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Tipping in Multifamily Communities

image of a cat in a tip jar

Tipping has always been a complicated interplay of social norms, psychology, and cultural expectations. This complexity grows exponentially in the multifamily industry when you realize that maintenance technicians often do not get tips despite their essential roles.

Add in the growing resentment towards tipping in the US due to tipflation, and you end up with more questions than answers. Before looking for a solution, we need to understand the forces working behind the concept of tipping.

The Psychology of Tipping

Multiple psychological factors influence tipping behavior, and many academic studies have focused on them.

Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion," discusses the principle of reciprocity, saying, "We feel obligated to return favors performed for us.” This sense of obligation becomes particularly relevant in a multifamily setting where maintenance technicians often go the extra mile.

Social Norms
According to Psychology Today, tipping has emerged as a social norm, making it the subject of societal expectations. The article states that the vast majority of Americans prefer tipping, and the reason why “is likely because tipping gives customers a sense of control (and choice and freedom are emphasized strongly in our individualistic society.)”

Despite a national preference for tipping, residents in multifamily communities often feel uncertain about whether or not they should tip maintenance technicians.

Personal Connection
Researcher Michael Lynn from Cornell University published a paper that found that personal connections between customers and servers significantly influence tipping behavior, often more than the quality of service. He comments, “Anything you can do to increase social rapport is going to increase your tips pretty substantially.”

Reward and Incentive
An article in the New York Times (“Why Tip?”) explains that customers use tipping to reward good service and motivate staff. This concept resonates strongly in a multifamily housing setting, as most residents prefer to build positive relationships with their service technicians. This article states:

Tipping is a way to show your appreciation for a service performed and a job well done. If you tip at an establishment you regularly frequent or a handyman who does a lot of work for you, it can ensure perpetual positive experiences.

Tipping is a way to show your appreciation for a service performed and a job well done.

How Do Technicians Feel?

Now that you understand why we tip, you might also be curious about how maintenance technicians feel about tipping. We gained the following insights when talking to various on-site technicians from many communities nationwide.

  • I appreciate gratitude more than the monetary value: John, a maintenance technician from Arizona, said, "The amount isn't as important as the gesture of appreciation."
  • I don’t expect tips, but they are always welcome: Emily, a technician who works at a Florida community, noted, "Tipping is always a nice surprise but not something we expect."
  • Tips don’t affect my quality of service: "I'm committed to providing high-quality service, tip or no tip," says Mark, a maintenance technician from North Carolina with 8 years of experience.
  • I love the concept of tipping, but it gets uncomfortable: Jared, a maintenance supervisor in Alabama, shared, "Tipping can be awkward. A more discreet way to tip would be great."

Well, Jared, AppWork has the solution you're looking for.

Tipping with AppWork: A Digital Solution

According to this Forbes article, “Digital tipping methods seem to encourage customers to leave higher tips, so making these more available and convenient anywhere workers accept tips could help increase their income.” Besides giving encouragement, digital tipping also alleviates the awkwardness and social anxiety associated with traditional (aka analog) tipping.

Besides giving encouragement, digital tipping also alleviates the awkwardness and social anxiety associated with traditional (aka analog) tipping.

AppWork created a tipping feature that offers residents and technicians the benefits of giving tips but none of the drawbacks. After a technician finishes a work order, the resident receives an email or text asking them to rate the work done.

In addition to rating the technician, the resident can give the technician a small amount as a tip without revealing their identity. When using the AppWork tech tipping feature, the technicians don't know who gave them the tip, how much it was, or when they received it.

Anonymous tipping creates a win-win situation for multiple reasons:

  1. The resident doesn’t feel pressured to leave a tip.
  2. The resident avoids the social anxiety of how and how much to give.
  3. The resident doesn’t have to fear the negative repercussions of not leaving a tip.
  4. The technicians have no expectations of tips. The money they receive from the residents is a genuine bonus.
  5. When tips are anonymous, technicians will work on the assumption that any resident might have tipped them last time. This ambiguity incentivizes them to treat all residents as good tippers.

A Modern Answer to an Old Problem

Every American has experienced that spike in anxiety when they question themselves: How much do I give? How do I give it smoothly? Why do I have to tip in the first place?

Culturally, tipping in the US is fraught with psychological questions and ramifications. Some people feel that tipping is a power trip and a way to manipulate another person. Others see tipping as putting undue pressure on the tipper and tippee. Some even suggest that tipping is a way of assuaging the cultural guilt that comes from having a history of slavery.

Tipping within the multifamily industry goes beyond a mere transactional interaction. Societal norms and personal experiences surround the psychology of tipping. In this intricate landscape, our tech tipping feature emerges as a modern, practical solution that respects the anonymity and comfort of both parties.

As we continue to appreciate the crucial roles that maintenance technicians play in multifamily settings, it’s worth considering how advancements like tech tipping can contribute to a more harmonious and appreciative community.

Feel free to share this article within your multifamily network. We want to help build an industry that fosters gratitude. More than anything else, tipping is about giving thanks and showing respect.