Finding The Right Butler for Your Estate

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Published on May 2, 2016

The art of service – finding the right Butler for your principal’s Estate

You’ve been set the task of recruiting and hiring the new Butler.  You type into google ‘Where to hire a Butler’ or ‘Where to find a butler’ and a million results pop up.  The butler recruitment scene, although a focused area of specialism, can be confusing and it’s vital you choose the right butler for your estate.

Here’s what you need to consider before you start the process of hiring a butler.

Understand the needs of the Estate

The most important part of your search is understanding what you’re looking for. You need to get clear about what a good fit for your estate looks like so when you are vetting candidates you know for sure if they meet your requirements. Think about the preferences of the principal, the culture of the estate, and the dynamic of the workplace. Follow these questions to help you start thinking about the butler qualities you may need to look for:

  • Does the principal prefer a formal or informal approach?
  • Does the Estate have a team of staff that require a hands on butler in all duties, or is the focus solely on front of house and guest etiquette?
  • What nationalities are the majority of the staff in the home?
  • What nationality is the principal and their family?
  • Does the principal travel regularly, or is their main home and residence?

The more you understand the needs of the Estate and the principal, the more you can focus where to find a butler with the right type of personality and experience. For example, there’s no need to interview young, trendy Butlers if the principal requires a formal, mature quintessentially British approach.

Once you have a clear picture of the perfect butler for you estate you will have the direction you need to start your search.

Where to hire a Butler

There are many places you can look to hire a Butler.  You can self-advertise on gumtree or in The Lady magazine, you can share it with your professional network of domestic colleagues, or you can approach a butler staffing agency who specialises in domestic staff and butler recruitment.

As a general rule, avoid generic job placement companies online and general recruitment companies, as the domestic staff and butler staffing needs are very unique and should only be handled by professionals who understand the domestic staffing world.  If you decide to work with an agency or a butler staffing agency, ensure you don’t pay any fees upfront.

Be extremely wary of agents who charge ‘registration’ fees or take ‘deposits’.  A good agency should only charge once the candidate has been hired or for trial fees.  Butler recruitment is a specialist area, so expect to pay between 15-20% of the annual gross salary for placements in the UK and higher for placements overseas.

A good reason to consider an agency is for the peace of mind. A professional butler recruiting agency will vet candidates for you, checking references, conducting interviews, and completing background checks. A good agency will deliver you with a handful of highly qualified candidates to choose from, saving you a tremendous amount of time. Working with a recruitment agency will also speed up the process considerably if you’re looking to hire quickly.

Be above board

It goes without saying (but we are going to say it anyway). It’s vital you offer the chosen Butler the correct package for their ability and a written contract for their employment.  This helps remove any interpretation of the role, and can ensure peace of mind for your principal and the Butler.  A good agency will advise about contracts, but if you’re not using a professional recruiter, it’s always wise to get your own legal team to draw up employment contracts for the chosen butler to sign. The more open and transparent you are with the chosen butler the longer they will stay and the easier your butler recruitment process will be.

Vogue or GQ?

Who is the Butler going to be giving the majority of attention to?  Is it the Madam of the house or the Principal?  If it is the Madam then perhaps a female Butler would be better suited to the role.  Again a good agency or butler staffing agency can advise you on this.  It is important not to discriminate by gender, but if the Estate is in the Middle East where the households are divided by gender, then it would not be appropriate for a male butler to work in the female house and vice versa.  No matter what type of Estate and family you are working for, consider the environment carefully.


No matter what part of the butler recruitment stage you find yourself at, if you need some more advice you are welcome to call us anytime. Even if its just for a friendly chat.  Or if you are keen for us to help you find a butler for your estate, then please do tell us your needs here and we will get your search underway.

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