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!


My Top Four Standards






Personal Statement:________________________________________

I was born in Waco, in 1956. My father was born and raised in Michigan City, Indiana, and joined the Air Force after high school, where he was transferred to Craig Air Force Base in Selma, Alabama.

My genteel Southern mother, a business graduate of the University of Alabama, was living with her parents and working in Civil Service at Craig Air Force Base. Within three months of their introduction at the base, they were married by a Baptist Minister who greatly influenced both of their lives.

As newlyweds, they moved to Waco, Texas so that my father could attend Baylor University and become a Baptist Minister. My brother born 18-months after me, was so close in age that my parents dressed us as twins.

At the age of 6, we moved to Alabama for my father to take on various pastoral positions, where my brother and I were educated in the small towns of Calera and Anniston. In 1970, we moved to the city of Mobile, Alabama where he became the Campus Minister for The University of South Alabama.

My mother was a caring, devoted homemaker who worked to provide additional income.

Financial challenges were the primary source of conflict in my parents’ marriage, yet they raised us in a beautiful and loving home. There was no extra money for unbudgeted expenses: we seldom vacationed, dined out of the home, nor went to the movies. If we desired spending money, my parents encouraged us to work for it, instilling in us a true Southern work ethic: “anything worth having is worth working for.”

The powerful influences of a small town Church-centered life that comes with being a Preacher’s daughter created multi-decade values and friendships that have greatly impacted my life. I count myself fortunate to be raised by a loving, hardworking family, influenced by Church families from Texas to Alabama. In my adult life, the encouragement and prayers of friends-like-family from Churches in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and Indiana have made me the person I am today.

I graduated in 1978 from The University of Alabama with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication.

My plan was to complete a master’s degree in Marketing, yet I was offered a 12-month assignment with Alpha Delta Pi, the first secret society for women, and spent 1978 and 1979 as a Traveling Collegiate Consultant. The experience taught me much about the importance of self-motivation, as I learned etiquette protocol for travel and consulting.

I enjoyed chapter site visits and meeting new alumnae and students from Santa Barbara, California to Charleston, South Carolina – igniting an interest in consulting, personal development and interpersonal relationships.

I have a gracious, southern service style, with a deep work ethic to persevere everything I do. I sense what is needed, while focusing on being a good listener. I am well-versed in managing people and expect integrity and a job well done by each person I oversee.

At this stage of my life, I have decided to transfer my skills to the Private Service Profession. I educated myself at Starkey International to prepare for a position as Household Manager. I am aware that I have a “Service Heart” – (a term used to describe “a person who has a natural aptitude to give and who seems to be born to serve.”)

I have been blessed to care for both elderly family members and dear friends in their “golden years.” Elder care I provided often required daily assistance with medications and meals. Other experiences included socialization and taking them on local adventures to assist in keeping them active and engaged. I believe compassion and a listening ear is important in caring for the elderly and I have years of experience in planning and leading activities for seniors.

While I am open for most environments and have much to offer as an Estate Manager, Household Manager or an Executive Assistant; including bookkeeping, concierge services for vacations, non-profits and foundations, my passion is caring for others, managing lifestyles and personal care.

My brother is married to a terrific woman named and he is a well-respected Golf Instructor. He has been one of Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 Golf Teachers” for two decades. My parents and my grandparents have passed away. Yet, I have an abundance of cousins whose relationships I enjoy. I am single, with a 4-year old Maine Coon Cat named Maxi, who is incredibly well-trained. I will go wherever I am needed that I may “make a difference.”

My Service Standards are:

Thorough, well-written communication, organization and focused attention-to-detail, and solving business challenges with Marketing and Communication solutions are my strongest abilities.
My computer skills are solid with current knowledge in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint
and Office 365.

I have managed schedules for staff and vendors in a calendar / task format, Excel spreadsheets and in a project management software program called WRIKE. I have performed accounting functions, when required. And I have generated detailed special event countdowns.

I consider myself a caring, compassionate, goal-driven Manager, with focused attention on accountability.

Even though I come from a humble background, my Mother and Grandmother were passionate about their personal collections of china, crystal and sterling silver. Saturday mornings were Household Chore day in our home. One of my least favorite weekly assignments was cleaning silver. However, I learned to appreciate the beauty in bright, shiny sterling silver. I know cleaning and I am excellent in training and managing staff in all areas including setting up Zones and Task Sheets along with preferred products, per the client’s requests.

I prefer organic foods and have two decades of preparing meals using organic ingredients.
My Mother had adult on-set Diabetes and thus, I have experience with healthy, no-sugar, low-fat cooking. One of my best friends developed debilitating food allergies 22 years ago that caused her to change her career path at 50 years of age and became a self-taught Organic Farmer. She greatly influenced my choices in food and food preparation.

I would be comfortable preparing meals, as needed, or supporting a Chef or other staff member with shopping, weekly meal planning, and maintaining a pantry.

Clothing and Laundry:
I have managed a sizeable seasonal wardrobe for myself when traveling for business. I have knowledge of caring for high-end clothing and linens.

Early in my career, I built a strong reputation for fun, engaging, entertaining, and memorable events in every major market in the United States. I am well versed in entertaining with more than 4-decades of experience with literally hundreds of events from intimate gatherings of 6 to multi-day grand opening activities. I have knowledge of Emily Post-style entertaining, table settings, and service. Events I have planned and executed range from casual BBQ’s and picnics to new business expansion activities to private black-tie dinners.

I want to be in charge of entertaining and special events (personal and corporate), based on the needs and desires of the Principal and their Family. After vetting a dependable team of resources, I can handle a variety of on-going entertainment, including small teas, bridge gatherings, luncheons and dinner events.

Property and Grounds:
I owned and managed 7-acres of mountain property in the southern central portion of The Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. We enjoyed vegetable and seasonal flower gardens that I maintained. I selected plants, pruned floral gardens and was responsible for daily watering.

In 2002, I purchased 5,000 three-year old Frasier Fir seedlings and supervised the planting of these small trees on our 7-acres of woodlands. Today, they are 15 and 18 feet tall, providing year-round evergreens on the property.

I can change a light bulb, and locate electrical breakers when the electricity goes out. I also know how to perform careful examination of trained maintenance resources to handle urgent maintenance challenges, as well as, on-going proactive maintenance requirements for 4,000 sq. ft. or larger sized homes. Yes, I am familiar with Smart Home Technology


Safety and Security:
I have had personalized training in a form of martial arts for self-protection. Jujitsu was at the core of the training by a coach who travels and trains Navy Seals. I have experience with property alarm systems in 3 or 4 recent settings (residential and business).

Ten years of corporate travel, 3 out of 4 weeks per month, provided a baseline for hassle-free travel plans. I traveled throughout most of the United States including Hawaii and Alaska.

I am familiar with private airport logistics and travel.

Touring 3 of the Bahamian Islands on a private yacht owned by a wealthy New York Insurance magnate, was an educational and memorable experience.

I am familiar with Domestic and International travel and have toured Canada; England; France; Italy; Hong Kong; Mainland China (Shanghai, Beijing) Salzburg & Vienna, Austria; Prague, The Czech Republic; the Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas, Cozumel, Tulum, and Cancun Mexico; the Dominican Republic and many of the Caribbean Islands including Grand Caymen, Barbados, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent.

Personal Care:

Children, Elders, Guests and Pets

Child Care:
I can work in a household with children, yet I have had no experience as a Nanny or Private Tutor.

Elder Care:
I have been blessed to care for both elderly family members and dear friends in their “golden years.” Some of the care required daily assistance with medication and meals. Other learning opportunities about Elder Care was in creating interesting and appropriate social activities including taking them on local adventures and mornings out.

I am knowledgeable in planning and leading activities for my elders. Because of the love and friendship of my maternal grandparents, I’ve always had a heart for Elderly persons. As a University Sophomore, I considered Social Work as a college major. I believe compassion and a listening ear is important in caring for the elderly.

Guest Care:
I formed a Cabin Rental business in the Southern Central Great Smoky Mountains, just 3 hours north of Atlanta in 2000, where I perfected my hospitality and guest care talents. Twelve years of 5 out of 5 ratings from every Vacation rental guest, indicates the type of guest care I will bring to the client and their family and friends.

The 7-acre property accommodated as many as 6 guests in the two-bedroom “Cabin Nestled in the Woods,” on an average of 9 months per year. I loved taking care of my guests.

Additionally, I provided customized Mountain Concierge services, based on interests in Area Outdoor Adventures, National Park excursions, Site-Seeing Activities, Spa and Massage Services, Dining Out, Casino visits, and Shopping experiences.

Guests were provided the best possible visit with proactive and consistent communication, an impeccably clean environment, a well-stocked kitchen and refrigerator with coffee, milk, mountain farm-raised eggs, cereal, juice, a filled wine rack, ‘s’mores makings, ice cream bars and hospitality treats .

Pet Care:
I am comfortable with caring for both dogs and cats and have no pet allergies. I have trained my own pets with great success. In recent years, I had a Dachshund who lived to be 21 and a Cocker Spaniel who lived to be 17 years old. “Browsin,” the Cocker, survived Cataract surgery and removal of his inner ear canals in both ears, requiring home health care and medication management. In spite of his hearing loss, I was able to teach him sign language.



Top Standards

Clothing and Valet
 Travel & Transportation
Administration & Management





Growing up in a small town in northern Minnesota with tree-lined streets, friendly neighbors, and traditional values. I am the youngest of four children and a large extended family. My parents were owners of a small business and they taught me about hard work, care giving, and the importance of being there for each other. They say that strong family ties fuel a passion for service, and I learned at a young age to give to those less fortunate.


For over 20 years, I enjoyed a fulfilling career with IBM. With a concentration in service delivery, I transferred to new and interesting cities. By quickly adapting to new positions in new places, I was able to gain expertise in people management, solution development, and on-site customer operations management roles - which I excelled at and enjoyed immensely. This gave me the opportunity to team with people from all over the world.  Working with international clients, I put great energy into solving problems that led to numerous awards for my leadership, work ethic, dedication, customer satisfaction, and results achieved.


I began my journey in the exciting field of private service in 2009.  As a graduate of the Starkey International Institute, I am a Certified Household Manager.  Educated in the Starkey Service Management System enables me to identify, define, and organize service expectations within a specific home environment.  My top three service standards include administration, entertaining, and personal care. In administration, my skill set includes strong business skills, management, computer expertise, organization, maintaining strong business relationships, and tenacity for details.  Second, my love for research can satisfy the most difficult requirements when entertaining is required. Third, in the area of personal care I have the gift of hospitality fueled by my passion for meeting people. Family and guests are treated to a warm, comfortable, and inviting experience.


In addition, I have gained experience in the areas of clothing and valet, maintenance, transportation & travel, culinary skills, housekeeping, elder care and pet care.  As a resourceful person, I understand quality in clothing and proper care.  In maintenance, I am a homeowner and happy to say that I have my own power tools and am comfortable using them.  Having completed projects in my home and managing vendors, I am not afraid to take on any task.  Experienced in both domestic and international travel, I can make the most detailed itinerary and arrangements.  I take pleasure in creating culinary delights and I have worked alongside a few marvelous Chefs.  With housekeeping, I know how to zone a home, build the tasks sheets, and set up the daily graces for cleaning staff to satisfy any requirements.  I have very personal experience with elder in-home care. Finally, as an animal lover, I am a frequent pet sitter and I understand the requirements for a healthy and well cared for pet.


My diverse professional background positions me to work in any style of service environment.  I have a strong Midwestern work ethic with unquestionable integrity.  My skills, experience, education, and proven track record suit me well to be an Estate Manager, Household Manager, Philanthropic Manager or Personal Assistant.  I am flexible working in both formal and informal settings.  My energy and enthusiasm fit well within a busy, active environment with a healthy lifestyle.

Technical Skill Synopsis:

My top four standards are: Housekeeping, Clothing and Valet, Travel & Transportation and Administration & Management

  1. Housekeeping
  • Experienced homeowner (20 + years) with spotless personal standards, trained in private service to identify client requirements in order to zone a home, build the tasks sheets, and set up the daily graces for cleaning;
  • Keen on organizing and helping others tackle large household projects;
  • Mother was tenacious about keeping a clean house right down to washing each individual leaf on the houseplants!


  1. Clothing and Valet
  • My mother was a seamstress and sewed many of our clothes growing up – provided me with an early appreciation for fine fabrics and proper care;
  • Having had a good friend that worked for Consolidated Dept Stores (in research) for 45 years I learned a lot from her about the industry (how they determined what to ship where - before computers) and, she owned several pieces of Couture - I have a working knowledge of Couture clothing and proper care;
  • Talented shopper and enjoy fashion and accessories – personal shopper for my boyfriend and have purchased most of his clothing & shoes- he is very happy with the selections I make to match his taste.
  1. Travel and Transportation
  • Skilled with international and domestic travel and making detailed itineraries as well as arrangements for minors and people with a disability;
  • Traveled to Europe (Hungary, Check Republic, Ireland, England, France, Austria, Germany), Asia (India), North America (US, Mexico and Canada), Central America (Guatemala) and Australia for both professional and personal business;
  • Worked for Hertz Car Rental for over 5 years – performing all tasks from customer service, vehicle inventory and tracking, and location management.


  1. Administration and Management
  • Extensive knowledge of business and management principles including planning, leadership, financial management, personnel management (personnel and vendor recruitment, selection, training, effective working relationships), continuous process improvement (assessing performance of self and staff to make improvements or take corrective action), strong decision making (consider costs and benefits to choose best option), time management (manage own time and staff),  and critical thinking (identify alternative solutions or approaches to problems);
  • Customer and Personal services including needs assessment, setting and meeting quality standards and evaluating customer satisfaction;
  • Excellent people management skills, my teams worked well together to meet and exceed business expectations and I received remarkable ratings as a manager.
  1. Safety and Protection
  • Attended Police sponsored personal safety and protection classes;
  • Keen awareness of identity theft and prevention;
  • Smart home technology / home automation systems training;
  • Knowledge and experience regarding corporate security.


  1. Entertaining
  • Excel at managing requirements and sourcing the best services and human resources;
  • I love to plan for guests visiting and make sure the itinerary for their stay is well planned (concert tickets, where to eat, when to hike, etc.);
  • Family & friends love to travel with me because I research and make detailed arrangements in advance for worry free adventures.


  1. Maintenance
  • Skilled at taking care of minor home maintenance issues and identifying and hiring vendors for larger tasks;
  • Experience working with Architects and Engineers contracting out plumbing, electrical and structural;
  • Own my own power tools and I know how to use them!


  1. Culinary
  • Grew up with German and Scandinavian cooking with lots of fresh garden vegetables and cold-water fish – have an appreciation for healthy cooking and buying the freshest ingredients;
  • Passionate about food, wine, and cooking and experienced with flavor components and healthy ingredients, orchestration of entire meals, techniques and methodology, and plate presentation;


  1. Property and Grounds
  • Substantial experience with property management for homes, co-ops and rental for self as well as employers. Able to handle emergency / crisis situations in a calm manner
  • Experienced homeowner (20+ years);
  • Planting, light gardening, tree pruning and experience with fruit trees.


  1. Personal Care - Guest Care
  • Love to entertain friends and family – always make sure my house is spotless before visitors arrive, groceries are purchased in advance and all plans for their stay are arranged in advance;
  • I love to do research and arrange the itinerary to best fit the guest needs as well as introduce them to local novelties out of the ordinary – have delighted international guests on multiple occasions.


  1. Elder Care
  • Cared for elderly neighbors (drive them on errands, shopping, movies) and my own parents, I am acutely aware of the challenges they face and their personal safety needs;
  • Knowledgeable about the needs of people with disabilities, specifically spinal cord injuries.







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