Newsletter Richard Ratliff

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, January 2019, Professional Standards of Performance

Professional Standards of Performance: Application #12

By Richard L. Ratliff 

Today’s Issue: Commitment, or “Good Help Is Hard To Find”


Imagine a young person interviewing for a position, sitting slouched in a chair, looking down at his hands folded in his lap, appearing almost asleep. The employer asks, “Why do you want this position?” The dull bulb’s response: “I saw the ad and thought it sounded like an easy job, and I need the money. I need the money real bad. I saw a couple of movies, and anybody can do the work. I need the money, and I like to travel around a lot.” I saw several taped interviews recently. In one, the applicant was asked a similar question, paused a long time, and said softly, “I don’t know.” That was it. Silence.

The manager of the employment center staging the video presentations observed that his office is encountering an increasing number of very poorly prepared and unmotivated clients. He said he can place prepared, motivated candidates almost immediately, because of a shortage of qualified applicants, the word qualified meaning primarily dependable.

Opportunities abound in the butler and other service industries. Not just from an increasing pool of wealthy households, but also because, “Good help is hard to find.” If you are a good one, take heart and enjoy the ride.

The Standards: The Standards of Professional Performance state that “The butler’s primary concerns are the comfort, pleasure, welfare, and security of the members of the household.” For those of us in the hospitality industry, this standard would also suggest the comfort, pleasure, welfare, and security of guests and clients.

Recommendations: There is a story about three bricklayers, each asked what he was doing. One answered, “Laying bricks.” The second answered, “I am earning money to support my family.” The third answered, “Building a beautiful cathedral.” One can feel the joy in building a beautiful cathedral. Yes, the third bricklayer is laying bricks and probably providing for a family. But there is more in the attitude and purpose of building something good and beautiful. Joy laces such vision and purpose, surely to be reflected in the work itself and the result.

Little is of greater value in life than contributing to the comfort, pleasure, welfare, and security of fellow travelers on this planet. This is the butler’s cathedral, ambition, motivation, and professional commitment.

Editor’s note: One is reminded of the advertisement used in various locales to attract new hires

A complimentary booklet on the standards of service, upon which this column is based, and also written by Professor Ratliff, is available for download in electronic format.

Professor Ratliff is a retired butler who co-authored Volume 1 of Serving the Wealthy and has published three other books and over thirty articles. He can be reached via the Institute.

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.