Greetings from Starkey! Family life during holidays is always stressful when running a large home with multiple staff. Many of our clients are now new employers with greater assets and multiple properties, but without the experience of what should be expected from staff. We frequently receive calls from our clients requesting what is most often done within homes.

While we train our Starkey Graduates to become “Persons of Possibilities”, it is up to employers to clearly state overall priorities, levels of service standards, and details as to how they would like tasks accomplished. Often it’s a learning process to be able to articulate your expectations. Starkey trains its Graduates to know exact questions in 10 service standard categories to begin to set up the overall container of what quality of life is to you. If your Household Manager has not been trained in the Service Management tools unique to private service, they will typically do things as they would do them, not necessarily how you would want them done. Having this written container of service standard information also takes everyone off of crisis mode!

mansionHousekeeping staff genuinely want to know the specifics of what it will take them to succeed in your home. This requires real knowledge of your expected detail. Our Starkey Certified Managers understand this and can quickly get this information at the beginning of their tenure with you through Zoning and customizing (time and product oriented) Task Sheets for them to follow on a daily basis. Your Management staff must have real Household Management education to know how to do this! Reference our Original Guide to Private Service Management publication for specifics or learn about our Private Service Educational options at

Professional staff should expect to work holidays, with alternate days off.   This is when you need them for holiday entertaining, caring for visiting family and friends, and “Home for the Holiday’s Experiences”. It makes good sense to inform your management staff members three months ahead of time your intentions such as: “We will not need you for Thanksgiving as we will be in Turks and Caicos, but will need you for all of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.” This will give them time to make their own family plans. Often employers give a holiday bonus as well. However, most employers typically combine the staff’s yearly bonus with the Christmas bonus. Some clients do not give regular yearly increases in salary; often they


provide between 5% and 20% of annual salary as yearly bonuses (paid and taxed through regular payroll) depending upon length of employment and level of position and responsibility.

Families are often traveling for the holidays or at another residence. A question often asked is, “Is it ok if staff members earn extra money serving at another family’s holiday?” I state clearly, no! It’s bad business for staff to establish relationships with other families in the neighborhood or even other family members at other homes. It’s a good way to lose your staff. We have learned loyalty and privacy should be a clear boundary for clients and staff: Your staff works for only you!

If you are traveling, your home and property should be checked daily by your management staff, some cleaning needs to be completed to keep things in order and special projects can be completed in your absence!

It’s another reason salaries should be appropriately paid for the business and responsibilities a staff member holds. Staff should be paid well enough that they are able to easily meet normal bills, and they themselves also experience some quality of life. A Starkey Standard is “Staff should understand what it takes to serve themselves in order to appropriately serve another.”  If you have other homes and it is part of the agreement for the Household Manager to also manage additional homes, it is fair to take them along to create quality of life at the other home.

At Starkey, we make ourselves available to all our Clients and Family Offices to answer these and other questions in this unique profession. It is our intent to keep you in control of your staff members with good management techniques for long and mutually respectful relationships. Have a wonderful and safe Holiday Season.

Mary Louise Starkey, First Lady of Service

Contact us at

Telephone 720-788-3398 or 303-832-5510