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Newsletter Steven Ferry

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, March 2018, The Butlers Speak

Steven Ferry

The Butlers Speak

Job Titles and Duties

by Steven Ferry

Continuing the canvassing of those in our profession for the current realties, this next subject concerns job titles and duties and yielded some interesting results.

Job Title (some had more than one title)

  • Household Manager 40%;
  • PA 40%;
  • Estate Manager 20%;
  • Butler 20%;
  • Valet 20%;
  • Executive Housekeeper 20%.

Basic Duties Assigned

These functions were performed by every respondent:

  • Anything needed by the Principles;
  • Vendor supervision.

These functions were performed by 4-in-every-5 of the respondents:

  • Manage 1-5 properties;
  • PA to the Principal;
  • Supplies monitoring, ordering, and stocking.

These functions were performed by 3-in-every-5 of the respondents:

  • Greeting and looking after guests;
  • HR functions.

These functions were performed by 2-in-every-5 of the respondents:

  • Gift and clothes shopping for principals;
  • Accounting, budget, payroll;
  • Managing Cap Ex projects from concept to completion;
  • Plan and execute/supervise events;
  • Food and beverage service, formal and informal;
  • Bar and cellar management;
  • Housekeeping.

The rest were performed only by 1-in-every-5 of the respondents:

  • Arranging travel for family;
  • Travelling with family;
  • Valeting;
  • Tracking and receiving mail/packages;
  • Answering the phone and the door;
  • Laundry and ironing for guests;
  • Cooking, including menu planning, shopping, and preps;
  • Caring for the dog;
  • Chauffeur;
  • Flower purchase and arranging.

The wide range of duties reflects the change in employer perception and expectations of their butlers/household managers, and naturally, we accommodate their evolving needs.

The work-load varied, with some having a wide range of duties that included housekeeping of 30,000 sq. ft., cooking, looking after guests, managing vendors, etc., while another basically supervised vendors for a couple of smaller properties and looked after a dog. The latter is a good solution for anyone in the profession winding down from a long career and needing a lighter work-load.

 

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.»

 

Categorías
Newsletter Steven Ferry

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, February 2018, The Butlers Speak

The Butlers Speak

Managing Contractors, Part 2 of 2

by Steven Ferry

IIMB Chairman Steven Ferry

When it comes to managing contractors, communication is the key, meeting with the site manager to nip any problems in the bud. Some butlers/HMs hover over the contractor, while others do pop-ins to check on progress—depending on the level of follow-through or supervision expected by the principal. A window-washing contractor lost a long-term contract because one of their employees placed a wet and dirty cloth on an antique chair—a fact noticed because the HM was on the ball. Some butlers/HMs prepare a list of the items to be worked on, which is appreciated by the contractors because it helps keep them organized. One HM advises on larger projects to hold one or more meetings with the various contractors to discuss the timeline and expectations for each trade, so they can coordinate and follow a realistic timeline—and the HM then sends each a copy of the timeline, including the completion date.

Then there is the question of keeping the contractors motivated for timely performance and quality work, especially in more remote areas where the company culture may tend toward the lackadaisical (lacking enthusiasm and determination) because they enjoy a monopoly. Tools to assist include a combination of the initial briefings; having open communication lines to the butler/HM, which includes insisting on obtaining the employer’s input on any unexpected changes; regular pop-in visits (often with the property staff who work in the area so they can also monitor the work) during which the butler/HM can ask questions and contractors can explain what problem they are facing and how they plan to fix it. In other words, showing interest, engagement, and granting them the courtesy of being the experts, and generally expecting them to do the right thing as a result. A bonus structure for work a) well done and b) completed on schedule also speaks to those vendors and their staff who are motivated primarily by money.

Once a contractor has proven himself, butlers and HMs tend to stick with them, even if they are more expensive, because their reliability and quality of work are priceless.

Along the same line, and in unison as if they had rehearsed their responses together, the butlers and household managers surveyed all agreed on one point—some of them quoted below:

“I want to build a trusted relationship, and that takes time and energy. It also needs to be nurtured because when people see this extreme wealth, it can create a reason to take extra time to complete their tasks.” DS

“I feel a large part of my job is to develop relationships with contractors.  I’m the person they interact with on a routine basis, so I keep it very professional while also being friendly. In order to do my job effectively, I need contractors I can depend upon. I’m flexible in my schedule when need be, but when I have an emergency I do expect them to respond promptly.” NS

“I have always found that treating all people with kindness works best. If a company is working on your trees and it’s 100-degrees outside, pick up a few bottles of cold water for the staff. As the old saying goes, ‘You catch far more bees with honey than with vinegar.’ A kind word goes a long way. So does surprising the crew with a couple dozen donuts once in a while to have with their coffee.” PW

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.»