Chauffeur/Chauffeuse

The Job and What's Involved

Rolls RoyceA chauffeur or chauffeuse drives, cleans and maintains a car - often of high value - for their employer.

Chauffeurs/chauffeuses offer a more personal service than taxi drivers, and duties include taking care of their passengers and their property at all times, opening and closing doors, assisting those requiring help to get in and out of the vehicle, and carrying and loading luggage.

The job varies according to the type of employer, but all chauffeurs/chauffeuses need to drive safely and to a high standard, and be security aware at all times. They also need to check their vehicle is in good working order and meets all legal requirements.

The employer might be a VIP business person or celebrity, who may not have a driving licence, or may be banned from driving through a conviction or illness and prefers to be driven. In these cases the chauffeur/chauffeuse:

  • Must be ready to drive at once to wherever the employer wants to go and arrive comfortably and punctually.
  • May spend a lot of time waiting for the employer to come out of meetings.

The employer may be a private household. In this case the duties might include:

  • Taking children to school and supervising their behaviour on the way.
  • Taking people to a social event and helping them get in and out.
  • Additional domestic duties such as shopping or light maintenance work.
  • Living on the premises, to be more readily on call.

The employer might be a private-hire firm hiring out vehicles such as limousines for special occasions. In this case the chauffeur/chauffeuse:

  • May drive different clients every day to different places.
  • Drives different vehicles for different jobs.
  • Adapts their manner to the occasion, whether it be a wedding, a funeral, or a birthday treat, or an important business meeting.
  • May sometimes be responsible for valeting or maintaining the vehicles.

The employer might be a commercial or industrial company. In this case duties may include:

  • Meeting and welcoming important visitors at the airport or other locations.
  • Showing visiting dignitaries local tourist sites.
  • Taking senior staff to the airport, or other locations, or to meetings.

Chauffeurs/chauffeuses do not generally work regular hours, and may be required to work evenings, weekends and public holidays. They spend a lot of time waiting on call. Split shifts are common, giving them, for example, three or four free hours in the middle of the afternoon. Part-time contracts are widely available.

They may spend nights away from home. If they are working for a private household, they may be given live-in accommodation.

Chauffeurs/chauffeuses have to lift and carry baggage, and pack it into the car. Most chauffeurs/chauffeuses wear a uniform when on duty.

The starting salary may be around £25,000 a year. Many chauffeurs/chauffeuses earn a lot of extra money in overtime, bonuses and gratuities.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Most chauffeurs/chauffeuses work for limousine companies. However, there are other openings with hotels, tour operators, car-hire companies, park and ride companies, business corporations and private individuals and families.

The British Chauffeurs Guild runs an employment agency for their members, specialising in vacancies for chauffeurs/chauffeuses (www.britishchauffeursguild.co.uk).

Education and Training

For insurance reasons, chauffeurs/chauffeuses are usually over 21. No qualifications except a driving licence are needed. Most employers demand a clean licence, but a few will consider applicants with penalty points. Some employers ask for an advanced driving certificate from the Institute of Advanced Motorists. Entrants also need several years' driving experience.

Employers may require applicants to be medically fit and pass a criminal records check.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Most training is on the job. Training essentially consists of getting to know the employer, or the passenger for the day, and what they expect of the chauffeur/chauffeuse.

There are NVQ's/SVQ's available in Road Passenger Transport, some of which are suitable for chauffeurs. There is more information on GoSkill's website www.goskills.org.

It may be possible to take specialised driving courses in safe driving techniques, security and self-defence, for example the ASET Level 2 Certificate in Defensive Driving.

The British Chauffeurs Guild offers a two-day Security Chauffeur Training Course, usually held over a weekend. This course covers theory, practice, etiquette and protocol demands, the history and tradition of chauffeuring, general advice and security awareness. Applicants must be over 21. Successful applicants achieve membership of the Guild, a Diploma of Merit, and access to temporary and permanent vacancies as members of the Guild.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Chauffeurs/chauffeuses need:

  • To be able to drive smoothly and safely, and within the legal limits.
  • Excellent observation skills with an awareness of safety and security.
  • Strong verbal communication and interpersonal skills.
  • To be punctual.
  • To be discrete and respect confidentiality - their employer's car may operate as a 'mobile office' in which important business calls can be overheard.
  • A respectful and polite manner.
  • A smart appearance.
  • Patience and flexibility.
  • Some knowledge of motor mechanics.
  • Map reading and route planning skills.
  • The ability to stay calm under pressure.
  • A reasonable level of physical fitness.

Your Long Term Prospects

Chauffeurs/chauffeuses are usually directly accountable to the employer, with no 'line management' in between, so there are generally few prospects for promotion. Some may buy their own executive car or limousine and apply for a licence to operate as a Private Hire Vehicle operator.

Chauffeurs/chauffeuses may move into security or close protection work after security training, specialising in defensive and evasive driving.

There may be some opportunities to work overseas.

Get Further Information

ASET, 124 Micklegate, York YO1 6JX
Tel: 0845 4589 500
Website: www.aset.co.uk

British Chauffeurs Guild, 13 Stonecot Hill, Sutton, Surrey SM3 9HB
Tel: 020 8641 1740
Website: www.britishchauffeursguild.co.uk

Driving Standards Agency (DSA), Stanley House,
56 Talbot Street, Nottingham NG1 5GU
Tel: 0115 901 2500
Website: www.dsa.gov.uk

GoSkills, Concorde House, Trinity Park, Solihull, West Midlands B37 7UQ
Tel: 0121 635 5520
Website: www.goskills.org

Institute of Advanced Motorists,
IAM House, 510 Chiswick High Road, London W4 5RG
Tel; 020 8996 9600
Website: www.iam.org.uk

Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA),
213 Kenton Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA3 0HD
Tel: 07956 329 288
Website: www.lphca.co.uk

Private Hire, Hackney Carriage and Chauffeur Industry Training Organisation,
c/o 14 Widdrington Terrace, North Shields, Tyne and Wear NE29 0BZ
Tel: 0191 258 1955

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