Should I Tip an Electrician, Contractor, or Repairman?

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It is customary for people to tip those working within the hospitality industry. There’s even a set percentage on how much is an acceptable tip. However, the rules are quite different when dealing with an electrician, contractor, or repairman.

If you are wondering whether you should tip your repairman, contractor, or electrician, you need to consider several things.

  1. How much are you paying for their services?
  2. Do they expect a tip?
  3. Determine if they have done anything beyond the ordinary to warrant extra pay.
  4. If you feel comfortable tipping, go ahead and do so. Otherwise, stick to paying the professionals their invoiced rate.

This article discusses things you should consider before tipping an electrician, contractor, or repairman. It also provides information about tipping etiquette. In addition, it discusses the reasons why you could get away with not tipping.

What to Consider Before Tipping an Electrician, Contractor, or Repairman

Below are some of the things you should consider before tipping skilled professionals working on your property:

1. Expectations

Most workers in the hospitality industry expect tips. The same applies to people working in places like hair salons and within the transportation and delivery industry.

For example, 58.5% of wait staff earnings and 54% of bartenders’ income are from tips. So, those tips make up a significant portion of the employees’ income. If they did not get that extra money from customers, many would struggle to meet their financial obligations.

However, tipping is not how they earn their income for many skilled professionals, such as those working in the plumbing, automotive, electrical, and construction industries. As a result, most employees within these sectors do not expect anything other than what you owe them for the materials and labor they provide.

So, if you are worried about tipping expectations, don’t bother. No one is likely to complain so long as you pay them what is due to them.

2. Human Biases

Research shows that human biases affect the way people tip or perceive the extra payments they receive. In addition, human biases affect the services people provide when they are tipped or denied tips.

There is always a risk that you may offend someone when you tip them. Some people might feel the money you gave was too little.

And other professionals may take offense and think you tipped them a little because you are racist or sexist. They may assume you judged them based on their color or gender, especially if they compared notes with another professional in the locale that you hired and tipped before. And yet, your only mistake would have been to provide a tip based on what you had at the time.

Therefore, if you live in an area where racial harmony is more of a dream and racial tensions abound, you may want to reconsider your desire to tip. Perhaps it would be best for you to pay the required wage based on the professional’s skillset and the services you get. The more objective approach is less likely to offend someone.

3. Affordability

How much will it cost you to tip? What if all you had was an extra $5? Is that worth paying out?

Industries in which tipping is common tend to have guidelines on what constitutes a decent tip. For example, you are expected to tip your colorist or hairstylist at least 20% within salons. Most industry professionals who get paid less than that are usually not happy.

So, if you spent $80, you should pay out an additional $16 or more as a tip. However, in most industries, you will pay 10% to 15% as a tip for the services you receive.

But here is the thing: electricians, contractors, and repairmen do not always come cheap. Studies show that 40% of Americans can’t afford to cover a $400 emergency. Also, 30% of households in the country are struggling to pay their bills.

Think about that for a second, will you?

Using the percentage guideline, no matter what value you choose, a tip could end up being very detrimental to your pocket. And if you are struggling to afford the contractor in the first place, how will you manage the extra funds for tipping? Where will you get it from?

Also, your tip offer may come across as insulting to the very person you wanted to show appreciation for. That is likely to happen if the amount you give is too little. So, you are better off not giving anything at all.

Of course, you have the option of setting a flat rate that you could use to pay every skilled service provider that you want to tip. In that case, the rate would apply regardless of the type of service, race, or level of skill the professional you hire offers you. Should you choose to go with that option, offer a tip of at least $20 for any contractor, you end up hiring.

4. Personal Motivations

Why are you tipping your electrician, contractor, or repairman? Is it because you think it’s expected of you, and you feel guilty about not offering a tip? Or is it because you think the professional in question has provided materials and services worth a tip?

Your motivations are crucial. If you pay out your hard-earned money as a tip, and yet you cannot afford to do so, you may end up resenting the contractor you hire. And every time you need their services, rather than feel comfortable calling them, your anxiety levels will increase because you know it will increase your financial burdens.

There is no point in tipping someone you will pay anyway if you are experiencing financial stress. Concentrate on fixing your issues first.

5. Company Policy

Did you know that there is such a thing as the no-tipping movement? So, don’t always assume you will be doing a good thing to tip your contractor.

Some companies have a strict no-tipping policy. Such organizations believe that the payment of a good living wage is their responsibility. So, they would rather their clients pay what they owe so that their employees can get a steady paycheck.

If your contractor or repairman works for a company, consider the possibility of a no-tipping policy. If necessary, contact management and inquire whether there is one in place. The last thing you want is to give someone a tip, only for the company management to discover what you did and penalize their employee.

6. The Type of Tip

Please find out what company policy says on tips and gifts. Some organizations may allow tips but prevent their employees from carrying cash. In such cases, you could opt to tip in the form of physical gifts or digital gift cards.

Others may entirely frown upon gifts and cash. However, some companies may allow you to show your appreciation in the form of donations to a cause they support as part of their corporate social responsibilities, even if their employees are not permitted to receive tips. And they may also set guidelines on which time of the year their clients can tip their employees.

The reality is that companies differ in how they do things. It would be wise not to take it for granted that what works for the company you have tipped before will work for all others you work with in the future. For that reason, it would be best for you to find out what an acceptable form of a tip is from an organization’s point of view.

7. Jealousy

What happens if you are pleased with one contractor’s services and want to tip them, but they work on your home with other people? What do you think will happen when the others do not get tips?

It would be wise for you not to underestimate jealousy, which is one of the strongest human emotions. And that emotion is very present in many workplaces where it wreaks havoc with people.

If you tip one person and do not tip other people, it would be a recipe for disaster. The person you have shown preferences for may experience bullying and isolation from their colleagues. In addition, if multiple contractors working in your home or on your equipment feel left out, their negativity will disrupt the job at hand. There will be less collaboration. Also, the quality of work is likely to go down.

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When Should You Tip You Electrician, Contractor, Or Repairman?

If you have considered all the factors and are still unsure what to do, think about the situations that warrant tipping. Below are tips that will enable you to determine when you should tip your service providers.

1. Tip Annually In Time for the Holidays

If you have electricians, repairmen, and contractors who work on your home or vehicle regularly, you can tip them once a year in time for your most important holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving. Doing so gives you enough time to save up for a decent tip that would make a substantial financial impact on their lives.

Even if these professionals are well paid, they would appreciate a holiday tip or gift they did not expect. However, you don’t have to limit your annual tip to cash. A gift card is worth giving out also.

When you opt for an annual tip, you reduce your tipping expenses, thus making the tips affordable. The general rule of thumb is that you should give a gift card worth $20 for casual acquaintances, where your contractors fit. So, that limits your financial obligations as far as tipping is concerned.

In addition, you will only give that kind of tip once, which significantly reduces your tipping budget while satisfying your need to pay extra. Also, you can buy discounted gift cards that some people resell and offer them as annual tips. By doing so, you will lower your tipping expenses even more.

2. Tip When Professionals Provide Extra Services You Did Not Pay For

Feel free to tip if professional service providers give extra services you did not pay for

If a contractor comes into your home or works on your vehicle and provides services, they may go further and fix one or two issues that were not part of the deal. And by doing so, they may end up spending an hour or so working on the problem without any expectation for additional pay.

They may also choose to investigate something that has been giving you trouble, diagnose the problem, and recommend a solution that will reduce your energy and repair costs. Sometimes, that solution could be straightforward and cheap, but you have no idea since you are not skilled.

In addition, some of the things you need to be done may need extra work. For example, you may need wiring within your house. But your electrician may be forced to break down a more extensive wall section than you anticipated to fix what’s behind it. And they may also be forced to improvise if they discover some of your wring is not up to code.

When contractors go the extra mile for you, you can appreciate them by tipping. Consider that tip as an investment for a solution that may save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.

3. Tip If You Live In a Neighborhood That Does It

You may want to ask around your new neighborhood whether it is customary for homeowners to tip their contractors, repairmen, or electricians. If the answer is yes, you can follow suit. However, if the answer is no, you can tip at your discretion, provided it doesn’t cause any offense.

If nothing else, asking your neighbors about the local tipping policies is an excellent way to know them. And you may make awesome friends.

4. Tip When You Receive Repair and Replacement Services at an Inconvenient Time

Many companies have people working around the clock to deal with customers. But that does not mean the employees enjoy working during nights, holidays, off-peak hours, and weekends. Also, most people probably do not enjoy working during bad weather. Instead, they would be spending quality time with their families even if they would earn more during those times.

So, when a repairman agrees to fix your equipment during the weekend because you need it for your work, your contractor braves a snowstorm to deal with insulation on your wall, or a plumber shows up in the middle of the night to fix that burst pipe flooding your home, give them a tip.

Of course, you will pay a lot more for those emergency services, but they could have said no and spent that time comfortable in their homes. So, a tip is a way to acknowledge that.

5. Tip When You Are Happy With The Job Done

Some people do a good enough job to be paid. But others go the extra mile to provide excellent services to their customers while saving them money. And those kinds of skilled professionals are worth acknowledging.

If your electrician or repairman has put in a lot of effort to fix your home or equipment and feel free to tip them. You can do the same if they finish the project on time or before the deadline. Their hard work may help you enjoy living in a comfortable home that doesn’t make you sick earlier than you anticipated.

Think of the tip as a bonus that shows appreciation for work well done.

6. Tip When Everyone Is Around

As stated earlier, it is a bad idea to tip one person in a group. However, if you have a team of electricians, contractors, or repairmen working for you and you are satisfied with their job, you can tip all of them.

And when you do so, ensure that everyone or most members of the team is around. That way, you let the team know there is a tip, and they will not miss their share if one member decides to be greedy.

In such a situation, calculate a flat rate and multiply it by the number of people working in the team. Then hand over the cash to the foreman in an envelope and let everyone around know how much it is for accountability purposes. Should you opt for gift cards, try to give similar gift cards or cards of equal amounts.

When Not To Tip

Some situations require you to be tough and not even consider tipping your skilled service providers.

So, there is no need to tip if:

  • You are struggling to pay your bills and cannot afford the tip.
  • The work done is shoddy and falls short of your expectations.
  • The contractors’ employers forbid tipping.
  • You have to single one contractor who works as part of a team.
  • The amount of money you have for that purpose is very little.
  • You are paying a lot of money for your contractor’s services.
  • Your contractor comes from a no-tipping culture and may find your actions offensive.

Final Thoughts

Tipping is a tricky thing, especially for contractors who do not need tips. So, do not put an unnecessary financial burden on your shoulders if you cannot afford it. Also, you may believe you are showing appreciation for someone, but you could be getting that person in trouble with their employers or colleagues. Therefore, you need to be careful and consider alternatives if you have a strong desire to tip your electrician, contractor, or repairman.

Gift cards are always an excellent alternative. But if you have no money or company policy forbids cash tips and physical gifts, leave behind positive reviews and offer testimonials to improve the contractors’ reputations. In addition, you can share a link to their website online and recommend them in other ways to anyone looking for their services.

And you can also keep your contractors fed and let them use your bathroom facilities while they work for you. You can appreciate your contractors in multiple ways by thinking outside the box, even when tipping is impossible.


Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.