Friday, 31 July 2015 GMT
Author: Staveley Head
There are so many vehicles you can drive for a living. Vans, cabs, tractors, motorbikes, bulldozers, articulated lorries, even boats and barges. But there’s only one that has real style and prestige about it.
Being a chauffeur brings to mind a chap in a grey suit, peaked cap and a brown 70s Roller, opening the door for Joan Collins. That or taking the bride and her dad along to a wedding. But the reality is, chauffeurs are professionally trained, highly experienced drivers who know how to handle a heavy and powerful – car, how to deal with clients/passengers respectfully and what to do in the event of an emergency (whatever that may be).
There are ex-SAS guys who drive as bodyguards for Hollywood A-listers and rally drivers who’ve retired and taken to going at a more leisurely pace (unless asked otherwise, ie, when their politically sensitive clients need to get out of somewhere quickly). So yes, there’s a sprinkling of glamour and excitement now and again.
But this doesn’t happen every day. Often, professional chauffeurs are stuck on the motorway or waiting for hours outside everything from recording studios to parties to offices. There are crazy jobs we’ve heard of where a driver was asked to take his client to Milan from London for a 2o minute meeting, then drive them back again. Or when another was paid to wait – for 72 solid hours – outside a flat in Mayfair in mid-winter. Work that out.
If none of this has put you off, then remember that you will need hugely understanding partners who will support you working long, unsociable and unpredictable hours. And as for you, you’ll need to be polite, efficient, smart, considerate and dedicated to maintaining your own standards and the well being of your clients. Some love a certain type of coffee when you pick them up, others need to email or call their office, some want to chat but most don’t. You really have to do whatever makes them feel comfortable, happy and safe.
Then you’ll need a good car. One that is extremely comfortable, reliable, modern, secure and it must be powerful enough to move quickly when you need it to. It should look absolutely beautiful, be a neutral colour (so it blends in) and kept spotlessly clean inside and out 24/7. It is important to be equipped with the best SatNav but you should always carry a plug-in spare in case anything ever goes wrong.
Your car should be serviced every couple of months or at least checked over by an expert to ensure there are no problems on the horizon that could affect your job – just think what a slow puncture could do to your day. You need to always check your tax and MOT to make sure you’re never, ever pulled over for failing to have either. That is career suicide.
Being a really good chauffeur means you must be able to react quickly, to think on your feet (or your backside) and get a move on when you need to - although you must never break the speed limit or jump a red light, even if your client begs you to.
But your most important asset is your chauffeur insurance. You are entirely responsible for your clients’ safety and their guests, as well as your own and your car. You need protection for them, for you and for any breakdowns. You will need cover for any unexpected jaunts to the Continent (see the Milan episode) and in case absolutely anything else goes wrong from prangs to accidents to breakdowns. And you’ll need to make sure you can get a replacement car extremely quickly so you can carry on with your job as best you can.
But in case you think this is a world that’s out of touch with the current world, there’s now an Electric Chauffeur firm out there now who specialise in emission-free driving. This is an interesting market for future chauffeurs, especially in city centres, and as we all become more environmentally aware this really could become a growth market.
But what do you think? Could you ever drive others for a living like this? We’d love to know your thoughts!