What does an estate manager actually do?
An Estate Manager is, essentially, a glamorized form of a Personal Assistant and the position is also called a Household Manager. The two are used interchangeably by some, but there is actually a difference. EMs are in charge of all aspects of the function of a large estate or mega-mansion, with many administrative duties.
Responsibilities can vary quite a bit between properties. Their duties include but aren’t limited to:
- Plan parties and social gatherings, which can be for hundreds of people.
- Create household manuals for use by domestic staff. This important book, also called a “House Manual,” contains an at-a-glance spreadsheet with names and numbers to electricians, plumbers, nannies and anyone else in charge of the function of systems in the home. In the old-school days they were 3-ring binders. Now many of these systems are computerized (we work with experts in this field if you need one of these systems).
- Assigning errands to PAs (all things A to Z): grocery shopping, getting the dry cleaning, gift shopping, etc.
- Driving: If a full-time driver isn’t employed, then the estate manager (or a PA) can take on this role (e.g. picking up the children from school).
- Oversight: When remodeling, restoration or construction occurs, then the estate manager will screen and supervise every step of the project (from inception to completion). This includes vetting the contractors that will be doing the work and confirming that their liability insurance is up to date.
- Run the budget for the household (accounts payable and receivable).
- Make travel arrangements for incoming and outgoing parties.
- Maintain a detailed inventory of household appliances, furniture, art, etc., which also includes insuring the property to cover damage, loss or theft.
- Exotic cars: Maintenance of car fleets to ensure they are insured, repaired and licensed.
- Care for family pets: Delegating and coordinate walking, feeding, grooming and trips to the vet.
- Team lead: The estate manager is also in charge of the other domestic workers who work on the property: hiring, firing, training, performance reviews, coaching, etc.
- Cleaning: Supervision of the housekeepers' cleaning duties.
- Answer phones, greet any guests that come to the home, and handle communications (emails, letters, invitations).
- Maintain the home’s security and computerized systems (entertainment center, sprinklers, etc.). For this reason, the Estate Manager must be very well-versed in technology, especially when managing multiple estates.
- Assign tasks, large and small, to the domestic staff: maids, nannies, groundskeepers, chefs, security personnel, etc. They are also in charge of hiring the workers and screening their background.
- Schedule both personal and professional calendars for the home owners.
- Wine cellar maintenance and inventory.
- Maintenance: Ensure that everything on the property is maintained properly, which includes working with vendors and independent contractors for repairs.
- Budgets: Maintenance and responsibility for all accounts payable and receivable.
- Etiquette: Most be well-versed in social etiquette, protocol, and experience in 5-star hospitality is a plus.
The Estate Manager will certainly be on-call 24/7/365, and may even live on the estate grounds to be able to handle emergencies quickly.
Qualities and characteristics of a great Estate Manager: Leadership, emotional intelligence, flexible, adaptable, discretion, strong communication skills, honest, loyal, and calm under extreme pressure.
As stated before, every household is different and there isn't just one, perfect job description for this position. The title of Estate Manager is usually with properties that exceed 20,000 square feet. An estate can be a sprawling property with guest houses, gardens, horse stables, etc. For smaller properties, a Household Manager title would be customary.
Salaries for these positions can vary wildly, mostly depending on the amount of experience, education, level of responsibility, and of course the size of the estate. These positions would typically start at $100,000 a year; but can top out at $300,000 for the most experienced candidates (usually holding a master's degree).