The concept of a Domestic Couple is not always familiar. However, there are widespread benefits and results hiring a domestic couple can provide to households and families around the world. Perhaps you’ve already hired countless domestic couples and are looking for your next perfect couple, or maybe you are new to the concept. Either way this guide will help you look and select the right Domestic Couple for your property(ies).
So what is a Domestic Couple?
For those of you less familiar with this profession, the role of the domestic couple is a varied and exciting one. Simply put, it is a couple (it can be man and wife, man and man, woman and woman) who are extremely familiar with each other and have chosen to work together. Much like Richard and Judy (!) the couple will have generally spent many years together and work well as a team, making them an ideal option to bring into the domestic environment. Great domestic couples are like gold dust, and will often stay for many years and long term contracts once they find the right employer. They are as their title suggests, a couple who work together in a domestic environment, supporting the needs of the principal and the properties within which they work.
The skill domestic couples have vary from couple to couple, but they tend to be quite varied and flexible. The nature of the role means that they have often had to learn additional skills in each new position, as the principals will often rely heavily on them. Thus a good domestic couple is one that is willing to learn and continually adjust to the principals needs. Typically one of the couple will be a strong housekeeper/cook, with the focus being within the property. They may also have additional childcare/nanny skills and or have specific skills like pet care or horse care specialism. The second half of the couple will generally be more focused on the external parts of the property, gardening, DIY skills, maintenance, chauffeuring skills. They may also have additional service skills such a Butlering/Front of House. Often the couple will cross over in areas of skills and the couple will support each other. For example if it is a large property which requires a large amount of housework. Both couples may focus on the housework. In other estates where there are large grounds, both side of the couple may be asked to focus more on land/horse maintenance. It really depends on the property and the needs of the principals.
The nature of the domestic couple is that they (most of the time) share accommodation and act as one. Therefore if you are providing a live in area, you only need to provide one bedroom as opposed to two. They will generally have a great relationship and will be able to work together – rather than two different personalities coming together and suddenly having to form a team work environment. Of course they may have the occasional falling out, but as they are in a relationship will be more likely to resolve it and work well together. A good domestic couple will of course be extremely discreet if they have a falling out, and generally won’t involve the principal. Unlike two individual staff who will generally look to the principal to help resolve any issues. It’s one less thing for the principal or PA of the family to worry about, and life is all about reducing stress and managing staff more efficiently. Salaries can also reflect the fact that it is a couple, and often principals are able to pay a slightly lower rate overall due to the fact they are employing two people. The couple are happy as they get secure employment and know that they are working together and spending quality time together on their days off. The other charming aspect is if the property is vacant for many months, it means that they can keep each other company and will less likely become lonely. Many of P&T clients have Chateaux in France which are used a few months of the year, and these domestic couples ensure that the property is cared for all year round, both maintenance and security which is vital.
The first rule of thumb is to be clear about what you need the couple to do. This of course organic and can evolve, but being able to define the general skills you want each half of the couple to do will help you find the right fit. For example if you are looking to place the couple on a country estate with heavy land management, then a couple in their late 50s might not be appropriate due to the fitness and the demands on the land. Likewise if your role includes childcare of young children and the domestic couple are very young with no experience of childcare, you may not feel it is a right fit for the security of your children. Obviously its important not to discriminate on age/sex/race/religion, but at the same time, the fit needs to be right otherwise you won’t have peace of mind that your property/children are being cared for correctly. At P&T we ensure that all the candidates we send to interview have the correct background and reference checks. But as the employer its very important you do these as well. DBS and references should always be checked, ideally you should speak to the referee rather than just accept written references to ensure they can be verified. We all know what its like in interview situations and sometimes skills can be exaggerated. Its important to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Once you’ve found the Domestic Couple you think would make a good fit then its vital you trial them. This can be a few days or it could be a few months. Either way, this trial will allow you to see if its a right fit, for both you and the couple. A good domestic couple won’t be scared to do a trial as long as they are clear about the terms of agreement and know that there is a placement at the end of the trial if they perform well. It gives you a good chance to see the couple in action and start as you mean to go on. Remember you have to cover the couples time and any flights/accommodation should that be required. Don’t expect the couple to be out of pocket just for an opportunity to trial for you, start as you mean to go on with fairness and generosity.
Offer the right package
At P&T we can help advise what makes the right package to offer a Domestic Couple. Sadly sometimes principals don’t have realistic requests when it comes to salary and packages offered. If the salary is on the low side, make sure there are lots of additional perks such as a car, included food, nice accommodation. The higher the salary the less ‘added bonuses’ you need to give the couple so make sure you think long and hard about the package you want to offer. The right package will mean that the couple feel that they are well respected and will indeed stay for a long time in your position, which is ultimately what you want. Less stress and more productivity in your staff!
Perhaps you are interested in becoming a domestic couple? If that’s the case then take the time to think about why you want to go into this profession. Although you get the chance to work in amazing locations for amazing principals, it is often an intense and labour intensive job. Private service rewards are plentiful, but you must also work hard for the rewards! You should be in a secure relationship and have methods to resolve conflict and stress. If you speak additional languages you will be sought after, particularly if you speak French, so get out the language books and start brushing up on your language. Remember you will be presenting yourself as a couple and you must both be strong contenders for the roles. Take the time to asses how you each come across in interview, and how your CV/profile picture should be as professional and as polished as possible to get yourself the best opportunities.
As I mentioned above, the best domestic couples are gold dust. They are highly sought after and often stay in long term positions. It can be a highly lucrative career, and those hiring a domestic couple can reap the rewards of having a strong team work for them. I always personally recommend a domestic couple if you can afford it. Its the ultimate team. Why not drop us a line and let us know how we can help you find the perfect couple for your property.