Forget the image of the stuffy chauffeur taking the aristocrat to afternoon
tea. While many still work for wealthy private families, chauffeurs today
are just as likely to drive a movie star to a big premiere, a top corporate
executive to an important board meeting or a high school student to the junior
Chauffeurs drive people to their destinations in luxury automobiles. The
automobile could be an ultra-cushy sedan or a 25-foot limousine. Some also
offer sightseeing tours and explanations of points of interest along the way,
as well as advice on hotels and restaurants. Some even offer the time-honored
tradition of opening doors and providing beverages.
According to Michael Boimoil, the term "chauffeur" is rarely used anymore.
"It's an old-fashioned term," he says. People no longer expect the white-gloved
man with a top hat and a crisp tuxedo. They don't expect a driver who opens
the door and serves cocktails on a silver platter.
"The regular corporate guys will wear a suit. Most people call you a driver
or a limo driver. Chauffeur is actually not a term that's used."
Most chauffeurs are expected to dress in formal clothing to help present
the right image, and the ultra-fancy drivers do exist. Most male drivers wear
tuxedos or formal suits, while female drivers wear pantsuits.
Some drivers are known for their quick wit and storytelling, while others
maintain a quieter image. According to Boimoil, a talented chauffeur knows
within seconds whether a client wants to talk. If your passenger wants conversation,
be prepared to dish it out. If you're not a dynamic character, says Boimoil,
you will have a hard time as a chauffeur. "If you have zero personality, then
forget it. You're not going to make it," he warns.
Some chauffeurs are employed by private individuals, but most are either
self-employed or work for limousine companies. Clients range from corporate
executives, movie stars, musicians and international dignitaries to newlywed
couples and prom dates.
Chauffeurs who work for a single employer may be on call much of the time,
and may have to be ready to jump into uniform at a moment's notice. For those
who work for a limousine service in a busy city, evening and weekend work
Drivers are responsible for the day-to-day inspection of their vehicles.
Before hitting the road, they give it a thorough examination. They keep the
interior and exterior clean and shiny, check fuel and oil levels and make
sure the lights, tires and brakes are in good working order. A basic knowledge
of how cars and engines work is essential, especially in emergency situations.
Sometimes, chauffeurs load luggage and other heavy items, and may have
to change a tire once in a while. Being in reasonable physical condition is
Working conditions can depend on the type of job a driver has. Some work
requires long periods of waiting for customers outside a function, which can
mean keeping yourself occupied.
Weather also has an impact on a driver. Bad weather can make for a tough
day at work. Chauffeurs are expected to drive safely in all conditions, and
they have to make sure their clients don't get wet.
Recent technological developments have been very useful to the chauffeured
transportation industry. Specifically, scheduling, route and monitoring software
have helped companies to become more efficient and well-organized.