Real Estate

What Real Estate Agents Should Know About Tipping A Moving Company

Are your buyer or seller clients going to be moving? One of the questions they might have is what they should tip the moving company. Moving is backbreaking work. Between February and July of 2020 alone, more than 15.9 million people moved, and some people move right across the country.

How much should you tip the moving company? This question is very valid, and we will look at some answers for what to tip movers and how to do it when there could be three or four of them involved in a move.

Many moving websites suggest that, yes, we should tip our movers, with most saying that 15-20 percent of the overall price is appropriate for a large move and 5-10 percent for a small move. Maximum Real Estate Exposure has an excellent resource worth checking out based on three decades of working with the moving industry as a real estate agent.

You should tell your clients that if the move is complicated, with a couple of flights of stairs, the moving company will probably pre-assess it and charge accordingly. 

The other factor that should be taken into account when tipping movers is how much care they take in protecting personal belongings. If they go above and beyond, the gratuity should reflect that.

Did any of your things get broken in the process of the move?

Some people say that we shouldn’t tip movers at all, given that the company pays movers for their time, usually at an hourly rate. The feeling is that should be enough to cover them. I can’t entirely agree with this statement, as it’s a service industry, so it’s worth tipping them.

Do you tip movers in all circumstances?

So, we have established that you don’t have to tip movers, but a good moving experience is worth laying down the extra cash for, especially if you’ve ever experienced a terrible move.

Moving is a service industry, and as such, you should only tip if you are thrilled with the service. 

If your clients ask your opinion on whether to tip or not, consider the following questions:

  • How many stairs were involved in the move?
  • Did they have to drop stuff off along the way, for example, take a cupboard to your mother’s house?
  • Do you have a lot of old heavy furniture like a piano?
  • Were they careful with placing your antiques into appropriate moving boxes?
  • Were they courteous and efficient?
  • Did they wrap the artwork in bubble wrap?

Should we supply the movers with food and drink?

Some buyers or sellers might ask if they should provide beverages or even food to the movers. If the move takes the whole day, it’s appropriate to offer them food and drink, even when you are tipping. It has to be easy to access during a move, like tea, coffee or soda.

Ask them what they want for lunch, and do a fast-food order or food delivery service. For less than half-day move, just supply drinks. Moving is grueling work, and we don’t want them to become dehydrated, especially in sweltering weather. Recommending your clients have a lot of cold water available is sound advice.

Your clients should understand that movers should not consume beer, wine or other alcohol when working because it could lead to problems. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also recommends that movers not imbibe.

Ways to tip movers

Some other things that are worth explaining to your buyer and seller clients: If you have employed a large moving company, they have probably included the tip in your bill, meaning you pay in one transaction at the end of the move.

Here are a few more things for clients to consider:

  • Tipping on a credit card will allow you to use it as a tax deduction if you move for work. If you tip with cash, you will be unable to substantiate the amounts.
  • Another way to verify the transaction for documentation purposes is to pay one payment by check for the tips and allow the crew to divide it up among the movers.
  • Cash is OK, but it’s not receipted, so you won’t be able to claim the amount on tax. I prefer to use cash to tip the moving team, as that way you know that everyone gets the right amount, like other forms of tipping that rely on the honesty of the group leader and his or her interpretation of fairness.

Make sure you vet the movers

One thing that you cannot emphasize enough to your clients is the importance of vetting the moving company. Unfortunately, in the moving industry, there are many fly-by-night companies. Moving scams are commonplace.

It would be best if you took the time to forewarn your clients. Ensure you provide them with a list of local and national carriers with whom you either have personal experience or other trustworthy folks who have. Remember, your clients are counting on you to provide reliable references. You don’t want to leave them with an unpleasant lasting memory. A bad experience will be a poor reflection on you and one they are likely to remember.

A good moving company is like gold. You don’t want anything to break or be ruined during the move. Or worse, find an item of value lost in transit.

If anything goes missing, the company should help trace it and get it returned to you quickly. A move will undoubtedly be disruptive to your clients, and you want it to run as smoothly as possible.

When you have a good moving company, it is certainly worth tipping. If your clients have never moved before, make sure you educate them on the importance of finding a highly reputable company. Hopefully, you have found this guide on what to tip a mover to be useful.

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell homes for the past 33-plus years. He has been a top agent with RE/MAX Executive Realty, which serves many towns across the state of Massachusetts. Check out his blog.

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