What Are the Responsibilities of a Butler?

In the popular imagination, the word “butler” tends to bring to mind a respectable middle-aged man in a tailcoat holding a silver platter. Today, this enduring association might lead us to wonder what relevance a butler has in modern society – and perhaps even to suspect that the age of the butler is long dead.
But according to the International Guild of Professional Butlers, the number of them employed around the world is increasing all the time. The question is, what exactly does a modern-day butler do?

Butler vs House Manager

On paper, there is a great deal of overlap between the role of butler and house manager; the exact definition of roles will usually come at the discretion of the employer.

Traditionally, a butler would have more in common with a valet, a man-servant attending to the personal needs of the head of the household. Today, they largely fulfill the same role as a house manager, organizing day-to-day maintenance and carrying out numerous hands-on tasks.

In some cases, the two positions might be distinguished by their level of formality. For many households around the world, the title of butler still implies a certain standard of dress and etiquette, while a house manager may be allowed to assume a more informal role.

Everyday Tasks

With regards to a professional butler, there are certain tasks that go hand-in-hand with being a butler. One of the most important responsibilities is hosting. A butler should answer calls to the household phone, greet guests at the door, assist in the planning of events and dinner parties, oversee table settings, and serve drinks and food. They will also (perhaps most importantly) manage the wine cellar.

Additionally, a butler may have responsibility over other staff. This could extend to training new staff members, organizing the payroll and the staff schedule, and even hiring and firing.

Beyond that, a butler’s duties will be decided at their employer’s discretion. A more traditional role might restrict them to the duties above, along with personal valet services for the head of the household. Chauffeuring could be involved, as could housekeeping, cleaning and maintenance. Budgeting, administrative and security issues may be placed in their hands, along with the care of artworks, silverware and antiques.

Perhaps the most important thing to note about modern-day butlers is that everything from their duties to their dress code can be tailored, depending upon the specific needs of your household and family. Which, in many ways, makes them the ideal member of staff to invite into your home.

Hiring a Butler through The Robert Hanselman Domestic Agency.

The Robert Hanselman Domestic Agency recruits highly qualified butlers and places them in houses across the United Stated and abroad. We have a long track record of placing private staff in VIP and HNW households, in locations as varied as England, France, Russia, French West Indies, and more.

If you’d like to find a qualified and experienced butler to join your household through The Robert Hanselman Domestic Agency, you can register your interest for free or contact us at our office.

Having a clear plan to find the right butler makes all the difference…

Hiring a butler for the first time can seem like a daunting task. Whether you are looking to hire a butler for yourself, your household, or for the principals you are working for, it can be a tricky and confusing process.

If this is the first time a butler will be entering your household, it’s helpful to set expectations and be very clear on what/who you are indeed looking for. This will avoid confusion, manage expectations, and make the process altogether much more rewarding.

Keep reading to be reminded on exactly what a butler can dowhat to expect having a butler in your household, and what to be mindful of when going through the recruitment process.

The Butler: Defining Expectations

When looking for a Butler to join your household it is important to set the right expectations. Asking yourself the following questions can give you much clarity on what you need in a butler:

  • Which tasks in the household are currently left untouched/overdue
  • Would all of these tasks be picked up by the butler
  • Can any of the other staff also pick up/fulfill these tasks
  • What unique skills would I require the butler to bring to the household

After answering these questions, you will have a much clearer idea on your need for a butler in your household, and what role the butler will fulfill.

Your next step is to get a better idea of exactly the roles and responsibilities a butler can take on, then match these with the requirements you defined above. 

Ready to hire a butler? Start your search

Typical Butler Roles & Responsibilities

Meet & Greet

  • The butler is often the first point of contact in the household, whether this is over the phone, at the front door or gate and when welcoming guests. The butler can welcome you or any visitors in the correct manner, take your coat and bags, and in case of parties or events, guide your guests to the right location in the property

Food & Drink Service

  • Any professional butler will be specialized and educated in Silver Service. The butler can set the table in any way required. This might be a simple weekday meal, where the butler can make sure the table is set, and serve the food or it may be a formal dinner party where the butler can provide full professional table settings.


  • Many butlers are an expert in cleaning and laundry. They can either assist already present housekeepers, manage the housekeeper and check/correct their work, or be fully responsible for the housekeeping in the house. When making a butler fully responsible for all the housekeeping and laundry, set realistic expectations on workload. It might be worth getting a part time housekeeper to aid the Butler, so the butler can focus on other tasks too.

Household Staff Management

  • A Butler can be in charge of household staff, managing rotas, organizing payment and arranging cover when needed. They can also be in charge of recruiting new members of staff, disciplining staff where needed and providing training and guidance.


  • Butlers can serve excellently as a private chauffeur, on a daily basis if needed. They can do drop offs and pick ups to and from appointments, be in charge of the school run for the children and pick up guests from required locations. Many Butlers will have knowledge of cars and can be in charge of the valet and upkeep, including MOTs.

Personal Assistant/Confidant

  • Male or female, Butlers make the perfect Personal Aide or Confidant. They are excellent in accessing situations, will know you and the way you like your life to look like through and through, and are well known to ‘know what you need before you do yourself’. Butlers will hold the highest level of discretion, and will never give away any information. They can be there for you after a long, stressful day, to give advice or just to lend a listening ear.

Adjusting to Life with a Butler

Another thing to be mindful of, is what your life would look like with a butler. Ask yourself the following questions, to get a more clear and concrete picture:

  • Do you need/want the butler in your house full time?
  • Do you want the Butler to have access to all areas in the house, or are some a no-go area? Make this clear before employment so there cannot be any confusion on this.
  • Do you require the Butler to Live-In? If so, consider accommodation. This needs to be appropriate for someone to live independently. Do you want the butler to be living on your premises, and using facilities? Be very clear about what can and cannot be used after working hours.
  • Working hours. Some butlers can be available during the night, or for longer periods of time. But again, set expectations and communicate clearly how many hours are required.
  • Cross-over tasks. As mentioned above, a Butler can cover many different tasks. This is part of what makes a Butler such a wonderful addition to a household, but again be clear in expectation and requirements, so the Butler can schedule tasks in accordingly.
  • Consider how independently you would like the Butler to work. Would you like to give him/her a list of tasks every day/week, or would you prefer for the Butler to manage tasks and work independently from your guidance?


What to expect when hiring

Now you know what you need from a butler – the most concrete process starts; the recruitment process. There are several ways to conduct this process. You can find a Butler through connections, use a professional Agency. Going through CVs, profiles and references is not an easy task and Agencies can help with this. For more information, read this article on what the recruitment process for domestic staff, like Butlers, is like, and advice on the different options to take.

At The Robert Hanselman Domestic Agency we are here to help. If you have any more questions after reading this article, would like any more advice or you would like to find out how we can find the perfect Butler for your household, do contact us and we will be looking forward to helping you further.