Are Valets Steering Your Business in the Right Direction?

You’ve worked to give your establishment a certain cachet to cultivate the desired clientele. The ambiance begins in the parking lot, the moment guests drive up and hand their keys over to the red-jacketed valets out front. Giving your valets a snappy uniform is only the beginning; equipping them with processes geared toward safety and security is really what ensures your valet operation is an asset to your business rather than a liability. Good processes can help you avoid a scenario reminiscent of the Seinfeld “smelly sheepskin seat cover” episode and other calamities.

Valet failures can range from minor annoyances (door dings and fender benders, loose change missing from ashtrays) to serious accidents resulting in multi million-dollar claims. For example, one valet left a client’s car in gear at the top of a hill; the car rolled back, severely injuring one person and killing another and resulted in a $3.5 million umbrella insurance payout. In another major claim, a valet took an unsafe shortcut through an alley, hitting a woman and causing devastating injuries. So, hire only valets that meet strict criteria:

  • Possession of a current valid state driver’s license free of accidents, suspensions or pending failures to appear who are at least 18 years old (preferably 22 or older)
  • No major or capitol violations on their driving record, no more than one at-fault accident of any type in the last three years, and no more than two moving violations in the last three years
  • Reliable transportation to get to and from work
  • Demonstrated good driving skills
  • Customer-focused

Run motor vehicle reports to validate applicants’ driving background and run reports annually on all valets to stay abreast of any changes, and also:

  • Require valets to always carry their driver’s license when driving vehicles
  • Require immediate notification of any change in status of licenses, at-fault accidents or moving violations
  • Require valets to participate in a safety-training program that includes a competency evaluation

Set expectations for vehicle care and operation for all valets to follow, such as:

  • Lock every car, every time
  • Never leave keys or key board unattended
  • Run fast, drive slow
  • Leave a safety zone on both sides of the vehicle when parked to prevent damage. Leave enough room so vehicles on both sides can easily get out and doors will open without touching the car

Obey all traffic laws including but not limited to:

  • Parking in the direction of the flow of traffic
  • Parking in designated spots only
  • Wear seat belts on public streets
  • Most damage occurs while backing up; back up only when necessary
  • When pulling a car forward or when a guest has stopped, make sure the vehicle is in park
  • Don’t adjust radio, seats or other controls
  • Only adjust the seat for safety reasons
  • Don’t rummage through the glove compartment or anything else in the vehicle
  • If unfamiliar with vehicle components (hybrid, keyless ignition, special equipment, etc.) ask the location manager
  • Report all incidents of loss, damage or injury immediately to management

The safety of employees as well as clients and their vehicles is at risk with each interaction. Take time to hire personable, professional valets so that your business is in good hands right from the start.