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Tipping Home Service and Repair People

Although most customers know how to tip at a restaurant, it’s not always as clear when it comes to thanking the people who service and repair your house throughout the year. How much you give and what you give can be a reflection of your appreciation and a reward for going that extra mile.

Tipping during the holidays can strengthen your relationship with your favorite service techs and handymen for years to come. Here are a few tips for holiday tipping.

When to tip:

Consider giving a gift to anyone who provides you service throughout the year if you feel the two of you have established a relationship: the landscaper who visits monthly, a housekeeper who cleans weekly, the pool guy who visits regularly, your on-call handyman. Give more to those who go the extra mile with outstanding service during the year.

When not to tip:

“It’s kind of an unwritten rule that you don’t tip the sole proprietor of a business,” says Valley etiquette expert Zoe Hancock. “But if they go above and beyond and you want to show your appreciation, then it’s accepted.”

Keep in mind that some home-improvement companies have strict guidelines when it comes to tipping their employees. A few even have strict policies in place to ensure bribes for outside jobs aren’t occurring.

An example of tipping that would be frowned upon would be if a customer hired a roofing company for repairs and, while on the job, offered a worker a cash tip to install a skylight as a side job. Later, if there are problems with that skylight or if it causes a leak in your roof, you may not be covered by the company’s warranty. So steer clear of this — don’t let your inner cheapskate get you into trouble. With the potential for legal issues, everybody ends up coming out muddy.

If you’re unsure about how much to tip or if you should give a gift at all, call the business anonymously and ask for its holiday tipping guidelines.

If the company doesn’t allow its employees to accept gifts, consider a holiday donation in that person’s name.

Make a donation in that service provider’s name to Habitat For Humanity this year, then follow up by letting him or her know about it in a holiday card.

How much to give:

There doesn’t seem to be a set standard for how much to tip service professionals, such as electricians, plumbers and HVAC technicians. It really comes down to whether you want to show your appreciation for the services they provide.

Although most workers in these trades don’t expect regular tips, you’d be hard-pressed to find one who didn’t appreciate a nice bonus of $20 to $50 during the holiday season.

For those who service your house on a weekly or monthly basis, such as a maid or a pool guy, consider a bonus of 20 to 30 percent over what you pay them per visit.

How to give:

“If you’re giving a gift card, cash or movie tickets, make sure to put the tip inside of a greeting card. A handwritten note with the reason you took time to thank the person can go a long way.”

In fact, Hancock notes, if your budget doesn’t permit tips or gifts this season, you can always write a thank-you note that explains that you’re not tipping this year because of your circumstances, not because of a lack of good service.

If you can afford to tip this year, stay within your comfort zone. Even on a tight budget, you can thank your long list of people with gift baskets that you make yourself with items you can pick up at stores. And think about what your trusted techs and helpers might like to receive.

“Take some time to get to know them well enough to know what they like, and then the gift can really be a statement of how much you appreciate them and the service they provide.

“It all comes down to the relationship you have and reinforcing that relationship for the future.”

There is no better tip than repeat referrals or online public reviews!

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