A holiday tipping calculator that uses your doorman's happiness as a guide

By Virginia K. Smith  | December 30, 2014 - 11:59AM

If you're still putting off tipping the building staff—or are just indecisive about how much to shell out—here's one more calculator to figure out just how much your doorman deserves. (We wrote up a similar tool from consultant Spencer Greenberg before the holidays, but hey, the more advice we can get in this arena, the better.)

This one comes with a twist: your recommended tip amount is based, in part, on how many unwanted people your doorman has kept out of the building, how many times he's helped you out over the past year, and the extent of your personal relationship. "We call that the 'pressure' factor," explains real estate broker Dan Bamberger, who first launched the tipping tool last year. "For instance, if you’re a woman and the doorman is keeping your ex-boyfriend out of the building, there’s a huge value to that, and it increases your pressure to tip," Bamberger tells us. His calculator also takes into account the value of your apartment, as "perceived wealth" raises expectations, and whether you rent or own (renters don't need to tip as much as owners). 

To come up with the number, Bamberger's team looked at two different studies (one from Princeton, one from Forbes) that put the average salary required for happiness somewhere between $50,000 and $75,000 a year. Given that the salary for a NYC doorman is currently capped at $45,270, they determined that in order to keep your doorman happy, the building's total tips should add around $17,230 to their annual income. "You're paying for two things," he says. "To keep this person happy, and also to ensure that they like you."

For a rental apartment under $3,000 a month in a 100-unit building with no special help or relationship with the staff, the estimated tip is $100 per doorman. (For a similar apartment using Greenberg's calculator, you'd tip $172.) As for Bamberger, he says he prefers to opt for gifts rather than cash when tipping season rolls around, and this year gave his doorman a bottle of wine and a tie.

But one demographic that should definitely pony up extra? Anyone who's having the doorman help facilitate their affair. "I've had a lot of doormen tell me about cheating husbands and cheating wives who they help out," he says. "For instance, they'll call the apartment if the spouse is heading upstairs, and send up a service elevator so the cheater can sneak out their boyfriend or girlfriend. There's a huge value to having the doorman be a guy you can trust." As for the jilted spouses in the equation, it's safe to say they can give a little (or a lot) less this tipping season.


Vote now in BrickUnderground's tipping poll! 

Tipping the building staff: BrickUnderground's 2014 guide

Calculate exactly how much to tip your doorman with this handy tool

Tip, tip, hooray! Your holiday tipping dilemmas solved

What you can—and can't—ask your doorman to do this holiday season.

The doorman premium—to pay or not to pay

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