The Estate Manager - advice and tips


Kevin Watkins is an Estate Manager for an international family and spends time both in the USA and the UK. As a former Senior Royal Footman at Buckingham Palace, Kevin is adept at managing staff and anticipating the needs of his employers at short notice. 

How did you start out in Private Service? 

By accident. I was meant to be going into the Army as a Guardsman and went to Buckingham Palace instead!

In your current role as Estate Manager what is a typical list of duties?

  • Day to day operations of six international houses
  • Project managing building works and refurbishments within budgets and timescales
  • Recruiting, managing and where required training of household staff
  • Overseeing private flights and boat charters
  • Arranging the servicing and upkeep of all household vehicles, sometimes purchasing vehicles
  • Carrying out school runs, paying household utilities
  • Family catering, boat trips, holidays, planning events, functions and fundraisers on various scales

What do you like most about the role?

The variety, every day is different. The sense of achievement when an event you have arranged is successful, and your employer is happy; obviously the more resposibility you have, the more the financial reward. 

What advice would you give to those wanting to have a career in domestic service as an Estate Manager, or as a professional Butler?

  • As an Estate Manager, you will require a great deal of patience and flexibility, along with an understanding and knowledge of the other roles within the household, and to be prepared to carry out their tasks if required. You will need to 'know everyone's job' and be able to step in and take over at any point, whether it might be as a chef, waiter, groundsman or housekeeper. 
  • You will need foresight to anticipate your employer’s next move, to be tolerant of last-minute changes, and the ability to adapt seamlessly and without fuss to your employer’s requirements. 
  • Finally, stamina, mentally and physically, the hours are long and can seem relentless, but it is rewarding and fulfilling.
  • Self-discipline, patience and flexibility are the qualities of character you will need for this kind of role, as well as discretion and foresight.

What are the negatives?

It can be hard to 'switch off' and there is a lot of time away from home. 

Advice for those in the role?

  • Get up early or give yourself enough time to be organised. An extra hour in the morning to yourself can make all the difference. 
  • Prepare and pack extra clothes for possible last minute functions like shooting weekends away.
  • Think ahead as much as possible; a valued employee will be noticed for preempting the details.
  • Always look presentable - employers expect a certain level of professionalism and as a senior member of staff you need to lead by example. 

Are you interested in a career in Estate Management or looking for potential candidates? 

Please check our jobs pages here for our latest job vacancies, or contact our recruitment team on 020 3857 9945.