Estate manager salary negotiation tips from the experts
Private service is a unique career path — which means negotiating your salary as an estate manager comes with unique challenges and opportunities. Get advice from the experts on navigating salary conversations, asking for a raise, and creating a compensation package with outside the box benefits.
Estate manager job descriptions only begin to cover all the responsibilities a high performing private service professional will take on for a household. How do you calculate your worth when the work you’re doing is invaluable to the family you support?
And, once you have a number in mind, how do you ask for what you want — whether you’re interviewing for a new role or asking for a raise?
We asked the expert private service professionals in our Easemakers community to share their tips for navigating conversations around salary and benefits, and below, we’ll share their answers. But before we jump in, let’s review best practices around knowing your worth.
How to calculate your desired salary range
Across the board, our Easemakers agree that knowing your numbers is a critical first step.
Survey data from Morgan Stanley and Botoff Consulting’s Estate and Household Compensation Survey shows the national average estate manager salary (including base salary and bonuses) is $151,830, with those in the 75th percentile earning $181,179. The average total compensation for a house manager is $111,801, with those in the 75th percentile earning $132,000.
Meanwhile, the industry association Private Service Alliance, sets the average salary range for an estate manager from $100,000 to upwards of $400,000.
These numbers provide a helpful benchmark for helping calculate your target salary range. Keep in mind, a wide range of factors may affect your compensation package. Are you an entry level house manager, a seasoned PSP who just earned a management job title, or a veteran estate manager with 10+ years of experience? Do you have a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree? Have you worked in a related field, like hospitality, project management, real estate development or human resources? Where do you live? Cost of living varies greatly between New York, California, Florida and Texas, and other places outside of North America. The answers to all of these questions can help you figure out your desired salary range.
Botoff’s full report offers a more detailed breakdown of the annual salary data, and you should talk to mentors, peers and your household staffing agency about salary estimates, what’s competitive in your area, and how your unique circumstances might affect your compensation.
Check out our favorite resources to help you know your numbers:
- [Easemakers Podcast E31] Negotiating your salary and how to advocate for a 20%+ raise with Career Coach Donna Shannon
- Estate and Household Staff Compensation Report
- [Easemakers Podcast E43] Household staffing compensation trends
- Easemakers community for private service professionals
Salary negotiation tips from expert estate managers
We started by asking our Easemakers, “What’s one thing you’ve learned about negotiating your salary for a new role that you’d share with other private service professionals?”
Their take? Prepare, prepare, prepare.
“Even though I don’t work full-time for any one person, I keep up with Estatejobs.com and LinkedIn every day and I see what the going rates are,” says Lori Harvey, a fractional household manager in the Bay Area.
Hernando Quintero, a fractional estate manager / property manager in San Francisco, says (like many other Easemakers) that researching your market value is critical — and recommended seeking guidance from an expert.
“Paying for a resume consultant is the best investment one can make,” says Hernando.
San Francisco Estate Manager Alyssa Rogers says it’s important to consider what you want both in terms of compensation and in general.
“Before even entering negotiations, take the time to reflect on your short and long-term goals and what you truly want for your future,” says Alyssa. “Then, when you present your requests, do so with clarity and confidence!”
San Francisco Household Manager Jennifer Baker agrees.
“People can sense your hesitancy and will take that as a sign that you don’t feel like you are worth the number,” says Jennifer.
Several Easemakers say to practice the conversation in the mirror, or with a friend or mentor.
Fractional household manager Lori Harvey says she never has conversations about money when she’s having an off day.
“I never make these return calls unless I’ve done a pep talk with myself and feeling the confidence,” she explains. “If you’re not feeling good, that’s not the day to have the conversation.”
She adds that talking about salary is “like walking on a high tight rope” — and that it’s important to listen as you’re in a job search to get an understanding of the true value you can provide.
“There’s people that don’t want to do what I do,” says Lori. “They don’t want to organize the whole garage, pay their bills, do errands, so I’m going to listen carefully.”
Expert tips for asking for a raise
Next, we asked our Easemakers to share their tips for asking for a raise or a promotion. When you’re in a role that’s a good fit for both you and your principals, everyone wants to keep a positive relationship — and usually, your principals want to keep you there for the long term.
This may mean you have leverage to ask for a raise, but the idea of having this conversation can be daunting.
“Remember, it’s a job and they are not your family or friend,” says Jennifer Baker. “It’s easy to blur the line — don’t.”
Keep in mind all of the tips we talked about in the last section. It’s just as important to know your worth and operate with confidence when you’re asking for a raise as when you’re taking on a new role.
“Asking for a raise is a difficult conversation,” says Hernando Quintero. “First, I would make sure I am doing more than I am being asked for, and document everything. Second, I would find out if there are more responsibilities that can be assigned to my role.”
Alyssa Rogers agrees.
“Create a straightforward yet comprehensive presentation outlining your accomplishments/contributions and submit it to them before your review,” she says.
Both Hernando and Alyssa also say timing is critical.
“Ask for a raise after you have accomplished something that had a major impact on the principal’s lifestyle,” says Hernando. “For example: a last-minute trip out of state/country because a property or project needed immediate attention.”
Alyssa adds, “we can’t always wait for the perfect time, like when the company is thriving, etc., but it’s so important to be aware and considerate of what they have going on in their business and life when you decide to go for the ask.”
Meanwhile, Lori Harvey says it’s important to ensure your principals and managers always know your worth. She regularly pulls her principals and managers aside to show them accomplishments, especially when she’s tackled something that was a top priority. For example, after managing a complex move recently, she went the extra mile to organize the gym, because she knew it meant a lot to her principal.
“I asked if she had a second, and I said, ‘this is for you, from the bottom of my heart,’” says Lori. “That was the biggest thing out of everything that she was so touched by.”
Ensuring your impact is seen on a regular basis allows you to lay the groundwork for salary increases and promotions.
“I realize that some people work in homes where you’re not allowed to talk to the principal, but I think that whether you’re reporting to the principal or somebody else that hired you, it’s really important to share some of these accomplishments as you’re going along, so you get buy-in from them,” says Lori. “If someone can’t get a read on whether their clients are happy, it’s going to be hard to ask for a raise.”
Getting creative with non-traditional compensation packages
Base salary is usually the main focus when you’re negotiating a compensation package, but the private service industry offers opportunities to get creative with non-traditional benefits.
Ian Garcino, an EA-PA / House Manager in Nashville, suggests exploring outside-the-box ideas like an increase in paid insurance premiums, a gym membership, monthly spa certificates for mental and physical health, additional yearly bonuses instead of salary increase, or a yearly stipend for 1 week’s vacation.
Hernando Quintero shared that he once took on a role that required more travel than he’d expected.
“For me, disconnecting after a long day of work is a priority, and unfortunately, a staff house doesn’t allow one to feel as if work is ever done,” he explains.
So, he worked with his manager to negotiate a long-term rental to use when he was traveling for long periods of time.
Sometimes, your principal’s support for things you care about may be the best benefit.
Alyssa Rogers shared that having flexibility around vacation and personal time off made her feel valued in her role.
“Living on the other side of the country from all my family, I appreciate that they are understanding/flexible with me taking PTO and working remote around holidays so I can spend time with family,” she says.
Other benefits might include transit benefits, charity donation matching, or something totally unique to you. Check out 9 more suggestions from fellow Easemakers here.
Join the conversation
Want to share your tips for navigating salary conversations and growing in your career? Join the conversation in the Easemakers community!
Up next, check out some of our other favorite professional development resources:
- [Upcoming workshop] Mastering Estate Projects
- 20+ resources every estate manager should know
- Easemakers Podcast
- Modern Household Management Workshops
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