Using a chauffeur is becoming increasingly popular as a way for people to save themselves time and stress as they travel. The quality of your experience will, however, depend entirely on the quality of your chauffeur. With that in mind, here are the key points to check before you hire a chauffeur.
What are the basic requirements for your trip?
Who will be travelling from where to where and when? Do the passengers have any specific needs such as wheelchair accessibility or child seats? Do you have any preference for the type of vehicle used?
In the UK, chauffeur companies tend to use newer vehicles as standard. They may also have classic or other special vehicles available. These are typically used for events (such as weddings) where they look good in photos.
Many chauffeur companies offer a mixture of luxury vehicles and sedans. They may, however, lean more toward one type of vehicle or the other, depending on their client base. Chauffeur companies in some areas may offer some tougher vehicles, more suitable for offroading. This is, however, fairly niche.
Whatever type of vehicle you use, you can expect it to be in perfect condition both visually and technically. Reputable chauffeur companies make their customers’ comfort and safety their highest priorities.
Are there any special services you require?
One of the major advantages, when you hire a chauffeur, is that chauffeurs are both flexible and knowledgeable. This means that they are both willing and able to accommodate a wide variety of requests.
In general, it’s preferable to let your chauffeur know any special requirements when you book. That will give them time to make any advance preparations if necessary. If that’s not possible, however, ask anyway. Your chauffeur may well be able to find a way to make it happen. Even if they can’t, they may be able to suggest an alternative solution.
Chauffeurs are also great sources of local knowledge. They can usually give advice on anything from restaurant recommendations to special events in town to the most Instagrammable locations.
Is there anything you need to be removed?
Most chauffeur companies will offer certain amenities as standard. These will typically include soft drinks, snacks, and magazines. Some may include alcohol as a standard. If you don’t want any of these items (e.g. out of concern for allergies), just let them know in advance and they will take it/them out.
What information is given about the company?
Some chauffeurs are freelancers but it’s more common for chauffeurs to work through registered companies. In either case, you should be given a reasonable amount of information about the business itself. In particular, you should see where it is located, who runs it, (usually) how long it has been in business and whether or not it has a PCO (Public Carriage Office) licence.
What information is given about the drivers?
If you’re looking at a freelancer’s website, then the information on who runs the business will essentially be the information on your driver. In general, however, there will be a separate section on the drivers.
At a minimum, you should expect to see what the company’s recruitment and training process is. Many companies will go a step further and give you a potted biography of their drivers. This can give you a bit of insight into their background. They may also list any additional skills they have (e.g. languages). You can expect all drivers to know first aid.
What impression does the website convey?
You can learn a lot about a business just by assessing the quality of its website. Does it load quickly? Is it easy to navigate? Is the content presented in an appropriate way (e.g. a mixture of text, photos, and videos)?
These days, chauffeur companies’ websites generally contain a lot of pictures and/or videos. If they don’t, they will usually have links to social media sites, where you can see images and videos. The reason this matter is that it literally allows you to see for yourself whether or not a company looks like it pays attention to presentation.
You should see vehicles looking pristine outside and inside. You should also see their drivers in smart attire. Not all chauffeur companies have a specific uniform but all reputable ones have a dress code. They also have standards regarding their drivers’ personal presentation. All of this should be clearly visible on their website (and/or social media accounts).
What payment methods do they accept?
It’s a red flag if a business still only accepts cash or cheques. It may not be a sign that anything is wrong with the vehicles or the drivers. It is, however, a sign that the business is very much behind the times with how it takes payments. You should expect a reputable, well-run chauffeur company to accept payment cards and possibly ewallets as well.
You should also take a look at their payment structure. It’s very common for chauffeur companies to request a deposit. This may or may not be refundable. If it is refundable, there may be conditions attached (e.g. a certain amount of notice of cancellation). It’s advisable to check this. Even if you’re sure that you’re going to make your journey, this information can give you an insight into how the company is run.
What service guarantees do they offer?
There are many reasons for booking a chauffeur. For many people, however, one of the main ones is the reassurance that you will be picked up at the agreed time and reach your destination at the expected time. This should be put in writing along with the company’s policy if they are unable to make good on this.
Reputable companies will know that it is impossible for a company to be sure that they can make every trip as expected. They should, however, be confident enough to offer a very high service guarantee. They should also have a policy on what they do if this is breached.
What do their reviews say?
Established chauffeur companies will almost certainly have plenty of reviews. If a company is newer, then try chatting with the staff (in person or over the phone). See what sort of impression this gives you.