Valet Parking Tipping Etiquette

When dining out, how much do you tip your waiter or waitress?  Your bartender? How about a bellhop or a valet attendant when you check in to a hotel? What do you do if the service is exceptional? Mediocre? While tipping etiquette for food services is fairly well-known (typically 15-22%), the protocol for valet parking tipping is not.  Whether traveling for business or pleasure, meeting a client at a busy office campus or attending an exclusive party downtown, here are our Top 3 FAQs on tipping valet parking attendants:

Tip for Valet Attendant

1. How much should I tip a valet parking attendant?

As in other service industries, tipping a valet attendant is your way of showing appreciation for good (or great) service. The rule of thumb for tipping valets at hotels, restaurants and other venues is $1 – $3 if you are being charged to valet your car. If the valet service is free (such as if it’s provided by the venue), $5 would be a standard tip.

However, use your discretion to tip more if the attendants went above your expectations. For example, did your attendant hustle to get your car, or walk you to your destination under the protection of an umbrella during a downpour? Were they friendly and respectful? Did they help you with packages or heavy luggage? Help with directions? If so, you may want to tip more. For VIP-level service, valets can receive $10 – $20 from an appreciative customer.

Conversely, don’t feel obligated to tip if the service was sub-par. But remember, don’t blame the valet for mishaps out of their control (just like you shouldn’t blame the waitress for a chef’s poor recipe!). An example of such mishap would be when a significant traffic jam – due to poor planning by the event venue –  prevents a valet from bringing your car to you expeditiously.

Giving keys to valet attendant 2. Should I tip a valet attendant when dropping car off, or just when retrieving it?

While most people tend to tip upon picking up their vehicle rather than at drop-off, do what is most convenient for you. Also, don’t feel the need to tip every single time – such as when you are staying at a hotel. Sometimes customers choose to leave one sizable tip for their attendants at the end of their stay.

Valet attendant assisting parking3. Other than poor service, are there situations in which I would NOT tip a valet parking attendant?

Yes. In many corporate office campuses, the employer pays for valet services for its employees and visitors, and therefore may contractually prohibit the valet company from accepting tips. In such cases, the valet attendants, when offered a tip, should respectfully decline.

Additionally, for private events such as weddings, the host may have pre-arranged a gratuity charge with the valet company because they don’t want their guests feeling obligated to tip. In these situations, unlike with commercial valet operations, the valet parking attendants may still graciously accept tips but should first inform the guest that the service charge has been covered by the host.

At All About Parking, we park over 1,000,000 cars per year for many of the top employers in Silicon Valet as well as support thousands of private events each year. While many of our corporate accounts prohibit valet tipping, our recommended guideline for valet parking service when it’s acceptable is:

“Tips are never expected but always appreciated”

 

How to Assess Parking Challenges Across an Office Campus

When looking at how to ease the parking problems at your office campus, you should first go out and time how long it takes an employee to find a parking spot during key congestion times.

For a typical office, key congestion times might be during the 8–9 a.m. rush hour and then again during the 12–1 p.m. lunch hour. Analyze how long it takes to walk from the available spaces to the building(s). Aside from reserved VIP spaces, are most of the available spaces quite a distance from the building? How far? Also note the flow of traffic in your lot or garage — does it get congested during the peak hours? How much time does that slow an employee (or visitor) down from getting to their destination?

Next, look at how many employees you have (and plan to have) and how many non-reserved spaces are available. Finally, talk to your employees about their parking frustrations; they’ll be able to give you personal insights that you otherwise might not be considering.

At All About Parking, when we do a site parking analysis, we often hear from businesses that their employees arrive 15–20 minutes early just to get a spot. Then they are afraid to leave for lunch (or meetings) because they don’t want to lose their coveted parking space. And then when they leave work for the day they’re stuck in a long queue of cars just trying to exit the parking lot! All this frustration can be avoided by deploying a valet service company to handle traffic flow and parking demand. At All About Parking, we’ve been working for years at the best-known companies in Silicon Valley to resolve parking problems. Let us know how we can help you come up with the best solution for your company!

4 key questions to ask a commercial valet company before hiring them

How long has the valet parking company been in business? For obvious reasons, you’ll want to choose a company that has been in business for years. Understanding parking issues and solutions doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s important to choose a company that has seen what works, and what doesn’t, in a variety of office setups.

Who are their customers and what do they say about them? Reputation is paramount in the valet parking business. Find out who the valet parking company currently handles parking for, and ask to speak to their clients’ parking & transportation managers. Do these clients have similar parking challenges to yours? If so, find out how the valet parking company is addressing these issues. Find out how reliable they are, how well they know their client’s business, and how professional their attendants are.

Are they a national company or a local one? A big advantage of going with a local business is that they will be more nimble and quick to respond to your parking needs. Typically, a local business will deploy their senior management to assess and roll out a company-wide parking and valet plan. The large, national firms will often rely on a less-senior department head, who doesn’t have the same skin in the game as a local owner-operator does.

Ask about their valet training. A valet attendant will be the first — and last — person that your employees or guest see at the beginning and end of each workday. As such, it’s critical that the valet attendant best represents your business. Find out how the company trains their attendants and go check out how their valets operate at an office facility. Are they professional? Are they dressed appropriately for the job? Do they answer questions in a respectful, helpful manner? How do they handle your car? Do they foresee issues and offer solutions — such as reminding you that you left your phone in the car? How about that computer that’s in the back seat? After all, valet is about more than just parking cars; it’s about facilitating the best possible start (and finish) to an employee’s day.

Valet Parking Is not Just an Employee Perk

When people ask me what All About Parking does, my quick, elevator answer is “Our primary service is providing valet parking for corporate campuses throughout Silicon Valley.” And the response I hear most is “Wow, what a great employee perk!”

They make a good point; valet service, free food and dry cleaning services are all common employee perks in Silicon Valley tech companies. And these services help to attract and retain the best employees in a very tight job market. But valet parking is much more than just a perk — it can actually help a company improve its bottom line. Here’s how:

  1. Improving employee productivity
    Think about how much time employees waste searching for spots in cramped parking lots when they come to work each day, let alone when they have to leave their coveted parking space to head out to a meeting. Our studies show employees waste 10 minutes per day on average searching for parking in a typical Silicon Valley tech campus. To get a sense of the damage this kind of situation can do, consider that a business with 100 employees needing parking each day in a given location adds up to 50 wasted minutes per employee, (or 83.3 wasted hours total) per week. That’s a significant amount of wasted time when those employees could be doing productive work. One of our clients recently calculated that before they came to us, they were losing $600,000 per year in lost employee productivity due to their campus parking nightmare!
  2. Improving guest experience
    If your employees are wasting 10 minutes each time they come to work, what about your guests who aren’t as familiar with the ins and out of your parking situation? Some of these guests are probably prospective clients you hope to do business with. Getting them to their meeting locations quickly and with minimal stress can only help you build productive relationships and get things started off on the right foot.
  3. Maximizing use of your existing real estate footprint
    We all know that many technology companies (and other businesses in Silicon Valley) deploy an open-office plan to foster collaboration. The challenge with this type of office set up is that you are fitting more employees per square foot than what the parking for the building allows. So right away you’ve got a parking problem! With a valet company such as All About Parking, you can continue to add employees to your existing real estate footprint, and let us take care of finding spots for all the additional cars. The result? You get more out of your existing office space without having to upgrade to something bigger.

Are you interested in calculating how much money you could save with an office valet solution? Contact us to see how we can help.