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Holiday tipping hassles and how to avoid them

8 factors that could turn your clients' generosity into an employee squabble

The holidays are here, which means all kinds of challenges for a cleaning service owner.  One that always seems to come up every year is holiday tips. It is important that you lay out a process now for how you are going to handle these tips. Otherwise it can end in hurt feelings, grudges, and ill will—not exactly the holiday spirit you were hoping to inspire. Like so many things in the cleaning industry, there is no one right answer but you need to think about all of the factors below and have a written plan on how to deal with those holiday tips.

1)  Do trainees get a portion of the holiday tips? Most clients only tip once a year. The techs can get quite upset if they need to share their tips from the work they did all year with a trainee who was only there once and whom they had to supervise. However, unless you outline it and explain it upfront, the trainees are going to feel cheated when their co-worker is getting “big stacks of cash” (their view) when they did just as much work and got nothing.

2)  How do you split up the tips if multiple cleaners have been there? If Betty Sue cleaned the house all year, but just happens to be out on December 10th when Mrs. Smith leaves the tip, who gets it? Betty Sue will say it is her tip, but Bobby the fill-in cleaner will argue that if he had not been there to fill in for Betty Sue on that day there would have been no tip for anyone.  If you split the tips, how far back do you go?

3)  How are the tips to be reported to the office for all of the above?

4)  For clients that add a tip to their checks or credit card payments, how will you let the cleaners know they received a tip so they can thank the client?

5)  How will you deal with gift cards and food that cannot be divided as agreed above?

6)  What will you do if a client leaves a tip with a specific person's name on it BUT they are not the only person who cleans the house?  

7)  Do you want to remind clients that they should tip for the holiday? If so, how? Should the cleaners say anything to the clients? If so, what?  

8)   If tips come into the office how are you going to handle payroll taxes and other deductions?

I hope you can see how something that seems so simple like a holiday tip can quickly spiral out of control if there is not a clear policy communicated to everyone. I am sure there are even more opinions on this which is why we have started a discussion in the CBT Facebook group on holiday tips. Click here to come join the discussion.

Derek Christian has been involved in the cleaning industry for more than 20 years and is an owner or investor in several cleaning companies.  Derek founded My Maid Service which was later merged into Blue Skies Services and now he works with Castle Keepers in various marketing and sales Capacities.
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