Household Management

9 keys to modern household management

Want your household to run as efficiently as possible? Here are 9 keys to a modern approach to estate management.

By Kristin Twiford

The old ways of managing homes and estates can’t keep up in 2024. House manuals built in binders are too quickly outdated, spreadsheets are too cumbersome to read on your phone, and no one has the time to check seven different places for one piece of information.

So, how can you optimize your household operations and build a household management strategy for the future?

As you’re looking ahead to the new year, here are 9 keys to adopting a modern approach to household management.

1. Start with a purposeful mindset

Bringing a professional, purposeful mindset to household management might sound counterintuitive, since we’re talking about the management of a home — the place we think of as the most casual, comfortable environment. But, failing to set up the right systems leads to more risk, chaos, awkwardness and disappointment.

Rather than thinking, “these are just our homes,” looking at properties as investments and creating structure for staff and vendors sets a strong foundation for a modern approach to household management.

2. Be clear about preferences and expectations

A common misstep in household management occurs when everyone thinks they’re on the same page, but in reality, everyone’s operating on their own assumptions. You set everyone on your team up for success when you clearly lay out what’s expected of them, and how you like for things to be done. This can include:

  • Defined job descriptions
  • An outline of principals’ preferences around everything from staff etiquette to how beds are made
  • Org charts and directions on where to turn with questions

No one is a mind reader, and every household is unique. Think about what the people in your household care about most, and clearly communicate that to everyone on your team to eliminate guesswork and set everyone up for success.

3. Keep everything to do with your properties in one place

When you’re managing multiple properties across a number of different locations, you simply don’t have time to check several different places to find the information you need. Keeping all of your property information in one place — especially a place you can access on your phone — allows you to save time and work faster.

Using a modern household management platform like Nines allows you to centralize all of your household’s important information, manage tasks, communicate with staff and vendors, and oversee all of your household’s moving pieces in one tool, rather than juggling a number of different spreadsheets, paper binders, emails, etc.

4. Preserve historical knowledge

When you keep everything in one place, it’s easier to follow our next tip: preserve your household’s historical knowledge. If your housekeeper who’s worked with you for 20 years keeps everything in her head, you may worry about how you’ll care for your antique furniture once she’s retired. Or, if your property manager leaves after finishing a major renovation project, all of the before and after photos may leave with him, because he took them on his personal phone.

Managing your team’s day to day workload in a household management platform allows you to automatically preserve that important information — building an easily searchable household manual filled with vendor contact info, property photos, care instructions, task lists and more. And with easy access to this information, you can reuse it and repurpose it, allowing you to save countless hours over time.

5. Get ahead of regular maintenance

An estate manager’s role might be filled with everyday surprises, but 80% of household management tasks are recurring. Optimizing the way you manage recurring tasks helps you work faster on the things you can control and gives you more time to deal with the unexpected. You can do this by scheduling regular maintenance well in advance and reusing checklists year after year (or week after week). Plus, by staying on top of regular maintenance, you’ll reduce the risk of damage and emergencies — which means fewer surprises.

Looking for tips on streamlining your operations and household maintenance? Check out our workshops.

6. Professionalize hiring and HR

Every household wants to hire the best private service professionals. Are you set up to support top talent? Implementing professional employment practices around everything from interviewing to long-term incentives can help you recruit and retain amazing private service professionals. Start with a fair and competitive compensation strategy, and follow proper employment practices when it comes to insurance, payroll, and human resources.

Looking for advice around hiring household staff? Check out our hiring guides and tips from the experts.

7. Empower your team with the resources they need to be successful

Once you’ve hired the best people, consider what will help each person perform at their absolute best. This relates back to things we’ve already talked about, from clear preferences and expectations to a household management platform that enables everyone to get work done efficiently. But it can also include:

  • Detailed onboarding for new employees
  • Comprehensive task lists and planners
  • Strong systems of communication and reporting
  • Regular check-ins with management and/or principals

Whether you’re working with full time staff or contracted vendors, providing the right structure will help them shine in their roles and guarantee the best service for your household. Want to dig into resourcing? Check out this episode of the Easemakers Podcast.

8. Create a growth environment

Private service professionals are quick to take on more responsibility. Encouraging professional development can help create a culture where everyone is striving to grow and evolve — a win for both the team and the principals. This can mean providing training, offering stipends for workshops and conferences, and giving staff members opportunities and time to gain new skills.

9. Prioritize privacy and security

In 2024, data security should be a top priority for every household. Some ways you can reduce risk include:

  • Conducting regular audits (extending from the family office all the way to the beach house wifi router)
  • Implementing centralized, secure communication tools
  • Minimizing the use of personal devices and accounts

Check out our Easemakers Podcast on improving your household’s data security for more expert tips.

Need help streamlining your household operations?

Whether you want to connect with someone who’s been in your shoes, get tips and strategies to improve your estate management approach, or support your team with better estate management systems, we’ve got you covered.

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