Most people generally leave a tip at restaurants, hair salons, and for food delivery. In fact, a 2021 survey by CreditCards.com on tipping habits found that millennials tend to leave higher tips at restaurants and for food delivery that other age groups—21 percent at a sit-down restaurant and 19 percent for food delivery. Although a CreditCards.com survey from last summer reported that 35 percent of people planned to leave bigger tips because of the impact COVID had on the service industry, the more recent survey showed that this did not end up happening.
While there are are clearer rules on tipping etiquette at restaurants and many other service scenarios, what about for services in your home such as plumbing, cleaning, moving, or gardening? The rules can vary and are less clear. "Generally, in-home services don't require a tip in the same way the service industry does," says Chaz Wyland, founder of snowmobiling blog, and former handyman and carpenter. "That said, it does happen—and I'll tell you through first-hand experience, it's much appreciated," adds Wyland. While it's not always the norm to tip for these services, here are a few situations where it would be a good idea to tip a service provider for work in your home.
Give seasonal tips to professionals who come to your home often.
If you have people who regularly come to your home for services like cleaning or lawn mowing, it's a good idea to tip them. While the amount you tip is subjective for home services, anywhere between 10 to 20 percent depending on the level of service and what you feel comfortable giving is good.
Giving yearly tips to those who work in your home often is "a good rule of thumb when it comes to tipping home service professionals," says Gene Caballero, co-founder of lawn care company GreenPal.
For regular service professionals that come to your home, you could give seasonal tips, such as around the holidays. "A seasonal tip would be a nice gesture. It would be nice to give that person a tip equal to the cost of one week's service," says Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com. You could also give a gift as a token of appreciation during the holidays.
Tip for exceptional work, or in case of an emergency service.
If someone goes above and beyond or comes in on a weekend for an emergency repair, give them a tip. Jake Romano, who works for plumbing service John the Plumber, recalls when one of his colleagues had a clogged drain explode all over him. "That family tipped him very generously and it managed to make his day a little better, after such a terrible experience," says Romano. "The truth is that so few people tip plumbers that anything is very appreciated," he adds.
Tipping people for providing exceptional service in your home is a good way to maintain a relationship with that person, and show your appreciation. "I always tip the cleaner at my rental property whenever she does something beyond her scope of work," says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. "It just goes to show that I appreciate the extra effort and am not taking her services for granted," she explains.
Again, how much you give doesn't matter as much as the gesture itself when it comes to tipping for at-home services, so feel free to base it off of the level of service and nature of the job (i.e., leave a tip if it's a particularly difficult or strenuous repair). "I don't think it's expected in any means, especially if you negotiate a rate for regular monthly or weekly service," she adds.
Tip those who might rely more on them, such as someone who works for a bigger agency or organization.
For those who rely mainly on tips, such as if they work for an agency, it is a good idea to tip. "You should be tipping 15 to 20 percent based on the quality of service," says Carter Seuthe, CEO of debt reduction platform CreditSummit. "This tip goes specifically to the worker(s) who did the job, whereas the full cost of the contract is split between the organization and the workers," explains Seuthe. Woroch says if a service professional own their business, they're likely keeping most of the money you give them, so tipping regularly isn't always necessary.
Bottom line: Tipping isn't generally a requirement for at-home services, but it is always appreciated. If you get exceptional service, or if they provide regular services in your home, leaving tips on a seasonal basis is recommended.