3 reasons why you need to ditch valet parking

July 3, 2024
Hannah Michelle Lambert
Content Writer

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In theory, valet parking seems like a luxury amenity. Or it may seem like the perfect solution to a parking shortage at your property. But in reality, it’s more of a hassle than it’s worth.

In fact, it may be a massive turn-off for potential residents. Take it from this one Reddit user who really wanted to move into an apartment but was worried that the only parking available was valet. He took to Reddit to ask for advice:

Many residents strongly dislike valet parking. But what about property management? In this post, we decided to investigate this from the property manager perspective. After talking to a handful of property managers, we came to the same conclusion: You should ditch your valet parking. Here are the top three reasons why.

It’s prohibitively expensive

This was the most salient reason that property managers voiced for ditching their valet parking. 

There are several direct costs associated with valet. Jeremy Wolfset from 201 Isabella recalled that valet was “prohibitively expensive.”

“We were spending over $100,000 per year between the costs of the valet company and the salary/benefits for the single attendant.” 

Volkan Pakis from Sentral Union Station shared a similar story. 

“Some months, we paid over $35,000 for valet. At the end of the year, all of the revenue we got from parking was eaten up by valet costs.”

On top of paying parking attendants or valet companies, you also have to factor in insurance. In California, for example, valet insurance costs about $50-80 per vehicle you’re moving every month. At large properties, this number can add up very quickly. 

There are some indirect costs as well, such as increased time spent by management having to deal with valet-related issues or responding to resident complaints. Not to mention the time and money that goes towards handling property damage claims. 

Several property managers have stressed to us that valet can often be a poor investment. It's expensive without boosting parking revenue, providing very little ROI for properties.

It’s inconvenient for residents

Despite valet’s designation as a “luxury amenity,” residents are typically not as thrilled with it as you might think

One person on the aforementioned Reddit thread summed it up well: “That’s not a luxury to me, that’s a major headache.” 

When residents have to depend on notifying valet at least 15 minutes before they need to access their car, it can inconvenience them and restrict their ability to head out on short notice. Imagine running late for work only to have to sit and wait for your car to be delivered to you. (Stackers are similarly inconvenient for this reason.)

These problems can be exacerbated during peak hours like the beginning or end of the work day. These bottlenecks are likely to happen, and residents’ patience will quickly be worn thin. 

Volkan from Sentral Union Station experienced this problem constantly. “At rush times, we really needed 2 valet attendants for things to move smoothly, but we could only afford one. So there were always backups.”

Putting their car in the valet's hands can also cause some paranoia for a resident. Since valet is often used as a solution to tight parking areas (and residents know this), people may worry that their car is going to get dinged at some point.

And these fears aren’t unfounded. As Volkan shared with us:

“Every other month, someone submitted a claim with damage to their vehicle.”

There are other small inconveniences that can frustrate residents and distract from the overall luxury quality of their experience, like having to adjust seats and mirrors every time they get their car from valet. 

Operationally, it’s complicated

The ideal valet parking scenario often doesn’t play out in real life, because it’s usually not as well-oiled of a machine as it should be. Stacking cars to fit more in a smaller area might seem ideal, but it can quickly turn into chaos when not managed well. 

At Sentral Union Station, valet was operated using a manual whiteboard system, leading to a lot of human error and inefficiency. For properties looking to squeeze in more spots, our findings suggest that they will rarely be able to fix the problem with valet.

Jeremy told us, “We could never see the boost in utilization that we were hoping for from valet.” 

Due to the high cost of valet attendants, many properties are only able to employ one person, which leads to consistent difficulties. If your one attendant is on a break, people don’t have access to their cars during that time. 

Due to valet operations often being separate from the rest of the operations at the property, breakdowns in communication can often occur. Too often, communication can turn into a game of telephone as messages are passed among residents, property management, and valet. And since resident communication is one of the most critical pieces of a healthy property management strategy, this can cause some serious issues. 

Valet parking isn’t the answer… so what is?

We know that sometimes, not having enough parking to accommodate your residents and their guests can make you feel like you’re backed into a corner and valet is your only option. But more often than not, implementing valet is only going to introduce more problems and may not even solve your original problem in the first place. 

More and more properties are removing valet and looking to technology instead. Self-serve resident parking solutions like Parkade are tailor-made to ease parking shortages, boost resident satisfaction, and increase overall building revenue, all while reducing operational load on staff. 

Using a parking management solution like Parkade can help you modernize enforcement, better utilize empty spots with short-term leases, and leverage revenue management for parking.

Jeremy shared with us the change he experienced when he made the change from valet to Parkade:

“Our parking utilization is always at 100% now, which we were never able to get to with valet, no matter how hard we tried.” 

Technology has a much higher return on investment than a valet service, too. Between increased revenue from better parking utilization, sophisticated pricing, and cost savings from streamlined parking operations, you’re improving your parking situation in multiple ways.

Want to see how Parkade works, and how it can make the decision to ditch your valet the easiest decision to make? Check out this interactive infographic to see how many of your problems it can solve.

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