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!

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Certified Household Manager Personal Statement: I was born as an only child in Richmond, Va. I was raised by hardworking parents who instilled a hard work ethic from an early age. When I was 13 years old my father passed away from colon cancer. At the age of 15 years...

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I, as my clientele, work to keep a fairly low profile in my Private Service work. There have been claims that I am very difficult, and much more. Most of the stories written about Mary Louise Starkey have come from tabloids to sell papers. Unfortunately, they are...

Core Professional Duties in Private Service

The following article was authored by Starkey International. Positions in a Private Home need to be clear and concise to be successful. This is the profession of the Business of Household Management. It literally means setting up a structure much like you would in a...

Core Professional Duties in Private Service

StarkeyInternational-PlacementPositions in a Private Home need to be clear and concise to be successful. This is the profession of the Business of Household Management.  It is literally means setting up a structure much like you would in a business, to effectively manage the home.  The Principals depend on their staff and may not be able to manage the home themselves due to personal commitments. Thus, this administrative piece is most important and is typically given to the Estate Manager, the Household Manager, and in some cases where there is a full time Principal actively involved in the home, the Personal Assistant.

In all cases, it is important to set the tone of the environment right away and establish who the staff and vendors are, and what their responsibilities and duties are in the home. This can be accomplished with listing Core Professional Duties or Position Descriptions of each staff member. If this is task is still unclear, Starkey offers a short one-week, 40 hour “Systems Course” via Correspondence or at Starkey to teach the Principal or Family Office staff person who is responsible for accomplishing this task.

 

Core Professional Duties of the Estate Manager

Overall Management of an Estate, or multiple Estates, is quite different from the detail of daily service delivery. Understanding the difference can make the difference of preventing turnover. An Estate Manager’s position is to take on the responsibilities involved in upholding the Service Vision and overall quality of life of the Principal and their family. The Estate Manager should approach a Private Service Management position with the following perspective:

Over all Service Vision

Learn the depth of clarity necessary to execute all operations within a Service Environment; utilize the Starkey Service Management Model taught in the “Systems Course” with careful, skillful and intentional listening to the Principal’s Service Vision. This written Customized Service Management Plan process will reveal and summarize the economic, human, and social factors required for the successful completion of setting up all aspects of the Principal’s overall Lifestyle, Service Vision and their Environments. Be sure to achieve agreement with the Principal on the Service Vision, Service Goals and the overall Service Management Plan, including the staff and resources needed to fulfill the service expectations for each home and Service Environment.

 

Service Management Blueprint and Budget

Use the now-complete Service Management Plan Blueprint to gather and analyze the overall budget necessary for the Household/Estate and Service Environment fiscal management. Create and refine monthly, quarterly, and fiscal year budgets in cooperation with the Family Office or Accountant. In some cases, manage the Household/Estate operations and project-specific purchasing, payroll, insurance, etc. specific to those budgets as directed.

 

Family Office Administration

The Family Office, at the Principal’s direction, is responsible for interfacing with specific professionals including insurance, legal, CPA, architecture and design, human resources and building contractors. They might also oversee the detail associated with invoices; maintain the files and historical data necessary to protect the owners and their private/personal corporate entities. It is always essential to maintain confidentiality agreements to minimize Principal exposure.

 

Vendors, Contracts and Resources

Locate ethical and reputable commercial service providers within the immediate community, as well as for any remote locations or projects. Maintain highest standards of integrity, steering clear of the unethical “kickback” practices of some vendors. Develop relationships with vendor owners and managers – communicate the Service Standards and behaviors necessary for the privilege of ongoing contracts with the Principal, Household or Estate. Maintain the records, relationships and protocols to ensure quality product delivery.

 

Staff Training & Management

Utilize the Technical Skills Qualifier™, the Personal Style Identifier™ and the other Service Management Tools of the System to achieve the necessary depth of clarity with the Principal and with staff to articulate the expected Service Standards, Service Styles, and individual and team productivity, expectations of conduct, requisite skill levels and pertinent behaviors. Create and deliver the expected atmosphere and Lifestyle throughout the household or Estate.

 

Service Relationships

Nurture the relationships and protocols in all areas to minimize Principal exposure, and to ensure quality service and product delivery. Whenever possible, cross-train to empower staff, control labor costs and promote the lowest possible turnover.

 

Service Environment

Educate, develop, manage and nurture talented and committed teams of Private Service Staff, Vendors, and Resources to produce excellent delivery service in the interior and exterior physical Service Environments and Grounds and Property.

 

Charities and Community Interface

Represent the Principal, Family and Guest priorities within the local and extended community with discretion, gracious yet confidential behavior, intuitive and empathetic service to extended family, friends and neighbors, charitable institutions and professional service providers. Nowhere is the Private Service Manager’s Code of Ethics more important than here. Expect high standards of behavior in all Estate staff.

 

Safety and Protection Protocols

Complete understanding and support of the Safety and Protection Standards and Security Systems required by the Principal with respect to the Household, the Estate, Transportation and Travel, additional homes, security information, special Guests, and Events of the Principal and immediate Principal and Family.

 

Project Management

Communicate on behalf of the Principal regarding Design/Build operations: management of contractors, analysis of estimates, quality standards, research and recommendation of contractors and projects.

 

Core Professional Duties of the Household Manager

A Household Manager (occasionally called “Butler”) is responsible for daily operations of the interior environments and will pay attention to the many subtle details of the Administrative Standards in addition to recognizing and distinguishing specific Service Expectations. Initial endeavors will include the following:

 

Immediate Tasks within the first days:

  • Development of a working Service Management Plan Blueprint
  • Supervision of Household Staff and Vendors
  • Preparation of weekly Day in the Life™ Schedules
  • Support or preparation of weekly menus and preparation of meals
  • Support of the Principal, Family and Guests in their daily routine
  • Inventorying of china, silver, crystal, art work, antiques and other collectibles
  •  Interfacing fully with Family Office, Accountants, Vendors and Resources

Additional Tasks within the first weeks:

  • Storing resource books, smart home technology information, warranty and maintenance information
  • Maintaining a Safety and Protection Management Plan for the residence and monitoring the security measures
  • Organizing the pantry and developing weekly menus and grocery, paper products and other household goods ordering lists
  • Developing entertaining schedules, ordering of service and wine cellar management procedures

 

If there is a Family Office or Estate Manager to pay bills and issue payroll checks, that person will have a list of vendors, budgets, insurance information and other resources. This is invaluable systems information for the Household Manager. Most families have vendors they have worked with over the years that the Household Manager will need to continue to work with. A Household Manager or Butler will scrutinize and supervise the level of service that each vendor is providing and what they are charging for the product or service they are delivering.

 

Words to the Wise for Staff: Never attempt to change an existing Service Delivery System until you have had a chance to learn what the System is, what the politics of the Household or Service Environment are, and the reasons things have been done a certain way. Then, have frank conversations with your Principals and learn their perspectives and share what you have observed.

 

Core Professional Duties of the Personal Assistant

The Personal Assistant can often function as the Household or Estate Manager in “smaller” Service Environments where a Principal is the acting Household or Estate Manager and requires Personal Assistant support or as a fully integrated Personal Assistant for a highly recognized Celebrity, Public Personality, CEO or Retired Billionaire. A Personal Assistant is primarily responsible for interfacing on behalf of the Principal with the Family as needed, their family office and Private Service Staff. The main goal is the support of the Principal’s Life Style Goals, Service Standards, Administrative Tasks, Entertaining, and Event Planning and Travel and Concierge needs.

 

  • Manage all Correspondence and the Household, Children’s and other Family members’ Personal Calendars
  • Interface and Communicate for Principal with Household Staff, Vendors, and Resources
  • Maintain Contact Databases
  • Research Specialty Products, Professionals, Vendors and Network Contacts
  • Manage budgets and bill paying
  • Support the Planning of all Entertaining and Charity Events
  • Manage Invitations and RSVPs
  • Attend Board Meetings and provide Meeting Minutes
  • Manage International and Domestic Itineraries, Reservations, Transportation, and Travel
  • Work with their Principal’s Charities and Non-Profit commitments

 

 

 

Mary Louise Starkey

First Lady of Service

Excerpts from the Original Guide for Household Management 2007

Starkey International Institute – 720-788-3398