If a guest says they need a taxi and a doorman is not available, ask them what their destination is, and summon the taxi with a hand gesture, or whistle if you have that ability. If you are unsuccessful in getting their attention, run to the taxi stand and wake them up. Then run back.
Do not whistle into a guest’s ear.
Do not yell for the taxi while standing close to a guest. It could frighten them.
When the taxi arrives, show the driver where to stop using hand gestures. Say to the driver “Please safely take our guests to…” and say the destination.
Open the taxi doors for the guests. Put their luggage in the back if they have luggage. And wish them a good trip. You probably will receive a gratuity.
Some people will ask for a taxi, see the line of taxis at the corner, and decide to go get one themselves by walking to the taxi stand. It is in their best interests to have the taxi summoned by a doorman so that the hotel’s surveillance cameras can capture the taxi on video. This way if they leave something in the taxi, our security officers can review the tape, get the taxi number, call the dispatcher, and tell them to send that taxi back to the hotel in order to turn-over the forgotten item.
When guests step into a taxi that is out of range of the cameras, they lose that added measure of protection.
It is also best for guests to be dropped off by taxis under the canopy, so that the taxi numbers can be recorded.
There is taxi scarcity on weekend nights and when it is raining. The wait to get a taxi becomes a matter of time. Guests will just have to wait. One alternative is Uber.
AFTER RECEIVING A BIG TIP
If it is appropriate, besides thanking them, say “Is there anything more I can do for you?” And wait and listen for the answer.
Waving goodbye is also a nice touch whenever you are able to do it, whether you get a big tip or not.
From time to time people ask about valet parking, what it costs, and how they can self-park. Do them a favor and sell them on our valet parking. First of all, The ****** Hotel is a 5 star property and valet parking should be a part of their luxury experience, but more importantly there are specific advantages to using our valet service that are in their best interests to utilize:
- They get unlimited in & out privileges. This means they pay one pre-determined rate and can request their car as many times as they want without incurring a charge with each entry into the garage.
- The second main advantage is we have secure parking in our cage. Describe how the public cannot access this area. And that it is especially beneficial if they have any valuables in their car.
Explain the high risk of parking on the street.
It’s well known that the Philadelphia Parking Authority is ruthless. Parking signs can be confusing to interpret. And if they are late to feed the meter by a minute, they probably already have a parking ticket on their windshield. That’s no fun. If they really screw-up and have any inch of their car in a handicap zone, that could be a $301 ticket.
They could even be towed by parking in the wrong spot, and that would really be a nightmare. Encourage them only to park in a parking lot or garage and not anywhere on the street.
As of this writing (June 2013), parking currently costs $49 for overnight (white ticket).
The daily parking fee varies by the length of time involved:
0 to 3 hours = $22 3 to 6 hours = $26 6 hours+ = $32
All of these prices include Philadelphia’s 20% parking tax.
ITEMS LEFT IN THE CAR
It happens a lot. In the sudden rush to turnover their car in the driveway, our guests sometimes forget their smart phone, or a briefcase, or something.
If you see a smart phone, alert the guest before they walk away from the car and ask if they would like to have it. Ninety-nine percent of the time the answer will be yes.
But if you do need to run to a car to retrieve an item, this generally is not a bad thing… because often a tip is involved for the perceived inconvenience they have caused us. They will wait by the front or expect you to deliver the item to their room. Be quick about it! They are waiting.
If you are delivering an item to somebody’s room, knock on the door and step back a bit so they can see your uniform through the peep hole and so you will appear less threatening.
- Important: If you cannot find the item, as a last resort bring the car out of the garage and park it in the driveway so that the customer can see for themselves that their requested item is not there, or so they can quickly get what they want from a place you didn’t see.
HIGH VALUE CARS & CARS WITH HIGHER LEVELS OF DIFFICULTY TO DRIVE
We know when you are new it is exciting for the chance to drive a fancy car. In time, you will get some of these opportunities. But while you are new, if it obvious that you have a key to a very expensive or exotic car, like a Maserati or an AMG Mercedes, a Bentley, a Porsche 911 Turbo, a Tesla, a Fisker Karma, a Lotus, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin… cars like this are only to be driven by seasoned valets. Please hand over these keys to one of your more experienced co-workers.
When a high value car is parked on the driveway, give it extra space. Stand by the car as a guest is leaving to ensure they will not damage it. And make it clear that you are standing there watching for impact. Use hand gestures to either stop their forward progress or to let them know that they are clear of the car.
If you are weak with manual transmission skills, it is important that you learn how to drive manuals on your own time outside of the work environment. Give these keys to somebody else if you lack any confidence in driving a manual. For any car that you think might be too big or too challenging for you, hand the keys over to somebody else. Don’t be embarrassed. It is in everyone’s interests that all cars are parked safely without damage, because rewards are paid to us for reaching milestones where no damage claims have been made within a certain time period.
The doorman is supposed to greet them within 60 seconds. If that is not happening, step-up and greet them yourself. It could be that the car is a “re-park.” You will notice our white 6 digit tag on their dash, or attached to their key. Say something like “Hello (Mr./Miss _____). Welcome back. You would like this car re-parked, right?” (Say the guest’s name if you know it.)
Or if you see no tag of ours, ask if they are checking in or just visiting us for the day.
“Excellent. I’ll get our doorman to assist you. He will be right with you.”
(Use words like “excellent” and “fantastic” a lot.)
If there is a dog in the vehicle, do not open the car door for the guest. It would be A DISASTER if the dog ran loose and got hit on a nearby city street.
Also, be very careful about reaching into a car to pet a dog. The dog might feel an urge to be protective of the space his humans are in, and you could get bit.
It is important to verify — as the guest is about to head to the hotel’s front entrance — that their car still has the keys inside of it. Look for the keys. We need those keys to move the car. It is not uncommon for a car to be stuck on the driveway and causing traffic headaches for all of us because a guest took their car keys with them. We need to avoid this situation as much as possible.
Whenever you can do it, greet returning repeat guests by their last name. Most of them enjoy that recognition and it helps the team to earn more gratuity income.
A smooth flowing driveway is important.
- People need to pull out and leave. New arrivals don’t want to sit in a line of traffic to enter our driveway.
A common mistake by new hires is to do a VDS under the canopy while cars are waiting to enter or leave. Traffic jams can form quickly. Don’t be oblivious to the inconvenience your VDS might be causing taxi drivers, limo drivers, arriving guests, and those who want to pull their car out of the driveway. You have to move that car out of the way to keep things flowing. Move the car to the end of the driveway to complete your VDS if you are blocking driveway traffic.
YOUR SAFETY IS #1
Be careful on the driveway. Be mindful of what is going on around you. If you are not careful, you could have your foot run over. It is possible an approaching 90 year old driver could slam on the gas instead of the brakes and crush your legs against another car. Even a co-worker could screw-up and allow a car to coast into the back of your legs while you are removing luggage from a trunk. TRUST NO DRIVER. Be aware of your surroundings.
Sometimes people who are not guests use our driveway as a shortcut and speed through. There is a sign along the Parkway that forbids this, but it is not effective.
Always be aware of what is going on around you while standing, walking or running on the driveway.
Maintain the same vigilance in the garage. And again, always be careful when crossing Cherry Street.
When conditions are wet, be extra careful. The brick can be slippery. And when there is snow or ice, this is when it is okay to walk. We don’t want anyone to slip and fall.
Prevent heat related illness.
This is athletic work. Stay hydrated. Use the water cooler, not the bottled water in the refrigerator. (Bottled water is for guests.)
And if you see that the tray in the water cooler is getting full, pull it out and empty it on a planter outside. It’s not somebody else’s job. If you see it is getting full, take care of it.
Use one cup. Put your initials on it. Throw it out at the end of your shift.
Street safety at the end of your shift.
First, don’t let unknown people through the rear door (the employee entrance).
Second, stay aware of your surroundings. Before you let the rear door shut behind you, look around and see who is nearby. Does it feel safe?
Don’t talk on the phone while walking down a dark sidewalk. Don’t listen to music. Stay aware. Walk along the busier roads.
HOW YOU MAKE MONEY
There are ups and downs to this business. Some days are poor; some are mediocre; some are great. It evens out to a certain hourly rate. You have to persevere through the weak days to make it to the strong days.
Will you get stiffed by guests? Absolutely. It happens frequently. DON’T DO ANYTHING to make them feel badly about their departure. Don’t shame them. Don’t make them feel guilty. Don’t call them names. Just be nice and accept it. It’s possible they will have second thoughts about being cheap and scrounge around in their car for money to give to you. It pays to be gracious. And it keeps you from getting into trouble through degrading a guest’s experience.
Yes, even if you ran in the pouring rain to get the car and it was your first car in 2 hours, you still cannot show contempt towards the customer if they chose not to hand you a gratuity. It is also totally not worth it to dwell on how in the world this person could have done this to you. This type of thinking is a waste of your intellectual horsepower. Just forget about it and look forward to serving the next guest. The gratuities will come!
Do not embrace the negativity of others.
Inevitably there will be co-workers who will complain at the beginning of the shift that there are too many people working, or that there are no events, or that there are no yellow tickets. It is not in your interests to accept these viewpoints. At any time a “magic moment” can happen when you get rewarded with an unusually large tip, and it can change your whole shift. And sometimes departures can be suddenly and unexpectedly robust, or the few that are leaving may be unusually generous.
Should you leave early if given the chance?
If you want to make money, then let somebody else leave early. Fewer people will be in the cut, which means the pieces of the pie will be larger for those who stay.
Also, prove that you are a performer. Run fast. Serve well. Conduct yourself safely. Be honest. And don’t be a whiner. You’ll have an improved chance at getting better shifts and probably will be scheduled for more shifts.
It is in your interests to report your full tip income at the end of each shift, since your employer pays a portion of these earnings into your Social Security account in the form of payroll taxes. Honesty in tip reporting is also part of your civic duty, and keeps you out of trouble with tax authorities.
It is recommended you keep a tip journal to keep track of your daily earnings.