Getting good service can be a difficult problem in our indecent, modern, world.  One way of guaranteeing good service is to provide a cash tip to the person assisting you.  In restaurants and in service bays where you are well-known, tipping helps get you good service; but what do you do with the incidental worker you may only see one time, like a moving company team, or a repairman?  How can you make sure they’ll get the job done to your satisfaction within your time requirement window?  Conditional Pre-Tipping is one method I use to ensure excellent, one-off, service.

Conditional Pre-Tipping is a cash advance against an expectation of excellent service. When you pre-tip someone, do it in private, and the condition you set when giving the cash is that the job will be done within the specified parameters — but if that does not happen — then the TIP MUST BE RETURNED!

That codicil — that conditional revocation that if the job doesn’t get done, the pre-tip is given back to you — is the key to the success of the plan. Make it clear that the pre-tip is in addition to the regular tip you will give at the end of the job. Also make it clear the pre-tip isn’t because you don’t trust them to get the work done — you just have to be somewhere at a certain time, and you need to make sure everything is done right before you leave and that’s why you’re pre-tipping.

The conditional cash pre-tip needs to be substantial enough that the worker won’t want to risk losing the tip if the job doesn’t get done.  A five dollar tip risks nothing, while a $40 tip is much more difficult to return.  If the job doesn’t get done, and the worker refuses to return the pre-tip, then that’s it.  No additional tip at the end of the workday and you know that person is immoral, unreliable, and unkind.

Here are some specific scenarios on how to properly execute Conditional Pre-Tipping:

Movers:  If there’s a gang of guys in the moving company, pull the supervisor aside and tell him you need the job done by a certain time and the pre-tip you’re giving is his to share with his crew or keep for his own.  Make it clear you’ll also tip everyone at the end of the job, too, so he’ll know the pre-tip isn’t the only tip in play that day.

Cable Guy:  In my experience, the cable installers take forever.  Sure, they’re always late and, yes, they often have to reprogram modems and cable boxes while you wait, but if you pre-tip them, with the condition that they get everything done within a reasonable timeframe, my experience tells me you will never be disappointed.  Watching a cable guy haul butt is a beauty to beheld.

Children: Conditionally pre-tipping — bribing! — kids to get good grades in school is an excellent method of monetary inspiration. Give them a ton of cash at the start of the semester, and then set the condition for giving the money back at the end of the term, and you’ll never see a kid work harder in order to keep the money pre-won, and likely pre-spend, in hand.

The great thing about Conditional Pre-Tipping is if you ever get the same person showing up for a new task, the table has already been set in the preparation for excellence.  I’ve given tons of Conditional Pre-Tips over the years, and I have been satisfied each time, and I’ve never had to recall a single tip.  Once you Conditionally Pre-Tip, you’ll have a new ally by your side forever!


  1. I like this idea a lot and am going to use it the next time we have “one off ” contractors – I have already primed Mr P.

  2. I am looking forward to seeing if and how it works wit the Portuguese mentality!

    In general tipping works well – as does paying in cash – we get better treatment in most restaurants we go to regularly because of it.

    1. Yes, cash is definitely king — in tipping and buying condos! SMILE!

      I’ve learned to “pre-tip” my regular delivery guys. I give them the tip in January, so they know it isn’t a Christmas tip, and if they wonder why they’re getting tipped if they didn’t deliver much to me in the previous year… I tell them this isn’t for last year, this is for the year to come… that pleases them, and they get it, and understand the game.

  3. Have cookies and muffins etc replaced bread as a staple food – or do most people eat supermarket bread?

    1. Muffins are big here. Donuts are more popular than cookies. Fresh bread is something you buy at a supermarket with an expiration date on it. Ha!

      You can get good bread at Panera and Whole Foods. Big chains often have a bakery on site.

  4. Well “fresh bread” has little or no preservatives – hence the sell by date – SMILE

    Some of our chains have on site bakeries too – some of them are not bad – but nothing compared to the neighbor !

    1. Right! The bread we buy in stores is chemical refractions… ick!

      Making bread in the home is a lost Art. People prefer white bread over wheat and they want to buy it pre-sliced!

      1. I guess very few people have the time or the patience to make bread at home any more – the bread makers are quite good – but you make a loaf and its gone in ten minutes if not sooner. As for pre-sliced I guess it cuts down on A&E admissions !

        1. I agree. Even the machines take some of the spirit out of homemade bread.

          Funny if you buy an uncut round loaf at the store, they’ll automatically put it in the slicer for you without asking for approval first! They just assume you don’t want to take a knife to it yourself!

    1. Ha! I’ve actually had people in NYC turn down a Conditional Pre-Tip because they said they couldn’t get done what I needed to get done in the timeframe required. It wasn’t about the amount of the tip, it was that they needed more time. I was happy to negotiate completion of the task to get the Conditional Pre-Tip to happen, and I was always able to find a good middle ground for success.

        1. Yes, it wasn’t a big deal — and I think they were smart to refuse the tip if they knew they would not be able to get the job done on time.

          1. Hmmm. I’m….gonna try it. Might be how you present too. Bet I get a flat, no. Haha.

            Very interesting concept though.

          2. Ha! Let us know what happens! The key is to offer enough that they can’t say “no” and you’ll get the job done superfaster. SMILE!

          3. The definition of “enough” is a critical condition. It all depends on the job. A cable installer, maybe $40 as a pre-tip, while a bunch of guys moving your house from one State to another might be a $300 pre-tip. If the pre-tip is too tiny, you’ll insult them instead of inspiring them. It will take you a few times to trust your gut to know what to expect — but you’re in control, so you’ll know precisely what getting it done on your time instead of theirs is to you. Remember, too, you’re telling them upfront they’ll get their regular tip as well.

          4. Right!!!

            I’m not rich so I won’t be doing this alot. However I’m a filmmaker and sometimes when you’re shooting you have to motivate people around things that would not ordinarily happen. So this is great to know and keep in mind. 🙂

          5. Yes, that’s smart! There are moments when it doesn’t matter how fast something gets done, but when you’re on set and the sun is setting and you’re in a time crunch, Pre-Conditional Tipping will definitely ride to your rescue! SMILE! Good luck and let us know how it works for you in the field!

          6. Definitely!!!!!!!! You got it!!!!! Gotta save the stress for other things…lolol.

            Oh I will!!! Thanks David. 🙂

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