Have you ever wondered what happens to your car when you hand your keys to a valet parking attendant? Do they take your car for a joy ride?? What exactly does a valet do anyway? Well, let’s start with the basics…
Valet: A Short (Fun) History
The term “valet” was first used in the late 1500’s and described a male servant, whose sole job was to pamper his master (for Downton Abbey fans, think of Mr. Bates and his loyal servitude to Lord Grantham). When valets first emerged hundreds of years ago, there were no cars, and “valet” was pronounced like “mallet.” Our methods of transportation have changed significantly since then, and the traditional “valet” job has now evolved into “parking valet” or more commonly, the “valet parking attendant.” And the “t” in “valet” is now silent!
So, what does a typical day look like for a valet parking attendant in today’s world of too many cars and not enough parking spots?
Preparing for Customers’ Morning Rush to the Office
A valet’s typical morning starts with greeting fellow valets and preparing material/equipment needed for a day that’s soon to become a blend of cars, customers, and tight squeezes. Such items often include key hooks, ticket slips, traffic cones, flags, pens, iPads, and most importantly, secure shoelaces, as there will be lots of running!
Preparing for Event Parking
While valets at office campuses have the benefit of already knowing their site layout and equipment needed, event valet attendants – such as those working a wedding – have to learn their customer’s unique layout and specific parking requirements each time. This means that when they show up to work an event, they review the event plan and locate additional equipment such as flashlights, jumper cables, trash bags, parking signs, and the all-important: valet-designated restroom they are authorized to use!
Ready, Set, Go!
Once all equipment is set, the valets double check that they are ready to properly receive their arriving customers during the anticipated rush period. Hair combed? Check. Shirt tucked in? Check. Shoelaces tied? Double check. Smile? Let’s Go!
Valet Attendants’ Secret to Success
A valet’s initiative and eagerness to please still reign above all other job responsibilities, much as was true for valets hundreds of years ago. Running to greet customers and opening their doors with a smile is the secret to success for any good valet attendant, as is running to retrieve the customers’ precious cars upon their return. Rush periods are so hectic with customers coming and going that the only chance a valet has to slow down and take a breath is while operating a vehicle!
After the initial rush of customers (which varies by office or event situation), valets work together to recount cars, keys, and tickets to ensure all valuables are accounted for. Occasionally valets help customers who need to depart early from work or an event by moving blocked cars – sometimes up to three or four – to allow space for the customers to pass. No matter how jammed a parking lot may seem from the outside, trained valet attendants can always find ways to safely clear a path.
Time for a Joy Ride?
Not ever! Reputable valet parking companies such as All About Parking enforce strict rules and monitor all valet attendants to ensure they move vehicles only to park, unblock or retrieve cars. That’s it!
Valets are on their feet up to 8 hours a day sprinting and hustling for cars. It gets exceptionally exhausting, particularly in the hot sun! And only after the parking lot is set in place and the initial rush is over do valets take a brief break to recharge, rehydrate, and reconvene to get ready for the most exciting rush of the day: customer pickups.
Experienced office campus valet attendants shine during customer pickups by recognizing faces, vehicles, and keychains which allow them to provide peak service and a ready car before the customer even arrives at the main podium. These office parking valets form relationships with their customers based on a shared trust and service knowing that each has just put in a hard days’ work. While event valet attendants may not have the pleasure of knowing their customers as well as office campus valets, they do everything they can to ensure the customer leaves with a wonderful lasting impression of the event they just attended.
Whether it’s at an event or the office, pickups are rapid, and oftentimes cars and people disappear before valets even have a chance to say goodbye. But rest assured that though the valet service may be over, parking attendants know their job is only done after the sun has set (or the moon has risen), all keys and cars returned to their rightful owners, and the tired yet happy attendants get ready for their next parking adventure…