Butler standards Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, July 2018, Letters to the Editor

Steven Ferry

Letters to the Editor

In response to the Chairman’s Message about the series of royal butlers talking to the media about their past employers:

«Very well and tastefully said.» AM

«I totally endorse your comments: Professional butlers, in the majority, value and maintain discretion. The few who speak out inappropriately discredit themselves for little gain apart from short term notoriety.» PS

«I cannot agree more and I appreciate your positive note about the majority: A smile is always an achievement!» SP

«As always, I have enjoyed the last news letter, especially Butlers in the Media. You hit the nail on the head with your comments and l enjoy your steadfast way of cutting to the chase. I’m often saddened by the way so many people are quick to open their mouths all for the sake of a few quick bucks—even if for some it is not a few. But how can someone put a price on their self worth, pride, and commitment to their career. Sure, we have all been in a position where we have thought, «If only the outside world knew what this person or family is ‘really like.'» But for me, and I hope for many more of us, I could never put a price on the betrayal and what it would bring not only to the employer, but more to the point, me/us. We are given jobs, we are given trust, then when something goes wrong, it is all lost. As you mentioned, it’s about maintaining standards: I hate it when the standard slips, because once it does, there is often no returning.» PB

Ed: Thanks to all for the feedback: The silent majority has spoken!

«I agree wholeheartedly. The key word is ‘professional’. As a professional, there are things you do and do not do. To soil one’s name and reputation so carelessly is shameful. Who would ever hire individuals without character? I remember many years after leaving an employment, I was asked to be interviewed on television to talk about working for my previous employer. They were famous and known throughout the world and had recently passed on. I did what should be considered the norm. I called my previous family and gave them all the information regarding the interview so they could decide if this would be acceptable to them. After all, the interview would be about my previous employer’s stories, not my own. They are not my stories to share without permission. Everything worked out, the family said to proceed with the interview. No one was surprised and everyone was happy. It was a win, win, win situation. All we have in this industry is our name and reputation. It should be guarded with care.» HB

Ed: Thank you for sharing a wonderful story to illustrate the point. Imagine, if every butler called upon by the media, acted as responsibly?

Two readers offered their thoughts on why some butlers may give in to the temptation to tell all:

«Perhaps the temptation to speak out by butler staff who serve high-profile employers exists because a) their renumeration is less than satisfactory for the responsibilities they are required to maintain; or perhaps b) they have an ego and desire to share the fleeting limelight of celebrity which is neither enduring nor sustaining. However, I am more inclined to consider c) not nearly enough to do to fruitfully occupy their time.» AK

«Could it possibly be that a butler becoming a tattle tale, might be caused by insufficient salary and separation remuneration, requiring the individual to market something they should not, in order to stay afloat? Just a speculation….» PH

Ed: Gentlemen, thank you for your input. While I appreciate your playing devil’s advocate and I do acknowledge that inequities exist, I posit that no butler would ever resort to the professionally suicidal and dishonorable route of «telling all» unless a) they were not really butler material to start with, and b) they had decided the profession was not for them. Of course, for them to react by «telling all» shows they are not thinking clearly, but driven by impulses that have increased in strength and over which they have lost control—none of which would happen if they had clean hands, an open heart, and believed in themselves. It is usually simple enough to hand in a resignation and maintain the high ground when confronted with conflicted employers. On the point of not having enough to do, I would agree with that, although I do not see it as the basic cause, more as a symptom of their fall from grace.

In response to last month’s The Butlers Speak:

«Again, I can not thank you enough for the wealth of information from these butlers and household managers. Recently, I had to tell my employer that the estate/property manager, who had been there for 19 years, was mishandling money. I had been on the property as a household manager for four years and it took me 3 1/2 years to figure out what the estate manager was doing. I suggested that the company accountant do some forensic accounting regarding the matter. Never an easy conversation—I have only ever had to fire one person before for stealing from a property I worked on. Unfortunately, this estate manager lost his job. I wonder if anyone else has been in this kind of difficult situation. It could have gone either way: They could have let me go, which I would have been fine with, since I think of myself as someone with high integrity and ethics. The new facilities manager is from the home office and has been with the company for fourteen years: I am thrilled to be working with someone who respects the property and its owners.» DS

Ed: Well done on grabbing the bull by the horns and stopping its rampage.

«Thank you for your time and efforts for those of us in the world of private service.» RC

In response to the question of butler salaries in the Letters to the Editor last month

«Regarding your comments on salary, yes, there is a range. I, for one, am very lucky, but I also work jolly hard for every cent I earn. People should also note, if there is a «very high salary» offered, they might want to tread very carefully—there is a reason for that high figure, and it probably does not forecast a cake walk by any stretch of the imagination. SIr, your insight and nurturing is invaluable to us all, young and old, and the reason why we need you at the helm of the MBJ—keep up the good work, as always.» PB

Ed: Most kind of you, Sir. Until someone draws up a hearse to the desk, the fingers will continue to hover over the keyboard.


The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.

Por Steven Ferry

Steven Ferry is chairman of the International Institute of Modern Butlers and the author of bestsellers "Butlers & Household Managers 21st Century Professionals" and "Hotel Butlers, The Great Service Differentiators." He also trains and consults for the profession around the world.