Domestic Staff Training

Mary Louise StarkeyToday a prospective client called, seeking private service training for her current household staff.  She exclaimed, “Whew!  You were hard to find, Mrs. Starkey!”  Given that Starkey International comes up first when you Google Household Management, I was stunned until I asked, “What were your search words?”  She replied, “Domestic Staff Training.”  Those who know me and my work understand that I have been a wordsmith for this unique profession of Private Service and have written extensively for the industry, developing the use of over 100 words and terms including coining the title “Household Manager.”

Over the years I have rallied against ever referring to our Graduates as “Domestics.”    The term domestic often has a negative association including: uneducated, low skill, not always trustworthy, non-English speaking, and more; this is not a good beginning for a growing young profession.   The word Domestic is defined in Webster’s 1999 edition as, “pertaining to the home, family, or household affairs” and “tame; domesticated”.  Much of my work over the last 30 years has been to actually create a world-recognized, well-respected, educated, and appropriately paid profession.  The term domestic continues to play a vital role in defining those that do the more unskilled, hand’s on cleaning and outside heavy grounds work in private service.  However, to continue to utilize the word Domestic to define, categorize, or refer to those who have attained years of service management education, abilities, and expertise as a “domestic” is much like referring to an architect as a carpenter!


Top Standards

Personal Care



I was born and raised in Central Wisconsin, the youngest of six children. My father was a physician,
my mother a nurse. I had a privileged upbringing; however, my parents were very strict, teaching us
kids a strong work ethic. As soon as we kids were old enough to pick up a rake or a dust cloth, we
were put to work around our own home. There was no gratuitous weekly allowance for us; we had to
earn our desserts, and along the way we learned independence, self-respect, and to notice and respect
others’ hard work and integrity.
My professional background can be broken in to three separate careers: the first was in advertising,
the second was in food & beverage/hospitality management, and the third is in private service. I
worked in high-profile advertising media planning for 8 years. Though I excelled advertising, I did
not find the work satisfying. It was strictly numbers-crunching and terribly impersonal. Much good
came from it, though—agency work taught me about corporate communication and social polish.
A career counselor helped me see that hospitality was my calling. I enrolled in
hotel/restaurant/culinary school to prepare me for a new career. After two years of training, I spent
13 years working in different venues—hotels, resorts, country clubs, and even movie studios—
learning different business models of hospitality. This vocation fit me much better than advertising;
however, I still wanted to employ my skills in a more personal environment—namely, private
One can see that I have worked in several different private service positions. No two household are
alike, yet each situation in which I have worked has been an invaluable learning experience. I now
truly do what I love.
Enjoying work is one thing, but is my work/management style effective? I believe it is. I am not a
clock-watcher and take no issue with getting my hands dirty. I have done it all—cleaning gutters and
kennels, digging irrigation ditches, pressure washing hardscapes, deep cleaning kitchen appliances,
snaking clogged drains, you name it. No task is beneath me. That said, I never ask anyone to perform
a task that I have not done myself. Lead by example.
I try to learn as much about each facet of house management, be it wardrobe maintenance, plumbing,
or landscape services. It gives me an opportunity as a manager to find opportunities to improve
productivity and to determine if staff and vendors—are working at optimal levels.
Still, work ethic and technical knowledge are moot points if I don’t possess the communication and
organization skills to effectively lead. I firmly believe in written communication, creating manuals
for maintenance scheduling and for daily weekly procedural tasks. Properly composed,
unambiguously worded manuals establish expectations. Manuals, coupled with in-person training,
daily briefings, and QA follow-through are key to ensuring a happy routine for homeowners and
providers alike.
My colleagues tell me I organize to a fault. I alphabetize spice racks, and organize clothing using the

R-O-Y-G-B-I-V color coding. I assign cleaning cloths by color—right down the line. It is simply in
my nature to find a place for everything, and to put everything in its place.
Finally, I pride myself on being an easy person with whom to work. A positive attitude makes all the
difference, and as a manager, I believe it imperative to create an environment in which staff looks
forward to coming to work. Respect staff. Respect vendors. Make all involved understand the
importance of their work. Allow them to contribute ideas. When I come to a new property, I don’t
impose a pre-conceived agenda. I take the time to learn the history of the workplace, to find out
what works and what doesn’t, and then—and only then—do I introduce new
approaches for change. I am not a pushover. I do not hesitate to counsel and discipline staff if so
I will stop here about my work/management style. Suffice to say, I am hard working, am highly
organized, try to make work as much a joy for others as it is for me.
My top four Standards are Administrative, Culinary, Entertaining and Personal Care:

I have strong HR skills including hiring, scheduling, reviewing, disciplining and terminating
employees while conforming to Federal- and State-mandated labor laws. High-net-worth
individuals are vulnerable financial targets and, my awareness of labor law and the
seriousness of harassment/discrimination minimizes their exposure to legal liability.
Additionally, I was chief-in-charge of event logistics, requiring huge amounts of pre-planning
in the hospitality venues I worked. Conveying diverse guest expectations to all personnel
concerned requires an extraordinarily well-organized multi-tasker who can anticipate
Principals’ needs. Familiar with Word, Excel spreadsheets, Outlook and Internet research. I
have experience in writing training manuals. I can type 100 words per minute and can create
Excel spreadsheets for preventative maintenance, scheduling and revenue reporting.

I received an exceptional culinary education and I consider myself to be a proficient
household cook. I know kitchen operations from purchasing, to stocking, to prep, to plating,
to serving and to clean-up. Previous employers have expressed their pleasure with my
cooking. I wish to further develop culinary skills and serve my next employer.

Event coordination has been the focus of my career in hospitality. I have overseen 1,000+
weddings alone. This does not include the thousands of other events including charity balls,
golf tournaments, multi-day corporate conventions, as well as in-home soirees. I also worked
in event sales ensuring that all departments involved were properly informed of their required
services. I have excellent knowledge of etiquette and table service to include French Service
and Russian Service. I have a Level 1 Private Sommelier certification, and have used it to
manage my previous employer’s 6,000+ bottle wine collection.
Personal Care:
Working in hospitality is all about personal care and about sincerely caring for your guests.
Either you have the knack to please others or you don’t. The main points are to anticipate, to
meet, to exceed and to remember guests’ needs. The skills to do so with polish came from
years of working in high-end properties and from my own upbringing.

Technical Skills Synopsis:
• Capable of writing training manuals and company policies; make complex instructions
• Speak/write Spanish very well
• Excellent numbers-cruncher, capable of developing spreadsheets to present
information in numerous formatted reports, including household bills, inventories,
scheduling/labor costs, inventories, etc.
• Trained in the patented Starkey Household Management Model
• Properly clean antiques, art, china, silver, crystal, chandeliers, etc.
• Strong understanding as to the proper timing and methods of general cleaning and
whether staff is operating in an efficient, effective manner
• Capable of creating task sheets and zoning a home for cleaning
• Create meals for up to 10 people
• Extremely flexible with short notice meals and menu changes
• Keep Principal’s favorite foods and beverages on hand at all times
• Maintain cleanliness and sanitation in a kitchen at all times
Clothing & Valet:

• Excellent closet/wardrobe organizer, categorizing and storing clothing in a user-
friendly fashion

Technical Skills Synopsis continued:• Create inventories of clothing along with home furnishings
• Familiar with basic laundering and ironing
• Plan and oversees banquet events for 2-300 seamlessly
• Professionally set tables and buffets for banquets
• Trained in American plated, French, Russian and English styles of service
• Certified level 1 wine sommelier
• Excellent bartender
Property & Grounds:
• Power-wash hardscapes and siding, bringing them back to life
• Skim and vacuum swimming pools with particular thoroughness
• Maintain daily hardscapes using leaf blowers, wet-dry vacs.
• Manage grounds keeping staff and vendors
Security & Protection:
• Walk the property and note security and safety needs, such as expirations on fire
• CPR certified
• Recognize gun and firearms safety in the home
• Work with Creston security systems
• Maintain maintenance records and filing systems for all household related products
and equipment

• Excellent window washer with plenty of experience dismantling/cleaning/re-
assembling chandeliers

• Schedule and manage maintenance vendors in a way that maximizes Principals’
Transportation & Travel:
• Maintain insurance, registration, licensing and vehicle maintenance records
• Drive a standard transmission vehicle
• Familiar with domestic and international travel and protocol
• Oversee packing/unpacking of clothing or household items
• Interface with private boat and aircraft crew



Certified Estate Manager/Elder Companion

Top Standards:
Personal Care (Elder Care).






Will go anywhere for the right position

Personal Statement:
I was born in Garfield Heights, Ohio, a small suburb outside of Cleveland.  My mother was Catholic in her religious beliefs and my father was raised Lutheran, but not practicing.  My sister and I attended church regularly as children because my mother wanted to raise us with a spiritual belief or a ‘Higher Power’, something greater then ourselves. The parenting we received allowed  us to then explore our own choices in spirituality.

My father was an electrician by trade.  He had a 30 plus year career working for the Electrical Power Company in Cleveland.  He started out as a union lineman and worked his way into management. My mother was a caring and devoted housewife.  She stayed home to raise my sister and me.  She was always active in our PTA and had hobbies of her own of tennis, swimming and golf. Mom also was a swimming instructor for summer camps.  Soon after my sister and I started middle school, my mother began to work in retail clothing.  She truly enjoyed her part-time job and the independence it afforded her.  I was fortunate to be raised by a very loving family, including grandparents, who lived just around the block from our home.  My parents and grandparents were all blue-collar, working class people who instilled in me a true midwestern work ethic – work until the job is done, and do your absolute best.

Sunday’s after church, my sister and I would walk to my grandmother’s for Sunday dinner that we would help prepare.  Holidays were great fun and my grandmother was an excellent cook and baker.  I always helped with the meals and baking, and was responsible for setting the dining room table with her lace tablecloths and best china.  I also helped my grandfather in his garden and yard.  He always had an impeccably manicured lawn and a great garden along with fruit trees on the property.

When I was in junior high school, I started babysitting.  These were primarily weekend and summer positions.  I continued to babysit even when I got my first ‘real job’ as a waitress.  I have always been a hard worker and able to find jobs that I truly enjoy, and they have all revolved around service.

I married my high school sweetheart, and together we purchased our first home. The house was a 75-year-old Tudor-style home, which we gutted and completely remodeled into a beautiful living space.  I loved the feeling of accomplishment from organizing our projects, setting deadlines and doing the work. In this process, I developed a better understanding of quality within many aspects of my life.

In 1985 I made the decision to become a registered nurse after working as a printer for 4 years.  I attended the best nursing school in Ohio at the time, Kent State University.  I was asked to become part of the International Honor Society for Nurses.  This truly was an honor and a very humbling experience for me.

In my nursing career, I worked cardiac ICU, post heart transplant patient care, Quality Management and as a Home care coordinator.  My nursing experience allowed me the opportunity to work in medical sales and service (I sold pacemakers).  I truly loved this career of 15+ years.  The travel, places I lived in our country, the moves I have made to be working with different companies were great experiences.  I especially enjoyed all the corporate entertaining.

I used to plan dinners with doctors and staff.  I would have keynote speakers fly in to present products and procedures. Other events included trips to Aspen and Banff Canada, golf outings, etc.  I also utilized strong administrative skills, including heavy calendar management and correspondence.  I am comfortable in a variety of environments and can seamlessly transition from an office to a private home or medical setting depending on what the situation demands.

I am very hard working and believe in the mantra, “Live the life you love, and love the life you live.”  I have loved all of my career paths as they have brought me to this place in life where I know I’m meant to be… the private service industry.  I know my service heart developed when I was very young, along with my passion for truly caring for and about people.  My ability to take care of others and provide a service to meet their needs is a skill in which I take great pride.

For me, communication is the key to any successful relationship.  I am direct in my communication style and appreciate the same in return.  I also believe in asking questions in order to fully understand the scope of the request so I can meet or exceed expectations.

* My top Service Standards are Administrative, Culinary, Entertaining, and Personal Care (Elder Care).

Administrative – My administrative skills developed when I worked in nursing and the health care industry.  I would manage and delegate staff including everyone’s time in the operating room, sales calls, and patient device follow-ups.  I was also responsible for ‘After Market Research Studies’ that required hospital administrative meetings and collaboration including physicians and patient authorization.  I organized new product launch dinners, including guest physician speakers.  I organized all of their accommodations including travel, airport pick-ups, hotels, etc.  I accompanied physicians to different cities for professional corporate outings and served as their go-to person for all administrative needs while conducting business.

Culinary – I have always had a passion for cooking and exploring new cuisines.  As a child, I used to help my mother and grandmother in the kitchen for family events and holidays.  My interest in cooking led me to try new cuisines and learn how to recreate dishes in my own home.  I have utilized food and my culinary skill to manage my health and wellness throughout the years and recently completed raw/vegan-cooking courses to further develop my talents.  I am comfortable following recipes and enjoy cooking healthy dishes, full of flavor and unique ingredients.

Entertaining - I believe that entertaining comes naturally to me.  I have fond memories of hosting small dinner parties and for friends and family soon after I got married.  I loved the prep of the menu, planning the shopping lists and making my task sheets for everything to be done right up to the hour of my event.  I soon became interested in flatware patterns, china, wine glasses for each type of wine, flowers, music, and caterers.  Reading and educating myself about different entertainment styles became a hobby.  I also liked to go camping with friends and plan a gourmet menu and cook at the campsite.  I loved the interaction with all of my guests and bringing people together.  When I was married, our second home had a small gourmet kitchen. I had a commercial stove and appliances with all high-end fixtures.  It was a great place for me to relax and have fun.  My corporate entertaining experience also influenced my ability to plan unique and special events for guests in both formal and informal settings.

Personal Care (Elder Care) – I decided to go to nursing school in 1985.  I started my nursing career at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) in Cleveland, Ohio.  I worked as a staff nurse on a Post Open Heart surgical floor.  I worked exclusively with cardiac surgical patients and heart transplant recipients from all over the world.  After leaving cardiac nursing, I moved into patient coordination roles for homecare and quality management.

After nearly 10 years with the Cleveland Clinic I started my career as a clinical specialist in the medical device industry.  I was taking care of patients who had pacemakers and implantable cardiac defibrillators.  My job consisted of being with the physician in the operating room, supporting my products at implantation of the device and device follow-up.  I truly enjoyed the patient/physician interaction and checking their devices and communicating to them all information they requested.  I also loved all my relationships with my physicians and the trust we had between us. In addition, I always like meeting new people, talking and listening to them. My entire life and careers have been dedicated to caring and providing service for people.

Technical Skill Synopsis:


· Create a Service Vision based on the knowledge and information about the Principal(s)
· Manage schedules and calendars
· Familiar with PC and MAC operating systems
·  Comfortable with MS Office
· Trained in the patented Starkey Service Management model
· Staff Training and Management
·  Management of after market Research Studies (medical)
· Perform household inventories and maintain stocking lists
· Prepare daily work schedules for staff and vendors


· Capable of zoning a home for cleaning and creating task sheets
· Identifies tasks and services to be done an initiates work to be performed
· Knowledgeable of specific cleaning products and their appropriate use

· Able to plan menus for daily meals and special events
·  Comfortable creating simple meals with everyday pantry items
·  Skilled in raw & vegan food preparation
·  Contact caterers for corporate and personal events
·  Inventory kitchen and pantry
·  Capable of paring food and wine
·  Experienced home cook
·  Comfortable cooking a wide variety of “family favorites” based on family, traditional recipes
· Able to grill, roast, and sauté meats and vegetables

Clothing & Valet:
· Organize closets for clothing, linens, and specialty items
·  Seasonal management and rotation of wardrobe
·Packing and unpacking for travel
· Ironing of clothing and linens
· Everyday laundry

· Experience in purchasing fine wines and spirits
· Experience in planning corporate outings
· Management of correspondence for corporate events
· Prepare menus with restaurants for entertaining at their establishment
· Knowledgeable in floral arrangements
· Creating desired ambiance in the home based on a Principal’s standards


Grounds & Property:

· Seasonal plantings
· Knowledgeable in maintenance of outdoor structures (pool house & barn)
· Knowledge of horticulture and personal interest in gardening
· Experience managing & working with gardeners
· Experience managing in ground salt water swimming pool
· Experience managing grass tennis court (including sprinkler system)
· Seasonal upkeep of pool house (outdoor kitchen, bath and shower)

· Experienced in property maintenance
·  Experienced with vendor use
· Knowledgeable in warranties, manuals and specifications
· Maintain accountability of who came on & off the property

Transportation & Travel:
· Managing vehicle maintenance schedules, insurance, registration and licenses
· Coordinate various modes of transportation for principals, their family and guests
· Organizing travel wardrobes
· Experienced in international travel including flights, hotels, and ground transportation

Safety and Protection:
· Knowledge in monitoring alarm systems
·  Knowledge in implementing a fire safety and evacuation plan
· Perform safety checks of residence and surrounding property as needed

Personal Care:
Child Care:
· Babysitting experience
· Trained in infant CPR

Pet Care:
· Daily care including walking feeding, exercise, and providing attention & love
· Manage vendors including veterinarian, groomer, trainer, and specialty care
·  Overall care of domestic pets, including overnight pet sitting
· Track and maintain all records including medical and pedigree

Guest Care:
·  Able to create customized itineraries and profiles for guests
·  Provide transportation services
·  Overall creation of guest profiles including favorites, allergies, and preferences
· Comfortable providing suggestions for local area attractions and entertainment

Elder Care:
· Hands on experience in caring for chronically ill people (cancers, dementia, cardiac, transplant patients)
· Physician/patient advocate
· Comfortable assisting with all ‘Activities of Daily Living’ (hygiene)
· Comfortable with end of life concerns & managing hospice
· Maintained detailed logs & calendars of progression of illness, daily functions and general behavior
· Provided chauffeur services for more active persons
· Shared life experiences with relatives and acquaintances
· Hands on nursing experience for 4 years

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