Part 4: Top Valet Online Training Course

Wrapping it up...

So how did you like that mini-course I wrote for consumers? That should have given you some very helpful insights into the business. And if you opt not to pursue getting a valet job, now at least you will know all about what's involved with valet parking.

The typical valet worker is a young man between the ages of 20 to 25. And I think many lack sophistication. For example, where I worked my company paired their thousands of front-line workers with a parasitic financial company. 

To save money — instead of writing checks — they chose to pay their workers using a Visa debit card.

What's so bad about that?

Well, that Visa debit card came with all sorts of fees. There was a $3 per month account maintenance fee. Each withdrawal cost a $1.50, (plus the outside the network fee from the other bank) unless it was done at a Sun Trust ATM. (Where I live, there is no Sun Trust Bank.)

There was also a $25 overdraft charge, for each occurrence. And if they chose to deny your overdraft, it was $1. 

When you were fired or quit, or when you chose to close your account, there would be a $5 account closing fee.

Finally, as part of the terms of service with this deal, they would clobber you with attorney fees and all other collection costs if you had a negative balance that they were unable to recover from you, so your credit could be impacted for 7 years.

Isn't that nice? All that to get your own money. (WTF?)

My company could have negotiated a deal where the fees were not as harsh. They could have even negotiated an arrangement where there were no fees for their employees.

I can only assume that the valet company was getting money on the back-end with that deal.

I actually had to fight to get off the program and to have direct deposit instead (no fees).

I believe many other valets in the company aren't even aware of all the fees. They don't read the fine print and just accept it.

And I think many valets everywhere just accept other work conditions without taking a stand.

Recently I was looking at help wanted ads for valets in Florida, and I encountered an ad where the position paid tips only, no hourly wage.

I am not a lawyer, but I can tell you that the federal minimum wage in this country for tipped employees is $2.13 an hour, and this applies in 19 states. The rest of the states have higher minimum wage requirements for tipped employees. In Florida, that figure is $4.91. So if that position I saw is really just paying tips and no hourly wage, then that business owner is an idiot, and that business owner could eventually be forced to pay the full minimum wage, not the tipped minimum wage.

Take a look at the minimum wage for Tipped employees in your state.

If you encounter this situation, one possible strategy is to get hired, work there a little while, and then see an attorney who specializes in employment law. Then you figure out the best way to exploit the situation. But if the operator is just scraping by and has no assets, maybe it won't be worth the trouble...

Another issue that does not appear to be uncommon is managers taking tip income. There is a law that addresses that. It is the Fair Labor Standards Act.

This is an excellent fact sheet about tipping and how the FLSA addresses it.

Check out page 1. If the employer does not spell out those 5 things, verbally or in writing, they cannot take the tip credit. They will be obligated to pay you at least $7.25 an hour.

How the tip credit works:

My wage was $3.83. The minimum wage in my state is $7.25. If I made an average of less than $7.25 per hour during my shift, including tips, then my employer had to make up the difference. So if I made a combined total of $6 per hour, including my $3.83 an hour wage, then my employer would need to "top up" and pay me an additional $1.25 per hour for that shift. That's what they mean when they refer to the "tip credit."

Something I actually didn't know until today was that my overtime hours were supposed to be computed based upon the full minimum wage. I had assumed that it was $3.83 per hour times 1½, for a total of $5.75 per hour, while it should have been $7.25 per hour times 1½ ($10.88). Hmm... if I had known that earlier, I would have done more overtime!  

Another potential issue for you is managers participating in "the cut." Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers (managers) cannot share in their employees' tips.

Where I worked, there was even a written statement in the employee handbook that specifically forbid managers from keeping any gratuities.

The law can be a tricky thing. So if you run into issues, getting a consultation with an employment lawyer — somebody who specializes in this area of law — would probably be a smart move.

There are all sorts of laws that can protect you.

If you happen to be over the age of 40, you have additional protection. It's trickier for them to fire you.

If you need to take time-off related to a family medical emergency or the birth of a child, it's possible you will qualify to get up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave.

If you get hurt on the job, and you file a worker's compensation claim, then you are in another protected category.

If you engage in "protected concerted activity," you have legal protection under the National Labor Relations Act. This involves things like discussing with at least one other co-worker how you can improve your lives at work, discussing the terms of employment, the pay, things like that. 

There are legal landmines everywhere for employers. It's difficult to stay on top of all the laws while simultaneously trying to run the day-to-day operations of a growing business.

Hopefully you won't need to take any of those measures and you will have a good working partnership with your employer.

Your game plan.

It's all about you landing the job.

There are a lot of schmucks in this business. If you can give the strong impression that you are not one of them, then your chances of landing this job will be higher.

To improve your chances even more, get somebody to teach you how to drive a manual transmission vehicle, if you don't already know how. This skill is difficult for valet companies to find. It will add a lot to your employability factor. Plus it takes away feelings of embarrassment, like this valet experienced:

It also helps if you have experience driving big pick-ups, like a Ford F-150 with an 8 foot bed.

  • Keep a tip journal. Use those forms I gave you links to in the very first lesson.
  • Never be late for work.
  • Never call out sick, unless you are really, truly ill.
  • Set the example. Rise above the mediocrity and show them all how it is done.

If I was a rookie applying for a valet job through Craigslist, first of all, I don't think they would be looking for a resume. I probably would just reply with something like:

* * *

Hi,

You advertised for valet help. I'm confident I would make a strong addition to your team.

Qualifications:

I have been driving for  _____ years.

You will find no violations or tickets on my driving record.

I know how to drive manual transmission vehicles.

And I'm in great shape and like to run.

In addition, I have held other customer service types of jobs in the past, like ______, _______ and _________.

In my previous jobs I developed a reputation of always showing up on time for work and never calling out sick.

The valet business interests me. I'm interested in making it a career. So I would be looking to eventually become a supervisor at XYZ Valet Company and perhaps later, a manager.

If you are interested in meeting a top candidate for the position of valet, then let's meet-up soon.

I can be reached at: 555-555-5555

Ed Ryder
123 Main Street
Anywhere, PA 19537

EdR@yahoo.com

* * *

Another version:

Hi, I'm Ed.

Working for XYZ Valet Company interests me greatly.

Here are my qualifications:

I'm friendly and present well.

I have  _____ years of driving experience and can handle a manual transmission vehicle expertly. (I can handle trucks too!)

In my previous job at _______ where I worked as a _______ I was well-liked by customers and co-workers, and I developed a track record of always showing up on time for work.

I have been watching how the valet parking business continues to grow and expand. It looks like there are a lot of great opportunities in this field.

I am interested in finding an excellent valet company to work for and grow with.

This means I am not just looking to come on-board as a valet worker, I am also looking for a company to grow with, where I would have the opportunity to advance higher up in the company.

I am eager and enthusiastic about becoming a valet. If you really are looking for quality help, then let's set-up a meeting.

Here is my number: 555-555-5555

Or you can email me at: EdR@yahoo.com

When is a good time for me to stop by?

* * *

Another Version:

Hi,

I am keenly interested in getting my start in the valet business. 

Here are some of the key advantages to having me on your team:

  • I always show-up on time for my shifts.
  • I have ______ years of accident-free driving experience.
  • I am proficient at handling manual transmission passenger vehicles.
  • I have terrific local knowledge which I can use to assist customers, and I have a big smile that I freely use all the time.
  • I have looked into this line of work and have spent some time studying the valet parking industry. So this will make me a fast learner.

Let's meet-up soon and see if this will be the right fit for both of us.

Ed Ryder

Phone: 555-555-5555
Email: EdR@yahoo.com

* * *

Another Version:

Hello,

I have a flawless _____ year driving record with no accidents or tickets.

Previously I worked as a _______, which gave me a lot of experience in dealing with high expectation consumers.

I am available to work any shift except over-night shifts, so weekend nights would be okay with me.

I am hungry and eager for this opportunity. Not only that, I am also interested in one day advancing into management, so I am looking to grow with a good company in this field.

I have looked into the valet business. It really interests me a lot. I believe I would make a strong addition to your team. And I expect I would be a fast learner.

Let's meet face to face and see if we could make a good team.

Ed Ryder

555-555-5555
EdR@yahoo.com

* * *

Let's imagine you get the interview. Here is what NOT to say:

  • "I know how to drive in garages and parking lots real fast."
     
  • "I guarantee you nobody will be able to drive those cars faster than me."
     
  • "If I find weed in a customer's car, it's finders keeper losers weepers, right? Especially since it's weed. I mean, what are they going to do? Nothing right? High five!"
     
  • "If somebody doesn't tip me, I'm allowed to belittle and insult them until they do, right?"
     
  • "If somebody presents me with a $1 tip, it would be appropriate for me to tell them the minimum tip is $5, right? If they don't come back, who cares? We don't want cheap assholes for customer's anyway, right?"
     
  • "Hypothetically, if I had valet tickets printed up that were identical to yours, and I got caught using them and pocketing the cash payments, plus the tips, would I get a warning or would it be more likely I'd be fired on-the-spot? And if I were to engage in such an activity, would you be interested in taking half to keep your mouth shut?"
     
  • "How are the blackmail opportunities at this location? You know, like getting video of cheating husbands, drunk politicians, etc?"

Of course, these are all examples of things you should NOT say at the interview, not even to joke about. Get your foot in the door first and hang around for a few weeks, then you can toss the jokes around with the guys.

If you don't see help wanted ads for valets, it doesn't mean there are no jobs.

Take aggressive action and reach out by email or stop by for a chat. Ask to speak with the account manager or assistant account manager. See if they forecast a need for new talent. 

  • In August, college kids begin to quit, or they begin to cut back on their availability, since their studies have to be the priority. So hours open up.
     
  • When it gets cold, valets quit.
     
  • When it gets hot, valets quit.
     
  • When they get a few bad shifts in a row, valets quit.
     
  • When valets burn-out from doing the same shit every day, they quit.
     
  • When valets can't take the foot pain any longer, they quit.
     
  • When they show up for work late yet again, valets get fired.
     
  • When they call out sick yet again, valets get fired.
     
  • When valets smash-up cars, they get fired.
     
  • When valet companies pick-up new accounts, they are hiring.

The business has cycles and ups and downs. There will be windows of opportunity for you to snag a job in this field, in my opinion.

Well, that's all I've got for you right now.

Good luck in your job hunt!

Ed Ryder