Engaging an English butler to run a large house can suddenly make life a whole lot easier. This quintessential icon of the upper classes is not only completely discreet, he is the polished ambassador of refinement and loyalty and above all a life-style manager taking care of everything his employer requires and indeed desires.

In a nutshell the perfect butler is worth more than his weight in gold, and these days knows a lot more than just how to pack clothes neatly or clean the silver. In these frenetic modern times high net worth individuals often need calm order in their lives and help keeping to important schedules. This is where a good butler comes into his own, managing practically every facet of an employer’s day to make life run more smoothly.

Your butler should be the one person who will take the strain of daily life off your shoulders and deal with all those things that you never seem to have time for; if he is remotely up to the job he will have your life seamlessly under control and handle any unexpected dramas or outbursts with understanding, tact and diplomacy.

Depending on your circumstances his duties can involve everything from ordering fresh flowers, taking your clothes to the cleaners or sorting out the cellar to making sure that your private jet is ready and waiting to arranging a special themed party for your mother’s birthday.

A proper butler should be well up to keeping household accounts, booking flights and hotels, stocking your wine cellar, organising theatre, concert or ballet tickets and even have a specialist skill such as furniture restoration, for instance. Some butlers even manage multiple homes for their employer, as well as contractors and other staff.

Pleasant looks, meticulous grooming, a reassuring smile, good communication skills and a fluency in other languages are all factors that may be considered important especially when in London, for instance, there are large foreign communities looking for butlers. In fact many wealthy people in Beijing and Dubai are looking to recruit in London simply because of the reputation of English butlers.

Your butler is not, and never will be, your friend since that is highly unprofessional – but he should be a trusted confidant who works tirelessly behind the scenes and gets things done. So just how do you go about finding this paragon of old fashioned virtues and how much will it cost you?

Some say you can’t put a price on the perfect English butler and certainly many will try to lure away a savvy butler who knows his value, but true worth goes way beyond salary and like so many things in life it really is a question of you get what you pay for.

A newly qualified butler required for a country position will probably cost at least £25,000 a year and if it’s a city position expect to pay more. If your butler has to run two homes you should expect to fork out a minimum of £40,000 and it’s not that unusual for top butlers to be paid up to £75,000 a year. Some rich foreigners will do anything to engage a top class English butler and sometimes, regardless of cost, pay exorbitant salaries for the privilege.

So let’s say you need a butler – where can you find one? Unless you fancy poaching one, your best option is to contact a domestic staffing agency. These agencies are highly experienced and well practiced at selecting and placing butlers at palaces, mansions, on yachts and at private country estates. They will carefully assess your needs to match you with a suitable butler.

When searching for the right agency, however try to begin with recommendations from friends or colleagues or failing that search for companies, with good feedback, on the internet.

A good staffing agency will handle the contract, but do ensure that all the employment details such as the butler’s duties and hours, bonuses, days off, and vacation periods are clearly defined to avoid any future misunderstandings.

What do you look for when evaluating your future butler? According to the experts a top butler should possess the following indispensable qualities:

He must present himself impeccably – after all if he’s taking care of your wardrobe, he should know how to look after his own.

He should at all times be discreet and take the initiative with minimum input.

He should, within reason, do anything for you, just so as long as it’s legal.

He should have good social graces that will take him anywhere.

He should bring order, service and a sense of style to your everyday life.

He must be able to manage other staff efficiently and without any apparent effort and be able to guide and train others in areas where they lack judgment or experience.

He should appreciate and make allowance for your problems and any subsequent irritations as this is a major part of his job.

Finally, getting the chemistry right is very important when engaging a butler. When you consider that he will have open access to your home, life, family and possibly even your finances, it is vital to find the right person. A good butler always knows his place; he and his employer will inevitably grow close, but he should always be professional and rely on his experience and training to adhere to that fundamental employer/employee boundary. This way everyone is comfortable and able to enjoy their own space.