Car Valet

The Job and What's Involved

Car valets clean and finish the inside and outside of cars and other motor vehicles. Their customers include private owners, leasing companies and dealerships. Jobs vary depending on the customer's requirements, but will include all or some of the following tasks:

  • Answering customers' questions and enquiries.
  • Marketing the valet service to potential clients.
  • Examining the car with the customer before cleaning it to decide what needs doing.
  • Removing any insects and debris from the windscreen and bodywork.
  • Washing the outside with a cleaning fluid.
  • Cleaning off the tyres, wheels, wheel-arches and mudflaps.
  • Rinsing, drying, buffing and polishing the paintwork.
  • Steam-cleaning the engine.
  • Cleaning the interior plastic work using brushes and cloths.
  • Vacuuming the inside of the vehicle.
  • Shampooing the seats, carpet and lining.
  • Cleaning and polishing the windows.
  • Fitting replacement spoilers, skirts and mudflaps.
  • Blackening up the tyres.
  • Completing a detailed quality check.
  • Driving the vehicle to and from the customers' premises.

Car valets use specialist tools and equipment to clean vehicles. These include steam and pressure washers, vacuums, brushes and buffers. They need to know about different kinds of vehicles.

As some of the chemicals they use are toxic, they must be aware of health and safety. It also helps to know about different paints and panelling as the type of paint determines the best cleaning product and process to use.

Much of the time, car valets work on their own, though they have regular contact with customers and dealership managers.

Working hours may vary depending on the employer. Those employed by a garage or dealership are likely to work more regular hours, Monday to Friday, but those who are self-employed work hours to suit the needs of their clients and often need to work at weekends. Part-time positions are often available.

Valets working for a garage or dealership are usually based at the premises. Mobile valets are also quite common, and allow the valet to take their equipment to the customer. This can involve a lot of driving.

Most work takes place outside or in a workshop. The work is physical and tiring with a lot of bending and stretching. A full valet can take around three hours to complete.

A valet is likely to get wet while working, and may also come into contact with potentially hazardous substances, as well as oil, grease and grime. They may need to wear protective clothing including gloves and safety glasses.

Car valets usually need a driving licence.

Starting salaries may be around £12,500 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are 20,000 car valets working around the UK, and there are usually more vacancies than applicants. The valeting sector continues to grow, though competition is also on the increase.

Large rental companies, garages and dealerships often employ valets to prepare cars for sale or lease.

Specialist mobile valeting companies have increased over the last few years. Many are run under franchise or rent equipment to individuals starting their own business. Their clients are likely to include individual car owners and some dealerships, fleets and garages.

Vacancies may be advertised in local newspapers. Companies offering franchise opportunities are likely to advertise online.

Education and Training

There are no formal academic entry requirements for becoming a car valet. It may be necessary to demonstrate a good knowledge of cars and how they work.

Car valets usually need a driving licence.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Most of the training is on the job, working alongside an experienced valet, who teaches trainees the various techniques and correct ways to clean specific areas of the vehicle.

Some employers have induction programmes for new valets. They may also send trainees on short courses run by the manufacturers of the cleaning chemicals. The courses also cover health and safety.

The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) offers a Car Valeting Certificate. This covers all of the key aspects of the work including stain removal, pressure washing, exterior cleaning, polishing and washing, and interior cleaning. Further information on which centres offer this course is available from BICSc.

There is also an NVQ/SVQ Level 1 in Vehicle Maintenance, specific to valeting. It includes modules on good housekeeping, health and safety, positive working relationships, valeting, identifying and agreeing customer needs, processing payments, security and storage.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A car valet needs:

  • A good level of general fitness and stamina.
  • To be methodical and to pay attention to detail.
  • Good customer service skills.
  • To be aware of health and safety.
  • To be self-motivated and able to use their initiative.

Your Long Term Prospects

Large companies or franchises may offer opportunities for car valets to become supervisors. There are also openings for people who show a flair for training. Some valets may move into a selling role, finding new customers, expanding the business, and finalising contracts.

With experience, it is possible to set up as a self-employed car valet, either as a private business or a franchise.

Valets may be able to take further training and move into vehicle maintenance and light mechanics.

Get Further Information

The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc),
9 Premier Court, Boarden Close, Moulton Park, Northampton NN3 6LF
Tel: 01604 678710
Website: www.bics.org.uk

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