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Butlers & Household Managers


The Role of a Butler, Household Manager/House Manager, Majordomo

The role of butler has changed dramatically over the years, but in more traditional households duties such as formal table service, serving drinks, valeting and care of the wine cellar, are still essential.

The role of a ‘modern’ butler encompasses these duties and many more. Clients now look for multi-skilled, proactive individuals. The butler may be required to act as chauffeur, personal assistant, cook and events organiser. For a butler based in the country, they may be expected to have knowledge of shoots, care of guns and the ability to organise a shooting weekend and manage staff.

A head butler may be required to take on responsibility for other household staff and carry out security, driving and hospitality duties.

The role of a household manager is varied and differs a little from the butler role. Generally they will take responsibility for overseeing the smooth running, general upkeep and maintenance of large properties and private residences. Responsibilities may include supervising staff, ensuring that high standards are maintained, administration and managing of budgets, negotiating with and managing third party suppliers, event planning, and sourcing property.

The skills, knowledge and experience of a butler and house manager will vary widely depending on their individual experience and the size of the properties they have previously been responsible for. Many are experienced at managing multiple residences and working internationally. House managers often come from a commercial or hotel management background.

Typical responsibilities and duties

  • Ensuring the smooth running of a household and servicing of principals and guests, usually supervising others but also providing service.
  • Engaging and overseeing outside contractors, service providers and suppliers.
  • Overseeing household staff including hiring, firing, payroll management and performance reviews.
  • Writing of household manuals and policy documents for owner’s approval.
  • Staff training and development , financial management, budget administration, and purchasing.
  • Household project management.
  • Maintenance of the property on a regular basis.
  • Maintaining security and communication systems and record keeping
  • Regularly interacting with owners to maintain direct communication and compliance with their needs
  • Ensuring efficiency, harmony, and high morale throughout the household
  • Organising of social and family events
  • Caring for household’s guests and visitors
  • Serving of wines and other drinks
  • Serving of refreshments and meals
  • Caring for silver, china, antiques and other specialist items
  • Taking on duties of a valet, chef, housekeeper, nanny, pet minder, gardener, or chauffeur if required.

The butler is a more traditional figure than the household manager, and is knowledgeable in etiquette and protocol. As the position involves a significant level of hands-on service to the owners and their guests, the schedule and hours worked will vary considerably, requiring a large degree of flexibility. Occasionally, such positions are live-in, where security and/or 24/7 on-call services are appropriate.

Qualifications and skills

  • Business and management training.
  • Certified qualification.
  • Experience in household and property/project management and residential service.
  • Vendor and project management skills.
  • Knowledge of etiquette and protocol
  • Experience of formal service of fine wines and food
  • Ability to represent the household
  • Expertise in caring for fine arts, antiques, silver, china, and cars
  • Valeting skills
  • Eye for detail
  • Ability to anticipate others’ wishes and adapt accordingly
  • Experience in delivery of a discreet, confidential and unobtrusive service

For further advice and information or to discuss your requirements, please call Mark Whitworth, Alex Sansbsury or any member of the household team on 020 7471 6000