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



Top Standards:

Prefers Colorado




Personal Statement:
The genuine care and comfort of my employer will always be my highest mission. I pledge to provide the finest personal service for my employer who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined level of attentiveness.

Even very young in my life, I became the go to concierge for my family. My father was the Executive Vice President of AT&T while my mother was an exceptional homemaker. I remember our household as affluent, yet down-to-earth and full of love. I learned the proper social graces, but I was also allowed to raise chickens at our home.

I have always been drawn to the service industry. While obtaining my bachelor’s in business administration I Resort Management from the University of Hawaii, I received scholarships from the Dean’s National Restaurant Association, the Travel Industry Management International and the Hilton International. Following graduation, I went on to accept a Corporate Management Trainee position through the Hyatt Hotels. This is where I gained not only my understanding of proper housekeeping and how to manage a staff, but also developed a real eye for cleanliness and hospitality that lasts with me through today. I then attended Starkey International and was immediately hired by the legendary, Mr. Bob Hope and I stayed with him until he ultimately required nursing care.

My top three service standards are Entertaining, Housekeeping and Administration.

Entertaining Standards: When it comes to organizing household events, I thrive on pulling together a truly memorable occasion. It doesn’t matter what size of the event, from a few for an intimate dinner to a gala with A-List entertainers for several hundred. Thanks to my formal training and experience in the hospitality industry, I think in terms of meeting necessary details and planning timelines. I have learned how world-class entertaining is conducted. Holidays, birthdays and golf tournaments were true affairs. I handled every detail, from polishing the silver to receiving the guests.

Housekeeping Standards: This is still one of my biggest passions. No matter what my title or position, I have always noticed the fine details that others may miss. I believe in evaluating my staff to assess their knowledge and then developing training and support to raise their abilities to my high standards and those of my employers.

Administrative Standards; I have managed extremely large and complex estates, as well as handling the turnkey operations for both private homes and aspiring 5-Star hotels. I excel at setting up systems and service standards. Managing vendors and creating schedules for maintenance, grounds care and vehicle care is second nature. I can handle the Accounting; Human Resources and Policy Development that make an estate run smoothly.

My style of service will enliven the senses, instill well-being, and attempt to anticipate and fulfill even the unexpressed wishes and needs of my employer. The standard of service in my employer’s household will be upheld for their family, friends, and business associates.

Technical Skill Synopsis:
• Extensive experience with multiple properties and large, complex estates, some in excess of 65,000 square feet on 120 acres.
• Detail-oriented, focused and direct; specializing in establishing management systems and organization
• Extremely skilled in setting household standards and hiring, training and supervising staff members to meet expectations
• In charge of the household inventory: fine art, wine, libraries and vehicles collection
• Assisted with Starkey International Site Visits, drafting reports to address service requirements and recommended procedures

• Formally trained housekeeping manager from world-recognized 4- and 5-Star hotels
• Able to hire, train and supervise housekeepers
• Establishes proper cleaning procedures; recognizes how to identify necessary staff requirements for any size residence up to 40,000 sf
• Hired by some of the best estates and hotels to establish cleaning standards

• Talented in creating menus for everyday meals
• Experience with preparing and serving a variety of meals with a focus on nutrition
• Very conscious of safe food handling and sanitation techniques
• Capable of hiring and managing a full-time chef in the home

Clothing Care:
• Provided personal valet service for world-recognized entertainer
• Experience managing gentleman’s closet; pack/unpack services
• Skilled in closet organization and ongoing inventory considerations
• Personally, responsible for maintaining Principals’ professional image

• Planned, organized and supervised extensive entertaining calendars
• Managed all aspects of the events
• Events range from dinner parties to galas with over 350 guest and A-List performers
• Manage all details for the events, including budget, locations, menu selection, catering companies, entertainment and various vendors and
additional staff
• Skilled with invitations, seating charts and printed menus

Grounds & Property:
• Oversight of estates with 100+ acres
• Management of private island’s grounds, including beaches, marina, hiking trails and other features
• Maintenance of private golf course, outdoor pools
• Proper care of European gardens, marble statuary and fountains

Home Interiors & Maintenance:
• Expert in vendor management and contract negotiations
• Completion of construction and renovation punch lists
• Prepares residences for habitation post-construction
• Coordination of interior designers, including by remote locations
• Supervision of estates with 150,000+ sf of interior space
• Oversight of homes of up to 65,000 sf
• Open/ closing of vacation homes and estates
• Addresses maintenance concerns of extreme conditions: beachfront, cold weather

Security & Safety:
• Adult First Aid and CPR Certified
• Managed safety for A-List celebrity

Transportation & Travel:
• Comprehensive travel planner and concierge, both international and domestic
• Travel with high-profile principal to locations around the world
• Maintenance, registration and storage of extensive rare vehicle collections
• Experienced chauffeur
• Secure travel contracts and in-flight service on Gulf Stream private jets
• Professionally trained customer service airline agent

Personal Care:
• Served as personal care provider for aging gentleman
• Provides world-class, 5-Star guest care, including concierge services and coordinating ground transportation
• Excellent with children and pets


Certified Estate Manager

Website PhotoTop Standards:
Travel & Transportation




Prefers Florida

I was born in Aberdeen, WA. My father was in the United States Coast Guard and he moved our family across the country several times. When I was six we moved to our forever home in the charming southern town of Charleston, South Carolina. My mother worked full time and my father was underway on the ship the majority of the year. So, my two older sisters and I learned to take care of ourselves from a very young age. We were responsible for our own chores with little guidance including laundry, cleaning our rooms, and cooking. I was very independent as a result of these early responsibilities.

We were raised in the Catholic Church and were involved with church and community events as often as possible. We often helped at charity events, holiday volunteer events, spaghetti dinners, and wrapping presents for the less fortunate in our community. I always had fun helping at these events, and looking back, I believe this is where my Service Heart was first realized.

Realizing I wanted to be in the service industry didn't come as a surprise. Even as a child, I always did my chores and wanted to help others. I wanted to make sure that my mom didn’t have to worry or stress about housework when she got home from working long days. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time, but I knew that it made me happy to help her and to try to make her happy.

My parents divorced when I was 13 and my father moved back to Washington state. I struggled after their divorce but eventually decided to truly invest in my future and my love of helping others. I attended the College of Charleston and got my Masters degree in Education, thinking I wanted to be a school teacher.

After college, I was craving adventure and chose to deliver sailboats as a way of traveling and exploring the world around me. During one trip, I spent a great deal of time reflecting on what made me happiest, and I discovered that the open ocean and making people happy ultimately made me happy. It was in that moment that I decided I wanted to work in Private Service, and that yachting would be the perfect blend of ocean and service. I returned to the Miami area and quickly found a position onboard a yacht as a Stewardess. Over the course of three years, I advanced in positions within the yachting world and I fell in love with the art of serving others onboard yachts. It was humbling working for some of the most amazing families chartering our yachts. I could present a spotless, clean, comfortable environment and they were so all pleased. The captains and the first mates were able to take the guests to the most exotic and incredibly beautiful places around the islands. The chefs and I were able to treat the guests with the most delectable meals with world class service. Their reactions to our efforts absolutely proved to me that there is real love in this world.

Being able to present a comfortable space for others is a special gift. Taking care of others is definitely ingrained into my soul. The lessons I learned early on about taking care of those less fortunate have stayed with me and I am proud that I am able to volunteer with my local food bank and charity events. I have found that love is the common denominator throughout all cultures, and this gives me hope. I know that this world, these people, all of the lessons I’ve learned were all here to teach me to care for others. It’s all laid out and I simply need to follow my heart and it has brought me this far. I am now seeking a genuine relationship where I can be a true “go-to” person and directly impact the lives of those I serve. I want to be in a land-based position where I can develop relationships with those around me and the local community. I am seeking consistency and a position where I know I am appreciated for my efforts.

My top Service Standards are Administrative, Housekeeping, Culinary, Entertaining, and Travel & Transportation.

• Reception, screening calls, making reservations, and managing calendars
• Creating a detailed Household Management Service Delivery System using the patented Starkey Service Management System
• Managing accounts and budgets
• Record keeping and maintenance logs
• Creating and updating inventories
• Managing vendors and keeping logs
• Interviewing and hiring staff
• Tech savvy and Macintosh based
• Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite

• Implementing a customized Housekeeping Management System including zoning and task sheets
• Natural and organic products knowledge base
• Care for fine linens and sheets
• Highly systematic organizational skills
• Detail cleaning
• Delicate cleaning of chandeliers
• Carpet cleaning including spot removal and fine rug care
• Eye for detail and “white glove” standards
• Performs hands-on cleaning, no job too big or too small
• Performs Daily Graces to bring a home back in order

• Personally enjoy cooking and baking
• Comfortable preparing breakfast and lunch
• Experience as a cook in high volume restaurants
• Room and tray service
• Menu planning including buffets and special events
• Experience working with caterers and chefs to deliver high-end meals
• Food safety and handling training
• Menu planning in conjunction with a chef, accounting for dietary restrictions and preferences
• Purchasing of perishable and non-perishable food items
• Manages inventories of all food and food service items

• Tending bar, wine and cocktail service
• Silver Service Certified
• Formal dinner planning and execution
• Table settings and formal table service including French, English, Russian, and American Plated
• Comfortable creating unique flower arrangements and working with floral warehouses
• Knowledge and care for silver, china and crystal
• Experience working with a high-end caterer to produce lavish events
• Wedding planning including timing, procurement of necessary items and working with vendors
• Hiring vendors: Rentals, lighting, staging, musicians, caterers
• Yachting entertainment
• Comfortable working with high profile guests
• Organization of staff and security during events
• Establishes amenity and gift wrapping processes
• International perspective regarding etiquette and protocol
• Cigar and Cognac service

Transportation & Travel:
• Extensive personal travel experience, both domestic and international
• Many years’ experience as Chief Stewardess onboard luxury yachts
• Private jet and airport jet pickup/drop off
• Automobile maintenance schedules
• Packing/unpacking for travel
• Itineraries, bookings, reservations, programming
• Comfortable working with yacht captains and crew

Employers Seek the Best in Private Service

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...