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Tips for boards on tipping the property manager and beyond

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BrickUnderground’s 2011 Holiday Tipping Guide gives residents the 4-1-1 on annual tipping, but what about end-of-the-year bonuses from the board? And should the board be tipping its property manager?

Both building staff and property managers are expecting envelopes with more than just a holiday card enclosed, according to a Habitat Magazine article that is not yet online. 

Unfamiliar with the concept of tipping a property manager, we asked a couple such folks to elaborate. 

“Many of our boards provide either a monetary gift or gift certificate to their account executive, assistant, transfer department and other members that serve their building,” one longtime property manager told us.  “They wish to show their appreciation for a job well done.” For account executives, the tips range from $250-$1,000, he says. For others, it’s about $100-$250.

But Paul Gottsegen, president of Halstead Management, is not a fan of the concept and said tipping the property manager is more the exception than the rule.

“We're professionals, like a doctor or a lawyer. A tip seems inappropriate--almost degrading,” says Gottsegen, allowing that  “a token might be appropriate, such as a $100 gift certificate."

Habitat suggests that the token gift – like a fruit basket -- should go to the entire office, but the agent should be getting cash from the board. 

According to the magazine, boards should keep these things in mind this tipping season, as well:

  • It’s fine to give the super a gift in the spirit of the holiday, but not instead of cash. A typical bonus from the board can range from one week’s salary to one month’s, according to board members.
  • Make a list of every employee and check it twice! You don’t want to forget a valuable team member just because he’s on the desk while you’re dreaming of sugar plums.  
  • In a smaller building with only one or two employees, some boards take up a collection for the workers. In this case, don’t be afraid to suggest a donation. Some people may be uncomfortable with the ask, but it takes the guesswork out of the equation.
  • A big bonus can act in lieu of a raise. If your super is doing a great job or saving the building a lot of money with his handiwork, a big tip can act as an incentive for him to stay – without raising the base salary for that position. One 65-unit loft building in the Financial District tipped its super $50,000 to keep him happy without having to pass that happiness on to the next employee.
  • Conversely, if the super isn’t working as hard as the board would like, a small tip – with the promise of a bigger bonus if the work improved – might be just the kick in the pants he needs to keep those lobby floors clean.

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