Pizza Shop Owner 2 Years After Raising Employee Wages: We’re ‘Light Years Ahead of Most Restaurants’

john-puckett-punch-pizzaNo matter how many times I encounter people who oppose raising the minimum wage (or even having a minimum wage), I never hear any rational or logical explanation as to why they feel how they do.


I think my favorite piece of rhetoric these people use is: The minimum wage is a job killer! 

When someone is being paid minimum wage, that’s literally their employer telling them, “I would pay you less, but I’m not legally allowed to.” Not only that, but how exactly would getting rid of the minimum wage create jobs? Wait, correction. How would getting rid of the minimum wage create good jobs? Sure, we could start paying people half of what the minimum wage currently is and create double the jobs – but what the hell good would those jobs be?

Not only that, but reality has proven that higher wages actually benefit companies.

Take for instance Punch Pizza, a local Minnesota business I wrote about last year that had raised its minimum wage to $10 (and raised wages across the board) with spectacular results.

Well, we’re now over a year later and they’re doing even better than before – despite critics saying they would have gone out of business by now.

In fact, within the next year their planned expansion will bring them to a total of 10 restaurants.

“We just weren’t getting the quality of applicant before,” said John Puckett, one of the owners of Punch Pizza. “Now we have a lot more applications that we don’t have jobs for. If you pay people more, I think you can demand more. When we did this, we got everybody together and said, we need to blow people away with our service.”

“Our retention is light years ahead of most restaurants,” he added.

Exactly.


I once worked for Sam’s Club which is owned by Walmart, a company that believes that the best way to increase revenue is to cut wages, hours, benefits and any expenses they think they can get away with. During my 3+ years working there, I saw periods of time where our club didn’t even have the employees to properly run the place. But no matter how many hours they cut, they demanded that production remain the same. Needless to say, our turnover rate was high and most people hated their job. Not only that, but we went through periods of time where we just couldn’t hire people even when we wanted to. There just weren’t people applying who were worthwhile candidates (passing background checks, screening process).

But it’s not just locally owned Punch Pizza that’s seen the benefit of raising wages; large retailer GAP also realized that if you invest in employees your company often sees better results. And Costco has been paying its employees decent wages for years, with fantastic results as well.

This isn’t rocket science. If you pay employees more and treat them better, they’re likely to work harder and be more loyal. When employees work harder, productivity goes up, which increases revenue. When employees are more loyal, that can save businesses a lot of money not having to constantly hire and train new employees.

Essentially what businesses like Punch Pizza are proving is that a business can not only survive raising employee wages, but they can expand their company and make a good profit in the process.

In other words, these companies are completely debunking the Republican lie that a higher minimum wage would kill jobs.



Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Ellen H.

    Sadly logic rarely convinces those who have a mindset that they don’t want to abandon, but the article makes perfect sense. Any employee who feels valued is going to produce more and be happier. Don’t forget Henry Ford who wanted his workers to actually be able to afford the product they were making.

    • Clockp

      “Feeling valued”, with which I totally agree, an important factor to a productive human being, comes from within, and has NOTHING to do with the minimum wage artificial litmus test crammed down our throats by tin-pot social engineers who cannot run their own lives, let alone yours or mine.

      • Ellen H.

        Is the tin pot engineering line the only one you have? The majority of people who work want to know that what they do is appreciated/valued/makes a contribution. I make sure everyone who is under me knows that. If you choose to not do that, that’s fine. However, don’t be surprised if you have a high turnover rate.

      • Clockp

        Tin pot social engineers, mini-me Lenins and Fidels work just fine, to flush out the hand-out crowd, parasites that feed off the taxpayers and wealth creators with their sanctimonious morality, ayatollahs for the collective, individual rights, freedom and responsibility condemned as “selfish” and “greedy”. You know the type, they’ll tell you what to do, and charge it to your children’s national credit card after they, their political masters and cronies take their fat commission off the top…hello Jesse, Al, enviro-nazis, black lives matter thugs, Nation of Islam, etc.

      • Ellen H.

        More babel without addressing what was actually said.

  • Creeayshun Sighuntist

    If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Doing away with the minimum wage is absolutely ridiculous and it is past time that we raist it to $15 per hour. If you don’t pay a living wage, nobody will want to work for you, at least for very long. But that is the plan for the Waltons and disgusting people like them. That way they don’t have to pay for your benefits. Low wages for families with children in daycare ensures that at least one parent cannot work. The cost of daycare, or before and after school care, in my area for ONE child exceeds the monthly take home pay of a minimum wage worker. Our whole system has major flaws that need to be dealt with and the GOP’s only solution is to cut taxes on the most wealthy and do away with the minimum wage. I guess they think more yachts and mansions for the wealthy will make the rest of us so envious that we will work harder while being paid nothing.

    • bill

      do monkeys like peanuts.

      • Creeayshun Sighuntist

        it’s an old saying.

      • Evil Genius

        Monkeys do like peanuts. But do you want one making your lunch?

    • Clockp

      If you have to almost double what you pay your workers because of Big Government mandates, you end up not hiring. Minimum wage is IRRELEVANT!

      It’s so obvious, IF you bother to think it through.

      • Creeayshun Sighuntist

        Obviously it is ‘you’ who hasn’t thought this whole thing through. smh

      • Clockp

        Ridiculous! Besides, everybody knows you pay peanuts, you get elephants who work hard, REGARDLESS of your sanctified “minimum wage”.

      • Creeayshun Sighuntist

        ? wow…..

    • E rooster

      Minimum wage was never meant to be a living wage

      • Creeayshun Sighuntist

        I love you libertardian dreamers who think the free market will just raise wages all on its own. The Waltons prove exactly why we need to raise the minimum wage when they have people who work the bulk of their lives for them and still make less than $10 an hour. Or maybe you are in the business of insulting the people who work these minimum wage jobs?

  • Clockp

    Then why not raise the minimum wage to $100,000 a year? Make it illegal to hire below that amount, you get…the Great Depression. Or better yet, make it illegal not to work, you get…the USSR.

    Setting ANY minimum wage is a joke…I’m an employer, I have the right to negotiate whatever wages I’m willing to pay. What keeps me in line? COMPETITION! High turnover and low wages drive MY employees to other stores, etc. Setting a so-called minimum wage simply means that anyone willing to work for less is out of a job. Is that what freedom is about? Suppose I want to pay $5/hr with stock options, we all take a risk and rise or fall together. I cannot, because “progressives” cramming their morals down my throat in the form of Big Government policies and expanding the nanny-state, after they take their fat commission off the top.

    • FD Brian

      actually, what will happen is that owners will conspire with each other to keep wages low, they will make agreements behind closed doors to not go after each others employees to eliminate labor competition. Which is exactly what happened when employees sued several silicon valley companies for doing the very thing I mentioned.

      you may be an employer, but you also have a social contract with the rest of the county, a social contract which is not being respected by many companies and hasn’t been respected for a long time. You’ll also be a reason that people will rise up and come after you with pitch forks, you don’t think it’s coming but it is.

      • Clockp

        I have a contract with my employees, not you and the “rest of the country.” I run my shop the way I want to, not you and self-appointed social engineers. My employees are free to leave any time. If I’m smart, I hire people I want to KEEP, and give them INCENTIVES to prove themselves and stick around. You know, like stock options. Cash is tough to get and keep in the beginning; thus I will pay low “wages” to employees, and myself, until the business gets to a profitable level. Along the way are bonuses, perhaps stock options, health care SAVINGS ACCOUNTS, etc., but NOT HIGH WAGES, which end up getting taxes to death anyway by the Democratic Party for its handouts. Take your “social contracts” to Cuba, North Korea, Zimbabwe, most of Europe, even Scandinavia to see the morose it creates to the human spirit and wealth creation. We didn’t throw off King George to replace him with Democratic Party (and more than a few Republican) redistributionists, bureaucrats and regulations.

      • Sieben Stern

        the thing is, you can’t hire people that don’t apply for the jobs.. and only hiring at very low wages, or low wages with stock options or bonuses suck and no one you want to keep will apply.

        i started out as an artist basically working as you described, for low wages and stock, or bonuses. every company fell through (because of the boss’s decisions, I didn’t get to help in that department) and I got stuck holding the bag, having worked for near nothing.

        You act like you’re so magical you can deliver on your promises, and your employees should die trying to make your business dreams come true. but like every stinker before you, you can’t. just pay a damn living wage.

      • Clockp

        I will at an opportunity wage; a living wage is in the eye of whomsoever I wish to negotiate, not you and your fatwas.

      • marykreutz

        You must have a high turnover rate in employees, if what you are saying is true. I doubt that anyone could have a business like yours and would be able to keep quality employees knowing how little you regard them. Just your lack of respect would cause good employees to leave.

      • Clockp

        My business is none of your business, and neither is yours mine, unless of course you’re a liberal, whose 24/7 job is telling other people how to run their lives, and charging them for the wonderful ness of your fairness, social justice and equality. You know, like the Drmocratic Party does with its blatant abide of the monopoly power of big government. You wouldn’t be one of them. Would you?

      • marykreutz

        I’m referring to your narcissism. This has nothing to do with politics. It’s about how you treat people. In this thread, you’ve chosen to be an angry, self serving narcissist who cares little about others. That’s just an observation of your personality. Maybe business is bad or you’re having problems with your employees. There seems to be a reason for that and it’s staring you in the mirror.

      • Clockp

        Thank you for your detailed psychological analysis of my response, please detail your qualifications and credentials so I may get a third party to assess the relevance of your comments.

        Have a nice day.

      • Sieben Stern

        my fah-fah-fah-twas! ooohh islam! scaaaary! *wiggles fingers all ghost like*
        gawd, you’re one of those special types, arencha.

        haha. the thing is a living wage ISN’T whatever you deem it to be or the person you’re trying to rip off… er i mean hire. it’s generated by where you are located and the cost of living. you don’t get to determine that yourself.

        ‘opportunity wage’ this is a weasel phrase that should raise a red flag for the poor desperate sap that you managed to lure into your business. NO ONE in their right mind would take that crap seriously. Ooooh I’ll get paid with stock options! OOHHH how generous of you! haha I’ve worked for puff chested morons like you, and I would warn anyone against ‘investing’ or being paid with ‘opportunity’ with ever doing the same.

        the only people that will apply for your ‘opportunity wages’ aren’t ones you’d want to keep for long, or would leave once they got smart to your bullshit. and honestly, you’d deserve each other.

      • ShelleysLeg

        He sounds as asshatish as papa johns with his moat castle in the middle of no man’s land.

      • Clockp

        See my posting above, I hire contractors, pay by the hour OR fixed price for a specific job. “Living wage” is up to the contractor, NOT me or tin-pot ayatollahs.

      • Clockp

        No THINKING PERSON takes YOUR crap seriously, whether from you or your central planning committee members. Didn’t work for Mao, Lenin, Stalin or Fidel; won’t work here, either, though your union cronies try like the devil, supported by their lap dogs Obama and the Democratic Party.

        The alternative is Greece, if we cannot put a stop to you and your hand-out parasites using whatever excuse you can conjure to claim victimhood, whether minimum wage, “social justice”, “fairness”, “inequality” or fill-in-the-blank discrimination.

      • Clockp

        Nope. I pay hourly to contractors, for work done. “Living wage” is up to the contractor, not me, or tin-pot ayatollahs.

      • Sieben Stern

        aaaaahahaaayattooolaaahs aaah sccaryy isslaaammm.
        you’re a buffoon.

      • Clockp

        I’m a Scorpio. You must be a feces.

      • FD Brian

        except that many people aren’t getting any of the things you talk about except maybe some upper management. And taxes are about as low as they have ever been.

      • Clockp

        You saying that wages are a hand-out and not earned? You must be a member of the Democratic Socialist Party of America. What “taxes” are you referring to: income, sales, excise, property, gift, estate, IRA, trust, Obamacare (it’s a brand new one, courtesy of your Democrat pals!), cap and trade (look, ma, another new tax from the Democrats!), import/export, gas alcohol, cigarette…and so on.

      • Creeayshun Sighuntist

        how is your “business” that employs nobody going? Did you make it to “work” today or just stay at home to count your piggy bank……errrr run your “finance business”…..

      • Clockp

        Really well, thanks! I work with companies and real estate projects that need to get to the next level, and help them with my third party contractors. I’m paid, and pay, by the project. When completed, I move on to the next one, as do my contractors. We refer business to one another.

    • Creeayshun Sighuntist

      Do you own the business or do you just run a grocery store or something like that? How many employees do you have and how much do you pay them? Are you paying them a living wage? Do you negotiate wages or just pay them the absolute minimum regardless of their qualifications? Do you pay them a clothing allowance? Do you pay trans reimbursement? If you aren’t forced to pay a living wage, which you apparently disagree with, would you pay for a housing allowance? $5 an hour won’t help anyone rent an apt, let along BUY a house. Are you reimbursing for daycare? If you don’t want to pay, what do you expect them to do with their children? Or do you care? I’d bet not. What happens if they have child while working for you? Do you just fire them? Families aren’t your concern though, are they.

      • Phil J Malloy

        if you are working a minimum wage job it (should) be because you are 14-18 and gaining experience

        if you cant hold down a job that pays a living wage and you are not in high school college, why should that be anyones problem but your own?

        I say this as someone who recently had to go backwards and am working my way back up the ladder, happily

      • Ellen H.

        What if there aren’t any other jobs around? Most of the jobs in this area are in retail or fast food. Neither one pays much. However, in the article the owner of the pizza place pays his employees well and has been able to expand. He pays his people a living wage.

      • Jen

        News flash – Minimum wage jobs are no longer predominately held by teenagers. (My 14 yr old would love a job, but most employers will not hire him because of child labor laws placing a lot of restrictions on when and how long a “child” that age can work)

        So, please go look up statistics for who works “minimum wage” jobs – you may be surprised.

      • Clockp

        I run a finance business, I have NO employees because of the intrusiveness of nanny-state social engineering laws: payroll taxes, mandated health insurance, unemployment insurance, mandated holidays, threat of lawsuits by John Edwards trial lawyers, that come with hiring anyone. All work not done by me is contracted out to individuals or third parties. People in my business figure out their OWN “living wage”, they don’t need lefty self-anointed experts in everything other than their own lives, telling them how to run their lives, and charging them a fat commission off the top for their politicians, cronies and their hand-out parasites.

      • Creeayshun Sighuntist

        you run a ‘finance business’ that has no employees other than yourself….got it. Thanks for the clarification? I thought you negotiated wages with your employees….. I guess you are negotiating with the voices in your head then. Good luck with that.

    • Ellen H.

      So you want the rest of us to subsidize your employees who can’t afford health care and food since they make such low wages. Got it. Just like Wal-Mart.

      • Clockp

        Which ayatollah gave you your tin-pot social engineering degree?

      • Ellen H.

        An attempt at an attack and no refutation. I would say that’s really poor reasoning skills on your part. It shows you don’t have a viable response.

      • Clockp

        Nice fatwa, judgement without substance. You must be a member of the Democratic Party.

      • Ellen H.

        Interesting–now you’re doing a tu quoque. If you must know I’m an Eisenhower republican.

      • Clockp

        Really? I knew Eisenhower, Eisenhower’s son was my contemporary in the Navy, I don’t recall Eisenhower as presumptive.

      • Ellen H.

        Now we have a red herring. You are employing a load of logical fallacies instead of actually replying to my original observation. So if John Eisenhower was your contemporary, that means you are in your mid to late 80s to early 90s. I find it interesting that you are still running a business; however, your age would explain why you think $5.00 an hour is a good wage. Also, you might want to check your sources or memory since John Eisenhower was never in the Navy, but was a brigadier general in the Army. Before you say you knew David Eisenhower, he wasn’t in the Navy either.

    • ShelleysLeg

      There isn’t a consumer out there interested in YOUR competition! That is YOUR problem, not your consumers.

      Nor that you have any. IF you had happy employees no one would be interested in stealing from you.

      YOU pay commissions to progressives? LOL!!! Hilarious!!

      • Clockp

        Sure do, my “progresives” get the job done and don’t lecture me on a “living wage” or any other sanctimonious talking point from their “progressive” nannies, because they know that IMPEDES GETTING THE JOB DONE!

        He the picture? Berlin Wall, anybody?

    • ArthurFrayne

      I’m sure the belligerent attitude you display in this thread shows in your business. Stock options don’t put food on the table, or infuse spending into the economy.

      • Clockp

        My “belligerent attitude” is none of your business; as are my business negotiations with my employees, contractors, vendors, etc. My job, as is yours, is to stay within the law; “fairness”, “social justice” and “equality” are up to me and whomsoever I negotiate with, not you or the Democratic Party.

      • ArthurFrayne

        You’re right it’s not my business, and it’s certainly not a business I would patronize.

      • Clockp

        IT’S YOUR CHOICE, AS WELL AS MINE! And that’s what this country’s all about, right??

      • ArthurFrayne

        Yep. Just don’t go blaming the ‘liberal agenda’ when your business fails.

      • Clockp

        I call it as it is, your “liberal agenda” adds fixed costs to my business that impede capital formation, customer service and product choices, without which I’d have by definition a greater chance at success.

      • ArthurFrayne

        Yes, those pesky ‘regulations’ that came about because business owners can’t be trusted to act in the interest of society. Once every single business can be trusted to do the right thing 100% of the time, then we can get rid of those pesky regulations.

      • Clockp

        Really? You and your kangaroo court determine the “interests of society”, charging it to my son’s national credit card after your fat commission off the top for you and your cronies? You must be a menber of the Democratic Socialist Party of America, the 47 percent who are parasites on the rest of us who earn a living for ourselves and our families. Good luck with your snake oil.

      • ArthurFrayne

        Actually I too am a business owner and I play with the same set of rules as everyone else, and I pay my taxes without complaints. Nor do I piss on those who don’t earn enough working for people like you and thus do not earn enough to pay federal income taxes (yet still pay Payroll tax, gas tax, sales tax, and more).

  • TigiOma

    Tony P Kruse: Did you miss the part that this Business has BENEFITTED so much that they are opening MORE RESTAURANTS???? You don’t do that when you are not doing well…derp…

    • Clockp

      Then if employees are payed a minimum wage of $1,000 an hour, he’ll be a billionaire in no time!! OUTSTANDING logic, well done! I’ll be telling this to all at my next business school reunion and astound my colleagues, how have we missed this excruciatingly obvious point in our business careers?

  • FD Brian

    republicans think lower wages will equate to a lower sales price for what ever product may be made or sold, which means they think the company or owner will pass the savings on to the customer, which they won’t, the money saved from cheap labor will just be pocketed by the owner and NOT passed on. What republicans fail to recognize is that a products cost is more about what the public is willing to spend on it and less about what it costs to produce.

    • Clockp

      What YOU fail to recognize is that hiring an employee means payouts almost TWICE take-home, after factoring in payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, medical, federally mandated time off work, etc. Thanks to socialist Dems piling on their mandated hand-outs up front to we the people, IE wealth creators, who the heck wants to hire anyone unless you positively, absolutely must? I contract out services and avoid all that crud. So much for the Dems “living wage” malarky; no wonder the middle class is stuck in a rut, thanks to Dems.

      • FD Brian

        if your payouts are almost twice the take home, then you suck at business so stop blaming democrats and look in the mirror at how shitty you run your own business, I believe the republicans call it “person responsibility”.

      • Clockp

        Please explain your credentials backing up your “suck at business” fatwa, or you just another tin-pot ayatollah?

      • FD Brian

        I’m a business owner, any failings you have at business are you’re own fault. I believe the republicans are always saying “take personal responsibility”. Maybe you should look in the mirror before blaming others.

      • Clockp

        You a typical lefty, personal attacks instead of sticking up for your socialist policies which don’t work, whether minimum wage or all your other “mandates” that horse collar we the people in our pursuit of happiness, whether minimum wage, the execrable tax on income IE our pursuit of happiness and wealth creation for ourselves and our families, health insurance “mandate” for Obamacare, mandates for “clean energy” components pushing up my last prices by $1 a gallon, etc. AS a card carrying Republican, I want to take responsibility for ME AND MY FAMILY, NOT you and yours; and I want YOU to take care of your OWN business, and keep you and your mandates out of my face. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?

      • FD Brian

        man you’re a whinny little shit. I noticed how you take no responsibilities for your failures. I always thought personal responsibility was on the top of the list for you RWNJ’s?

      • Clockp

        Unlike liberals, I take full responsibility for my actions and hold myself accountable, including for the feckless, incompetent politicians we the people elect that run amok with our national credit card, kidding their Solyndra crony butts.

        You own up to anything, or too busy telling other people how to run their lives?

      • FD Brian

        man, you’re a riot.

      • Ellen H.

        He is. He told me he was a contemporary of John Eisenhower when he was in the Navy. No reality issues here.

      • Clockp

        I’m glad we’ve had this conversation, and wish you the best and all the success in your journey. Godspeed!

  • fed up with the BS

    yea get rid of minimum wage and race further to the bottom if the repukes want to get rid of minimum wage they must like the china and india labor model oh they aren’t capitalist countries so how stupid are repukes?

    • Clockp

      If you’re “fed up with the BS”, why you slinging’ it?

  • chichiplus

    A couple weeks ago at COSTCO the person
    checking us out congratulated the bagger on her hiring anniversary. I asked how long? She said ten years. Cashier said he had her beat 19 years. I asked if they liked working there and the both said yes. That’s why we shop there.

  • chesler

    Cool. There’s no need to raise the minimum wage because the invisible hand of the market will force employers to raise wages.

    • Creeayshun Sighuntist

      lol….yeah just sprinkle a little magical free market fairy dust on it and wages will just skyrocket! Americans have been getting fed this crap for far too long and there are still lunatics that keep taking it, hook, line, and sinker.

  • Martin Bass

    The difference between one company raising its wages to be more competitive in the job market vs. raising the entire bar for every company should be obvious. This article even lays it out. When this pizza place raised their wages, they were able to attract better employees than businesses who payed the bare minimum. If you raise the floor so that the bare minimum is exactly what Punch Pizza pays, then Punch Pizza either has to raise its wages again to attract the quality of employees it needs, or it has to settle for all the lazy dirt bags it was able to stop employing in the first place.

    • Phil J Malloy

      shhh, common sense scares them

  • Phil J Malloy

    yeah these stories happen from time to time

    but what about the companies who closed their doors because they could no longer compete without raising costs???

    the sad truth is that SOME jobs are not worthy of high wages. and thats ok!

    • ShelleysLeg

      What a tired excuse! Not being able to compete says they were incompetent in the first place. You seriously think consumers have time to go out and compare prices, pennies on the dollar, between similar products?

      NOT enough hours in the day, but then I’m not one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

      • Phil J Malloy

        gee, why dont we just put you in charge. clearly you have all the answers…..

      • ShelleysLeg

        Certainly have far more than you do, tea bagger. YOU all despise smart women.

      • Phil J Malloy

        so you start with ad hominem attacks against me. Then you make assumptions about who i despise and who I dont?

        yeah… please go on…. smh

      • ShelleysLeg

        Isn’t it obvious when you ONLY attack the women who post?

      • Phil J Malloy

        i dont even look at the names of the people i respond to. i look at the content of the post and reply accordingly.

        i think it is you who is looking through your preconceived notions that is clouding your view.

        long story short, we shouldnt ASSUME things about people based ona few lines of text on a screen

    • Joseph

      You know, service professions are crucial in any country. Why should a person not be able to afford a house and family when he is filling a VITAL role in society? We NEED people to cook our food and clean up after us, because people with money are really just big babies, lol. But God no, don’t pay them enough to save and build for themselves.

    • Joseph

      So no, all jobs are worthy of a living wage. And that’s okay!

      • Phil J Malloy

        no…. they arent

  • nubwaxer

    hell yeah.