Luxe, the on-demand valet parking app, will launch in San Jose

Luxe Valet, the on-demand valet parking company, will expand to San Jose next week, its first attempt at offering Bay Area residents outside of San Francisco an app-driven parking service.

Luxe, which launched in October with an app that connects drivers who need to park with people who will park their car for them, is starting a pilot program in the South Bay city beginning Aug. 10. The company will offer on-demand parking to drivers in downtown San Jose seven days a week, testing customer demand in a significantly less dense city, and one with much easier parking, than San Francisco.

Luxe’s Bay Area General Manager Deeksha Hebbar said she expects customers will use the service for evening outings and weekend excursions around San Jose.

“Parking in San Jose is much easier than San Francisco,” Hebbar said in an interview Thursday. “But having talked to customers and done some initial analysis, we think there is a market there.”

San Jose is just the second Bay Area city Luxe has entered since launching in San San Francisco last year. Hebbar said she wants to make the service available to residents throughout the region, knowing that many travel up and down the Peninsula for work, school and entertainment.

“We have pretty good coverage in a large part of (San Francisco) and we’re serving a large number of customers here,” she said, “which is why we want to service them in other parts of the Bay Area, no matter where travel takes them.”

San Jose marks Luxe’s ninth city; it also operates in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Austin, Tex.

How it works: Drivers use the Luxe app to request a valet meet them at a location where they will need to park their car. The Luxe valets, who need about 10 minutes advance notice, show up on foot, skateboard or  scooter. The driver goes about his or her business while the valet parks the car in one of the several garages where Luxe has leased spaces. Cars are never parked on the street. The driver notifies the valet through the app what time and where he wants the car back, and the valet will deliver it. The user can track the location of the valet in real-time through the smartphone app.

Luxe has also been dabbling in additional services, for an additional fee, of course. They include gas fill-ups, car washes and, most recently, oil changes are now offered in San Francisco.

Luxe last month joined the wave of on-demand tech startups that are converting their independent contractors to part- and full-time employees. Hebbar said the company will complete reclassification of its workers to employees by early next year.

As independent contractors, workers cannot receive professional training on the job, and Hebbar said training is critical to reduce the risks that a worker might damage — or worse — a vehicle that has been entrusted with Luxe.

“People are handing over one of their highest-valued assets and we take that very seriously,” she said.

Once workers become employees, Luxe can mandate more rigorous training and have more control over how the valets do their job. Of course, one might wonder why Luxe cut corners and hired independent contractors to begin with.

The company has raised $25 million from investors. Its hours of operation in San Jose will be 7 am to 9 pm Monday through Thursday, 7 am to 11 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m to 9 p.m. on Sunday. The cost is $7 per hour with a cap of $20 per day.

Here’s the app for iOS and Android.
Screen grab from http://luxe.com
 

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