10 Manhattan doormen talk tips

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By Teri Karush Rogers  |
November 29, 2010 - 6:52AM

(BrickUnderground's 2012 Holiday Tipping Guide is here>>)

Here’s what 10 Manhattan doormen told BrickUnderground they expect to pull in this a few asides on why you should please avoid leaving the envelope with the super, where they plan to spend their gratuities, and whether rich people should tip more.

1. 50-unit UES Park Ave prewar rental, where two-bedrooms start at $15,000 a month

Since starting his job a few years ago, this doorman has seen his tips go up from $100 average to a few $175 tips last year.  Range: $30- $1,000

This year he expects to take in less, as several apartments are empty.  His attitude toward low tippers is pretty low key: The building has some residents “who went through bankruptcy or the whole Madoff situation.” Others are new to Park Avenue “and don’t know what the whole deal is. You can’t get mad.”

2. 80-unit UES prewar Park Avenue co-op

Average tip: $100.  Range: $10-$300

His building is 60 percent “seniors” who tend to give less than others: “Older people tend to think that a dollar is a dollar, but a gallon of gas is like $3.50.  I think we deserve more [than a $10 tip] but I don’t hold it against them, because they’re older and think that’s a lot of money.”

3. 60-unit prewar co-op near Fifth Ave in Carnegie Hill

Average tip $125. Range: $20-$400.  

Expectations for this year? Tips have been flat for two years, so it’s probably more of the same: “The economy is not deterioriating, but it’s not showing signs of life either.”  He doesn’t like it when residents ask him to hand tips to other doormen, because if they stiff the other doormen, he gets the flack. “You don’t want to be in the middle of these things.

4. 40-unit 1980s condo on Upper East side

Average tip $120  Range: $35-$1,000

Prognosis? He expects about 20 percent of residents to boost tips slightly “but overall it will be about the same.”  He spends on tuition for his kids’ Catholic school and last minute Christmas shopping.    On the moral obligation to tip well if you’re rich? Not in his building, though he knows where the money is. “I don’t put that on anybody.”

5. 56-unit prewar Upper West Side co-op

Average tip: $150  Range: $60-$500

This doorman doubles as a handyman and says he has receive a 15% increase each year for the past 5 years.  His building hosts an annual holiday party about two weeks before Christmas to make sure all residents tip doormen directly.  “In one night, we collect everything.”

6. 100-unit prewar co-op, Upper West Side

Average tip: $100 (Range: $5 - $200)

Doormen talk a lot about who gets what.  He smiles more for big tippers and does extra favors.  Smaller tippers tend to be subletters.  He doesn’t like the lists that go out to residents putting the most senior employees on top, because “residents might not have enough left for the new guys at the end of the list.”

7. 60-unit UWS prewar co-op

Average tip: $50 (Range: $10-$100)

People who dress the weirdest are usually the best tippers.  He admits to being friendlier this time of year to get better tips.  He would prefer to get his tips at the beginning of the month to help with Christmas shopping.

8. 200 unit Greenwich Village co-op  with short-term rentals

Average tip: $25 (Range: $15-$100)

He doesn’t expect a lot as he’s not only new but doesn’t do very much other than buzz residents in from behind a glass partition.  Also the large population of short-term renters in this co-op leads to more turnover, and a lot of them are students who don’t have very much money.  He doesn’t like the fact that most tips go to the super for distribution: It’s not ideal.

9. 300-unit postwar co-op in Greenwich Village

Average tip: $30 (Range: $10-$25)

Tips are small because there are about 30 people on staff.  Half the tips come directly to him and half go to the super.  Bad tippers don’t get worse service.  “What can you do, not open the door for them? Everybody is treated the same—it just has to be that way.”

10. 35-unit prewar co-op, East Village

Average tip: $100 (Range: $30-$400)

He even gets a few tips from the two buildings that flanks his, which share doormen occasionally.  Tactics for getting a good tip:  Good communication skills and also by following the “A to Z” when residents come home, which means accompanying them to the elevator.  Because it’s a small building with just a few employees, there’s a lot of talk about who’s giving what.  Everybody knows who the $400 tipper is.  About half his tips are distributed by the super, but he would rather have them directly “because you don’t always trust the other way.”

Related posts:

BrickUnderground's 2012 Holiday Tipping Guide

BrickUnderground's 2011 Holiday Tipping Guide

A Doorman Speaks: 7 tipping rules for doormen & residents

What happens to bad tippers

Find out how much your neighbors are tipping this year

Payback time: Cashing in holiday tipping

Top 12 excuses of bad holiday tippers

BrickUnderground 2010 Holiday Tipping Guide -- all posts



Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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