How much should you tip your building staff?
How much should I tip my building staff for the Holidays? This question typically comes right after you finish your Black Friday shopping. In our busy NYC lives it is easy to overlook all that the staff does to help our lives run smoothly so we can get everything done in a New York minute.
In this year’s annual edition of our recommendations to help guide you, we are adding something new. While in the past we have told you what to tip, this year we are also sharing why you are tipping.
Of course, building sizes and prices in NYC run the gamut from a small pre-war condominium walk up in Carnegie Hall to a luxury Upper West Side condominium with a slew of staff, so bear in mind the level of services you receive annually as you read our recommendations.
The misunderstood superintendent
The most misunderstood role in our experience is the superintendent. This is partly due to the varying demands of the role based on building size. If you live in a small, self-managed building, your superintendent may simply empty the trash, clean the hallways, and attend to repairs on an ad hoc basis.
If you live in a larger building the role of your superintendent is far greater and more akin to an engineer. This larger role incorporates functions and skill sets you may not have considered. For example, did you know that your building systems such as the HVAC and boilers require monthly servicing? What about city inspections and meeting electricians and plumbers to replace parts such as a backflow preventer? There are elevators to maintain, security cameras and fire alarm systems and so much more. The superintendent is also likely to oversee the porters who clean the communal areas and empty the trash.
Most residents simply determine their annual holiday tip based on how responsive the resident superintendent has been to their needs within their own apartment. If you are someone who likes every small detail of your home to be addressed immediately and your superintendent is not as responsive as you may like, you could consider hiring a handyperson. The key role of the superintendent is to take care of the communal areas in a condominium and once that person walks into your apartment, they are doing you a favor and an additional payment is necessary.
Your tip is to thank the superintendent for keeping the building systems running.
Tipping recommendation for a superintendent: The range can be broad, and it depends on the size of your building. The average is somewhere between $75 to $200 but the range is anywhere from $20 to $300. You may have given your super cash tips throughout the year for a job done inside your apartment, but this is your thank you for all a superintendent does to keep the building running smoothly.
Front door staff
Next on your list is likely to be the front door staff and their roles and responsibilities also vary by building size. Certainly, receiving and logging packages is a job that has expanded over the past few years. Monitoring and coordinating the constant flow of deliveries in and out of buildings by itself is a full-time job. Then add in the food deliveries, handing keys to housekeepers and dog walkers, announcing guests and the list goes on. The front door staff is also responsible for securing the main entrance and keeping an eye on other parts of the building through a security camera system.
In a luxury building you may have a door attendant who helps you in and out of a car with packages. You may also have an onsite concierge who can help you with everything from making dinner reservations to filling up the refrigerator before you return from your travels.
Tipping recommendation for door staff or a Concierge: the range is between $75 to $200 but ask yourself how much they do for you. If they assist you daily and you can afford it, skew your trip to the higher end of the scale.
Next up is the porters.Trash management alone is a challenge because if done incorrectly it creates unsanitary conditions. The porters are responsible for collecting the trash, storing it properly and transporting it to the street for pick up by the city. The porters will also be responsible for cleaning the hallways and communal areas, including the elevators and the front of the building. All the city dirt and non-stop foot traffic makes keeping the building clean a daily challenge. Porters and maintenance staff always appreciate your recognition for keeping the building clean and taming recyclables.
Tipping recommendations for a porter: anywhere from $25 to $100. Finally, if you have a garage and park regularly you should consider $25 to $75 per attendant.
Begin with your budget and figure out how much you can realistically afford to give in cash. Most buildings will circulate a list of the staff and their full names at the beginning of December to help you remember everyone. Writing a personal note and slipping the cash into a modest yet festive card is always a nice touch. Tell your service provider exactly why you are grateful for their help. It is likely to mean just as much to them as the cash.
Tips are not obligatory, but they are appreciated. You do not have to pay all the door staff or every garage attendant the same. You can always give a little more to the ones who assist you regularly.
An early tip between December 1st to the 15th is frequently appreciated as it helps the staff with their own holiday gift giving.
Happy Holidays from The Boland Team.