A big part of most moving companies’ employee codes of conduct is to not discuss tipping directly with a client at any point during a job. That would be viewed as pressuring someone to pay extra money than was discussed on the moving contract.
That said, giving a gratuity to quality movers is the ultimate way to compliment a crew on their hard work. Moving, after all, is a service industry. Professional movers appreciate any recognition of the fact that the quality of service rendered was noticed by their clients. It is essentially the best kind of good review they can receive.
When Is Tipping Movers Warranted?
Moving is a difficult job under the best of conditions. Lifting heavy furniture, trudging up flights of stairs, and taking care of a client’s special or fragile items can be both physically and mentally draining. A full day (or days, for long-distance moves) can be quite the ordeal, from both the client’s and movers’ perspectives.
Again, moving is a service industry. It is entirely centered around optimizing the client’s moving day experience. Unlike waitstaff, movers are not paid below minimum wage. Depending on which company they work for, they are probably paid well, even if they aren’t making great money. Gratuities help to increase their happiness with their own work, even if they don’t directly lead to an increased standard of living.
Clients should feel free to use their own judgment here, but professionalism and personability are the keys to determining whether or not you should tip your movers.
You should consider tipping your movers if they are:
- On-time: This may seem like the bare minimum, but a quick look at moving reviews from across the industry will tell you that it isn’t a given. Movers arriving on time is the first indicator of a positive day and experience and can go a long way towards putting clients at ease for what lies ahead. This isn’t a guarantee that your job will go smoothly, but it’s a simple fact that most nightmare moves begin with workers arriving far later than they should. If yours is a local move, and you’re hiring a smaller company from your area, they may arrive in their own personal vehicles. If they do this, yet still arrive together, it can be the mark of a well-put-together, professional outfit.
- Courteous: Your movers maintaining a pleasant demeanor around you and anyone else present goes a long way towards making your relocation to a new home into a memorable experience – for the right reasons. All companies include customer interaction tutorials in their training in some way, so there is no excuse or reason for you to expect anything less.
- Professional: This applies to your movers’ conduct when doing the actual work. Good service entails taking extra care with your belongings and the various surfaces within your home. Of course, heavy lifting with precision is a challenge, but the workers from any reputable professional moving company should be more than capable of handling this. If you have any fragile or antique items, which the movers handle without complaint or damage, this is a solid mark of professionals as well.
- Handle add-on services well: Standard moves are draining enough. If you’re moving in the busy season, it is a hot day, more likely than not. The regular loading and unloading of boxes and furniture may not be the only thing your movers will have to do, however. The size and scope of your move could add a great deal of work and man-hours to your job. Any additional tasks, like piano or safe moving, custom crating of fragile items, or moving heavy appliances, should be recognized, if done well. Similarly, if your old or new house has a long driveway or odd parking situation, your movers’ longer walk could equate to a lot of extra steps by the end of the day.
Though your movers’ professionalism and the difficulty of the move may warrant a good tip, your own judgment and budget will ultimately determine whether you do so.
Besides Tipping, How Can I Make My Movers’ Jobs More Pleasant?
First and foremost, you can smooth out the moving process by being clear about your expectations with your crew chief and each crew member. Details of the job should have been discussed with your crew by your moving company’s office personnel, but errors in communication do happen. You should try to get out in front of any potential mix-ups. An often neglected aspect of communicating with your movers is being available at both ends of the move to answer questions about furniture or box placement in specific rooms. Aside from that, here are a few tips to help keep your movers happy.
- Offer refreshments: Constant access to water should be provided at all points during the job. Any and all professional movers will always bring water with them to work, but there is always a chance that they will need a refill. Especially during the warmer months, this can run out quickly. Heatstroke or dehydration during a move is less than ideal, for obvious reasons.
- Compliment the work being done: If your movers are doing a good job, you should feel free to say so. Recognizing job performance can go a long way towards ensuring that they keep up at their current pace and desired quality.
- Provide coffee or lunch: Movers, or workers performing any kind of manual labor, will never turn down a chance to refuel. Workers should always bring their own food with them in their moving truck but offering to provide a meal or means for a short break shows that you appreciate the work being done.
- Hint at a tip at the end of the move: This is a valuable tactic for clients on longer moves. You should obviously only say this if you are ultimately going to tip. However, telling your moving crew this at the right point during the day can lift their spirits a little and make the rest of the job feel far easier than it otherwise would.
Moving Tips: What Is The Right Amount?
Tipping etiquette can vary widely with the kind of work being done, and the billing structure outlined in your moving contract. When you hire movers at a flat rate for instance, you may want to consider tipping between 10% to 20% of the total bill. This typically only comes into play on long-distance moves, however.
As always, you will be tipping according to the level of service which you receive.
Tipping For Local Moves
Local moves are billed differently than most long-distance moves. Therefore, it makes some amount of sense that tip amount and tipping etiquette should differ.
These types of moves will typically last a single day, even if a larger home is being moved. Your tip should reflect the number of total hours your movers worked. A good rule of thumb is to tip $5 per mover, per hour worked. This equates to $40 per mover, for a standard eight-hour workday, or $20 apiece for a half-day move. If the move takes longer, you should increase the amount you plan on tipping.
Tipping For Long-Distance Moves
The tipping structure for long-distance moves differs slightly for a couple of reasons. The first being that you may not have a dedicated moving team at the load and unload. If you do happen to have a dedicated moving team through the duration of your cross-country or long-distance move, you will have to choose between tipping your crew with a percentage of the total cost and tipping a fixed amount based on the total number of days they spent on the road.
Assuming a dedicated crew, with a 15% gratuity on a moving bill of $5,000, your total tip would amount to $750. This would be divided up evenly between the crew members. If your move only took up a single truck, that would mean a maximum of three movers in most cases ($250 per mover). This is definitely a lot to add in one lump sum to the end of your move. But when you consider that your movers will have been away from home for a number of days for your relocation, you may find that it’s well-deserved. You can also elect to tip a set amount per day spent on the road instead of tipping a percentage of the bill. If your movers have to stay in hotels overnight and have to take care of their own eating arrangements, then $50 to $60 per day, per mover is a fair number.
If you hire help at either end of the move, you can calculate your tip using the same formula as is used for local movers.
Tipping For Extra Services
If you are very pleased with your moving experience, or if your crew provided more moving services outside of their basic duties, then you can definitely increase the amount you plan on tipping them. For long-distance moves, you should consider moving more towards the 20% mark. On smaller, more local moves, you can increase your planned tip to $7 or $8 per hour, per mover.
Are Tips or Gratuities Ever Included in My Move Bill?
No company in the moving industry will ever fold a tip or gratuity fee into the cost of a move. Your final bill will include the actual cost of services rendered, with nothing else.
On a similar note, you should never include your tip total when you go to pay your final bill. If you do, the money will go to the company first, and will only come back to the movers at a reduced rate. If you must tip with checks, you should write separate ones for each mover.
When Should I Tip My Movers?
Typically, after everything is unloaded and in your home, you will do a walkthrough with your moving crew. After you have determined that services have been completed in a satisfactory manner, you will settle up with your move foreman and pay the bill. This is when you should address the topic of leaving a tip.
First, if you suspect that you would like to tip, you should head to an ATM and withdraw a fair amount of cash. This should be done either the night before your move, or in between the load up and your new home. Many people do have instant transfer apps like Venmo or CashApp, but you should never bank on this. Cash is still the best method for tipping.
Tipping etiquette, as it applies to moving, dictates that you go around to each mover present to give them their share of the money. You definitely can give the lump sum to your moving foreman to distribute, but it feels far less personal. Remember, your movers did such a good job that you’re rewarding them with a tip; it’s worth thanking each personally.
If you feel that one of your movers was noticeably slacking throughout the job, then you should give the lump sum to the move foreman, who will distribute the tip amongst the crew. If the mover in question was slacking obviously enough, then the foreman will have noticed. They will reward the lazier employee fittingly with a lesser tip if any.