San Francisco-based valet service provider Luxe has announced that it will hire its formerly independent contractors as both full-time and part-time workers. That change of policy makes Luxe more than just the only valet start-up in a city of valet startups to make the ultimate employment plunge, but it also sets an interesting precedent for other platform based services like Shyp, Instacart, and, of course, Uber.
What’s most interesting about the announcement is the way in which it reflects and augments the company’s existing branding. Luxe’s valets already wear cool, branded windbreakers and act with extreme deference to their customers. In its materials, the company invariably uses high-end cars and good-looking workers. The idea, of course, is to communicate that this is a luxury service. And what is more luxurious than professionalism.
Many platform-based, app-enabled services start with an eye toward the early adopters and easy spenders of the luxury class, but as often as not they go mainstream quickly, becoming tools for the masses or, in the case of Shyp, conveniences that are almost invisible to users. In a sense, Luxe has thrown down the luxury gauntlet and, in a sense, they seem to have done some math. Employing their valets will certainly cost Luxe more, diminishing margins while also guaranteeing the company’s ability to offer a consistent and differentiated product. The value of that guarantee apparently outweighs the value of the money they could have saved — or not, depending on whether or not the California Labor Commission tries to force platform apps to employ contractors or get out of the game.
The announcement didn’t come couched in a great deal of self-righteous language, which is both refreshing and indicative of the fact that Luxe may actually be behaving in its own best interest, which makes this development all the more interesting — especially for those happy valets.