For many people, getting behind the wheel of a car is more than just a necessity, it is a passion. If you enjoy driving, then you might want to consider doing it for a living. There are lots of different pathways for this, and one of them is to become a personal driver. This is an exciting career choice, as it doesn’t just require you to drive from one place to another, but to care for the needs of your passengers in a professional, positive and precise manner. As personal driver specialists, we’ve put together some of our best tips and qualities you’ll need to succeed in this role.
Great customer service skills
A driver is someone in charge of a vehicle. However, some driving roles also require the driver to take a degree of responsibility for their passengers and/or cargo. Private driver roles are essentially roles in which the driver provides the highest levels of service to the passengers.
In the context of private driving, customer service can be divided into three broad categories. These are practicalities, etiquette and soft-skills.
It is a private driver’s job to ensure that a vehicle is always clean and stocked with anything the passengers may require. A private driver will typically undertake basic maintenance and cleaning themselves and will arrange for other maintenance tasks to be performed as necessary. It’s also helpful if a private driver knows how to perform basic repairs such as changing a tyre.
A private driver should plan every route appropriately. In some cases, this may require finding the quickest route, which may or may not be the shortest route. In other cases, it may involve finding the most scenic route or the smoothest route (if a passenger is car-sick). Private drivers might also be asked to talk about the route they are taking, and will need to be prepared with a little local knowledge.
Private drivers also need to have the highest level of driving skills. They should be confident driving in all weathers (especially in the UK) and at night. In some roles, it can be useful to know how to manage attacks on a vehicle although these are very rare in the UK. Most employers appreciate private drivers with first aid certification.
In simple terms, a private driver should do everything they can to show respect to their client. Hiring a private driver gives a sense of luxury and you will be expected to live up to that and offer the client the experience they expect. This starts with impeccable presentation, from the way you dress to your communication skills and manners. Bluntly, that includes odour, so if you smoke, the best option is to stop and the second-best option is to switch to vaping.
Private drivers also need to make sure they attend to any details which relate to their client’s comfort. For example, they should always open and close doors for their clients, carry luggage and keeping your clients refreshed.
Most importantly of all, private drivers need to be able to be trusted. They are likely to be in a position to see and hear sensitive information, which should never be divulged to third parties.
Private drivers need to be able to walk the line between friendliness and professionalism. In some cases, private drivers may genuinely become friends with their clients. It should, however, never be assumed that clients will want to make a relationship anything more than professional.
A private driver also needs to have a high level of self-control. They need to be able to show up ready to focus on the road no matter what else is going on in their life. They need to be able to deal with the realities of being on the road without getting either stressed or frustrated by what they encounter on the road, what happens in the back of their car or what might be going on in their own lives.
How do I become a private driver?
As you would imagine, at the very least, a private driver is required to have a valid UK driving licence. That licence should show that you have at least three years of experience and no penalty points. In some cases, you may also be required to complete a safe or advanced driving course. You will also expected to be in good health, and most insurance companies require drivers to be over the age of 25.
You will be required to have basic knowledge on maintaining a vehicle, experience in customer service, security awareness, a strong geographical sense and the ability to be polite, punctual and pristine. Depending on the job you are applying for, knowledge of foreign languages, self-defence skills and first-aid qualifications may also be necessary.
A life as a private driver can be great fun and very interesting, making it a career that you can really enjoy. You will need an eye for detail, a good sense of discretion and a love of being in the driving seat to make it a job that is incredibly rewarding for both the driver and the people they transport.
Kuldip Rait is the Managing Director of White 7 Bedford, specialists in providing personalised chauffeur services for weddings, corporate events and even airport transfers.