Estate Manager

Alternate Titles: EM, Household Manager, HM,  House Manager, Butler,  Butler Administrator, Major Domo,  Staff Manager, Chief of Staff, Staff Captain, Head of Household Staff, Property Manager, CEO. Director of Operations

The Estate Manager is the top level executive position in the principal’s household and works directly with the owners to plan and execute the overall management of property and service.

Estate Manager is the CEO

Where there are large or multiple homes, the Estate Manager is the “CEO.” of the organization, carrying out the wishes of the owner at each location. A common abbreviation for those in the industry is “EM”. Estate Managers need to understand the jobs of all staff they oversee (Household Manager, Butler, Head Housekeeper, Housekeeper, Laundress, Houseman, Chauffeur, Private Chef, Gardener, Nanny etc.).  Estate Managers also have broad policy making authority over all household and estate operations, and manage extensive property and staff issues on a daily basis.

For example, the Estate Manager of a very large estate may be involved with significant auxiliary features such as stables, golf course, vineyard, and the staff that support these operations. There may be private aircraft, yachts and multiple homes through out the world to oversee. In some cases, Estate Managers may be required to be involvement with their employer's business.

Above all, the right person for the job will be adaptable to the standards and desires of the employer. Execution of plans and tasks can be taught and developed with top level management skill sets, but only those who are truly passionate about their career and totally “in synch” with their Principals, and the private services environment will succeed for the long term.

Most Estate Managers Live at the Estate & Report Directly to the Principal

  • Most Estate Management positions require the manager to live at the client's estate, as the Estate Manager needs to constantly be prepared to address the needs of the client's estate
  • Estate Manager’s accommodation is often in the form of a self-contained cottage commonly provided on the property

Estate Managers Manage Multiple Properties

  • Estate Managers are common in households of 15,000 square feet and larger, and especially in estates with multiple properties, extensive grounds, stables, golf course, vineyard, and so forth; elaborate art, antique, and wine collections, or complex technology; private aircraft and yachts 
  • Estate Managers are required to manage many properties acquired by the employer, ensuring all estates are well organized and impeccably maintained

Education, Experience, Knowledge, Skills & Abilities

The top Estate Managers in the “private services” industry are some of the most well rounded, thoughtful, independent and resourceful workers that can be found anywhere. Estate Managers must have excellent management and executive level communication skills. The unique and diverse skills set combination required to succeed in this position is rarely found in other professions.

The 21st Century Estate Manager

The 21st Century Estate Manager of a large estate will have a Bachelor’s degree and or post-secondary education; many may possess an MBA or even might have a degree in Real Estate Construction Management, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Real Estate/Property Management and hold Household Manager certification. Top Estate Managers have many years of previous experience in estate management of a smaller estate or previous Household Manager experience in private services. Today’s Estate Manager is the CEO, managing and protecting the Principal’s and family’s extensive assets, their security and privacy.

  • On the one hand, the successful Estate Manager is a strong leader with exceptional organizational, human resources and financial management skills; these managers are acutely aware of current household and business technologies, finance, computers to include smart home systems.
  • On the other hand, they are well educated in luxury items such as fine art and antiques, and proper social etiquette, and cultural knowledge. Estate Managers are creative and intuitive thinkers and constantly solve problems; they are highly capable negotiators, and have a broad range of property management knowledge

 Estate Manager’s Range of Responsibilities

  • Standards Setting & Household Procedures - Estate Managers typically set the service standard and are responsible for the hiring, training, and ongoing management of staff required to meet the service needs of the household
  • Staffing – Household Staff (Household Managers, Butlers, Housekeepers, Laundresses, Houseman, Chauffeur, Private Chef, Gardener, Nanny etc.) Personnel/staff administrative functions are many, for example: keep accurate records of all employees; hiring, firing, orientation, training, mentoring, coaching, development, compensation, taxes, reviews and supervision. In addition the administrative functions are many 
  • Vendor & Contract Negotiation and Management - Negotiate and manage all contracts, supervise work and review invoices for all outside serve providers including screening and overseeing outside vendors, contractors, construction projects, maintenance of pools, landscaping, autos, yachts, private planes, etc. 
  • Property & Systems Management - iimplement schedules for all maintenance, staffing, accounting and services needed for all properties; system and procedure protocol development for all properties
  • Budget Preparation - All related financial matters including accounting, budgets, and payroll normally pass through the EM’s hands
  • Security & Safety - Overseeing security for the estate and family could also be included
  • With multiple properties, most EM’s travel ahead of their employer to get a property ready for their arrival and bring the staff up to speed on any necessary changes or service requirements. 
  • The level of “hands-on” involvement can vary from full participation in gardening and cleaning to strictly office based administrator.

Compensation – Corporate Type Benefit Package, Perks

  • Typical salary range is $80,000 - $150,000 
  • Some Estate Managers in service for many years or with specialized project skills can earn upwards of $250,000 
  • Additional benefits may include fully paid housing, automobile, paid corporate type benefit package, paid travel, clothing allowance, and more