Landscapers do a lot of work that gets taken for granted. Keeping the grass cut and the hedges trimmed are just part of the job. They dress the property and make it presentable to the public. Landscaping is hard work and requires some knowledge to accomplish correctly.
Many homeowners have landscapers working for them regularly. Depending on the season, you may have to take frequent trips to certain homes or businesses to make sure they’re looking their best. Some homeowners and business owners feel they should give their landscaping crew extra money when they work for them. But should you as a landscaper or lawn care professional expect tips from your customers?
As the Emily Post Institute says, tipping can be a confusing and stressful part of etiquette. It can show a person that you appreciate their work. But it should not replace treating people with respect.
While everyone enjoys getting tips, giving them has a few drawbacks. Here are some pros and cons of homeowners, business owners, and even property management companies face when giving tips:
Many homeowners and managers of commercial properties bring in a lawn care company to maintain their property. These lawn service companies are usually small companies that employ a few people to perform lawn care services (like lawn mowing) and other work in yards. For example, they mow the lawn, remove weeds, trim hedges, repair holes, and spread grass seeds.
As a lawn care company business owner, you know that most of the revenue you receive doesn’t go directly into your pocket. Much of what you get from your customers goes into buying and maintaining equipment, paying employees, and taking care of other business expenses. You should be paying your employees fairly for the value that they provide, but no one working for your lawn care company is making a fortune.
Your lawn care crew will be on your property nearly every week. Most homeowners aren’t expecting to tip every time your company goes out to do routine law maintenance for a customer. That would be impractical and expensive. However, a nominal amount of anywhere from $20 to $50 at the end of the season is a nice bonus - but you can’t expect this tip from all of your customers.
Instead, when putting together your pricing for customers, make sure that you’re adequately covering for all you costs - including salaries and equipment. When the tips do come your way, it will be a nice bonus instead of something that you’re dependent on.
For a landscape contractor, the situation is a bit different. Rather than ongoing lawn maintenance work, you’re visiting a business, HOA, or homeowner for a specific landscaping project or landscape install. These are generally large property transformations.
As a landscape professional, you know the drill. You could be providing a variety of services like placing large rocks, install ponds, put in irrigation systems, planting trees, doing grading and french drain work. These are significant alterations that you’ll be performing. You have the experience, heavy landscaping equipment and proper personnel to do the job correctly.
A landscaping professional should NOT count on a tip.
Your landscape company performs a specific one-time job, unlike lawn care specialists who return frequently. Each landscaping job you perform may take several days or weeks to complete the work. You may - or may not - receive a nice tip at the end for the landscaping efforts of you and your crew.
But note that not all homeowners will feel obligated to tip, especially if they felt your work didn’t meet expectations. Not setting expectations properly ensures that you and your crew won’t receive a tip. Falling behind on the schedule or causing the homeowner unexpected disruptions won’t reflect favorably on your company.
You could expect to receive a wide range of tips - anywhere from $0 (which is probably most common), $20-$50/worker up to 15% for the overall cost of the job.
Rather than expecting tipping from most customers, a landscaping business owner should anticipate NOT getting a tip when putting together your landscaping bid to be on the safe side.
Your gardener may be one of the most important workers on your property. Their work does not affect the function of your home as much as the others, but they do a lot to make it beautiful. If you enjoy flowers, you probably look for a gardener with a lot of knowledge about what plants can make your home look nice all year.
A good gardener is a well-trained professional who knows what to plant based on the season, their customer’s property sun coverage, and the climate.
You do much more than just go to Home Depot to pick up a couple of plants. Customers tipping you $50 or so seems appropriate.
That said, counting on those tips as a gardener is a mistake. Rather than anticipating a tip to make ends meet, raise your pricing to realistic levels. Make sure you completely cover your costs with your bids. A tip should be treated as a nice - but unexpected bonus.
Some people like to give their landscape crews a small gift at the end of each season. They may give them more at the end of the spring and summer since that is when they do most of their maintenance. However, many choose to practice holiday tipping.
You or your crews may receive a large tip around the holidays if you’re doing routine maintenance at a property. You obvious can’t require or plan on the tip, but it can be a nice bonus to help cover those additional holiday expenses.
In some circumstances, homeowners may want to give a tip to the landscapers, but may find it difficult. This applies especially to larger lawn care companies and landscaping contractors.
If your company has a policy that bans workers from interacting with the property owner, or receiving tips, you must express that policy to the homeowner to prevent any confusion or awkward situations.
As an example, some homeowners may feel slighted if they offer a tip to one of the workers and it is declined. It can put the worker in an awkward situation where they don’t want to offend the homeowner, but they also don’t want to violate company policy.
Some homeowners and business owners may not tip, but they may provide food. It is common that satisfied customers to buy pizza or drinks one or more times during the project. This works out great as long as it meets company guidelines.