The House Manager's day

A Private House Manager is responsible for an individual property and will be in charge of running that particular property and the staff within it.

The House Manager is in control of all the day-to-day aspects of the running of the house, from ensuring the family’s needs are being met, all staff are happy and doing their jobs to the best of their ability, to making sure the security systems are operating properly.

Much as the Estate Manager is required to have a full overview and understanding of every domestic role so they can step in at any point if required, the House Manager must be adept at both traditional forms of service and also the more modern duties of a PA, and is often also referred to as a modern-day Butler.

The employer needs to rely on senior leadership staff that can multi-task at the helm and need very little support. The most valuable staff are those that have good experience in service as well as PA, secretarial or security or a combined set of interchangeable skills, as well as good foresight.

Steven Goodall is a House Manager for a large international family with properties in the UK, Hong Kong and America. Steven runs one of the houses in the UK, in central London. Steven manages a team of five staff, which includes a nanny/governess, a housekeeper, a driver, a gardener and a chef.

When the Principal is away with the family the staff is then reduced to the ‘skeleton’ part-time team, which consists of the housekeeper and gardener and Steven himself. The chef and nanny will usually go with the family when they go away. 

If the family are in London, Steven’s usual day starts with a 6am alarm. Steven lives not far from work and his two-bedroom flat is included in the job. 

Morning

‘I get to work and double check the rota diary for which staff are meant to be here today and have already signed in. I say good morning to the chef and check he is on top of everything. Check with my Principal for any changes or requirements, I see he has a new appointment at 11am so will require the driver to collect him from his office in Mayfair. Lunch is booked at le Caprice for the Principal's daughter and the family as it is her 14th birthday. I need to check timings with the driver and call the restaurant back to double-check they know the booking is VIP.’

‘My Principal receives his post and morning coffee at 8.30 in his study and we discuss any other business. My Principal wants to know if I completed everything for his daughter’s birthday present which is a five-year-old Irish Draft horse. I confirm that I have liaised with the House Manager and Groom at the countryside residence and the horse is comfortably stabled at the yard. I state that as agreed the driver will take the family to their Cotswolds estate after lunch for arrival at 4pm when tea will be served and the staff will drive ahead with the dogs. I inform the country House Manager that the family will want a light tea on arrival. The family will be there for a week.’ 

Afternoon

'The Principal has three children aged 14, 11 and 8. The children are on half-term so it is a busy time for all of the family and staff. There is a lot of organising of activities and planning of menus. Once the family is out for their lunch I speak to the chef as he is going with the family to the countryside residence. We go over the transportation of the cake; the chef has made it and is taking it with him to present at the daughter’s birthday tea later.'

'We discuss his proposed menu for the week ahead and I check he has talked to the other House Manager about the shoot weekend coming up. I check the nanny has got things ready for the children and the housekeeper has got the employers things packed including shooting wear and dinner party dress.'

'By 1pm the house is quiet and the family have left for lunch, and the staff are getting ready to leave with the dogs. Once everyone is off I then sit down to have my own lunch while I check my work emails again, I usually check these first thing too.'

'There is a charity event coming up soon that I need to talk to our Senior Estate Manager about as he will be overseeing this. I check through the rooms that all is tidy and the housekeeper has changed all the beds, then I go out to speak to the gardener and let him know the family are now away for a week so he can get the lawns mowed and do the topiary in the next few days.' 

'At about 3.30 I check the ETA of the family which is still 4pm and confirm with the country residence. The House Manager confirms the staff and dogs have arrived and the cake has travelled well!'

'Every element of daily life must always run seamlessly and I am used to thinking ahead and anticipating the needs of my employers. Everything is ready and in order at the other house and I am satisfied that things are in place here.'

'Once I confirm with the remaining staff what their skeleton hours are for the next week I send them home and lock up using the security system, then I leave for home. I will be back in tomorrow but just for a couple of hours. While the family are away I am on 'down-time,' which means I'm on email and keeping an eye on things but much less hands-on.'

Are you interested in a career as a House Manager? Go to The Lady's jobs page here to view our latest vacancies, or call our recruitment team on 020 3 857 9945.

 

 

 

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