Tipping Movers

Most people wonder what the proper etiquette is when it comes to tipping movers, packers, and drivers.

As with any other service provider, you would base your “tip” on job performance – a bad attitude and indifferent work habits would hardly be considered tip worthy. If, however, you think your crew was attentive, helpful and professional, then give what you believe is fair.
Movers usually don’t expect a tip but is appreciated when given. More than anything, it’s a sign that you recognized their effort and thought it worthy. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Moving is hard, back-breaking work so it would only be common decency to have cold bottled water, soda or sport drinks on hand.
  • Some people prefer to buy the crew lunch in lieu of a tip and this is perfectly fine. Some do both. It’s whatever you are comfortable with. If you do offer to buy the crew lunch, make sure to ask if they have a preference as to food choice. Many people think, “Oh, we’ll get some pizza,” so you can imagine how much pizza these guys might have had that month.
  • You will hear varying advice on how much to tip. Percentages don’t really work as they do in restaurant work. The difference between a $2,000 full-truck move and a $20,000 full-truck move is likely the distance the moving van travels, not how much time it took to load the vehicle. Basically, if it’s a half-day (4 hours) move, $10 per person is considered appropriate. If it’s a full-day move (8 hours), then $20 is the consensus. If you have a lot of heavy furniture, narrow or winding stairs, a steep lot, etc., you should consider adding to the amount. If the crew works 12 hours to get your belongings packed, figure $40 as fair.
  • A tip about tips from movers themselves: Don’t give the lump some to the foreman or driver. Give each worker their tip. First, it shows that you recognize and appreciate their individual efforts. Second, there are some unscrupulous foremen, who will keep the entire amount for themselves.
  • Avoid giving the guys beer at the end of the day. It’s a bit stereotypical and most legitimate moving companies have rules against drinking on the job. It also opens liability issues. Make the tip cash and the movers can spend it how they wish.

When I asked a seasoned military wife who had moved many times what she did for her movers, she stated,

“I always found it a much better experience when we treated our movers like family. We always provided drinks and lunch for the entire team. We always tipped the driver and made sure he had enough to divy that up between the team. If it was a door to door move we tipped the driver a little more.”

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