The Key Ingredients Of A Successful Butler
The position of a Butler, House Manager or Majordomo is reserved for those with a passion for quality service, a committed nature and a lively mind. Challenging and rewarding in equal measures, the broad skill set required to compete in this evolving industry make for a stimulating professional experience. With an upsurge in demand for household staffing of the highest calibre, this role becomes an elegant merging of both classic and modern approach. For the aspirational reader, here is the low down on ten key qualities to cultivate for success in this niche industry.
A Master Of Management
The role of a Butler calls for coordinating a variety of permanent and transient staff and with this in mind, you must pursue a practical knowledge of management techniques. The greater your management background the better, but never imagine you will not benefit from enforcing your knowledge through reading. Develop your capacity to foster strong team dynamics, communicate and delegate effectively, motivate those around you and address discipline and conflict.
It is difficult to manage those performing tasks we cannot perform ourselves, so a basic working knowledge of all areas of housekeeping is a must. Familiarise yourself with the various products and equipment that you may encounter, with know-how on subjects such as care requirements of valuables and antiques and laundry techniques for specific fabrics. Your employer must have confidence that you can step in to any role should the unexpected occur and have an up to date understanding of the techniques used.
Your role will call for a decent grasp of technology. You will likely use Excel or similar spreadsheet software for everything from accounts, inventories, staff schedules and checklists. You must be able to compose word documents for correspondence and be on point in terms of written etiquette in representing your employer. You might need to maintain email contact and shared calendars on electronic devices. You may also need to manage household security systems and even computer networks. Read up, or enrol in training courses to hone any gaps in your knowledge.
A Practical Hand
In a large household, a vast array of maintenance tasks will continuously crop up. While experts may be on hand to make repairs, your practical knowledge and relevant vocabulary will assist you in reacting to whatever occurs and some personal experience will allow you to step in for small or urgent tasks. A little DIY knowledge and pre-emptive investigation into what must be maintained in your specific household will make for a strong foundation in managing issues.
Capable In The Kitchen
While your household may employ a private chef or catering team, an understanding of food preparation for large and small gatherings will be invaluable. Invest in an inexpensive hygiene certificate to enable you to evaluate professional standards. Research various service formalities and formats for different types of functions and gatherings. Self educate on complimentary flavours for multiple courses, international cuisine, special dietary requirements and hygiene practices. You may need to step in should sickness occur, and day to day you will be better able to oversee what is served and how, ensuring the highest quality is maintained. Explore food trends, cooking styles and recipes to keep your knowledge fresh.
Etiquette is key and cannot be overstated in this role. The broader qualities required such as precision, intuition, grace, discretion, efficiency, loyalty and unobtrusiveness must be pared with a strong applied knowledge of etiquette suited to the culture of the household and the various forms of private, professional and social occasion in which you will work. There are many excellent books on the subject and you may wish to take a step further by investing in a training course to add weight to your résumé.
Connoisseur Of Beverages
The word Butler finds it’s roots in the old French botellier or “officer in charge of the king’s wine bottles”, so it’s hardly surprising that an interest in wine, beer and spirits will serve you well. The history of alcohol and its related culture around the world makes for fascinating reading. A modest comprehension of the skills of a sommelier, a curiosity for different international drinking cultures and a familiarity with both classic and modern cocktail recipes will enhance your service to your employer and their guests.
It is a great asset to have a finger on the pulse of current events. Maintain awareness of local and global events, trends in arts and culture and local opportunities such as exhibitions, restaurants, theatrical productions and so on. Cultivate the capacity to make fantastic suggestions at a moment’s notice!
An Eye For Obligations
You can greatly support your employer by keeping abreast of obligations with regards to labour laws, safety and hygiene. Understanding local government policy on issues such as overtime, holidays, recruitment and dismissal will allow you to ensure the interests of the employer and employees are protected. Invest in First Aid training and ensure guidelines for medical supplies and fire safety are met. Oversee the management of hygiene and chemical handling. Your awareness in these areas reduces possibility of all manner of mishaps.
A Drive For Self Betterment
This quality both defines the ideal candidate for a Butler‘s position and describes the greatest personal benefit to those undertaking the role. An inquisitive mind will shine in this case as the Butler must possess such a wide breadth of knowledge. Your drive to continuously improve, gaining new insights in management approaches, cultural finesses and household techniques will set you apart in your role. You possess ambition to provide excellent service to your employer and household, and as you develop your own excellence you can also reap the reward of bringing others into theirs.