All Articles > How to Tip Your Doorman

How to Tip Your Doorman

How to Tip Your Doorman

December 11, 2017


'Tis the Season...

To Tip Your Doorman

Photo via Joshua Bright for the New York Times

 

Some things really are timeless. Family gatherings around a warm fireplace; last-minute gift shopping; that generally irresistible holiday cheer. And then there's doorman-tipping.

If the prospect of calculating the right tip for your doorman (be it a lone sentinel or a squad of white-gloved attendants) makes you sweat, you're not alone. There's something inherent in the doorman-tenant relationship that can bring out the Larry David in all of us. What's the proper etiquette for dealing with these mysterious operators, and what's the right way to show them we're thankful? After all, we owe a whole lot to these guys who ensure our prized co-ops and condos remain safe, clean, and orderly – often 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Who wouldn't want to show them some gratitude?

The problem is that tipping is a mysterious system, defined by interpersonal relationships and without any written rules or standardized metric for guidance. Do you give a larger tip to the doorman who smiles at you as you come home from work each day, who you've known for years, and a smaller tip to the new kid in the building, who's only just started working there 2 months ago? What if that younger doorman is set to replace his older counterpart? Surely he doesn't deserve the same tip as the gentleman you've known for years – but do you really want to risk beginning your new relationship on that note?

What if you're new to the building, and this is your first tipping season? What if you live in a large building with several hundred units, and you haven't even met all the doormen who keep it running? Do you seek them out and tip them, too? We could go on, but it's likely clear to you by now that these questions factor in the dozens.

The good news is, this topic has been broached many times over by authors, newspaper editors, bloggers, and even sociologists and economists. As a real estate brokerage, we have our own take on the phenomena of doormen and doormen tipping – their pitfalls, their risks, and their rewards.

Check out the articles below to get yourself up to speed on the dos and don'ts of doorman tipping. We hope you enjoy!

 
 

Your Definitive Guide to Doorman Tipping

In this classic edition of the Bamberger Report, we sought to create an objective doorman tip calculator for the holiday season. Here's a few of the highlights inside:
  • Be careful who you ask for tipping advice:
    • "(1) You can't trust what other tenants will tell you, because they will lowball the number to make their own tip look more generous; and (2) you can't trust what the doormen will tell you, because they will inflate the number beyond all rationality."
  • On keeping your doorman happy:
    • "Time magazine, surveying recent research in an article titled 'The Salary That Will Make You Happy,' reported that the sweet spot is somewhere between $50,000/year and $75,000/year.  Beyond this salary, 'bringing home more income ceased to matter in [employees'] overall life satisfaction.' So if the tenants' collective goal is to make the doorman happy, they need only boost his income into the $50,000 to $75,000 range.  Going past that provides no marginal benefit. It's as easy as that."
  • The $25 Minimum
    • "If you're in a large building and don't have much interaction with the doormen (there are likely to be several), your tip computation may result in a number below $25. We don't advise tipping below $25. Media Relations for the University of New Hampshire has a webpage with tipping advice from Nelson Barber, associate professor of hospitality management, where a doorman tip of $25 is recommended. Are you going to tip your New York City doorman at sub-­New Hampshire rates?"
  • And of course, be sure to check out our famous tipping algorithm, as published first in this article.
 

How Much is a Doorman Worth?

"In order to examine the financial advantages of living in a doorman building, we searched every ten to twenty story mid-rise building in the city to put together pairs comparable in age, condition, location, and layout, with only one difference between them: a doorman in the lobby."

Let's pump the brakes on the whole tipping discussion for a minute – have you ever wondered what the quantifiable advantages are to living in a doorman building, if any? Prestige, image, and city traditions aside, is there an obvious financial benefit to living in a doorman building in 2017? This issue of the Bamberger Report asks these questions, and more:
  • How does a doorman affect price the per square foot in a given building?
    • "A doorman adds an average premium of 13.42% to the price per square foot of his building’s apartments. That means that if you’re looking to buy into a doorman building, expect to fork over more. If you currently live in a non-doorman building above 10 floors, we'd recommend adding a doorman to immediately increase apartments’ values."
  • Will having doormen significantly raise my monthly maintenance fees?
    • "Contrary to popular belief, there’s a marginal difference in monthly maintenance charges between doorman and non-doorman buildings, with carrying costs only 4.2% higher on average in doorman buildings. We believe that these non-doorman buildings find alternative ways to spend their maintenance monies, possibly on other luxuries (upgraded elevators, expensive lobbies, etc.)"
  • Does the role of a doorman vary from building to building?
    • "Every doorman approaches his job with a different mentality. One Park Avenue doorman says people love the prestige of having a doorman more than anything else. Another on 37th street believes that keeping his building safe is his primary purpose. And others, like Mark Chioch, a doorman at the Murray Hill House, take on more immediate roles, like helping the residents set up their computers."
 

The Definitive Guide to Doorman Tipping,
Vol. II: The Doormen Speak Out

Mike has been a doorman at the Townsley in Murray Hill since 2011. If you catch him in the lobby, feel free to strike up a conversation about horror films or the NBA – this New York-native point guard is somehow a Lakers fan.

In a follow-up to our popular doorman-tipping guide, this article of theBamberger Report adds an important addendum – real feedback from the doormen of Murray Hill:
  • Do all doormen expect a tip? Are there any consequences for a failure to tip?
    • "While most doormen usually expect some sort of holiday bonus, expectations vary from lobby to lobby. 'I keep a bingo card in my pocket year round,' said one doorman. $100 is the base tip in his Park Avenue building, and if a resident skips on the tip, they shouldn't expect any service if they're lugging heavy baggage or need any help.'"
  • Do doormen really keep tabs on who tips?
    • Many doormen keep track of who in the complex forks out the tips, even if they don't have a record constantly on hand. Eric, a four-year doorman on 38th street who usually gets between $50-$100 per apartment, expects about 50% more from those for who he has gone above and beyond.
  • What other factors do doormen consider when residents tip them?
    • "'I always take into consideration how much a resident makes,' explains Bek, the doorman at 81 Irving who makes a $100 tip per apartment average. It's also important to take into consideration what the doormen do for the residents beyond opening the door. Bek, who has seen his tips reach $1000 per resident, carries luggage. He helps with cars and dogs. He hails taxis and waits for dry cleaning. He keeps out unwanted individuals, from the insane and dangerous to scorned and enraged former lovers. He even has secret codes with residents who have multiple partners. Bek is performing a service, and he remembers everything. 'Tip matters,' he concludes."
 

A Word From Dan & Aaron

Like all the minutiae of life in New York City, the skill of tipping your doorman can appear at first unknowable and stressful. But once you've familiarized yourself with the culture of your building and take a few minutes to get to know the people who keep it running, you'll likely find the answer to that great dilemma looming over your holiday prep.

Regardless of the particular situation in your building, remember that the traditions of giving and generosity that accompany holidays across cultures the world over exist for good reason: we have nothing without community, and it pays to give back. We can't think of a better place to practice this than in our own New York City.

Wishing You A Happy Holiday Season,
Dan & Aaron

Dan Bamberger
Real Estate Broker + Founder

C: 917.903.7237
E: Dan@TheBambergerGroup.com

Aaron Gordon
Licensed Real Estate Agent

C: 646.598.6428
E: Aaron@TheBambergerGroup.com

Contact Dan Bamberger
A leading Murray Hill Real Estate Broker

Dan photo

Dan Bamberger

Real Estate Broker

(917) 903-7237

If you're thinking about buying or selling in Murray Hill , let's discuss your situation. It's completely free and there's absolutely no obligation.

X

Thin close

View Details

Required by state law, be sure to verify our one-time confirmation e-mail for more details on this apartment. Your information will be kept confidential. Enter your e‑mail below to get started.

Thin close

Get in Touch

Whether you're looking to buy, sell, or learn more about Murray Hill, we know how to help.

Dan photo
Call 917-903-7237 or
send us a message below.
Thin close

Meet Your Murray Hill Neighborhood Expert

Dan photo

Dan Bamberger

Real Estate Broker + founder

(917) 903-7237

If you're thinking about buying or selling in Murray Hill , let's discuss your situation. It's completely free and there's absolutely no obligation.
  • Ranked among the top 1% of all realtors nationwide in 2013 in NRT
  • Real Estate Broker for 10 years

Thin close

Contact Dan Bamberger

Dan photo

Licensed Real Estate Broker

(917) 903-7237

If you're thinking about buying or selling in Murray Hill , let's discuss your situation. It's completely free and there's absolutely no obligation.

Thin close

Meet Your Murray Hill Neighborhood Expert

Aaron gordon new photo

Aaron Gordon

Licensed Real Estate Agent

(646) 598-6428

If you're thinking about buying or selling in Murray Hill , let's discuss your situation. It's completely free and there's absolutely no obligation.

Thin close

Request a Free, No-Obligation Consultation

Meet with Dan Bamberger and get your no-obligation consultation on selling your home. Up to date market information, selling advice and more.

Dan photo
Call 917-903-7237 or
send us a message below.
Thin close

Confirmation

Thanks for getting in touch. We received your message and you’ll hear from us within an hour.

Got it