Running one household is a challenging job on a day-to-day basis. But for America’s wealthiest individuals and families, they have multiple houses to run and large staffs to manage.
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This is where Bryan Peele comes in. After serving as the former head of entertainment at Delta Airlines (DAL), Peele is now an estate manager and president of the Estate Managers Coalition.
Peele manages estates for some of the country’s wealthiest families doing things like interviewing new housekeepers, planning parties and managing dog walkers, among many other duties. His tasks have even included planning a beehive installation to help pollinate a family’s gardens. His clients include celebrities, pop stars, hedge fund managers and the most glamorous estates.
“You need to be a perfectionist, and if not, to some degree someone who has a keen eye for detail” says Peele about how to be the best estate manager.
While not everyone can afford to hire their own estate manager, you can learn to be your own estate manager. Here’s how you can do it on a budget:
Step 1: Walk Through The House
The first step is to walk through the property and get a sense of the house inside and out. Note what issues you have with the house, or pet peeves. Also pay attention to what pleases you about your home.
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“Start on a basic level to understand your environment. Know what kind of environment you want” says Peele.
Step 2: Zone the House
After doing a complete walk through of the house, divide the house into sections. For example, anything related to the kitchen can be one zone. Or the kids’ bedrooms and playrooms can be another zone.
Once the house is divided, determine who is responsible for each section. It could be that the household manager is responsible for all zones, but assigning a spouse or child (if possible) to manage a zone is an option. “Each person in that zone is responsible for everything” says Peele.
Step 3: Create the Protocols and Standards for the House
Determine how you want each zone to be run and operated. This includes what cleaning products are used to how the front door is answered. Peele suggests writing up standards for each section and taking pictures of what the zone looks like when it’s organized from top to bottom. Bundling the standards with photos creates a complete instruction manual that anyone can consult.
And the protocols don’t just stop at the various zones. Even events like running a dinner party can have a protocol addressing everything from where the guests are seated when they enter the house to how napkins are folded. To stay organized, these standards should be written up and stored in a safe, accessible place for future events.
Step 4: Create Maintenance Calendars
A maintenance calendar is a monthly schedule of household maintenance tasks. Peele says that this includes everything from plumbing checkups to house painting to window washing. These calendars should be made at the beginning of the year detailing when monthly checkups need to be conducted. For example, the April calendar might schedule a day to move winter clothes back into storage and bring out spring clothes, while the October calendar might begin planning a family’s holiday shopping.
To make it efficient, divide your schedule into two columns: the left side for daily tasks, the right side for the names and phone numbers of service providers so that everything is at your fingertips.
Step 5: Develop an Emergency Evacuation Plan
Peele says that most people don’t know that local police and fire departments can help households develop emergency evacuation plans.
Walk through your house and develop emergency evacuation routes and plans for each zone and create emergency supply kits. Write out instructions, which should be laminated, blown up and posted throughout the various zones.