Holiday Tipping. It’s all part of the NYC parking garage experience.
$25? $100? How much is right? Your car is probably your second most valuable asset after your house, so under-tipping could be a bad choice. To find out the trends for monthly parkers, we called the major garage operators, surveyed 15 random garages, and asked our fellow parkers how they approach holiday topping for parking garages.
We found out there just isn’t any formula, there aren’t really any trends, the parking garage guys don’t want to talk, and holiday tipping might remain one of the great NYC secrets!
BUT WE PERSEVERED AND GOT YOU SOME ANSWERS
- $100 per employee is considered ‘extremely generous’ in midtown, the E60s, and around Union Square, but is ‘average’ in the more affluent areas like E80s near 5th Ave
- $25 – $50 per employee is ‘kind of cheap’ in those more affluent residential areas and ‘normal’ around much of the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Garage Size – a small 60 car garage and medium 250 car garage can both be splitting tips evenly among the same 3 employees, but the larger garage is going to have a larger tip kitty.
- Your Activity – if you use your car often and tip throughout the year, or don’t really use your car much at all, then you can probably go a bit lighter. But if you’re not tipping each time you use your car, then aim a little higher.
- How to Tip – give a lump sum for the Manager to divide evenly or as he wishes, or give individual envelopes to each employee. If you park in a large garage, just ask the Manager for a total head count. Many of the larger garages will pool all the tips.
- Tipping is an Emotional Decision – We tip a lot in NYC. Taxi drivers, doormen, waiters, bellhops, delivery people, hairdressers, you name it. Tipping for the holiday decision is an emotional decision for many people. Are you tipping as a reward for the past year, or to ‘pave the way’ for next year? When it comes to our cars, many people say they tip ‘out of fear’ and hope that a hearty tip will ensure their vehicle is parked and maintained damage-free and is ready when they need it. Park It! parkers also say that their tipping habits are based on such a simple thing as how much they like or dislike an attendant.
- The Tipping Board — many NYC garages post a whiteboard in the garage office during the holiday season, where they will write the names of customers who have given a holiday tip. Some garages does this to publicly recognize these customers, and some use the board as a not-so-subtle reminder of the tipping tradition.
THE BIGGEST, SMALLEST, AND CRAZIEST TIPS WE HEARD
- $2,000 is the biggest tip we’ve heard about, and it happened in more than one garage.
$1 was the smallest tip.
- Used Greeting Card — A very wealthy customer realized on Christmas Eve that he hadn’t tipped the attendants. He looked through his bag, found a used Christmas card, erased the name of the person who gave it to him, put $5 in it and signed it over to the 10 men crew of the garage for all for the holidays.
- A $4 box of store-bought cookies. As one garage attendant put it, ‘if I’m getting a box of cookies, there had better be an envelope in it’.
- A hand-drawn picture by a customer’s young child.