How do customers really feel about valet service? One can argue the convenience of valet service at a car dealership or any other business for that matter will bring in additional customers. On the other hand, we have all seen Ferris Bueller’s Day off and had the image of our own personal vehicle being treated like the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT in the movie.
Fortunately Lexus took the initiative to hire Kelton Research to perform a survey on consumer parking habits and concerns. The press release after the survey is filled with great insights on the valet industry and even includes a perspective from the originator of the valet parking industry Herb Citron.
TORRANCE, Calif., Aug. 9 /PRNewswire/ — It’s no longer just for red carpets and country clubs. As greater convenience becomes a factor in our increasingly active lives, valet parking is now on hand at health clubs, hair salons, sporting events, doctors’ offices, even grocery stores and cinemas. For many, it’s fast becoming a way of life.
So what happens once a car disappears into “Valet Land?” What are the insider secrets valets don’t share with anyone? And what should savvy drivers know before turning over their keys to them?
To answer these questions and more, Lexus has chosen the launch of its all-new ES 350 luxury sedan to introduce The Lexus ES Insider’s Guide to Valet Parking — an entertaining and informative behind-the-scenes look at the world of valet parking. The 38-page guide, which is available for free download at www.LexusValetGuide.com, also includes results from a nationwide valet parking survey commissioned by the automaker.
According to the National Parking Association, an estimated 200,000 men and women currently work as parking attendants in the United States.
“Valet parking is a common ritual, but there’s not much information about it,” said Bob Carter, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “The guide has actually turned into a bit of an homage to parking attendants everywhere and uncovered both humorous and useful information for drivers.”
Which car features excite valets the most? What’s considered a good tip? Who gets the coveted upfront spot and why? It’s all in the guide.
To examine regional differences on the valet scene, Lexus also dispatched journalist David Hochman to report on parking habits and traditions in four cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Hochman even spent a day “under cover” as a parking attendant at an upscale shopping center in Los Angeles, where he learned valet lingo (such as “Jewel Case,” the premier parking spot) and the valet’s mantra: “Smile, open door, greet, give ticket, rinse, repeat.”
The guide also offers valuable advice from Herb Citrin, 83, a legend among parking attendants for having introduced the uniforms, the white-glove service and the name “valet parking” in the 1940s, and who has safely parked thousands upon thousands of vehicles.
Citrin is happy to report that 99.99 times out of a 100, valet attendants abide by the same basic principle he introduced at the first of what would become tens of thousands of valet-parking locations across America. “You give us your car,” Citrin says with a proud smile any car owner would find reassuring, “We get it back to you safely.” Although he does admit it’s the one that got away that still haunts him.
It was the summer of 1965, and Citrin got a frantic call from a garage manager at a restaurant in Marina del Rey, Calif. “One of our valets forgot to set the brake on a vintage 1937 luxury coupe in what kids used to call ‘cherry condition,'” recalls Citrin, now a consultant for Valet Parking Services in Los Angeles, a company he founded in 1946. “It rolled down an incline and ended up in 15 feet of seawater.”
Fortunately, mishaps like that occur once in a lifetime, if that. As John Van Horn, editor and publisher of Parking Today, an industry trade magazine, puts it, “Most valets are exceptional drivers because all they do is drive cars all day.”
The Survey — What Americans Nationwide Have to Say
On average, 61% of Americans use valet parking, according to a wide-ranging survey on parking habits and concerns conducted exclusively for the Lexus guide by Kelton Research.
The survey also found that Americans tip valets an average of $3 per vehicle, and 73 percent are confident that when they tip, they are tipping the right person the right amount. For most of us, manners matter most as the vast majority of Americans (87 %) feel that the friendliness and politeness of the valet is the biggest factor in determining how large a tip one should leave.
Nationally, North easterners rely on valet parking the most (only 27 % of them say they never use a valet). And, surprisingly, speed isn’t much of a factor in customer satisfaction, the survey found. Americans are willing to wait up to an average of nine minutes for the valet to return their cars before becoming impatient, though younger drivers (ages 18 to 34) will wait only five minutes before getting antsy.
In all the figures proved that offering valet service is a good idea for the majority of auto dealerships.