If you’re interested in starting a valet parking business but don’t know where to begin, you are in the right place.
In this article, I am going to discuss how you can start your own valet parking business in 7 simple steps.
We will cover everything (from formation to launch), including how to establish your company, get the right equipment, hire the right employees, and get those essential first contracts with your venues and clients.
We’ll start by tackling some key introductory questions around this business, including what they are, how much they make, and how much it costs to start.
We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get into it!
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The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
What’s a Valet Parking Business?
A valet parking business is a business where you operate a valet parking service on behalf of a business, such as a hotel, nightclub, restaurant or theater. Key services include greeting customers, parking their cars, and returning them when customers are ready to leave. This business generates revenue by collecting fees for these services, either from the customers directly or from the establishment.
How Much Money Does a Valet Parking Business Make?
According to Entrepreneur.com, the rates for valet parking services are between $75 to $100 per hour for a two-to-three person crew. Source.
Now the actual amount you will make will depend on a lot of factors, including your costs (i.e., employees wages, insurance, etc.), how much you actually charge, and the size of your operation (if you have multiple crews that are actively engaged each night, you will make more).
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Valet Parking Business?
In general, a valet parking business costs approximately $2,000 -$3,000 to start. Initial costs include valet equipment, including a valet stand and umbrella, tickets, uniforms, signage, insurance, licensing and permit fees (as applicable for your state and local jurisdictions), and any costs associated hiring employees, and marketing your business.
What Type of Equipment Do I Need to Start a Valet Parking Business?
In order to start your valet parking business you will need some standard equipment. They include the following:
- Valet Stand
- Valet Key Box (with locks, if desired)
- Umbrella (for when it rains, obviously)
- Traffic control supplies (traffic cones, t-top delineators, flange mount bollard, etc.)
- Uniforms for your employees (with your company’s name and logo)
Ok, now that we’ve covered the introductory stuff, let’s get into the 7 steps for staring your valet parking business.
Step 1: Establish Your Valet Parking Business
The first step is to establish your valet parking business.
Select a Name and Logo
This includes selecting the right name and logo for your business.
Having trouble figuring out a name? Try Shopify’s business name generator. It’s free.
As for a logo, you can go on canva.com and check out some of their logo templates and start from there. It’s a free option, but you will need to customize the logo templates to your liking. If you prefer a more ready-made solution, you can outsource this task.
One solid option is to go on Fiverr and hire someone to create your logo. There are tons of people who do this, and I have seen pricing as low as $5. For that price, you can probably try a bunch of folks and pick the logo that suits you best.
Note: You want to make sure your name and logo are original to you and are not going to infringe someone else’s intellectual property. If you are unsure, you can check the USPTO’s trademark search tool as a starting point.
For more great strategies and tips on how to select the right name and logo for your business, check out my full article on the topic: How to Choose a Company Name and Logo [16 Key Strategies and Tips].
Create Your Business Website
Don’t neglect this step. Your business needs a website, period.
Your website doesn’t have to be incredibly fancy or cost a lot of money to set up. There are a lot of resources available to help you with this.
In fact, Google allows you to build your first business website for free.
List Your Business So Customers Can Find You
It is also important to get your fledgling business on Google. You can do this by listing it on Google My Business. This way, people who are searching for businesses like yours in your local area can find you.
If you want to learn more about how to do this, check out this tutorial from Google.
Set Up Your Business Entity
You may want to set up a business entity like an LLC, corporation, or partnership. In most cases, setting up a business entity can help shield some of your assets held outside the business entity if there is a claim against the business.
But it costs money to do and could have tax implications, so you should consult with a qualified tax and legal expert to help you navigate the issues.
If you do want to make the investment of setting up a corporation, LLC, or some other business entity, you can hire a lawyer to help you, or you can use many of the online services that can help you set up your business entity.
I like Northwest because they can get you up and running quickly and easily. They are also one of the most affordable options that I was able to find that still offered great customer service ($39 as of the date of this article).
According to their website, they are the only national registered agent service that lets you use their office address so you don’t have to use your own. That’s a killer privacy advantage.
Definitely worth checking out.
Step 2: Create a Valet Parking Business Plan
A business plan is essentially a roadmap for your business.
It organizes your thoughts relating to your business into an actionable plan. Some things to include in your valet parking business plan are budgeting, identifying your target market and competition, marketing strategy, pricing strategy, operational plans, and growth projections.
Some valet parking businesses specialize in various niches. This could include event-only valet services and valet businesses that specialize in hotels, or other specific types of venues. Obviously, your business plan should include what niche (if any) you will be pursuing and should be customized accordingly.
Don’t stress too much about getting your business plan perfect. I would use it more as an organizational tool at this point. You can polish it up later if you need to.
Another benefit of having a business plan is that it can help you raise money from banks and investors. This may be needed if your business has high starting costs (i.e., you plan on having multiple crews, etc.). But if you go this route, you will need to refine your business plan – these folks will want to see a professional-looking business plan as part of their lending or investing process.
Don’t know how to get started? The Small Business Administration has a great tool to help you write your business plan.
Step 3: Obtain Appropriate Valet Parking Business Licenses
The next step is to obtain all required licenses for your valet parking business. Obviously, if you are going to be parking and retrieving cars, you will need a valid driver’s license.
In most cases, you will also need some form of general business license to operate, but these are usually inexpensive and easy to obtain. Some things you may need include proof of insurance, a valid tax identification number, and a good standing certificate for your business entity (if applicable).
Your state or local government may have different requirements, so you should check with your county clerk’s office (as a starting point).
Step 4: Hire Qualified Valet Parking Employees and Buy Equipment
You will need to make sure your employees are at least 18 or over (check with your state and local laws on minimum age to be a valet driver). You should also ensure they have a valid driver’s license and the right customer-service oriented disposition.
Other things you may want to consider include a clean driving record, drug and criminal background checks (subject to any state or local rules), and the ability to drive both automatic and manual transmissions.
If you are going to be catering to high-end establishments, you will also want people who can operate exotic cars, which often have non-standard ways to start, stop and drive.
You can look find employees by listing your opening on online job boards like indeed, simplyhired, monster, and ziprecruiter. Of course, you can also go old school and advertise the opening in newspapers, on college campuses, or other local venues that see a lot of foot traffic.
You can choose to pay your employees a wage plus tips or (if permitted by state and local laws) on tips alone. You can have each employee keep the tips they receive or pool all of the tips and have all employees split the pot.
Now, once you have figured out how many employees you want (which will determine how large an operation you will run), you can buy equipment. Obviously, the more crews you will be operating, the more stands, key boxes, umbrellas, uniforms, etc. you will need.
Step 5: Obtain Appropriate Valet Parking Insurance
Getting appropriate insurance coverage for your valet parking business is an important step. There are a lot of potential hazards in operating any vehicle-based business.
You could damage the car itself, you could damage another car or property when driving or parking, and in the worst case scenario, you could be involved in an accident that injures someone. You do not want these types of occurrences to sink your fledgling business, which is why insurance is critical.
Due to these risks, insurance costs can be quite high. You should set aside and budget for these expenses. Valetbox recommends setting aside between $5,000 to $25,000 in cash reserves in the event of a claim.
In general, you will be looking at garagekeeper’s insurance, general commercial liability and worker’s compensation insurance (which may be required in many states if you have employees), although additional forms of coverage may make sense depending on the scope of your activities and your appetite for risk.
Here are some providers you can look at. Get quotes from a number of companies and figure out the right levels of coverage for your business.
Step 6: Market Your Valet Parking Business
Effectively marketing your valet parking business is going to be crucial to your success.
You should, of course, have an online presence so that companies, or really anyone, looking for valet parking services can find you. As mentioned, having a business website and a listing on Google My Business are essential.
You can advertise your new business on places like Yelp, which can give you some terrific exposure as well.
In addition to trying to get inbound leads (i.e., people calling you), you will want to pound the pavement and reach out to various potential clients.
Some great places to start include hotels, nightclubs, convention centers, restaurants, bars, theaters, hospitals, high-end malls, and even casinos (if you have any in your area).
Another fine option is to reach out to wedding and event planners (who often want to provide their guests with a white glove experience). You can also contact trade shows and other large events that take place in your area to see if they need valet services.
For these types of one-time events, you will need to find out beforehand where cars may be legally parked and secure suitable lots or other locations that are nearby.
Step 7: Launch Your Valet Parking Business
Ok, if you’ve done all of the prior steps, you are ready to launch your business. Line up all of the administrative stuff, make sure your employees are ready to go, and start your marketing campaign.
With any luck, you’ll be off to an amazing (and profitable) start to your new valet parking business.
So there you have it – how to start a valet parking business in 7 simple steps.
If you are interested in learning more about how to start a business in general, including way more details on some of these individual steps, check out my ultimate beginner’s guide to starting a business. I cover name and logo design, the various types of business entities and their pros and cons, and a host of other topics that are essential to a new entrepreneur.