August 3, 2011: Butlers

This one was a bit of a surprise to me. I first came across these stats when I was doing research for an article I was writing for Business on Main about “stealth” business opportunities-potentially hot businesses that not too many people have “noticed” yet.

And while most of us would think there’s not exactly a big call for butlers (outside of the British royal family, perhaps?), most of us would be wrong. First, let me state I am not advocating you give up your entrepreneurial dreams and become a butler (despite the fact that, according to the International Butler Academy, butlers can make $100,000 a year).

That said, the demand for butlers is on the rise, because apparently, as Charles MacPherson, the founder of Charles MacPherson Associates, a Toronto-based “butlering academy and placement agency,” told Bloomberg Businessweek, “The rich just want to live like rich people again.” That partly translates to hiring butlers and other household staff.

As in most entrepreneurial cases, demand creates opportunity. And that opportunity comes from training butlers and placing them in the appropriate homes. MacPherson noticed the shift in demand last fall when “placement orders went through the roof.” An industry trade group, the Domestic Estate Managers Association, also reports a recent resurgence in demand for butlers.

This is not a tiny industry either. The International Guild of Professional Butlers reports there are a “few million” butlers already in the market, and agrees there’s been a recent surge in the number of new butlers signing up. Former (and quite well-known) butler Christopher Ely has already leapt into the fray. He’s joined forces with the French Culinary Institute in New York City to create the Estate Management Studies program, which offers curricula, tutorials and coursework to help solve the “we can’t find good staff” complaint Ely says he’s increasingly been hearing.