Review: The Essentials of Household & Estate Management course

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estate management solutions logWhile many people are familiar with the large, long-standing schools for private service certification such as the Charles MacPherson Academy and Starkey International Institute for Household Management, there are challenges of attending such a course: classes demand full-time attendance for 4 – 8 weeks and the tuition is costly. Over the past few years, some independent educators have begun to offer targeted, weekend workshops to help elevate the skills of both new and experienced private service professionals. One of these is Peter Van Ryder, owner of Estate Management Solutions. His 14-hour intensive course is designed to meet the needs of the working professional, either already in the industry or those looking to break into it.

I recently attended the Essentials of Household & Estate Management course in Chicago, IL, in April 2015. These classes, held in conjunction with the Domestic Estate Managers Association (DEMA), are held at various locations throughout the US every couple of months to increase participation and easy access to students. My class included 15 students, with experience ranging from entry level household managers to those with over 10 years of experience.

The first day of class dived deep into some of the personal aspects of service that can be the most challenging, such as tactics for working with the principals, how to avoid being servile while still being attentive, and the importance of communication. In many ways, the ability to handle these personal relationships in a professional manner while ever being cognizant of the employers’ wishes is paramount, and Peter did an excellent job of conveying how important this is.

The second day focused on more of the technical aspects of estate management, such as Human Resources, Accounting, and Vendor Management. In particular, Mr. Van Ryder emphasized the different “compartments” for any estate, using this as a way to break down the daunting task of managing a large property by only focusing on certain key areas at a time. From there, each compartment is then given its own section within the Estate Manual. By relating all the multitude of different moving parts within the household to the Estate Manual, students were given a practical tool that can be easily modified to fit different service environments. These worksheets are Microsoft Word and Excel documents, so they are easy to use, don’t require special training, and don’t require costly software to use them.

Of course, it’s not possible to learn everything about estate management in a weekend course. However, Peter does emphasize the importance of not only personal research, but also how to leverage personal contacts through fellow students or DEMA members. For example, in our class alone, we had experts in the care of fine art and horticulture, both of whom were very willing to serve as a resource to their classmates.

Overall, this class provides practical tools to make the intimidating task of managing any size estate more plausible. Peter Van Ryder is extremely well versed in the industry, and his willingness to share both his successes and failures brings a personal aspect to the training. A lot of information is covered in the two days, which is a lot to absorb in a short time span. However, the book and worksheets for the Estate Manual offer ongoing educational support to implement the lessons learned.

Key take-aways from the class:

  • Practical tools and strategies
  • Usable templates in Word and Excel for Estate Manual
  • Relatable professional experiences
  • Learning sources for additional research
  • Connecting with other private service professionals

Contact for more information: or
Look for upcoming classes on the DEMA website:

Peter Van Ryder aka Vanna

Peter Van Ryder, owner of Estate Management Solutions

More information about Peter Van Ryder:

Peter Colt Van Ryder of Estate Management Solutions is a certified trainer for the Charles MacPherson Academy headquartered in Toronto, Canada.
Peter started his service career working as a bellman and concierge in a small luxury hotel in Houston, Texas, eventually working his way up to upper management of a Crowne Plaza Hotel. He further refined his skills as an Innkeeper at a four star Country Inn and French Restaurant. He was previously certified as a Cisco Network Administrator and a Microsoft Systems Administrator. Having worked in homes ranging from 9,000 to 30,000 square feet on both coasts and overseas and on estates with 4 to 280 acres with active horse trails, he has honed his skills through continuous education and a drive to improve the industry.
Based in Dallas, Texas, he is working for the positive growth of the Private Service Profession. In 2009, he established Estate Management Solutions, which is dedicated to educating the public and professionals about the high standards of the private service industry in the US and China. In 2010, he established the Dallas Chapter of the Domestic Estate Managers Association, and in 2013 he established the Austin Chapter. He currently serves as Chapter President in Dallas and is actively involved in setting up the DEMA Institute.

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