Zirx offering "$500 signing bonus and up to $30+ per hour" for valet workers in San Francisco.

That's pretty good. 

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When I was a valet my hourly pay was $3.83 an hour. My average hourly earnings in 2013 was $14.85 per hour, including tips. In 2014 it was $15... $15.28 if I remember correctly. There were rare times I made over $40 an hour, and other times I made less than $7 per hour. 

(In Philadelphia I made a little more than the average valet worker.) 

But of course it wasn't enough. 

Generally, valet work is temporary work. It attracts students, and workers who are in transition, looking for their next real job, (which was the category I fit into).

The way it works, if a valet gets a few bad shifts in a row, where the pay is not equitable for the time and effort given, they DEFINITELY begin thinking about looking for another job. Every valet location is different. But generally there is a lack of income stability — where some valets get the money shifts and some are the suckers who always get the Sunday and Monday night shifts making peanuts. This leads to valet companies constantly recruiting, because it's hard to find suckers willing to work for as little as $2.13 an hour (the federal tipped minimum wage that is permitted in 19 states) who are willing to tolerate the ups and downs of the business. The life cycle of a valet worker is typically short. They don't stay long. It's an industry-wide issue.

So the dangling of this $500 carrot and up to $30 an hour sounds pretty good.

Out of curiosity I checked the reviews about Zirx on Glassdoor.com, the place where employees have the chance to describe their experience in working for a company and present their critique.

Frankly, I'm shocked. There are some SCATHING reviews here. One highly critical review describes Zirx as "one big lame magic show" and ends it with the words "a nose dive into hell."

Another review by a clearly disgruntled current valet "agent" describes the San Francisco operation as being "disorganized/understaffed due to turnover that customers wait forever just to park and even longer to return.." and says "no one shows up for work because this job sucks but then they talk down to the ones that do show up -- and then scratch their heads as to why people don't want to work here." 

Another reviewer writes: "The contracted street valet agents are really mistreated by the office employees... They sit in the office mocking you, taunting you... They know they are above you, better than you, and really do have this wicked superiority complex over their street team... We are not factory farm animals. How do you sleep at night?"

Wow...

Another titles their review "Evil company run by devils" and describes "agents" as actually being "peon serf dog peasants... to be taken advantage of to the fullest..."

Holy cow... What is going on here?

And recently a couple of users of the Zirx service in San Francisco complained on Yelp that there is now a $5 charge for pick-up and a $5 charge for drop-off in addition to the $15 parking fee. Well, I didn't think that bargain pricing would last forever... but the company should at least make their pricing policy clear. These consumers were agitated by the undisclosed price change. It took them by surprise.

In summary, those reviews on Glassdoor have an authentic vibe. My bullshit detector is pretty good. I think they're real. What is described about the company's inner workings, the treatment given to these particular workers and their clearly low morale in working for Zirx — is shocking... Because this company is among the leaders in this new category. I have been expecting them to be different and innovative.

This reminds me a little of the traditional valet company I worked for. There was a very clear disconnect between the executives at the top and those on the front-lines who did the actual work. Reality is what goes on at the front. Then there is this big opaque gap where political things seems to happen among mid-level managers. And at the top the vantage point to those up there sometimes is actually showing them a mirage of what they think they want to see.

From the beginning I have viewed on-demand valet parking services as a premium luxury service. The "$15 for the whole day" parking fee confused me. It's a very difficult business. There should be a reward for pursuing it. And cheap parking fees like that wouldn't be acceptable to me as a business owner.

I can understand trying to hook customers with cheap parking, and one day adjusting the rates to where they should be.

I cannot understand making efforts to build a workforce of professional valets, who should be different and superior to regular valet workers, and then treating them poorly. 

The front-line is vital talent that needs to be retained for the long-term. When you flush these workers out quickly, you get what nearly every other valet service has: a continuously mediocre workforce.

May 26, 2015

Uh oh...

Consumers aren't going to stay loyal if they receive bad service... In the tweet below, the most responsive service provider won — this time.

November 13, 2015

There was a surge of interest in this post yesterday. I went back to Glassdoor.com to see what Zirx employees are saying now. Certainly I was surprised to see a 4.3 (out of 5) star ranking from just 15 reviews. That's when I discovered those really shocking reviews that I referred to are gone. Somebody removed them. Interesting... 

February 7, 2016

News is circulating that Zirx is shutting down their valet parking operations. That's a pity. 

How this service can be offered, when not priced as a luxury service, is something that confused me. Though it appeared they might have been able to pull it off. Oh well... I feel bad for the investors. (Ya'll should have read my blog.)

Zirx is still in business, but their service offering seems to be a bit mysterious. Something to do with servicing companies (?). 

Wall Street Journal article.