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My friends and I have a very different opinion about the amount to tip movers (and say that I am too generous). Is there any rule of thumb for how much to tip movers? I'm referring to a local move, 4-6 hours of time, 3-4 professional movers.
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Same question, but ours will be long-distance, not door-to-door. It's a govt. paid move, so they do all the packing, loading, driving, and unloading. I think it's typical to have 2 full days of packing/ loading from what friends have said.

Is there anything else I should be doing to keep the movers happy and feeling like they should take good care of our stuff? Food/ drinks maybe?

mm
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I'm glad you asked about tipping.

The short answer is that there is no rule. But here are some guidelines -

First, and I can't stress this enough - there is no rule that you need to tip them at all. And there's no rule that says you need to tip them all the same amount. If a guy is busting his butt for you, by all means show him some love. If he gets more than the other guys, maybe they'll get the hint for the next customer.

The average 'helper' (the guys that work for the crew leader) typically get around $10 per hour, so be reasonable. If a fellow is out there working 8 hours, and you hand him $2, it's worse than giving him nothing. If you figure he's going to get $80 for his days work, and you give him $10, that's pretty good. Anything more than 10% should probably be a reward for 'over and above' kind of service, but a lot of folks do pass out $20 to the guys for a days work.

One Note - If they ASK for a tip, call the company the next day and let them know. Most owners don't like their guys asking for it, as it can easily get intimidating. I had to fire a guy recently for doing this. He actually told the customer "If you take care of us, we'll take care of you!". Idiot.

One other note - a lot of people (and I mean a LOT) give the movers furniture and other items they don't want any more. I have one guy that works for me that has a projection TV, a nordic trak, and a bow-flex that were all donated. I have a sofa in my office that was donated, as well as a BBQ Grill etc. This is a great way of killing 2 birds with one stone. If a guy has worked hard for you, and you want to get rid of something, consider it.

As far as the food/drink thing, I just posted a message 'Hints for an easy move' that talks about that...

Thanks
Gary
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One other note about tipping.

The average moving helper struggles through life. Movers tend to make $10-$15 per hour when they are working, but it is very seasonal work, and they have a hard time getting a full week's work in the best of times.

So - if you look at your life, and things are really going well for you, you might consider being generous. Seriously speaking, of all the things I've done in my life, I've never seen anything that compares to the difficulty of this job. It is grueling and relentless. Walking into the truck on a summer day can be like walking into an oven. Clearing out an attic is even worse. And you really haven't lived until you've hauled a triple wide dresser down a flight of stairs. So - use your judgement. Watch the crew and you can tell pretty quick if they are working hard, or just going through the motions. If they are giving you everything they have, and not complaining, consider what that takes. It's a hell of a way to make a living.

I may poke fun at some of my guys from time to time, but I have a lot of admiration for them. How they do what they do day after day is just beyond me.

Zath
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I guess my friends were right - that I'm "too generous." My husband suggested $10, but I assumed that $10 apiece for a move would be insulting, for all that hard work they do. I probably give them $25-$30 apiece. No wonder they love me. :) As far as I'm concerned, they've earned it. The movers I've used have been fast, courteous, and done an excellent job, and I've said so on the surveys they send afterward. And they are always very appreciative of the fact that I tipped them and no one has ever asked for a tip.

I do have to say though that I'm shocked that they make so little per hour for all that they do.
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I do have to say though that I'm shocked that they make so little per hour for all that they do.

Well, there are a few reasons for that -

1) There are a lot of guys who do this, and there is little that is required except a healthy body, good attitude, and good dose of common sense. Some companies pay less than I do - that's why you'll see trucks with illegal aliens piling out of them. In addition, a lot of guys do this because they just don't fit into other jobs very well. They tend to be physically aggressive, and just cannot imagine sitting behind a desk all day. Even being indoors all day is a dreadful thought to them.

2) The economics of the business are pretty rough. Let's say you're talking about a local move, with a 3 man crew. For an 8 hour job, here's how it breaks down:

Income - 8 x 115 = $920

Direct Costs:
Payroll - 9 x 33 = $297
Workers comp - $297 * .14 = 41.58
Fuel - $40
Maint - $20
Misc Crap - $20

Costs of Sales:
Royalties - 6.5% = $60
Office Staff - 5% = $30
Advertising & Lead generation - $100

Gross Profit = $920 - 608 = $311

Now, out of that $311, we still have to pay for the truck (which is about $1200/mo, and insurance, which is another $1000/mo, and a facility, which is another $1500, and utilities, and damages (which do happen) and this, and that, and the next thing. In the end, there's not a lot left. So even if you do want to pay the guys more, there's really nothing in the budget to give them.

Sheesh - I'm beginning to wonder why I'm doing this at all :)

Gary
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