Tipping moving workers is not mandatory like tipping restaurant workers. Restaurants workers make a special minimum wage close to $2 per hour, and the bulk of their income is from tips. Moving workers makes several times that, but still not that much. Tips are a very significant part of their income.
Most professional people have experience tipping wait staff, hairstylists, and bellhops, and beyond that their experience may be limited. Customers with a good amount of experience using professional movers—usually tip, but many customers are using professional movers for the first or second time and have not had to address this topic before.
The Cultural Norm in Atlanta in 2009 is that experienced customers will usually tip if they are pleased with the move. You don’t use percentages like with restaurants, but think in term of dollar amounts per member of the moving crew. For a several-hour or all-day move, $20 to $40 per man is a good tip. Not infrequently the tip is above that, but then that is a GREAT TIP! If it is only a half-day move, you would adjust the tip proportionately.
When I as the owner am a member of the moving crew, I don’t expect to get a tip, but when the Driver/Crew Chief is not the owner—don’t forget him! Customers will sometimes think the Driver/Crew Chief is not working, because he is not carrying in the heaviest furniture. He is on the truck, wrapping and putting items into tiers, and unloading items. He also drives the truck and supervises the whole operation, so if anything he should get a larger tip, but an equal tip is fine too (and the Driver/Crew Chief does not make that much more per hour than the workers)
Residential Moving is a personal service. The workers may not be bringing your food to the table or cutting your hair, but they are handling your personal household goods, which includes your furniture, boxes, and all other household items being moved. During an office move there is not that the same “personal feel”—a file cabinet is not as “personal” as say a vanity table. Accordingly, office moving workers get tipped much less frequently.
The reality is that moving workers try to “size up” a customer in the beginning of the move to determine whether or not they will tip and how well. Guess what? The workers work harder when they predict they will get a good tip.
Please give me your comments on what you think about this. There are definitely no “hard and fast rules”