making the pizzas fast I can somebody grabbed out of the oven and then off to the driver goes off to the races. So I fell in love with it. And then, you know, I was very young 1718 got married very early. 20 years old, didn’t go to college because at that time I had a wreck a few cars became a manager at the pizzeria. So I felt like piranhas 1920 years old, why do I need college I’m already a manager, I’ve got this thing made, and then started a family super young and I realized, Hey, I have to work a little little harder and become a general manager. So I worked my way through the different chains. I worked for the big guys, the Papa John’s and Domino’s along the way, I worked many different other jobs to having a family so young, there were times where I had five different jobs at one time. I think, if you fast forward, my pizza story, really I work from time I was 20 till till 28. Like I said, with all these big chains, each face a lot of pressures. When you’re in a industry like the pizza business, you face pressures from friends and family that you really don’t have a real job because you’re you’re working in a restaurant or you’re delivering pizzas or managing pizza shop and you’re working 7080 hours. So when you face those pressures, you know, you go out and you try to get that quote unquote, real job and that’s what I did. I started advertising for local radio station and I do just realized that wasn’t me. You know, I hated being stuck in a cubicle. I hats off to anybody who could do cold calling. That’s absolutely not for me. It’s a big part of some businesses and I think I just had enough back in the pizza business and then through working through some more more things with the pizza business and you know, I was delivering pizzas and three different shops delivering pizzas, I bought my first house $160,000 house through delivering pizzas, I showed every single tip was able to get a mortgage. You know, a lot of people didn’t believe that I really was delivering pizzas and that’s how I was support my family. From there. Everybody kept saying, you know, I still need to get a real job. So I took the post office test pass became a mailman and from the time I was 30 to 34, I delivered mail. I also delivered those three pizza shops on the side. I was delivering pizzas hustling like crazy guy at the post office said hey, I’ve got a gig at night at the melon arena where the Pittsburgh Penguins play count in the money in the count room. So would you like to work there? I did. So for three to four years, I worked 90 hundred hours a week five, five different jobs. I realized when I was at the post office, that’s where dreams go to die, because people just check in and they figure I’m going to work there for two years. And at the end, they’re going to get a pension and be done. And I realized that there’s no way I was going to let my dreams die. So I just hustled up work those five jobs, tried to save what I could and really, I just knew one thing that I didn’t know how I was going to do it. But I knew I love pizza. And for whatever it was going to take, I was going to open my own pizzeria. So that took me right to the cusp of getting ready to open my own shop. You know, I realized that if I was going to do it I had to do for myself. I always was the guy who was the one that would go to the stores raise the sales. So I was a sales builder. That was always my forte was marketing telling a lot of pizzas. I mean that was always I was always the guy who had the highest store sales the record weeks could motivate a team and a lot of it you know, I think really was from enjoying it, but all So, having brothers and kind of just the way we always got along, and I think it helped and right when when I decided it was time to open my own business what had happened was I finally was got down to two jobs. And I was running the pizzeria full time as General Manager. And I was working at the post office full time. And I had said to the pizzeria, I said, hey, look, if you pay me what I make somewhat between two jobs, I’ll never leave because what had happened was that store was a Papa John’s that was there for 21 years, right in the heart of University of Pittsburgh, and it had never done a million dollars. First year I ran it did a million bucks. Profits before I took over was 27,000. For the year when I was done. It was 149,000. So I felt like you know, I was worth at the time was probably asking maybe between 60 and 70,000 bucks. I was probably making between 40 and 50. I felt like if they paid me 60 to 70 I’d never leave. I’m glad they never they didn’t pay me. They said Nick. The truth is if you leave we’ll probably just sell it. They were busy. This guy’s I was more of a number to them. That’s when I started going into pizza shops in the city of Pittsburgh. And I would say, right, right where the University of Pittsburgh is because I want to be in college town. I’d say some of your shop and they’d say, Get the hell out of there. The fifth store I walked into, he said, My buddy has a store over in Bloomfield, which was a little bit over the bridge, probably about 10 minutes from campus. I walked in, and I said, Oh, man, it’s a bar walked in the back for Pizza Kitchen. everything I needed. We sat down I like to say for all the numbers matched up and for the next six months, I kept saying, All I wanted was a pizza shop. The reality of how the deal worked was the two guys who owned it also in a bunch of wireless retails, and they wanted to focus more on the retail they had bought it, because they had a cousin who they thought could run a bar and a pizza shop and he disappeared. They just want an out. I said, Look, I want my pizza. I really want it well number 185,000, including the liquor license, it was worth about 50,000 and they said, Well, how much money do you have? And I said I Don’t have any money. I said, but here’s what I do. I, I’ve done this with all these stores. And they said, well, we’ll tell you what, it’s your lucky day. See what you could save up over the next nine months. And while you run the store, run it under our name and everything and then put that money down. And we’ll finance the rest over the next five years. And the rest is really history. It hit it off. I took the store from $5,000 a week to close to a $2 million store with it within a year and a half. We opened up the second store that was 2012 second store 2014 third store 2016 fourth store 2018 fifth store 2019. The sixth store is just about it’s still on the we would have been open without COVID. Now it’s kind of we’re in the middle of trying to figure out exactly what we’re going to open it with COVID but that’s the story and I think a lot of it is just when you put your head down and work in you’re surprised at what you get. But I think a lot of people get kind of distracted when they they worried about money and I think you really don’t have to worry about the money. I think you just kind of go at it. And if you work hard enough, good things will happen.

Jay Feldman 8:04
Yeah, you knock on enough doors, you’re gonna eventually find an opportunity that works for you. And that sounds like what you did you showed a lot of grit in that first, you know maneuver to find that first story said, You walked into five pizza stores that fifth one, you finally found an opportunity that worked for you, and they were able to work with you financially. I want to hear a little bit about this deal that you made for this first store. So you didn’t have much cash saved up. You weren’t planning on getting a loan from a bank. What was kind of your plan going into this?

Nick Bogacz 8:32
Well, I think what’s interesting is so I bought six stores now, five out of six, I haven’t gone to a bank and I haven’t paid full price. I’ve had the former owner finance five out of six deals right now. And the other part of it is the one that I didn’t get financed I would have but he got divorced in the middle of a deal and he ended up needing all the cash. So you know, I work those deals. And I think what’s interesting you have to understand in these situations that as bad as you want to buy a business like it’s your dream It’s your passion, you can’t wait to buy this business, what you have to realize is somebody wants to sell it worse than what you want to buy it. They just want to get the hell out of there. Especially, you know, part of my strategy has been not walking in. And when someone says, you know, you say, Why do you want to sell it? And they say, Well, I want to move to Florida. That’s not the guy I want to buy a business off of, I want to buy it off when I walk in and say, hey, why do you want to sell it? And he gives you the, you know, hey, I used to be a banker, and I thought the pizza thing was going to be easy. And this is too hard. I don’t want to do it, or you walk in and sometimes, you know, other people’s hardship is works out a favor for you. But maybe they bought it for their son and his son’s into drugs or somebody got sick or they had a heart attack. I mean, there’s all kinds of reasons why they can have hardships where they just need to unload it. They don’t care, you know, and at first everybody wants all the money at once. They really do. But when they realize you’re serious and you have some of the money Or you’re the first one was to me it was a lot of law of attraction. I was a student of the game and still am, I’m thinking Grow Rich, I really felt like I didn’t wasn’t worried about how it was gonna happen. I just knew it was gonna happen already in my head, it was already done. So that deal was proved the theory that it works. And then the other deals for me, it’s the same thing is it? You know, there’s a lot of some savviness and making the deal. But there also was, you know, a lot of believing that the deal was already done, if that makes sense to you.

Jay Feldman 10:30
Yeah, absolutely. I’m a big fan of the book and the teachings as well. So talk to me a little bit about your strategy. Now you don’t buy, say, a office space or somewhere in a building that’s selling their space and build from scratch and brand from scratch. Your strategy is go in and find people that want to sell.

Nick Bogacz 10:49
My strategy is this. I look for pain. I look for somebody that has some pain, they just want to get the hell out of there.

Jay Feldman 10:56
How do you find that?

Nick Bogacz 10:58
Everyone always talks about money. In this location, location, location, what’s that really mean? You know, is it a busy intersection? Is it a busy strip mall, I’ll tell you what it means to me what it means to me is that building at one time in its life was the place the place everybody went, you know, if if you’re 35 years old, and you remember going to birthday parties at that pizzeria or maybe it’s a really happening bar. And, you know, maybe you’re older, but you say, oh man back here 20 years ago, is the best bar around, they have bands and everything, it was so busy. So I don’t want to buy places busy I want to buy a place that had life at one time. So I’m looking for a place to have life at one time. I’m looking for a place that that somebody just wants to get the heck out of there because they’ll give you a good deal. And then from there, I mean, that’s really really the structure you know, I part of it is I am looking for the pain because I want to be able to finance it the way I want to finance it, but I’m looking for those two things. Overall, I’m looking for pain, and I’m looking for it used to be somewhere busy. One, at one time.

Jay Feldman 12:01
Awesome. That’s That’s great advice for a lot of people out there I think. And once you make the steel so you go in there you find the right place you finance it the way you want to now your you own a pizza shop that has its own name, its own name recognition, its own, you know, loyal customers do go in and just tear it up and replace it with your own systems. What does that generally like?

Nick Bogacz 12:20
Yeah, absolutely. Very good question. So what we would do is the first one, it was just real slow, we grind it, you know, I didn’t go in and I was running under their name. So I didn’t change a ton of stuff right away. I did look at like, the competitors saw how they were open. So I opened up an hour earlier, and I opened up an hour later, and I would literally look across the street at the bar. And I saw bartenders To this day, years later, that worked for me and they would laugh because, you know, I look out the window and I would not shut our open sign off till they shut their open sign off first. And that was just my mentality, you know, and that’s how I went at it. And I think that’s what you got to do is just Go out as hard as you can. And I think through that, we found a lot of just momentum, you know, get getting in there. So that was the first one. We changed things a little bit every day. I never would go into the store a workday and not change something. And I would say that probably went on for a year, we had a bartender that work Tuesdays and Sundays and every time she came in, she said, Wow, there’s like five or six or 10 things different. And it was true. And we changed the menu procedures, walls, signs, drinks, bars, you know, pizzas, everything was changed all the time. Every day we just made sure we did something we eat the elephant a little bit every single time. Now when we got into the second store, I think where a lot of entrepreneurs get wrong is first time I think the build out can be really expensive and can be really difficult and you got to really battle zoning because whatever you’re putting in there hasn’t been in there before. I like by buying a pizza shop or a restaurant that’s already there. You know, really only two of them. The pizza shops. The other four have been around restaurants that we bought converted into pizzeria. So when you’re going to buy an existing building a lot of time you deal with a lot of the zoning because you’re already grandfathered in. So I think that’s one plus the other way that we go at it is we don’t do the two month three months, six months one year process like this will cover things killing me that work. We don’t have the new store open yet because I’m about the fastest guy I know. Moving open a restaurant, we’re really like Bar Rescue. Like when you watch Bar Rescue and they go in and they flip it in four days, like that’s what we do. We bring in plumbers on top of electricians on top of carpenters POS guys sign guys, everybody is lining up to do it. We flipped the source and four days we take over on Monday, we opened on Friday, and that’s paint ceilings. What we do is we take the staff, we train them and all our other stores first then we bring a whole new staff in and they help us get everything ready. We pop them open in four days we just do a real life Bar Rescue is really what we’re doing to get open. So the reason we do it that way is because You have so much money at stake that the longer you sit on it, your money just sits there and you spend more. So you just have to get open and is it perfect when you open in four days? No, of course not. You know, but is it really perfect when you wait six months to open? No, it’s really not. You know, there’s always things you have to do after open. So my theory is let’s get in and get open. And we just take the I said about eating the elephant for the first approach. The second one is, you know, they always say Rome wasn’t built one day. Well, I wasn’t building Rome. That’s the way I look at it.

Jay Feldman 15:30
I love that. And yeah, I guess you’re right in your sixth store. And so now you’ve got a system where you you know you you have a team in place you have those basically a button to push when you buy a new store, everything comes in knows what to do. And at least somewhat there’s a system in place to get things rolling and set up the way that you like it and the way that you have already proven and know that works. So that’s that’s a super important thing.

Nick Bogacz 15:51
Well, it is because I think a lot of times when we talk about teams, people will think about the people that work for you, but you have to think about your team. As a your accountant, your banker, your electrician, your your tile guy, you know your your print shop, like there’s so many guys that are on your team. And what you have to also realize is if you’ve got a guy on your team that you got to call 15 times till he answers your phone call fire. You don’t have to use the electrician that you always use you know if he’s not doing the job fire him and get a new one, you know replaces guys on your team if your accountants not preparing the books the way you weren’t and working with you and advising you throughout the year and you’re and doesn’t want to meet with you only in tax season does he want to meet with you fire get somebody new. You have to bring in the right people on your team. It’s super important.

Jay Feldman 16:40
Yep, couldn’t agree more. And that’s why contractors are a beautiful thing. I follow the same philosophy in my business. So we just spoke a lot about your process and you know, buying a place setting up a place. Talk to me about your book, the pizza equation is does it pretty much detail what we just spoke about? Or you know, what is that book about?

Nick Bogacz 16:56
No, it does. I think it’s a great book for anybody that wants over pizzeria. It’s a great book for anybody who just wants to incite to a small business. It’s a great book for anybody who has a pizzeria. I tell a little bit of my story of, you know, getting how I got into the pizza business, a little bit of history of the pizza. But then there’s some real tips and tactics and stuff that I use in my marketing game that that really worked. It’s an easy read. It’s available on Amazon, but it’s definitely you know, the thing with with the pizza industry is a lot of these things that work in in my market will also work in your market. So it’s definitely a great book for anybody that is in the pizza industry.

Jay Feldman 17:34
Awesome. I’ll be sure to check it. I gotta send me a copy.

Nick Bogacz 17:36
Yeah, absolutely. I’d love to.

Jay Feldman 17:37
business question. Pizza related that I’ve always been curious about. And this is gonna be a fun one. If you’re not comfortable answering Don’t, don’t feel pressured to but what are the margins on a large cheese pizza, we’ll see.

Nick Bogacz 17:47
That’s what everybody thinks that’s why I get the buy the stores off the back or sometimes, because you know, everybody always takes a pizza cost to box or box and you sell for 12. So So you must make Um, you know, 10 bucks off every pizza. Now, the way that that I think the restaurant business works and the pizza pizza industry works is if you’re making it 10% you’re doing everything right, you know, 10 percents about at the end of the day, that’s the margin. Sure the pizza might cost, you know, three 350 with pepperoni and cheese, and you might sell for 14 bucks, but you’re really not making 10 or 11 bucks at the end of the day. If you make that 10% you’re doing really well, especially with a full service restaurant. And I think that’s where it gets really tough because you say, Okay, well 10% but then what happens is if if you have a real tight margins, like your food costs, maybe 30% and you don’t watch the new guys where all the cheese on the pizzas, you just went to 32% so now you’re down to 8% profit. And then maybe you’ve got the labor really isn’t working out for you. You’ve got too many people scheduled or people don’t realize, you know, they’re out there smoking cigarettes and everything else and they’re not working and in the labor goes from maybe a labor goal to 22% to run a 25% labor now your profits just went from 10% to 5%. So what I tried to do is teach my guys what the numbers really mean and how to control them. We talk numbers every single week with my general managers every single Monday at eight o’clock we have a phone meeting. I think that’s really important. Any business that you understand your numbers, and you talk through them with the people that are responsible for those numbers?

Jay Feldman 19:22
Yeah, definitely not fun conversations to have but necessary for business owners to have. I mean, that’s the lifeblood of your company right there. Absolutely. So some final questions and some general stuff for entrepreneurs out there or aspiring entrepreneurs. Maybe they’re stuck in a job they don’t like maybe they’re working in the mailroom where dreams go to die. Was there any specific moment or content you consumed a book you read someone you are following that really move the needle for you were like, this. Enough is enough. I’m going to take this next step and you know, break out of my current situation. Is there anyone that you suggest to follow or what was that moment for you?

Nick Bogacz 19:57
So, you know, I started a lot Place where a lot of people start when they want to go on the road to self improvement. You know, I started listening to Tony Robbins. And I think a lot of people say that you know, and the content is evergreen, and it’s great. What happened was is when I listened to something or read something, a lot of times you’ll start to hear people talk about something else. So he would talk about you know, somebody else or book and then I would start to read another book. And then before I know it, all these books that were kind of pushing me towards thinking Grow Rich, and when I read thinking Grow Rich, that’s what the moment where came together. But one step farther would be when I watched the movie, The Secret and kind of explaining the book I really got into Bob Proctor and his his teachings. And I think that whole process, the thing that a lot of people think about when you try to become an entrepreneur is people talk about mentorship, and they really struggle about who to have as a mentor and they think well, who who is it you know, how do I get a mentor? Do I just pick up the phone and call a mentor? What they don’t realize that You know Tony Robbins was a mentor of mine i mean i i’ve listened to hours and hours and hours of Tony Robbins like he’s a mentor of mine, Bob Proctor mentor of mine, you know, Napoleon Hill through all his teachings mentor of mine, like, I feel like I know these guys, you know, and that’s the whole thing that I’m in some, you know, like Napoleon Hill hasn’t been alive for years and years, but I would consider I feel like I know from from his teachings and that’s the thing about mentorship is short. It’s great to have somebody in person that you can call and ask questions to. And I think that’s very important, but don’t underestimate the mentorship you can have through podcasts and books and readings and teachings and I really think it’s super important to go to seminars to like definitely, I’ve been to seminars because I’m like, wow, I love all these teachings. I’m going to go out and see a Bob Proctor seminar. There’s something to be said to be live and be in the room when somebody is out there talking to So yeah, I believe in all the self help, basically, for sure.

Jay Feldman 21:55
Yeah, the personal development and the entrepreneurship. They’re directly linked and I tell them Everybody that he had to drink the Kool Aid if you’re going to be successful in this world, and I follow a lot of these same the same guys, I love the seminars. So one final question I asked all of my entrepreneurs that are on the show, and you already answered one of them, which is top three mentors that you’d like to follow. So your Bob Proctor, your Tony Robbins, and Napoleon Hill?

Nick Bogacz 22:17
Yeah, I would say that’s it. Yep.

Jay Feldman 22:19
Huge fans as well. What are a couple books that you recommend most entrepreneurs pick up and read?

Nick Bogacz 22:24
Great. What is the sales machine from Chet Holmes sales machine? excellent book, one of my favorites. Definitely thinking grow rich. One minute manager is another good one. The one that I’m reading right now, I’ll show you this one here just started traction. So you know, I’m always reading but I think there’s some really good ones out there. But I would say I always say thinking grow rich. And I always say the sales machine. I think they’re just two fantastic books.

Jay Feldman 22:49
Yeah, thinking Grow Rich is really a unique read. I’ve read it twice. It’s a it’s a great, great book. And you know, the other thing I’ll throw out there too, with reading because I think sometimes always people hear about how I start to read or what do I read? And sometimes it’s rereading the books to like, I find myself rereading a lot, too. I probably books I mentioned sales machine, I don’t know, at least five times I’ve read it. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve read Think and Grow Rich like because sometimes you’re at a different point in your life. So when you reread a book, you get different things out because you’re in a different point in your life. So I think if you have favorite books out there, you know, I encourage you to go out reread, I couldn’t agree more and I’m an audiobook guy. So when I’m listening to books, and then I listen a second and a third time, you get a whole different message out of it. So that’s awesome. Okay, Nick, thank you so much for being on the show. This was really an awesome episode, Nick. I’m going to plug your book the pizza equation and a link in the description as well as your link to your podcast the business equation, which is a really good general Listen, speaking about for entrepreneurs and pretty much any realm of business. It hits on a lot of really great things, your pizza shop, Kellyanne a pizza and draft tips. If

Nick Bogacz 23:58
you can find me at and @nickbogaczofficial on Instagram,

Jay Feldman 24:03
your pizza and draft house. Is that all located in the same location if anyone wants to go test the pizza cuz I’m a big pizza kind of sewers?

Nick Bogacz 24:10
Well, yeah, well some of the throw out there that we really touch on either is we’re World Champion pizza makers too. So I’m on the pizza world champions team. There’s about 35 of us on it. We travel all over the world. Naples, Italy, London, Parma, Italy, and we have one 2016 1718 world world titles for best pizza. And then 2019 my chef won the Best pan pizza in Italy best American pizza, so

Jay Feldman 24:36
Okay, two minutes. What is your pizza secret? Because that’s super impressive. That’s amazing.

Nick Bogacz 24:40
I think the pizza secrets we make them with love. I really mean that. I mean, we just love what we do, I think tell from the enthusiasm. It’s one of those things I just always want to get better. So we’re never satisfied. And we take it very, very seriously. So

Jay Feldman 24:54
Yeah, that sounds like a cop out answer. How about ingredients cheese’s tomatoes?

Nick Bogacz 25:00
Honestly, I mean, we do use the best of the best, you know, we don’t. We don’t chintz out on anything. Like I think that’s the thing for an entrepreneur, that’s probably good. Good question that you pushed me a little farther because sometimes people will look at how much money they can make and they don’t go out and get the good product. You know, we use the most expensive cheese there is we use the most expensive saucers. We don’t use salt from the counter, we use salt from Egypt. You know, we, because they have the best salt. We use the best basil from California, like we use the best ingredients from all over. It’s interesting when you start to look at like, how do you put your product together? I didn’t really care about the numbers. In the beginning, I just cared about using the absolute best product. So when we use a lot of every little product, there’s a lot of detail in it all the way down to the base one the salt and the sugar. That’s amazing. And now I got to come try this pizza. Egypt is the best so Go figure. Yeah, but a lot of different ingredients over there for sure.

Jay Feldman 25:55
Hi, Nick, thank you so much for coming on the show. It was a real pleasure. I think A lot of people are going to get a lot of value out of this. So thanks again.

Nick Bogacz 26:03
All right, great. Appreciate you having me. Thanks so much!

Jay Feldman 26:06
Thank you so much for watching this episode of the mentors collective. This is Dr. Jay Feldman. And I just wanted to take a moment to thank you so much for your support. And also ask you for a little bit more that you can take the next 10 seconds and write us a review on iTunes, Google Play or Spotify. Just let me know your feedback. It means the world to me. Again, thank you for watching. If you love this episode, please share it with your friends. Share it with your family. Until next time!

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