Complete Guide: How to Earn More Tips as a Valet

Valet Photo

It’s hot outside, and you’ve been running around the parking lot all day moving people’s cars. It’s not easy, but despite all of this; you keep a smile on your face and try to make a good impression. It’s finally your last car of the day. You run as fast as you can and deliver it to the customer. “Great,” you think. Then, to your surprise, the customer speeds off before giving you a tip. “Why could this be?” you wonder. Unfortunately, the trend of valets not being tipped is becoming increasingly common. Tips are not just decreasing for valets but many other service workers as well. This results from the challenge of tipping a service worker for their performance in an increasingly cashless world. 

How much can you expect to earn in tips as a valet

Research finds that the average valet can expect anywhere from $1-5 per car.  One rule of thumb is $1 tipped for every $10,000 of car value. However, this is usually not the case. Across lots of websites and chat boards for tourists coming to the US, the general rule of thumb is to leave at least $2. Tourists are advised that it is unnecessary to spend more than $5 on a valet tip, and that the amount should be based on quality of services. This runs counter to the rule of thumb above.  The reality is that trying to determine exactly how much you can expect is nearly impossible, but it is possible to take certain steps to influence your tips positively. 

Who tips valet’s the highest?

Many people, including valets themselves, believe that high end car owners tend to leave the best tips. Surely someone with enough income to afford such a nice car also has the money to give a few extra bucks to the valet, right? While this seems very logical, it is actually untrue. Valets actually make the most money on middle class cars.  When interviewed, one valet stated that they tend to make $3-5 from middle class car owners and $2-3 from high end car owners. This is different than common thought amongst workers in the industry. Of course, while some valets have experience receiving less money from drivers of high end cars, that isn’t always the case. It isn’t difficult to go online and find articles, such as “Big Spender! Mark Wahlberg tips $100 after solo lunch in Beverly Hills”. While this is obviously a great day for that valet, this is not the case for most workers. Predicting tips is a shot in the dark and you’ll never truly know until you have the money in your hand. However, the generally accepted rule is $2-5, so that is what most people tend to give due to social norms. 

How to earn more tips as a valet

While $2-5 isn’t bad, it’s always desirable to have more money. At some point all service workers have wondered, “What can I do to make more money?” While there is no true formula that can give you your desired result 100% of the time, there are some pointers you should follow to maximize your chances of a good tip. 

  1. Always have a good attitude. 

Positivity radiates. Everyone likes being around people who smile and are in a good mood. This will rub off on customers and make them happy as well. It is evident that happier people will be more likely to cash out a nice tip than people in a bad mood. This positivity and willingness to help will be kept in mind by the customer and make them likely to reward you for it. This is probably the easiest way to earn a nice tip. However, it is important to note that a lack of sincerity can rub people the wrong way, so avoid overdoing it. 

  1. Always open the door for the customer upon both arrival and departure. 

People enjoy being treated like royalty. Opening the door for a customer  as they arrive to a fancy dinner can make them feel like they are on the red carpet. This especially goes a long way when you hold the door for someone’s date. Showing kindness as well as demonstrating a sense of professionalism, adding these touches creates a personal element to the service that makes the customer feel valued. Simply opening the door, smiling,  and saying “Welcome” results in an elevated customer experience—which directly translates to a nice tip. 

  1. Deliver the car as fast as possible. 

While this may not earn you a big tip per se, it will certainly decrease your chances at a bad tip. Making the customer wait for an excessive amount of time is the most surefire way to lose a tip. This is especially true if there is inclimate weather. You should demonstrate to the customer that you recognize that their time is valuable. However, it is crucial to note that if you are seen driving like a maniac in order to deliver the car quickly, it will not go over well. In fact, it could make your employer lose future business and will likely result in complaints and upset customers. Customers will likely be understanding of a longer wait if you are working at a large and busy venue. So, don’t be too worried if you are working a full lot. 

  1. Go the extra mile.

Going the extra mile in order to help a customer will go a very long way. If you work at a hotel or resort, be sure to help people with their luggage as they arrive and depart from the parking lot. Do not wait for them to ask—you are expected to offer this service to people carrying luggage. In addition, if you truly want to go the extra mile and enhance the customer experience, you can offer drinks or snacks. Be sure to ask your employer. Greeting a customer on a hot day with a bottle of water or hot chocolate as they pull up to their ski resort is a great way to make tips. This demonstrates that you are truly going out of your way to help the customer and genuinely care about their parking experience. 


In conclusion, people earning tips have seen their income decline as a result of an increasingly cashless world. While people are quick to embrace the benefits of new technologies, the decline in people carrying cash is an often unrecognized problem by the average person.

In order to maximize the tips you make, you should be kind and have a positive attitude. Hold the door and offer a greeting as the customers arrive. Customers like for their cars to be delivered in a timely manner, but be sure to drive with caution. Going the extra mile always helps you and won’t go unrecognized. Your tips will tend to be in the $2-5 range. There is no way to predict exactly what you will make; however, if you offer great service you can increase your chance of getting just as great of a tip.

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