Beginner's Guide: How to Tip Your Movers

While tipping your movers is technically optional, use this beginners guide to determine how much to tip your movers in your upcoming move.

You’ve just shelled out what feels like your entire life savings on your move. Between the down payment on the house, hidden moving fees (who knew some movers charge long distance carry fees?), and your million and one other moving expenses, it can feel as though everyone’s competing for your checkbook. So when it finally comes time to tip your movers, enter moving dilemma No. 234: To tip or not to tip?

While tipping your movers technically is optional, consider the nature of your mover’s work (and how hard they'll work to get your stuff from Point A to Point B). In most cases, your movers aren’t making that much, but they’re doing difficult work to get the job done. We’re talking moving your grand piano up the staircase in the heat of summer difficult. While industry standard for tipping hovers around 5%, the length of your move, the quality of your mover’s customer service, and a number of other factors play into how much you should plan to tip, if at all.

Calculating the tip… 

While 5% is standard, some customers tip their movers up to 15-20%, while other customers forego the prized tip altogether. Use this moving tip primer as you evaluate how much to spend.
Did your movers provide white-glove customer service?

Assessing the quality of your mover’s customer service goes beyond asking yourself whether your movers managed to carry grandma’s china from Point A to Point B without breaking anything. Instead, reflect on how your moving company raised the bar on their customer service delivery. In most cases, an excellent moving experience means that your movers will pay attention to the small details. For example:

·       Did your movers arrive on time?

·       Did your movers remain polite and professional throughout the entire process?

·       Did they pay attention to the details to ensure a seamless moving experience? For example, did they make sure that your dog Buddy was safely tied in the backyard while they moved your stuff?

·       Did they manage to navigate around your freshly planted bed of petunias?

Are you moving long distance?

Many customers settle on a daily amount to tip each of their movers if they're planning a long distance move. Industry standard is to tip $20 per head per day. Meaning, if your long distance move takes 3 days time and three movers are moving your stuff, you should expect to spend around $180 on the tip.

What about situational variables (think: bad weather)?

Ask yourself whether your movers went beyond the call of duty when presented with tricky situational variables. For example, how did your movers handle it when your four-legged friend bit one of your movers? What about when your dog escaped out the back door and they saved your dog that fell into the frozen pond? If your movers handled situational variables like extreme weather with grace, you’ll want to consider tipping on the higher end of the 5%-20% spectrum.

Did your moving company charge for extra challenging work?

Investigate whether your moving company charges additional fees for extra work, like a bulky item or long carry fee. If these fees aren’t rolled into the overall price of your move, you should tip your movers higher, particularly if your movers encountered an obstacle on your property, like the rickety staircase leading up to the front porch.

And once you’ve calculated the tip… 

Tell your movers you’ll tip.
Never underestimate the power of an incentive. Toward the end of your move, tell your movers you’re planning on handing out a tip (Think: "You all have definitely earned a tip today with all of your hard work!"). Your movers are more likely to deliver well at the end of a job if they know a tip's in their near future.

Hand out your tip individually.
For starters, it’s an nice gesture to individually thank each mover for their hard work. Plus, it'll ensure that your money lands in each of their hands, rather than the hands of the moving foreman.

But if you decide not to tip… 
At the end of the day, if the big move has left you in the red, you can still express your gratitude to your movers without handing out your checkbook. Consider these tips to let your moving companies know you appreciate their service.

Don’t forget to say thanks.

This one should be a no-brainer, but moving day stress sometimes means that a simple “thank you” will slip through the cracks. Moving is literally back-breaking work, and chances are that your movers pulled some ridiculous stunts throughout the day to get everything in the house.

Moving companies distinguish themselves from the competition by offering professional service. Don’t underestimate how much a simple compliment to the foreman (think: “You’re crew is nothing but polite and professional!”) will mean to the team.
Skip the beer, and offer lunch.

While many customers think it’s a nice gesture to offer their movers a beer at the end of a job well done, most moving companies have strict regulations about not drinking on the job. Instead, consider offering coffee and doughnuts in the morning or a pizza for lunch.

Open up your furniture inventory.

If you have extra furniture lying around the house that you’re putting up for donation, ask your movers whether they’d be interested in taking a look at your inventory. Hey, who knows whether they’ll need a new coffee pot or iron board.

The key to the moving tipping dilemma? Every move's different, so there's no formula for deciding how much to tip your movers. Even if you decide not to tip your movers, make sure that they walk away with something, whether that's the experience of working with a gracious customer or the nice sofa that you just don't have room for in your new place.


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