What are the risks of offering valet parking for your restaurant?

Atlanta is a car city, there’s no denying it. There are always lots of vehicles on the road, and that means that there are a lot of people in need of parking. To solve this problem for the customers who will visit your restaurant, you might be thinking about offering valet parking services. It makes life much more convenient for your guests if they’re able to pull up to your restaurant instead of having to circle Midtown or Downtown looking for a parking spot. But before you decide to go for it and start parking people’s cars, there are a few things you need to know about offering valet parking.

There are two options when it comes to valet parking, and both of them present their own risks. The first option is to hire drivers yourself, and the second is to bring in a valet contracting company. Now, even though both of these options have the same outcome—the cars get parked—there are different risks that you need to consider when weighing which route you want to go.

Valet parking isn't without its risks.

If you hire your own employees…

When you hire your own valet drivers, you take on the responsibility for your customer’s cars. Keep a few things in mind as you go through the hiring process:

Hiring practices are the best defense against risk.

You need to find people that you can trust to drive your customers’ cars, so you have to be pretty diligent in screening your applicants. Valet parking is a high-speed, fast-paced job, so you want to make sure that you hire careful, trustworthy people.

  • Look into the history and record of the applicant. This is the best way to see how much of a risk they represent.
  • Is their driving record clean, or have they had tickets or license suspensions?
  • Does their criminal background check look good? It would not be good if customer’s belongings started mysteriously growing legs and walking away.
  • Have they done a drug test?

Have a trial or training period.

During this time, have a seasoned valet employee ride with your new recruit. Your veteran valet can show them the ropes and make sure that they have good driving habits.

Ask whether or not the applicant can comfortably drive both manual and automatic cars.

You want to make sure that your valets are able to easily drive both a stick shift and an automatic car. It would be a bit awkward if no one was able to drive a manual car left in your drop-off lane.

Make sure you’ve got the right insurance coverage.

If you’re in charge of your valets, you need to make sure that you’re protected from all of the risks that come along with valeting your customers’ cars. The people dining at your restaurant are trusting you to bring their vehicle back in exactly the same condition that they left it.

The coverages you should consider are:

  • Garagekeepers: This covers any damages that might happen to a customer’s car while it’s in your care.
  • General liability: This protects you from the damages that you’re legally obligated to pay if you cause harm to someone’s person or property.
  • Employee dishonesty: This covers you from any stunts that your employees might pull, like stealing.

You might decide to hire a contractor to do your valet parking.

Talk to your insurance carrier to see how offering valet services will affect your coverage. They’ll be able to help you make sure that you have the right coverage to protect you from all of your risks.

If you use a contracting service.

If you’ve decided that you don’t want to worry about the risk of hiring your own valet drivers, you might consider getting a service instead. Before you do, there are a few things that you should pay attention to:

You don’t control who the company hires.

When you contract out the valet work, you’re giving up a measure of control over the service. You don’t have any say in who the contractor hires, so make sure that they have safe and thorough hiring practices. Make sure that you can trust their employees.

Safety should be their priority.

Make sure that the company is reputable and has a strong reputation for safety. You don’t want them to hurt your business’s reputation. The valet is associated with your restaurant, though they don’t technically work for you, so they should be a good representative of your business.

The contracting company takes on the risk, so they need to have proper insurance.

One good thing about hiring a valet parking company for your restaurant is that you free yourself from risk, as the company takes on responsibility for their employees and the cars. However, you need to make sure that they have the right insurance coverage so that if something did happen, they’d be covered.

Don’t leave anything up to chance. Do some research before making any decisions.        

  • Check that the company has proof of insurance.
  • Make sure that you won’t be responsible for any damages.
  • Call the valet company’s insurance carrier to double check that everything’s in order.
  • Be aware of any risks or gaps in the coverage they could leave you open to risks.

If you hire a valet parking company, make sure that they're insured.

Valet parking is a convenience for your Atlanta customers who would otherwise struggle to park in Midtown or Downtown, but it also presents you with some significant risk. Before you start valeting any cars, make sure that you fully understand the risks and responsibilities, and think about whether hiring your own employees or hiring a contracting valet service is best for your business.

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