How to Start a Valet Parking Business

by Nancy Wagner; Updated September 26, 2017

A small investment and a willingness to park and retrieve people's cars with a customer service-oriented attitude makes a valet parking business worth considering. Valet parking services can be lucrative. Entrepreneur says a crew of just two or three people can generate about $50 to $70 per hour based on the rates you charge.

Requirements

You need a valid driver's license and third-party liability insurance to cover any dings or damage done to a customer's vehicle while you're parking or retrieving it. Buy uniforms and add your company logo and name on them for branding purposes and to look more professional. Use two-part tickets with one part attached to the keys to a customer's car and the other part handed to the customer.

Hiring Drivers

Look for drivers who can operate both automatic and manual vehicles. Drivers familiar with high-performance cars are a bonus, especially if you plan to park these types of vehicles. The people you hire need to understand that customer service plays a big role in this type of business, says Entrepreneur. To find top-notch drivers –– and not just people who can't find any other kind of work –– Edmunds.com says companies commonly require background checks and ask applicants to submit a copy of their seven-year driving record from the DMV.

Paying Drivers

Plan to pay minimum wage unless you are in a state that allows you to pay subminimum wages in cases where employees also get tips, says the National Employment Law Project, an organization that publishes research about workers' rights. You can choose to pool all tips and split them at the end of the night or let individual drivers pocket the tips they personally receive. Tips can range from a buck to $10 depending on circumstances, says Edmunds.com, with the average running about $2 to $3.

Market Your Services

Let local businesses, such as hotels, nightclubs, theaters, high-end malls, hospitals and restaurants, know you're available to park cars if they don't offer the service themselves. Provide services for events and parties, and talk to convention, trade show, wedding and event planners. Figure out where cars can be parked, such as in nearby parking lots or on the street and how long it will take your drivers to park and return to pick up another car. Raskin suggests that the best time frame for retrieving a car once you're presented with the ticket is just four to six minutes.

Pricing

If a company prefers to offer complimentary parking, they pay you a set fee for each car parked. For instance, Park America, a valet parking service, primarily works with businesses that offer complimentary valet parking, so they pay from $100 to $200 per evening for the service, says Peter Jennings, president of Park America, in an article for the College Foundation of North Carolina. Your clients may prefer to let their customers or attendees pay for their own parking, so you must set a per car rate and plan to get paid directly by the customer.

About the Author

Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.