Newsletter Richard Ratliff

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

Professional Standards of Performance: Application #13

By Richard L. Ratliff 


Scenario: Suppose two butlers apply for the same position. One candidate is a recent graduate of a reputable butler school, holds a university degree, and has served two years as under-butler on a large estate. He is seeking his first position as a butler.

The second candidate is a long-time butler for a high-level government leader, now retiring to a small country estate. She is in her professional prime, well qualified in every way to operate a large household with extensive grounds.

The position to be filled is a butler for a young celebrity’s estate. The family includes spouse and a young child. The position includes management of a small household staff, managing the household budget and expenditures, meal service, household security, small and large parties, auto maintenance, housing of a growing collection of valuable art, oversight of a small commercial orchard, and occasional travel with the family.

Question: Given the same work requirements, what might these two very different applicants expect in compensation?

Professional Standards: The Professional Standards state that “[t]he butler should be paid appropriately, according to experience and duties, on a level commanded by other professional managers of similar responsibility and stature.”

Recommendations: Although the same job requirements would apply to either candidate, the two should expect different employment contracts and compensation packages. For example, the candidate seeking his first position would likely receive a short trial period (perhaps 90 days), and if satisfactory, a permanent contract would be signed. A smaller pay package (including benefits) might be expected during the trial period than should be negotiated for the permanent contract.

The job responsibilities are significant, comparable to those for a highly qualified chief of operations for a small-to-medium-size business. Once the trial period is successfully completed, the new butler should receive a pay package similar to other professionally trained and qualified chief operating officers undertaking their first management position.

The more qualified candidate, with a proven employment record and a more practiced skill set, should expect a short trial period and a higher compensation-package during that time, on a par with the expected permanent contract, comparable in salary and benefits to other chief operations officers in small-to-medium-size businesses.

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.