It is funny to notice than a lot of employers have no idea of what is the job of a Butler. It is an extremely important position but some do abuse and make you do what is not your duty.
Some do not have enough money to get a fully staffed house so they get someone who they believe, will do the lot. Of course with the lowest salary possible. I had two different way to practice this stunning job between private households and for a luxury hotel.
My favourite is for a private employer. You become all he needs. Of course you must know everything about the person so you can anticipate the needs. You must make sure that everything is perfect at all time. You are a personal assistant, a concierge, a multitask employee, a chauffeur, a accountant, a human ressource manager, a confident, well you must become the soul of the household. I enjoyed this job and I was lucky enough to start with a great single guy who was a movie producer from the US. Nothing was never a problem as long all you were doing was first class and at the top that he was expecting.
I was in charge for him of three residences in New York, Paris and Saint Tropez. I had to organise everything for him. Booking his flight on First class making sure he had his favourite seat. Booking ticket for his son, other staff members and myself as well. I had to book his restaurants tables. Organise his romantic week-ends or the party for his Mum’s Birthday. I had to get the presents he needed for someone and remember that it is not the same than last time… I was in charge of preparing the tables and assuring the service. Recruiting extra staff as well when we had a big party. I was very picky on never have twice the same flower arrangement on the table.
I was registered on his Black Amex card and had his credit cards to make all paiements. Everyday he was taking the mail and instantly was giving me the bills. “I want you to be me as I do not want to do it” he said. I knew all his family, all his dates, all his friends and of course I had to remain discret. At all time, friends and staff were asking me things about him, but I never did say anything.
I then worked for an other American family outside Philadelphia who owned as well a villa outside Palm Beach and a Chateau in center France. They opened a restaurant on the main line Philly and wanted me to teach the staff and to give a little French touch to the place. There again I had to organise the staff and the daily duties they needed me for.
The Mother had a lot of money, she is the one that got the Chateau. When she passed away, the other son did get the place and when he passed, my boss did get the lot. And this is why he needed somebody for the position of a Butler. He had one already but this other Butler was nearly 80 years old so he would not work for long. I was shocked to notice than he was nearly all day long in the basement of the house doing ironing. The lady was really crazy and she did not want us to trash a broken glass. She was keeping evrything and they had a lot of storage full of so many things useless. He was a car dealer and a car lover so he had 12 collection cars and they had about 10 regular cars between the three homes including a awefull limousine. Their daughter and son were two little braggers that did not want to work. These four persons did not have the knowledge they pretended . Anyway this was a position I enjoyed a lot specially when I was at the Chateau. Then after a few years, they burned all their money anf losed all their business, they started not to pay the staff. I managed to escape from this position and after a while, my first employer contacted me for a position in Mexico.
He owned a luxury hotel and he had contracts with three owners of luxury villas just along the hotel to rent theses wonderfull houses to his guests. ” I want you to do what to did for me before but for my guests in the villas”. Deal !
But working in a hotel is extremely different. I requested some freedom as I always consider that you cannot please your guests if you start working with the hours of a hotel. My duty was 24/7 and no days off if I had clients. After three years, a new manager was there and she did not know anything about luxury service in a hospitality business. Nor the Etiquette was of her knowledge. I realised that I had to fight everyday instead of enjoying my extremely busy position. My retirement pension was near to come and I decided on December 29 last yet to quit.
However this career as a Butler was fascinating for me and I now have so much to remember and tell than I decided to write a book about it.