Education Spotlight: The British Butler Institute

British butler institute logoAs a new feature of my blog, I am expanding our popular Spotlights to include the schools and educators in the private service industry.  Our first participant is The British Butler Institute in London, England.  Director of Training Gary Williams gives more insight into this school that upholds the standards and attitudes of traditional English butler.

 1. How long have you been in business?

The British Butler Institute was established in 1997.

 2. In a nutshell, what do you teach?

We train butlers, both new and experienced.  We have a finishing school as well, which teaches etiquette and social graces to CEO`s, professionals, celebrities, embassy staff and diplomats, presidents of large corporations, royalty, models, luxury retail and corporate clients.

For our butlers, we concentrate on job skills essential to be successful in their positions.  The curriculum includes a Cooking Master class, Mixology, Flower Arrangement and Design, Concierge Lifestyle Management Skills, Pet Care and our own Finishing School.  We teach true Butler poise and deportment.

 3. What makes your training unique?

Our students and our clients come to us to receive traditional and contemporary English Butler training.  Our principals from across the globe want the English style in their homes and businesses.  The school opens doors for our graduates, and then it really is up to them to succeed and be good at their jobs.  We try to give them the best practical skills to do so.

We do cap the students at 15 per class.  If we determine that one of the students really is not suitable for this profession in the first three days, we will dismiss him or her and return their tuition.

 4. How long are the courses?

The Butler training is offered as a four week program and a 5 day program.  The Finishing School classes are available in three hour, one day or two day courses, or bespoke according to your needs.

 5. How frequently are the programs run?

The Butler programs are run twice a year, one starting in March and the other in September.  The Finishing School is run throughout the year.

 6. Do you have an online or correspondence courses?

No, because we don’t believe that these skills can be taught through an online or correspondence course.  Our clients want people with practical experience.  One advantage with our location here in London is that we are situated near some of the oldest shops in the world.  Plus, we give the students hands-on experience with luxury items, such as our Bentleys.

 7. What are the requirements to attend your school?

The student must speak English and be over the age of 16.  Our fees are high, which is actually part of the screening process.  We do accept students from other countries.

 8. Do you offer placement assistance to your graduates?  What is your placement rate?

60 to 70% of our students are already employed when they attend our school, being sent by their employers.  We do offer a recruitment arm, and use our data base of 6,000 candidates to fill positions.  We also refer our graduates to other London agencies.

9. How much does your program cost?

As of February 2013, the Four-week course costs £4890.00.  The Five Day course costs £1350.00.  The program is non-residential.

 10. How can people contact you?

You can find out more on our website,, or email me at

Our Education Spotlight is provided as a service to job seekers, and is not a statement of endorsement.  All information is  provided by the participating school.

Would you like your agency featured in our Education Spotlight?  There is no fee!  Contact Donna Shannon at 720-341-8229 to find out how you can be included. 

New Book: The Job Seeker’s Guide to Private Service Agencies

Job Seekers Guide to Private Service AgenciesAs many people know, I have been compiling information on some of the most prominent private service agencies in the industry for the past year.  You probably know it as our “Agency Spotlight” feature in our blog.  Finally, all of this information is available in a comprehensive, easy-to-use guidebook!

Featuring over 20 agencies in the United States, The Job Seeker’s Guide to Private Service Agencies answers some of the most common questions about the practices and desired candidates.  Not only that, contact information and instructions for finding their jobs and how to apply are included for each and every one.

Plus, I have included some tips for your job search as well, such as how to make the right impression.

The eBook is a convenient, downloadable PDF for only $2.99.  To place your order, visit our Books page at

Questions to ask before signing up for Private Service Education

college degree

School is more than a piece of paper

It’s no secret that as a career coach, I believe in the value of education. This is one of the reasons why we believe in letting our readers know about upcoming classes and workshops from professional educators in the private service industry.

Education is more than just getting a certificate to feature on your resume. It is a serious investment – both in time and money – and should be carefully considered before registering for any school.

Here’s some tips of what to look for in your private service education:

1. What is the curriculum?

A school or workshop should be able to provide a detailed list of the curriculum and/ or learning objectives. In some cases, such as state-regulated schools, the curriculum must be made available to prospective students to maintain their access to financial aid.

When looking at the curriculum, consider the topics covered.  Does it relate to the career that you want?  Since most schools in private service are not college programs, the classes tend to focus specifically on job skills.  No philosophy or college algebra!  Unfortunately, that also means that many times you can’t “test out” of prerequisites – you have to complete all of the courses, just as they are laid out.

One exception to this rule is the Charles MacPherson Academy in Toronto, Canada.  While all courses are required, it is possible to attend the classes one week at a time – a unique advantage, especially if attending a continuous 4- or 8- week class is not feasible with your work or life.

Additionally, both Starkey International and PDI offer correspondence courses.


2. Who are the instructors?

Finding out who is teaching you and his or her credentials is your responsibility.  Go beyond just reading their profile on the school’s website. Research their background, including their LinkedIn profile or other social media. Is this person “walking the talk?”

Within the private service industry, there is a strong tradition of experienced teachers leading the classes.  It is not uncommon to see instructors with 20 years of experience in the field.  This is what you want – but also look at the type of experience.  Has it all been for one family or principal?  Were they always doing the same job, or did they have frequent promotions?  Did they work with multiple properties, or just one?  What kind of service environment were they in – military, the home, yachts or attached to the principal?

Schools also employ specialists who are experts in their field.  For example, Starkey International Institute for Household Management in Denver, Colorado has used Lucia Miltenberger, a recognized master of fine dining, wines and wine cellar management.


3. What is the school’s reputation?

Be sure to take a look at the world’s view of this school. Regardless of how hard you work, the value of your education to employers has to do with image – and that is managed by the school.

Fortunately, in this digital age, it doesn’t take long to find out more about a school than just their own website.  Of course, a basic Google search will reveal reviews and news, but don’t limit yourself to just these sources.  Consider social media; in particular, search for graduates from the school and ask them about their experience.  Create a questionnaire that you can send, to make sure that you get consistent answers.

Some of these questions can include:

  • How large was the class?
  • Were the classes well planned?
  • What was the most helpful thing you learned?
  • What was the least helpful?
  • What was your impression of the instructors?
  • Was the work load reasonable?
  • Do you feel that you retained a lot of the information presented?
  • Did they help you with placement?
  • Would you recommend this school?


4. Is this something I need to learn?

When choosing a school, you need to do a strong self-assessment first.  As a coach, I hear people say that they feel they can manage a luxury property because they managed their own home for years.  Unfortunately, while that experience is relevant, there is a world of difference between a 25,000 sf luxury home on 5 acres and the average American’s suburban 3,000 sf home on the corner lot.

Do you need a system of management, strong technical skills or more etiquette? Different schools focus on different specialties. Make sure your choice teaches you what you need to learn the most.

Again, reputation can give some indication of expertise.  Starkey International is known for its management system.  Professional Domestics Institute (PDI) in Ohio is known for their technical skills.  Charles MacPherson is known for technical skills and personal dynamics.  And one of the newest schools, the Bespoke Institute in New York, is known for one of the best Personal Assistant programs in North America.

Outside of a full certification, new workshops and intensive weekends are springing up across the county, such as Marta Perrone’s courses for Nannies and Housekeepers – in 2012, this will be expanded into some Household Management classes as well.

If you aren’t sure what kind of schooling you may need, talk to other people in the industry – especially those who transitioned from a different industry.  Ask them how different it was from the way that they envisioned it.  Ask them what they wished they had known before taking that first job.  And of course, ask them what they would have done differently.

Call Us!

Of course, please feel free to call us at the Personal Touch Career Services as well – as one of the few coaching services that understands the private service industry, we would be happy to help you do a self-assessment to determine your education needs – and come up with a plan to land that dream job.

Webinar – The Personal Assistant Resume

The Personal Assistant resume is like no other in the private service industry. A well-crafted resume paints a vivid picture of who you are. It is, after all, personal. These two pieces of paper can make or break whether you are chosen for the high-level position or destined for the rejection pile. . For Personal Assistants, this has never been more true.

The PA resume is much more than an application for a job – it is a complete picture of who you are before you ever get to walk in the room.

In this special webinar with Bonnie Low-Kramen, author of Be the Ultimate Assistant and Donna Shannon, author of Get a Job Without Going Crazy, learn:

What makes a PA resume different from any other in corporate or private service

  • What employers are looking for and why
  • Effective tactics to convey your skills, experience, interests, and natural abilities
  • Crucial key words to snag the interview
  • Small details that can make a big difference

Date and time:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

12:30 pm EST

Cost: FREE

NOTE: Seats are very limited – sign up today to reserve your spot!

More about the presenters:

Bonnie Low-Kramen of New Jersey is a Rutgers graduate and the 25-year former assistant to actress Olympia Dukakis. She teaches workshops for Personal Assistants and Executive Assistants at the Bespoke Institute in NYC, Chicago and other major cities. Her passion and commitment is to affect positive change in the relationships between managers and staff. She is a founding member of NYCA – New York Celebrity Assistants – a networking and support professional organization. Bonnie is a highly respected speaker, teacher, and author of the book, Be the Ultimate Assistant, A celebrity assistant’s secrets to working with any high-powered employer.

Donna Shannon, President of The Personal Touch Career Services, is one of the few career coaches in the United States who understands the unique nature of the private service industry.  Drawing from both her corporate recruitment and luxury market placement experience, she has been helping job seekers with professional writing services, job search consultations and classes since 2004.  Her book “Get a Job Without Going Crazy” (2nd Edition, 2012) is available on  Donna is based in Denver, Colorado and works with job seekers across the country and abroad.

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