You Rang Madam

From Kristie Aronow, Gulfshore Business Magazine & Gulfshore Life Magazine – Naples, USA – December 2010

You rang Madam?

Alfred Pennyworth of Wayne Manor and Lurch of The Addams Family household are among the most famous butlers, at least in the world of fiction. And while the upscale service may seem like a fantasy to the average person, for Sebastian Hirsch, it’s a real and serious business.  He is the founder of the Butler For You (www.butlerforyou.com) household staff agency, which places nannies, housekeepers, house managers, chauffeurs, private chefs, and the entire entourage of a private housing staff, with clients around the globe, including Southwest Florida.

Hirsch was working as a manager at a Zurich, Switzerland, bar when a patron walked in and began talking about his job as a butler. That conversation piqued Hirsch’s curiosity enough that he researched the profession and eventually became a butler, which in turn led him to begin his own business. Hirsch, 33, currently resides in London and Berlin, but was recently in Naples to visit a client.

What led you to create this type of business?

I worked as a sort of corporate butler in London, before I started my business, where I looked after the executive community of leading international investment firms. I hired chefs and waiters for large functions. On the side I [occasionally] worked as temporary butler. From time to time I’d been asked by the executive community if I could recommend or help them in placing a chef or if I knew of a qualified nanny that I could refer. That is how I got the idea to start my own household staff agency.

What sort of qualities or training do you need in order to become a butler?

You [must] want to genuinely help others.  Attention to detail, which can be learned to a certain degree, is also important. You should be able to multitask. Someone who is pro-active and curious. Someone who always wants to give 300 percent. It’s not an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, Monday through Friday. Sometimes they can work on weekends, or 24/7 at certain times. But then of course on other days he or she gets the time off they need. [To learn the trade] you can go to butler school.

What is the average salary of your staff?

That depends where the staff is placed, where they work, how large the property is, etc. Therefore it is difficult to say how much the average salary really is. I would think a butler should earn, in this region, for a live-in position, where food and board are provided, at least $75,000 a year.

Do you have any interesting stories to share from your own experiences?

Well, there are so many stories. But obviously we are very discreet in our profession. But it’s an extraordinary life, not only for the people that actually employee housing staff or butlers, I think that people that have chosen the private service profession also lead an extraordinary life.

What types of stereotypes (i.e., stuffy) does your business face?

The people that are on my books are highly trained professionals. They really, truly enjoy what they do and for them it is a privilege to support and help and make the life easier for people who have very successful, very busy lives. Therefore [stereotypes don’t] concern them.

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— Kristie Aronow, Gulfshore Business Magazine & Gulfshore Life Magazine – Naples, USA – December 2010 –