Below is the complete "new hire training guide" for the valet service at a luxury hotel. It's about 26 pages worth of material. Read through it. You will get useful insights into the business.
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Trust is an issue in the valet parking business. Sometimes you can feel the apprehensiveness when a customer is turning over their car keys. They are concerned.
How do we alleviate that concern?
One way is to raise our image of professionalism.
When a customer sees you for the first time, this is what they should see:
- a clean-cut look
- recently shaved face, (if you’re a guy)
- nose hair not easily visible
- no tattoos
- a clean uniform with no wrinkles with your name-tag perfectly positioned
- and a smiling, and authentically welcoming face.
They should also see that whoever is handling their car is focused, confident, knows what they are doing, and is serious about handling the responsibility of moving and protecting their asset.
When any customer is near, it is action time. Any chatter with fellow valets must end. YOU get down to business and serve the customer without delay or hesitation. It’s all about providing the highest level of service with enthusiasm, eagerness and the hospitality spirit.
Your focus should be the customer. You are paying attention to the customer… and your nearby surroundings to ensure your safety.
You do not carry on a conversation with another valet while ignoring your customer.
VEHICLE DAMAGE SURVEY
You scan the car carefully for damage. This includes scratches, dents – even micro dents barely visible, tar splatter, cracked glass, cracked sideview mirrors, sidewall bulges in tires, scratches on the rims and under the air dam on the front of the car. Anything broken, anything that is amiss gets noted on the vehicle damage survey (VDS). You also point out any damage in a very noticeable way (we will show you how). This pointing shows guests that we look over their cars for damage, which might prevent false claims later.
MOVING THE CAR
It is preferable that you do not adjust the mirrors in order to minimize inconvenience for the customer.
Adjust the seat as necessary for the safe operation of the vehicle.
Turn the radio all the way down.
Turn the fan all the way down to minimize noise inside the driver’s compartment, if you know how.
Make sure the parking brake is not engaged. Be aware that some cars have an electronic parking brake that requires you to lift or press a button while keeping your foot on the brake pedal.
PROCEED TO THE GARAGE
Be certain your pathway is clear.
Drive slowly out of the driveway. Then head to the garage.
If your exit from the driveway is obstructed by an illegally parked vehicle on Cherry Street and you know that you are at high risk for scraping against that other car, then hold off and find some way to tell them to move (in a way that does not bring embarrassment to the hotel).
When entering the garage, be absolutely certain you are making your entry in a manner that will not cause the rims to become scratched along the curbing. Never touch the curb. If the vehicle is a 4 door full size pick-up with an 8 foot bed, that is no excuse. Never in your valet parking career should you allow a wheel to scrape against any curb.
Swipe your card and look into the concave mirror to your upper right. Is it safe to pull forward? Verify that it is by checking for traffic to your left. If clear, carefully drive forward.
We do not speed in the garage under any circumstances. Be aware that the garage has surveillance cameras. The garage is also frequented by many lawyers who work in the neighboring office towers. (There are hundreds of lawyers in the neighborhood.)
We do not abuse our customers’ cars or take liberties with them.
We do not touch the stereo, unless it is to turn the volume down.
These are not our toys to play with. It is strictly business. You park it and run back to the hotel.
Take pride in how you park a car.
Make sure it is between the lines (if it makes sense).
Make sure that the front wheels are straight and not angled when you are finished.
SUV type vehicles are usually okay to park right up to the curb. But many cars have a low front-end, and you will scratch and damage these front ends if you pull up all the way. So you must park with care when dealing with a low front-end vehicle. DO NOT GRIND A LOW FRONT-END CAR ON TO THE CURB.
Be sure you are also parking with consideration for your fellow valet workers. If you are parking so close to another car that somebody will not be able to enter that car from the driver’s side, then please either adjust your car or move your car to another space.
There is no need to pull the car so far forward that it kisses the wall. Don’t ever kiss the wall.
Turn off the ignition and verify that the headlights are either off or in the auto position.
*If the headlights are set to auto, leave it at that setting.
Leaving the headlights on will waste our time, because that means somebody has to run and get the keys to remedy the situation.
After parking, verify that you have the keys to the car IN YOUR HAND before locking it.
It is a huge mistake to lock keys in a car. And it can be a costly mistake. Avoid the stress, hassle, embarrassment and shame… don’t lock the keys in the car!
Verify that all doors are locked by quickly testing the door handles, or by re-clicking the “key fob” lock button on the newest cars. (Some key fobs automatically unlock the door when in the vicinity of the mother car.)
VERY IMPORTANT: Write down the correct location of the vehicle so that we may efficiently find it and bring it out when it is time to retrieve it. This is critical.
And please take the time to write this information clearly, so that anyone can read it and understand it. If we can’t read it, then it is useless information.
Finally, sign your initials in the signature areas on the VDS, then… RUN!
Haul ass back to the window with the car keys. We need you out front! There might be a set of keys waiting in the window, or another car that needs to be parked in the garage.
After parking a car, we do not take a smoke break.
We do not get out our smart phones to check email, surf the internet, or make calls… unless this activity has been approved by your supervisor.
You are needed out front. Be brisk about returning to your post.
AT THE WINDOW
Before turning in the key, VERIFY once more that you have completely filled out the “VDS” and most importantly — that you have written down the correct location coordinates of the car.
Now, either pick-up a waiting key and run back to the garage…
Look for opportunities on the driveway to move cars, open taxi or limousine doors, or present car keys to guests who are ready to leave…
Go to the front door and stand there, ready to open that door for any arriving or departing guest. This “door attendant” service is a very important part of your job. However, it is secondary to the need to move or retrieve any cars, since moving cars is your primary responsibility.
When the bell in the window rings, that means you need to grab a waiting key and promptly run to the garage.
The key word is RUN.
We run. We don’t walk or take a casual stroll.
Be 100% certain you are crossing Cherry Street safely. Not 90% certain. Look. Make sure you will not be colliding with a passing car.
Then run to your car in the garage.
If you are using the elevator, be absolutely certain that you have a tight, secure grip on the keys as you enter and exit the garage elevator. Dropping keys down the elevator shaft is a possibility. You definitely don’t want to do that.
When you arrive at the car, with great care, open the car door in a way that does not cause damage to or touch the car beside it.
Once you get in the car, start it up, roll the window down, and listen for any approaching cars. If you hear nothing, then carefully back up. Make sure the car will not unexpectedly swing sideways into a car beside it, as may be the case if the front wheels were left at an angle instead of straight when it was originally parked.
Be absolutely certain you are clear to back-up. Be absolutely certain you will not hit or scrape another parked car. Then proceed slowly and carefully to the exit point.
- In our garage, you should not drive so fast that you feel the need to beep your horn to alert other drivers that you are progressing through the garage.
In the exit chute there are twists in the driveway that can cause damage to rims if you do not swing the car out widely enough. Be certain you will not be scraping the rims. (It is a good practice to roll up the windows when entering the exit chute, so that your left ear does not get blasted by the warning buzzer.
After the buzzer sounds, a red light along the sidewalk alerts pedestrians that they should take notice of something. Many times people do not pay attention to this warning light. They are talking on their cell phone, or listening to music, or just not paying attention. Or they may feel that they have the right of way no matter what and they simply ignore the warning light.
Be very careful not to hit a pedestrian!
Exiting can be tricky, especially at rush hour.
Thank any pedestrian who stops for you with a quick wave, then focus on your entry into the street.
Pull out into the second lane to be certain the rims will not touch or scrape against the granite curb. Then position the car into the left lane while waving to any drivers behind you — as a courtesy gesture, and to avoid road rage.
Be sure the road is clear to pull through the intersection. This intersection can be busy with crossing pedestrians. And they don’t care if your customer has been waiting. They will just walk right in front of you, even though it may be your turn to go. So be extra careful.
ENTERING THE DRIVEWAY
Be absolutely certain you will not scrape the rims upon your entry into our driveway.
Proceed slowly into the driveway and try your best not to make the tires squeal on the slippery brick.
When parking the car, don’t be too eager to exit the vehicle. Be absolutely certain it is secure before getting out of the driver’s seat. With an automatic, this means BE SURE it is in “park.” With a manual, BE SURE it is in neutral with the parking brake on. This car cannot roll forward. It must be secure!
Then hit the “unlock” button so that all the doors are unlocked and guests can easily enter their car.
You may need to assist with opening the trunk.