How to Tip Part-time Super on Holiday Season

Posted on Posted in Building Supers, Property Management

How to tip your part-time super or porter on Holiday Season

Tips on "tips" on Christmas for NYC Co-ops and Condos

Gifts for building super and porter - sparksuper

      This time of the year, the one question that I'm asked about frequently is holiday tipping: mainly, who to tip and how much, whether to tip us individually or as a group.


      I can see where it can get confusing for many of our residents. Ordinarily, there are multiple building staff members, which consist of: a "live-in" building superintendent (otherwise known as a resident manager), doorman, handyman and porter. However, in our case, there's often a single person who acts as a super or what's called a porter (who cleans the common areas and handles trash and recycling), that is working on a part-time basis.


      Moreover, questions of who to tip and how much may be easier to answer when you see the person who cleans your building, handles the garbage and recycling, helps you out with maintenance issues, answers your requests and listens to your problems on the other end of the phone, etc. everyday or a regular basis because he either lives there and/or has set, predictable hours. 


      The problem with a part-time super or porter is that the effects of his work are usually seen (regularly cleaned building, and garbage and recycling brought to the curb) but usually not the person himself because of the odd hours he usually works. 


      When it comes to a part-time super's work, a lot of what he does happens behind the scenes. If there are difficulties, he takes care of it usually without large fanfare or notice to the building residents. 

Thus, tipping your part-time Super is a great idea to show him appreciation for what he does year-round, and also as something he counts on to supplement his salary.


      In order to help make your tipping season a little easier and defuse some anxiety, I thought I'd share with you some tips about tipping (can't avoid pun),  so you can show appreciation your own way.


      By the way, this solution works whether your building has hired a single part-time super or porter, multiple part-time supers or even a maintenance company. 


      Whatever the size of your part-time maintenance team, I'm going to share the method we've used for splitting the tips in the past. The goal of our formula has been to make sure that everyone who has participated in making the building run a little better during the past year, whether they were in front or behind the scenes, gets to share the pool. 

Giving tip to your building superintendent shouldn't be anxiety-ridden or uncomfortable. 

It's totally OK, if you:

  1. give a personal check
  2. non-monetary things, like cookies, a bottle of wine or just about anything that comes from your heart,
  3. to play favorites and not give equally, and
  4. give what you can 


      There's no rule on how to tip, but there's a way to do it if you'd like to make a specific effect. For instance, if you want to direct a tip to a specific person or people, give it to him/them directly. You generally won't tip to a pool in this case, where the tips get split among the team based on a formula we use.

Tip Your Building Staff Directly

      The easiest method is to directly tip a building staff member who you'd like to show appreciation to. You can either give it to him/her directly or you can entrust the building manager or landlord with a check issued in their name.


      Or, if there are multiple staff members you'd like to appreciate through a single check, then send the manager the specific instructions on how you'd like to distribute the lump amount.


       If your part-time Super handles both the super and porter functions, then the tipping experience should be easy. It should all go to him directly. 


      But, what if you have multiple part-time supers or porters, perhaps because your building has hired a part-time super company with rotating staff?  How do you give to this group in a way that's fair?


      The questions you can use to figure this out are:

  • how long has each been there?
  • who's there more often or regularly?
  • who's responsible for keeping the building safe and sound?
  • who's ultimately responsible for keeping the services and quality up and consistent?
  • who's ultimately responsible when things go wrong or when something needs to be corrected?


      Not one question above can determine the answer, but they can guide you on your tipping quest. Let these questions determine the hierarchy of how to divide your tip. Who's the name(s) that comes up most?     

Show appreciation through Social Media

like your building super's page icon

      These days, social media goes a long way in showing appreciation. So, during the time of year where appreciation is the main theme, you can also use social media to commend, promote and share the good work that's garnered your attention about your part-time super.


      Also, you can friend them on Facebook account or follow them if they have an instagram or other social media account. Leaving them a short comment or post about their hard work will totally leave a warm smile on their faces and encourage them to perform their best like no other reward. 

Pooling the Tips

           As mentioned before, the main difficulties with tipping a part-time super or a part-time maintenance company is that they may not be as visible as in a "live-in" super building.  In this case, leave it to the tipping pool.


      While the tipping pool has its disadvantages, it offers a way for residents to delegate the headache of trying to answer the questions above, such as how often he's at the building.  


      Because lack of transparency is often a problem cited for the tipping pool, since residents don't usually know how much of their tip is going to whom once it's in the pool, we are going to offer a model of splitting the tipping pool here, which you can suggest as a formula for your building as well. 


      To make things easier, let's illustrate this with a giant cookie (which represents your lump tip)-- a triple chunky chocolate chips, please!

holiday tip for maintenance superintendent staff

      How can we split this cookie when there are multiple building maintenance staff members? For instance:


Between a Part-time Superintendent and Porter (two staff total)


      Generally, between a Super and Porter, the larger responsibility to make sure the building is operating smoothly rests with the Super. He is usually the first or close second point-of-contact for any issues at the building. There are several other factors that underscore the difference between the porter and super functions, and you can see the full list here


      So, in this case, you can reflect this greater responsibility by the splitting the cookie (holiday tips) with a higher percentage going to the super and a smaller percentage, let's say, 70% (super) to 30% (porter). 


Splitting tips bet porter and superintendent 70% to 30%

      Of course, you don't have to follow my lead to the percent. If you feel that your Super earns 56.4% of the tips, by all means, follow your formula. 


Between a Part-time Superintendent and two Porters (three staff total)


      If there are multiple people in each sub-team, say, two people in the porter team, then the cookie is split further equally by the number of team members in that group.


      So, with one super and two porters, the cookie will become split like this:

Split holiday tips for building superintendent and two porters

      Pretty straightforward so far, right?

Things can get a little more complicated when it comes to an outside part-time building maintenance company. 

      These part-time building maintenance companies are modeled under various arrangements but, generally, these companies hire their supers or porters out to residential buildings that need part-time super arrangements. 


      These supers are often mobile and travel between buildings to service them on a part-time schedule. 


      There may be a primary super and/or porter, as well as a team of backup supers. There may also be regularly visiting staff with various specialties, like focusing on repairs. There may also be an "office" team whose job it is to answer calls from residents, return their emails, coordinate maintenance events and appointments, or just listen to residents' complaints, requests, and suggestions. 


      Do these deserve a holiday tip, also? If they're around on a regular basis and partake in making the building a better place for you during the year, then the answer should be yes. 


      So, how much should they get?  Let's use an example our company, Sparksuper.com Inc., using real team members. Actually, we're not your ordinary building maintenance company and different from the rest of the pack for many reasons. But, let's assume for the sake of this lesson that we're following the ordinary building maintenance company model. 

Giving tips using our Sparksuper.com Inc. formula 

      Let's say your primary super is Angel Quinde, a super in our network.  As a Super, he's deeply committed to his trade and a fantastic asset to his building where he's assigned. Here he is below (by the way, if you'd like to learn more about Angel, click here!)

      For porter services, the building depends upon James, below. He's at the building at least three days per week to handle the trash and recycling, clean the common areas, etc. James is also there to cover things when Angel goes on vacation or takes the day off.  Over the year, he's done a great job. 


      This is James: 

Tipping a superintendent blog

      There's also Wilton, and he's showing up when things need to be repaired. He's another independent contractor that's consistently hired by the building throughout the year and he's an exceptional handyman with a sunny disposition. Moreover, when Angel or James needs any help, Wilton is sure to show up and perform his best.


      Here's Wilton:

Wilton_building superintendent

      I almost forgot to mention the people in our "office."  You may wonder what an office team does. Well, they're the administrative backbone behind our supers. In the hierarchy of a fully-staffed building, they can be considered as the ultra-resident manager.


      The office team does many things: they answer calls and coordinate maintenance events between residents, the super and outside vendors. They  write reports and keep a log of everything from contractor visits to the type of light bulb used in the storage room. They make sure the overall care of a building is executed with care and precision. 


      Jenny, below, is one of the coordinators here at Sparksuper.com Inc.:  

Jenny, coordinator behind a building superintendent

      So, how do we split the tips that come in for the pool? 


      We start by dividing the pool into four parts: the primary super, the porter, repair support and the office team. First, we giving our primary Super at the building forty percent (40%) of the tipping pool. This is followed by the porter with thirty percent (30%), then the repair support and office team with each at fifteen percent (15%).


      Going back to our cookie, it should look like this:

Cookie showing building super and porter and office team

Voila!  Piece of cake!.. um, cookie.


      Of course, these proportions can change depending on a variety of factors, such as how long the person has worked at the building. Again, the advantage of giving to a pool is that you can leave such discretion to the person who is able to know the situation best.


      Whether you choose one from the above or follow your heart another way,  I am sure that your building staff is happy and honored to serve you and the building 2018. 


      Oh, by the way, if you need any help setting up a tipping pool, leave a comment below and we'll be happy to give you a hand. 


      Season's greetings!