Working as a car valet

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Rodney Harper joined a vehicle valeting company in Surrey, as a trainee valeter less than a year ago. He showed such talent for the job that he was quickly promoted to area manager with responsibility for training new staff.

What does your job involve?

It involves all types of cleaning and valeting. This ranges from restoring vehicle paint surfaces to carrying out leather treatments. I manage and supervise all of our valeting staff and train new employees. I'm also responsible for stock control and I manage new and existing contracts.

Who are your customers?

We provide valeting services for a wide range of clients – ranging from large dealerships and independent car traders to companies with fleets of cars.

Do you have a typical day?

No, not really! This is partly because our company is very flexible and we often change our plans to suit our customers. I spend a lot of my time visiting new customers at their premises, demonstrating the standard of cleaning we provide and finalising the details of cleaning contracts.

What is the difference between cleaning a car and valeting it?

There is a huge difference! A full valet involves doing a thorough interior and exterior clean, including hand polishing. We also do engine cleaning and can remove things ranging from light scratches and black tar spots to pet hair and unpleasant smells!

What kind of equipment do you use?

I use a wide variety of specialist equipment – vacuum cleaners, wet extraction machines, hot and cold water pressure washers, electrical car machine polishers and numerous accessories and chemicals, such as upholstery shampoos, leather softeners and deodorisers.

Do you have to work to a set method?

There is no real set method of valeting. Every car needs to be worked on in a different way. The main objective is to be methodical and understand that precise, detailed work is required.

What skills and qualities are needed working as a car valet?

You need an eye for detail, energy, patience and commitment to each individual car – you might have to spend a whole day working on just one car.

What was your route into this job?

A friend recommended me to the manager of a business who employed me as a trainee valeter. Within six months I was offered my current position as area manager.

What training have you received so far?

I have been taught how to use different types of equipment and chemicals, as well as learning important tricks of the trade. For example, some paints on certain cars are more delicate than others and it easy to damage a car with just water.

What hours do you work?

I generally work normal office hours, although I have to be flexible sometimes.

What do you like best about your job?

The look of surprise on people's faces when they see how good their cars look after valeting.

Rodney's route to becoming a car valet

  • Previous experience as a council planning applications officer.
  • Worked for the Land Registry.
  • Joined business as a trainee valeter.
  • Promoted to area manager and new staff trainer.

Rodney's valet tips

  • Take personal pride in what you do.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected!

Car valet related jobs

Salary of a car valet

  • A trainee car valeter earns £10,000.
  • A qualified and experienced valeter can earn up to £16,000.
  • Those with supervisory responsibilities earn more.
  • Overtime and shift payments may be available.

How to become a car valet

  • Car valets can find work with specialist valeting firms that provide services to people at their homes or places of work, or have contracts with dealerships or garages. Some employers, such as car rental firms, employ their own valets.
  • No formal academic qualifications are required. Experience of the motor trade or in a cleaning role can be helpful. A driving licence is usually essential.
  • Training is usually on the job, learning alongside an experienced valet. Apprenticeships in Light Vehicle Repair and Valeting are available.
  • Qualifications include the IMI (Institute of the Motor Industry) NVQ/SVQ Valeting Level 1.
  • Some qualifications, such as NVQ/SVQ Levels 1 to 3 in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair, and the ABC Level 1 Certificate/Diploma in Motor Vehicle Studies, contain units in vehicle valeting.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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