How to ask for, and get a pay raise as a Valet

Valet Photo

As a valet, it’s your job to add the extra element of professionalism and convenience to a customer’s evening out. Working as a valet requires the ability to work quickly and with a personal touch. When you are able to bring these skills together, it creates a seamless experience for your guests. As a result, the satisfied customer leaves a bigger tip. Valets understand what it is like to rely on tips to make a living; however, getting tips as a service worker is tougher than it has ever been.

As our work becomes increasingly cashless, service workers are finding it is harder to make this crucial part of their income, as people often do not carry cash on their person. Furthermore, people are increasingly using alternative transportation services, such as ride sharing. All of these have the result of making it much more difficult for a valet to be adequately compensated for the services they provide their customers. 

Firstly, are you underpaid?

A need for valets isn’t limited to just hotels: garages, restaurants and even some clubs require a valet – the skills are easily transferable, allowing you to leverage getting a higher wage.

But according to PayScale, entry level valets are currently earning between $7-13 for their work. Experienced valets can only make up to $9-15, and even this is not a living salary in many areas of the United States, showing that many valets are not able to receive adequate compensation for their services. This information can be your best friend in determining whether or not you should ask your manager for a raise or additional benefits: knowing where you stand and why you should make more is the best way to achieve your goal. 

Figure 1: Average Hourly Wages

Making a case for your pay raise

Determining how much money someone makes doesn’t necessarily follow a standard procedure, the state of the economy and education-level are just two of the things that affect the amount someone is paid. Regardless of these factors, it seems that the fundamentals when considering how much a valet should be paid are the level of experience and training. As with most careers, the more experience you have, the more valuable you are compared to those who are less experienced. This directly translates to better tips and an increased level of income. In addition, it is important to consider where you stand relative to your coworkers and other valets in the industry.

How much experience do your coworkers have? Have you been a key part of any pivotal situations in your time working for your employer? How much training do you have compared to the standard valet in the industry? After considering this, use the data above to evaluate where you think your pay should be. Do you deserve to be paid more? Are there benefits, such as medical and dental, that you deserve and are not getting? Be sure to create a thorough argument as to why you are worth more than you are being paid currently. Remember that research is integral to crafting your argument to make more money. 

Figure 2: Parking Lot Attendant Wages by State

When is the best time to ask for a pay raise?

Before booking a meeting to talk to your manager, it is important to know exactly what you want and to be able to make the case as to why you deserve it.  How you word your case can be the difference between identifying your strengths and criticizing your boss’ lack of fair mindedness. You should know statistics on industry-wide valet wages, and why you should make more than what you earn at the moment. Be sure to explain how your experiences and high levels of training make your services more valuable than what you are receiving for them.  There is no ideal time to bring up this topic, but mentioning it in a performance review will be helpful as they are already evaluating you. If your manager says he or she needs time to think about it, be patient and be respectful. This may be a big decision and expenses may be tight for the firm. However, if they are being dismissive, don’t be afraid to follow up regularly and continue to prove your value. If you’ve recently received a raise, this may be more difficult. However, if you are able to articulate why you should be making more, your boss should give it fair consideration. It is important to keep in mind that there may not be a ‘perfect moment.’ It is best not to wait, and to be persistent about getting what you want. Every hour of work you wait could be more money in your wallet.

How should you request your pay increase?

During your meeting, it is best to demonstrate your value. However, try to be relatively concise, as this allows you to convey to your manager your case without losing their focus. In addition, it is best to be as professional and confident as possible. This shows that you know how to conduct yourself and have some business and negotiating expertise. Knowing specific numbers you can reference makes it more difficult for your argument to be dismissed. If they directly ask you how much you want, it is best to ask for a fraction more than you want to receive. Your manager may make a counteroffer that is higher than if you simply told them directly what you wanted. In the ideal case, he or she may even say yes and give you more than you wanted originally. 

What happens if you don’t get a pay raise?

If you are unsuccessful at first, don’t worry too much. It happens quite often. Your best bet is to continue to prove your value to your boss. They know you want more money and may be more appreciative after seeing you continue to work hard. You should also consider asking when you can expect to get a raise in the future. A very smart strategy is to ask exactly what they expect from you that can be done to increase your pay to the level you want. You may want to volunteer to take on more responsibilities. You can also follow these tips to make more money as a valet [insert article 1 link here when it is published]. 

If all of these still fail, it may be time to consider looking for a new employer. If you don’t want to leave your current job, you could use another company’s offer to leverage into your raise from your current boss. 

Most valets are not adequately compensated with a living wage. It is important to research what other people are making at your position with the same experience and training to estimate how much you should be making. This allows you to determine how much you should be making in the future. When making your case, remain concise and confident to show that you can conduct yourself in a professional environment. If you are unsuccessful at first, set up goals with your manager and a deadline in which you can expect a pay raise should you reach these goals. . If you are still unhappy, it may be time to look for an employer that will compensate you adequately. 

The most important things to keep in mind are:

  1. Do your research about what you should be paid based on experience and training
  2. Determine how much you think you should be making, and what benefits you may not be getting that you should 
  3. Gather the information you will use to make your case. 
  4. Draft your argument and possible share with friends and family to get their insight on what to add or edit out
  5. Schedule a meeting with your boss, ideally around performance review time
  6. There may not be a ‘perfect moment’ and instead you should be confident and ask for what you are worth
  7. If asked how much you want, ask for more than how much you actually desire
  8. If at first you don’t succeed, be sure to ask when you expect more
  9. Ask what you need to improve on and what training may be offered to help you meet those expectations
  10. If you are still unsatisfied, it may be time to consider looking for a job elsewhere

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