At one time, the terms “butler” and “house manager” could be used interchangeably in reference to the professional charged with organizing and maintaining a formal home. Over time the definition and basic responsibilities of these two occupations has shifted apart into very distinct roles.
As explained by British American Household Staffing’s founder Anita Rogers when interviewed for Town and Country:
A house manager oversees the structure of the staff and typically does all of the hiring and firing. They handle scheduling—making sure a chauffeur is always on call, housekeepers shifts are covered, and that a replacement is available if someone calls in sick. They're also responsible for the budgeting, financial planning, and overall management of household.
A seasoned butler is properly trained in etiquette, so they understand how to serve a meal and handle all the details, from the wine pairings down to the flower arranging. They provide a white glove experience, which not everyone needs or wants. In Silicon Valley, for instance, no one would have a butler. But in New York, it's much more common.
Professional butler duties often vary and may include but are not limited to managerial responsibilities, keeping accounts, and maintaining the wardrobe for the members of the house. They will be well versed in etiquette and serving, and have thorough understanding of formal home care.
Due to West-Coast culture and how homes have changed in modern times, house managers are much more common in California. They may take on duties traditional to a butler as well as more managerial tasks for the home. A qualified house manager will be able to adjust to a Principal’s lifestyle, whether formal or informal and provide professional and efficient service.
A house manager of a larger property will report to the estate manager, Chief of Staff or Director of Residences. A house manager in a smaller property or more urban home will often report directly to the Principals.
The house manager is responsible for the smooth running of one property. Depending on the size and Principal’s needs, there may be some overlap of duties similar to ones a personal assistant or executive housekeeper may have. A good house manager will be willing and able to pitch in wherever needed to ensure the home runs smoothly.
Every household is different in needs and level of attention. Some Principals entertain often and require “white-glove” service. While other households demand that a manager oversee extensive construction and renovation. A house manager in a townhouse may oversee from three to fifteen members of staff and manage their schedules weekly and monthly. In a larger estate, they may work with other managers, such as a personal assistant or Director when managing the large staff base within the property.
More common responsibilities may include:
- Supervise all contractors and vendors
- Hire, train, and manage household staff
- Receive and look after guests
- Plan and execute events
- Craft and manage a household manual
- Manage household budgets and bookkeeping
- Prepare property ahead of a Principal’s arrival
- Maintain automobiles, private jets, and/or private yachts
- Cooking, cleaning and laundry duties as needed
By Anita Rogers
The term “super nanny” is not ideal, as nannies can be “super” for a variety of reasons including loyalty, honestly, balancing nanny and housekeeping skills, and more. If a nanny meets a family's needs and support the care and growth of the children, she is super. However, the term has become popular to describe what we at BAHS call “career nannies.”
What is a “super nanny”?
Whether they are called career nannies or super nannies, professionals at this level have dedicated years to gaining education, training, and experience in childcare
General Requirements to be a Nanny
- No criminal record, no DUI, updated CPR certificate
- Excellent, verifiable references from a family member of the previous employers
- Kind, loving, caring and a lot of common sense
- Quick thinking, responsible, intelligent
Requirements to be a Super Nanny
- At least five years of experience working in an HNW or UHNW home
- A Bachelor’s degree, usually in Early Childhood Education, Psychology, or an equivalent field
- Must be able to swim and drive well
- A flexible schedule
- A up-to-date passport. Green Cards can be suitable, but the nanny must be able to travel (domestically and internationally) with the family.
- An understanding of correct and proper etiquette and how to teach manners
- Age-appropriate experience for the position in question
- Physically fit and healthy. A nanny should be able to physically keep up with children and promote healthy eating habits. (Note that this does not relate to a nanny's weight)
- Well-spoken. If the family is English speaking, the nanny should have an excellent spoken and written command of the English language
Furthermore, a “super nanny” will understand the workings of an estate. They will have experience working in a fully-staffed home and understand how to dress modestly and with the correct colors required by the household, to always have a change of shoes, to not wear heavy make-up or have long nails, to wear minimal, subtle jewelry, and not wear any perfume.
A nanny will understand how to prepare meals for the children according to the requirements of the family. They will know how to step back at dinner parties or events in the home and how to engage politely and minimally with guests, if engaged with. They will understand correct table manners and how to keep the children engaged at the table so the adults can enjoy their evening. The super nanny will always understand and uphold appropriate boundaries, including with the parents. Knowing when to be hands on and when to step back and defer to the parent's lead is a must for successful super nannies.
A super nanny understands how to pack last minute for travel. Expert super nannies will have experience caring for children on a yacht. As the deep water is dangerous for children, the nanny will know the safety workings of the yacht. They also know how to dress on a yacht – a swimsuit and not a bikini, inconspicuous colors, longer dresses, and high cut tops.
When travelling with the family, a super nanny will work extensive hours. When traveling to exotic destinations, the nanny will work overtime, sometimes all night, as the children will not be on their regular schedule and don’t usually sleep through the night. Although it sounds luxurious, in reality, traveling is actually the hardest part of the super nanny’s job as she or he is often exhausted, and works around the clock ensuring the children get attention when they need it and help manage their sleep routines.
A super nanny will have a background in security training and will have experience working with a security expert on how to keep the children safe, 24/7. There is usually a security team with the family and children, but the nanny is the closest to the children so her training is vital.
The list goes on, but to summarize, being a super nanny is not easy but it can be very rewarding and these nannies are well-compensated and treated well. These nannies have a love for childhood development and this drives them to do the best possible job they can do.
The super nannies, or career nannies, we work with at BAHS are dedicated to their career and find great fulfilment in helping families raise happy, well-educated, well-rounded and well-mannered children. We strive to match families with their perfect nanny and secure long-term placements.
Because of their vast experience and training, super nannies do work at a higher pay than general nannies. For more information, see where BAHS was recently featured, What It Takes to Be a $200,000-a-Year Nanny.
By Anita Rogers
What is the difference between an executive housekeeper and a cleaner?
An executive housekeeper is a housekeeper with extensive experience cleaning fine homes and private residences. A standard cleaner is able to scrub, clean, do basic organizing, and laundry but won’t have abilities beyond basic cleaning and clothing care.
An executive housekeeper will understand how to deep clean as well as how to manage detailed organizing, both creating systems and maintaining them. These tasks may include color coding wardrobes, arranging clothing by season and type, alphabetizing the pantry, and labeling children’s clothes. They will understand proper folding and storage of clothes as well.
An executive housekeeper will know how to properly set a formal table for a dinner or dinner party and will understand the correct way to serve; including which side to pour wine, when to take the plates away from the dinner table, how to remain invisible during dinner but be available for anything the guests may need at a moment’s notice.
An executive housekeeper will wear a uniform, usually chosen by the family or principal. Standard uniforms are khaki pants and a white blouse for the summer and black pants and a white blouse for the other seasons. They will know to wear a different pair of shoes inside the residence, tie their hair, wear no make-up or perfume, and wear minimal to no jewelry.
Both executive housekeepers and cleaners will know how to work on a team, but an executive domestic staffing team is much more sophisticated and tech-centric. Every member of staff understands their place and who to take orders from. The staff with operate similar to one in a 7-star resort. Everything will appear seamless. The principal, family, and guests will never see or hear of any issues or problems.
Each member of an executive domestic staffing team will know every inch of the household manual for each residence. They will understand how to work a smart home system, be capable of answering the phone politely and delivering the message when the time is right. Every member of an executive domestic staffing team is a sophisticated, well-trained member of the household while being able to be both directed and autonomous when necessary.
What about laundry?
This is a common question for us at BAHS. Does an executive housekeeper also do laundry? The answer is yes and no.
Some executive housekeepers must do laundry as the residence is a high-end home but not an estate. The latter will have an extensive staff, from estate managers to chefs and usually has a minimum of 5 housekeepers per property. A fine home of two working parents or one professional may also be a luxury home with high standards, but there isn’t the large square footage to warrant hiring a large housekeeping staff. The principals in these types of homes will still pay the competitive market rate for an executive housekeeper, as they want the home cleaned and maintained properly.
Some executive housekeepers prefer the idea of working in a home with less staff. They can be more autonomous and sometimes better appreciated as they are naturally closer to the family being one of a few employees in the home. These candidates know if they are going to relinquish working in an estate, they will have to take on more of an all-encompassing role in this kind of home. An executive housekeeper in these homes will not take on childcare or chef responsibilities, but they will take on general professional laundry duties.
What is a laundress?
In an estate, the family or principal will hire a separate laundress, whose main job description is taking care of fine clothing. The laundress will understand how to press, steam, fold, and starch. Couture clothing can carry value of up to 10 million dollars and must be cared for professionally. It can take a laundress up to 30 mins to iron one shirt, if it is to be done properly.
A laundress will usually have previous seamstress experience as well as experience working with fine clothing. Some men’s shirts are tailored specifically for the principal by a renowned tailor. These shirts are better maintained at home and they are rarely sent to an outside vendor. It makes sense to invest in a laundress if one has clothing of this kind of value.
A professional couple or principal in a luxury home as opposed to an estate will rarely require such high-level care of clothing, but they will need in-home professional laundry care. What does this entail? Excellent pressing and steaming, perfect folding and organizing of the clothing and a proper understanding of what clothes should be hand-washed or machine-washed. Your Prada cashmere sweater should not end up in the washing machine! An executive housekeeper will have enough intelligence, experience and knowledge to carry out these laundry duties.
What will an executive housekeeper cost me?
Prices for domestic staff are dictated by the market level for high-end hospitality as well as by supply and demand. In New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut an executive housekeeper will have an annual salary between $68,000–90,000. Many will require partial or full health insurance as well, which can be factored into their salary.
In San Francisco and the peninsula, executive housekeeper salaries range from $80,000–120,000 plus health insurance. San Francisco is relatively newer to wealth than New York, Palm Beach, or Greenwich. The area is also more understated, so properties and expectations are high but the need to show off isn't. This requires staff understand how to be invisible while available and how to work to a very high standard. Subsequently, a regular cleaner is not appropriate for these needs. There are less executive housekeeper candidates in the Bay Area than any other area.
Los Angeles varies by area – Santa Barbara is more expensive than the general Los Angeles areas due to supply and demand. An executive housekeeper in Santa Barbara will have a salary between $70,000–90,000, sometimes requiring health insurance whereas in the inner Los Angeles areas salaries range from $60,000–80,000, rarely asking for health insurance.
Palm Beach is not that accessible for those whose net worth is under 2 million dollars, so many domestic positions require living accommodations. This means the supply is limited. To find high quality service, our Palm Beach families will often relocate an executive housekeeper from New York or New Jersey and pay New York rates to ensure their residence is in good hands.
By Anita Rogers, BAHS Founder
Life is made easier if you don’t have to manage the minutia. How is this done? Depending on the size of your home(s) and scope of your life, we advise hiring a personal assistant, a house manager, or both.
Both a house manager and personal assistant manage administration within domestic staffing. The questions we are asked frequently at British American Household Staffing is “do I need to hire both?” and “what is the difference between them?”
The answer depends on the size and structure of your residence and domestic staff.
What are the duties of a house manager?
Along with managing the daily upkeep, a house manager will oversee the domestic staff in a single home. This involves managing staff schedules, training the housekeeping staff, and keeping the household manual updated. They will make sure the home always has the necessary staffing coverage and will often deal with last minute changes, such as finding coverage or filling in themselves if a staff member is absent.
A house manager will deal with any gripes the domestic staff may have and keep a healthy barrier between the staff and the family or principal. They essentially act the same way a manager would in a business. Managing staff is time consuming and the responsibility increases the larger the staff in the home. A house manager will screen, hire and fire domestic staff, and manage the legalities involved. A butler often takes on these duties in a more formal home.
The house manager will be in charge of events, help serve, ensure all dinners and parties are fully serviced, oversee the chef’s menu, manage the housekeeping staff, and oversee the wine management and selection. They will also assist any construction by outside vendors as well as managing interior work by overseeing and working in tandem with vendors such as interior designers.
Sometimes a house manager will oversee the care of the principal’s fine wardrobe and couture clothing. They will often leave with the family and staff for a holiday period, such as managing the Hamptons home and staff through the summer.
What does a house manager not do?
A house manager will not –
· organize the wardrobes, draws, cupboards
· administer payroll
· book personal appointments such as hair, doctor’s appointments, etc.
· do any personal shopping
· oversee HR duties beyond scheduling the domestic staff in the one property
· help, change, or cancel travel plans for the family
What are the duties of a personal assistant?
A personal assistant will sometimes manage the hiring and interviewing of domestic staff. They will advertise and source applicants, check references, and often be the first to interview. Other duties include payroll, budget management, HR duties, ensuring legalities are in place, ensuring payroll is paid according to domestic staffing law for that state (and adhere to federal law as well).
Other duties include gatekeeping, answering phone calls, and being available for emergencies for all the family members. A personal assistant will also oversee yacht and jet charter booking and management, managing the yacht crew, organizing vacations, and all personal appointments.
What does a personal assistant not do?
A personal assistant will not –
· serve at dinner parties, oversee or train housekeeping staff, help in the kitchen
· create schedule for the domestic staff
· get directly involved in hospitality such as flower arranging or managing the chef or kitchen staff
· deal directly with the complaints, problems, gripes of a large staff of housekeepers, chefs, laundresses, nannies
· manage wine collection and make decisions on wine for the family
· oversee the principal’s wardrobe and fine clothing management
· travel to a vacation property with the family
· live on property
If you own several homes with a structured domestic staffing team, you will most likely need both a personal assistant and a house manager. If your residences are large and used year-round, you will need a house manager for each property who will all be managed by an estate manager.
Your personal assistant will most likely work full-time from a home office or your corporate office. The personal assistant and estate and house managers work as a team to ensure the large operation runs as smoothly as possible.
If you are a professional with one residence and one vacation home or similar, we suggest you hire a personal assistant to manage your family’s schedules – for your partner and children, managing your budgets, bills, payroll, travel plans and personal appointments. We suggest you either hire a housekeeper with house management skills or train your current housekeeper to oversee the house manager duties in your home. As you may only have one part time nanny, a chef who stocks your fridge and a personal assistant, the house management duties you would delegate to your housekeeper would be more wardrobe management, overseeing vendors, organizing, serving and managing any dinner parties and events. The housekeeper – house manager would work in tandem with your personal assistant.
We are happy to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the arrival of their first child; born early this morning.
Prince Harry was beaming as he announced the news to cameras Monday, noting that "Mother and baby are doing incredibly well. It's been the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined."
Harry continued by sharing that they have not yet decided on a name, but plan to make an appearance in the upcoming days to introduce the newest royal baby.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also made the announcement on social media:
"We are pleased to announce that Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex welcomed their firstborn child in the early morning on May 6th, 2019. Their Royal Highnesses’ son weighs 7lbs. 3oz.
"The Duchess and baby are both healthy and well, and the couple thank members of the public for their shared excitement and support during this very special time in their lives."
A notice of birth has been framed and placed in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. The Royal Family also confirmed on social media and shared their well-wishes to the new parents.
The royal baby is seventh in line to the throne. He is the Queen's eighth great-grandchild.
Executive housekeepers in San Francisco, especially in the Peninsula, are a hot commodity. Due to the high cost of living and rent, finding a local housekeeper can be very difficult, especially a skilled executive housekeeper. We work to source, train, and place qualified housekeepers in Bay Area homes.
What is an executive housekeeper?
An executive housekeeper is a trained, professional housekeeper for a private residence with high standards and usually multiple staff. They understand how to clean “invisibly”, which means they are never in the same room as any of the family members and are barely seen. Private families in San Francisco value their privacy, peace and quiet above almost anything. Well-trained staff know how to disappear and how to ensure the residence is quiet and seemingly staff-free.
Our executive housekeepers are trained how to serve, set a table, how to create flower arrangements for dinner parties, how to stock, grocery shop and manage their time. They understand the complexities of working in a multi-staffed private residence. They usually wear a uniform and they even bring a change of shoes for the inside of the home.
Some executive housekeepers are laundresses as well, which means they understand how to care for fine clothing inhouse and dry-cleaning services are no longer used. They iron, press, steam and fold better than any high-end clothing care company.
A question we ask laundress candidates when they meet us at BAHS is “how long does it take you to iron a man’s shirt?”. If they answer with any less than 15 minutes, we will not work with them as laundresses. Generally, a skilled laundress will take 20-30 minutes to iron a man’s shirt properly. With extensive practice, ironing a man's shirt in 15 minutes is possible.
The standard set up in a large home in Palo Alto or Atherton, for example is as follows:
- Estate Manager
- Personal Assistant
- 3-5 Executive Housekeepers, one laundress
- 2 Personal Chefs
- 2-3 Nannies (depending on number of children and ages)
The personal assistant or house manager will manage the schedules for all the housekeepers to ensure there is 7 day a week coverage from 7am to 8pm. Two housekeepers will work 7am to 4pm, one or two will work 12noon to 8pm and one works on the weekends. The laundress will usually work the morning shift during the week.
The starting salary for an executive housekeeper in San Francisco is $80,000 per year, going up to $120,000 a year for a head executive housekeeper or laundress.
Why hire a personal assistant?
Do you feel your days are filled with seemingly unimportant tasks that take time away from your more important goals? Are you booking appointments, running errands, organizing, arranging, cancelling? Is your inbox clogged with emails you never seem to be able to answer properly?
A professional personal assistant will solve these problems and help your life run more smoothly. Most importantly, the right assistant will give you peace-of-mind and free you up to enjoy your life and family.
A personal assistant can work out of your home, office, or remotely. They understand how to manage personal duties from organizing your family’s appointments, booking travel, helping with any large projects like moving, renovating, and more. They will manage your inbox and help you feel more in control of your life by understanding your needs and managing them in a professional way. A quality personal assistant will understand how to communicate properly so you know what is getting done but they manage the details. A professional personal assistant will also manage your staff and help you hire, train or fire domestic staff in a legal, diplomatic way.
Some personal assistants have a background in accounting and they can manage investments and finances, others are accustomed to managing budgets and invoicing using Excel or QuickBooks. Other personal assistants are used to managing all aspects of a principal’s personal life, from all errands, personal shopping, gift purchases, organizing parties for friends and family. Everything runs like clockwork and all events and parties are arranged and organized in advance. Your house will be organized, your daily duties will minimize, parties and events will be arranged down to the smallest detail and budgets will be managed.
British American has a roster of experienced, trained and professional personal assistants in New York, Connecticut, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Palm Beach and London. Contact us today to discuss your needs and find the right assistant to support your life, family, and business.
By Anita Rogers at British American Household Staffing
What Is an Estate Manager?
“What does an estate manager do? Should I hire an estate manager?”
An estate manager is in charge of managing the organisation and day-to-day upkeep of multiple fine estates. On the rare occasion the estate manager will be working with only one estate, the estate itself is large and already has a house manager, several housekeepers, grounds men and one or two chefs.
Once a family has multiple estates at this level, a director of residences or chief of staff is hired and they oversee the estate managers at each estate. If a chief of staff is not in place, the estate manager is the highest role in the home and responsible for communicating and carrying out the principals’ desires.
The estate manager must have experience in the following for them to be qualified to run a large estate or smaller properties efficiently and properly:
Managing domestic staff
This includes hiring, training, and managing household staff; often housekeepers, chefs, nannies, domestic couples, landscapers, butlers, personal assistants, etc.
Working with the family office or financial team
An estate manager should be able to coordinate and oversee budgets for the properties and all domestic staff under their charge. This extends to working with family lawyers when setting up salaries for exempt and non-exempt employees.
Creating household manuals for each property
A complete household manual will hold updated information on the day-to-day management of the home; including schedules, contacts for vendors and maintenance, operating manuals for appliances, inventory of home items, and any other relevant information.
Understanding of domestic staffing rules and the governing body
In NY, CT and NJ this is the Department of Consumer Affairs.
Great references from the previous employers and past staff members they managed
Having this information will give insight into their management style and work ethic.
Experience stepping into roles of the domestic staff
This is an indicator the estate manager is a team player and can oversee domestic staff properly as they understand the nuances of the specific job.
Working with a Domestic Staffing Agency
If you are a family with an estate or multiple estates and you are looking to hire a director of residences or estate manager, British American Household Staffing will personally help you throughout this process by visiting the properties to evaluate the existing structure and recommend ways to optimize your staff. We work on under-hiring, restructuring if necessary, and budget management.
Some multiple properties or larger estates are overstaffed or badly staffed and incorrectly structured, expenditure is often high, and domestic staff are not being utilized properly or need to be replaced. We have helped replace or reduce the staff in homes while ensuring the estate runs smoothly.
This creates a home environment that is cost efficient, free of stress, and staffed with competent employees that are discreet and committed to long-term positions. We are available to recommend resources for domestic staffing laws in your state and, most importantly, ensure the family is legally protected.
The idea of employing “help” is not reserved for the ultra-wealthy or Downton Abby anymore. For many of today’s families, having household staff is essential to their lives; whether its childcare, home management or the supervision of multiple properties.
Beyond necessity, families staff their home to support a luxury lifestyle and a 5-star hotel quality atmosphere. The expectation of luxury has changed, and in some ways democratised, with the prevalence of technology and changing employment markets. More and more individuals are reaching ultra-high-net-worth status with the tech boom on the US West Coast. Families with established worth and also modernizing with new tech and younger generations coming of age.
For these individuals and families, the quality of their lives depends on the quality of their domestic staff. When the home is in disarray and staff are doing bare minimum work, the quality of life in that home suffers. In these instances, the home is another source of stress and not a safe place to rest and recuperate from busy life. Proper decorum and well-cared for furnishings make for an orderly and happy home.
Working with a domestic staffing agency can ensure expert attention is given to the details of hiring the best domestic staff. British American Household Staffing is able to provide high-quality candidates that will support a high-end lifestyle and perform luxury service.
How to Have the Right Household Staff for Your Lifestyle
The organisation and make-up of your domestic staff is unique to your individual needs and lifestyle. Having the right support in place saves you time and worry, and it ensures the smooth running of your homes to the highest standard.
The most common first hires after the estate manager are a personal chef and housekeepers. Depending on the size of an estate, the domestic staff needed are usually hired in the following order:
- Estate Manager
- House Manager or Butler acting as a House Manager
- Personal Chef
- Three to six Executive Housekeepers
- Childcare (if required), Baby Nurse, Nanny, Tutor
- Domestic Couple to live on property and maintain the grounds
- Personal Assistant
In England, most estates hire a butler and a lady's maid for the principals, but British domestic staffing is very traditional. Most butlers have studied at a Butler school, hold a degree in hospitality and are often trained chefs and wine sommeliers. A lady's maid is often a housekeeper and laundress, understands formal service and maintains the lady's fine clothing. Most British nannies in an estate are also governesses, with degrees in teaching, education and finishing school, which teaches speech, manners, posture and formal home etiquette.
Commitment to Service: David Salvatore of Red Jacket Residential
Even though the face of luxury may be changing, British American Household Staffing and our partner, David Salvatore of Red Jacket Residential, are committed to providing high-quality assistance in finding, designing, and staffing your dream home.
David Christopher Salvatore, The Red Jacket, has a New York heritage reaching back nearly 200 years with the arrival of his maternal ancestors to Manhattan. Whether surveying the land for his real estate clients or doing research for his home staging design business, this heritage based, deep-rooted knowledge of New York City is the power behind The Red Jacket mystique. David’s branding expertise continues to receive acclaim from many of New York’s leading luxury purveyors, collaborating to execute unique opportunities and superb events, including his appointment as Contributing Editor of the luxury heritage magazine, "Magnifissance". Red Jacket Luxury continues as David has partnered with COMPASS - the first modern real estate platform. The Exclusive Red Jacket Collection for COMPASS at The Carlyle includes 179 custom-tailored short or long-term suites – each with their own unique look, layout and lavish design. The Red Jacket represents the finest of what makes New York, New York.
Running a home is like setting up a small business. The same structure, hiring, and operational complexities are involved when it comes to domestic staffing. For many of today’s families, having household staff is not a luxury but an essential part of their lives; whether it's childcare, home management, or the supervision of multiple properties.
The organisation and make-up of your home staff is unique to your individual needs and lifestyle. Having the right support in place saves you time and worry, and it ensures the smooth running of your homes. However, a common problem families face in staffing their home is not hiring enough domestic employees.
What Happens When the Jack-Of-All-Trades Burns Out
It’s tempting to want to find that one magical employee that can take care of everything; from kids’ meals to scrubbing floorboards to managing household renovations. The truth is, that magic employee will burn out quickly and leave you with work unfinished or improperly completed. When they do leave, you will be back at the beginning of a hiring search.
Much like managing your own busy schedule, when you try to do everything and don’t delegate tasks, the final outcome can be compromised. Above all, you want staff that are focused on their tasks and providing quality service to your life.
That is not to say, you should hire staff that aren’t adaptable and flexible to life’s many twists and turns. For example, nannies sometimes take on general house cleaning or errand running while the children are in school. Housekeepers may prepare a small meal or serve guests.
These are reasonable responsibilities that a household worker can take on, as long as it is outlined in the initial hiring contract. A housekeeper hired to clean and care for your home and fine furnishings, may not be open to, or skilled in, cooking. Try to think about what your needs are at the outset of your search, so that you will recognize the perfect staff when you meet them and not overwhelm them after they have begun their position.
Being respectful of each staff members unique skills and duties will result in happier staff that are more invested in your home and will remain in your employ for years to come. For example, you may be tempted to have your nanny scrub the bathroom while she is “on-the-clock” to maximize her time, but your nanny is hired and compensated for her expertise in childcare and that should be her focus.
How to Structure Your Household Staff
It can be difficult to fully grasp how much work is involved in household positions. For larger homes, a house manager will be able to assess the home and determine what staff is appropriate, as well as manage the hiring and training process. When working with BAHS, our recruiters will work with you to understand your home and recommend the best solutions for your staffing needs.
A good way to begin determining what staff your home needs is to divide tasks into three main categories: childcare, cleaning, and management.
Childcare encompasses any position dealing primarily with the children. This includes nannies, governesses, tutors, newborn care specialists, and maternity nurses. Again, some general tidying and meal prep as it relates to the children are perfectly reasonable expectations for these roles, but no deep cleaning or home management.
A nanny will have a substantial amount of childcare experience and will sometimes hold a degree related to childhood education, such as Early Childhood Development or a Master’s degree in Education. Some specialize in specific age groups such as infant or school age. Those who specialise in school age children are often closer to the governess category and will often be qualified to tutor certain academic subjects.
Nannies that specialize in newborn care have extensive training and experience with newborns, infants and toddlers. They will understand the specific needs of each child’s development stage and be able to navigate each stage’s unique challenges. Newborn nannies are often referred to as newborn case specialists, maternity nurses, or baby nurses.
Cleaning fine homes is a very specialised skill. Common duties for a housekeeper include: laundry, pressing, ironing, cooking, clothing care, wardrobe care and maintenance, couture clothing care and household organizing. Basic cooking or meal prep responsibilities are sometimes given to a housekeeper as well as general errand running.
The difference between a housekeeper and a cleaner is the housekeeper’s ability to organise closets by color and season, organise the home in general, and a deep understanding of clothing care (steam, dry clean and hand wash). They will understand formal service, which includes serving, formal table setting, and flower arranging. An executive housekeeper will have experience working on a team and managing other staff, usually in a formal townhouse or other similar large high level residences.
A lady’s maid is a female valet who attends to the needs of the lady of the house. Her duties range from helping with dressing, makeup and hair care to maintaining fine clothing, shoes, while keeping her room and study in perfect order.
A houseman’s responsibilities could include maintenance and other general work around the home, cooking and stocking the kitchen, wardrobe maintenance and travel packing and serving guests.
Management positions are necessary for larger homes with multiple moving parts and staff members. A house manager will be able to coordinate renovations, plan events, and train other staff.
Where there are large, multiple homes, the estate manager is the "Chief of Staff" of the entire household, carrying out the wishes of the principals at each location. Estate managers will have broad policy making authority over all household and estate operations, and manage extensive property and staff issues on a daily basis.
A domestic couple is commonly hired to look after a seasonal or secondary property. Their responsibilities include (but may not be limited to): maintenance, cooking, serving and driving. They are either given a separate cottage or provided a separated living area for the full year. Together a domestic couple can run one large home successfully and can often save the employer from needing to hire multiple staff.
A house manager is typically responsible for all staff in a single property. Their responsibilities may also overlap with those of a butler, property manager or personal assistant. They deal with vendors, preempt maintenance issues and ensure the smooth running of the household.
Professional butler duties often vary and may include, but are not limited to, managerial responsibilities, keeping accounts, marketing, and maintaining the wardrobe for the principals of the residence.
A personal assistant role can vary from managing the family calendar, being in charge of personal shopping, planning events, paying bills and arranging travel to handling investments and philanthropic accounts, and even working in the office of the family business.
The Benefits of Working with a Domestic Staffing Agency
Having the right support in place saves you time and worry and ensures the smooth running of your homes. For some homes, especially larger estates or families with multiple members, the best support may be achieved by hiring multiple professionals to work in your home.
Because every family’s needs are different, our commitment as your domestic staffing agency is to provide expert service that saves you time, ensures all details are in order and matches household staff that compliments your home and unique needs. We believe that if both sides of the placement - family and staff - are satisfied in their placement, the relationship will be happier, more successful, and longer-lasting.
Contact our office at email@example.com or begin your hiring process here.