Sep 24, 2016

Top 5 Things You Must Know When Hiring A Private Chef


This valuable infographic is provided by Estate Managers Coalition member, The Private Chef Network.

PCN is a non-profit company supporting the Los Angeles private chef community.  PCN creates partnerships between private chefs and local hunger relief charities and promotes education and professional chef standards.  Chef Nate Romo of PCN gives suggestions to estate managers on how to go about hiring a private chef for his or her principal. Thanks, Chef Nate!
Top 5 Things You Must Know When Hiring A Private Chef

Dear Mr. Woodley: Butler Q&A


“Dear Mr. Woodley” is the column of Estate Managers Coalition resident butler, Crispin Woodley, who will answer your questions about all things “butler-esque.”

From proper introductions to thieving guests – to handling undermining children – to how to let Madam know that her outfit is simply inappropriate, Mr. Woodley advises with the knowledge and flare of European etiquette and protocol which only a fine butler understands.

Dear Mr. Woodley,

I attended a birthday party the other night and was introduced to a friend of the hosts. Immediately the host’s friend asked me what line of work I was in and I told him that I owned a concierge company catering to the personal service industry.  He quickly rummaged around in his front pants pocket and pulled out a crumpled business card, handing it to me single-handedly, face down. This struck me as very odd and I wanted to ask your advice on the proper handling of business cards. 
Deirdre Fisk, Rhapsody Concierge Services
emc avjet event
Dear Ms. Fisk:

The entire episode you described is very troubling. First, it is incredibly rude to ask someone you have just met what he or she does for a living, and handing out a business card at a social function is taboo.  It implies pretense and shows oneself to have a very shallow personality.  There are so many topics to discuss: travel, where you live and why you love it, how you both know the host or hostess, etc. (warning: stay away from politics, religion, money and children – really – don’t talk about your kids).

Can you ask someone what line of work they are in later in the conversation?  Yes, if you have made a definite connection with the person and are genuinely interested.   If you both find it beneficial to pursue a business relationship, just exchange phone numbers with a promise to get in touch soon and then go about mingling with the other guests. But please, do not hand out a business card at a social function!

Second, the actual handing and receiving of the business card in question was in poor taste.  A business card – to the owner –  should be very sacred and treated as such.  Always keep your business cards in a tasteful case and not thrown haphazardly in a pocket or purse. Take good care of them – after all – they represent you.  When presenting someone your business card, do so with two hands! Position the proper side of the card facing your new acquaintance, so that they are able to read it without flipping it this way and that.  They should take the card in both of their hands and look at it, turning it over to see the back as well.  Then a polite comment about the business card is suggested, such as: “I like your choice of logo, how did you choose it?”  Or, “I see you are a member of the Estate Manager’s Coalition – I am as well!”  After this, please do not place their card in your pocket or purse, rather put it in the same case where you keep your business cards or a separate case meant just for your contacts.

When you get home you may import your confrères information into your contacts by hand – or scan it with your Smartphone and store in an editable database that may also be transferred to your contacts – retaining the image of the card – very easy! Here is an article on seven tested business card apps.

business cards


What Every Estate Manager Should Know About Air Duct Cleaning


Post by guest estate manager Martha Locke featuring Estate Managers Coalition member Fresh Aire Duct Cleaning.

Summer is winding down and I had the thought that this must be the perfect time to do some essential duct cleaning.  The windows have been left open for a few months – many estates do not use screens – animals are darting inside and out bringing all sorts of impurities with them, the breeze has been blowing throughout the home, spreading allergens, etc.

Not knowing anything about indoor air quality, I asked Diane Leriche at Fresh Aire Duct Cleaning to school me!  If I am armed with the right information I will be able to keep the air in my principal’s estate fresh and clean, ensure the fine furnishings and artwork are not being damaged and make sure the family and their pets are staying healthy.

fresh aire duct cleaning

I found out that there is no set time of the year to clean air ducts – anytime is a good time.  Pet dander gets pulled into the system and builds up all year long.  Germs and bacteria thrive in a dirty air environment and circulate throughout the home every time the system is used.   That said, Fresh Aire advises having air ducts cleaned well before the summer heat is in full force, especially if your principal cranks the AC during the summer months.  (FYI – many people wait too late and attempt to schedule duct cleaning during the summer heat, making it difficult to get the appointment they want – due to so many requests!)

Fresh Aire cleans anywhere the air blows.  First, all systems must be turned off during the cleaning (temperature controlled systems can be reset after cleaning by your air conditioning contractor).  The HVAC unit is opened up and all the parts are cleaned.  Fresh Aire then moves throughout the estate, covering each work area in order to protect the home and prevent the cleaned areas from being re-contaminated.

fresh aire duct cleaning

The ductwork is located behind the walls and the tubing is similar to a tree with branches. Then the vents in each room are removed so that the inside of the ducts are easily accessed.

The vent is cleaned and then a high-powered air wash brushing system is used to scrub down each “branch.”

This brush is on a flexible cable and is snaked down the duct line back and forth to remove all the old dirt.  During the brushing step, the dirt is sucked out of the system by use of a high-powered negative air vacuum system.  When this is completed, the entire system will blow fresh and clean once again.

Rodents and other vermin can be difficult to remove from a home as they use the duct system to travel, hide and escape being caught.

Fresh Aire combats this problem by using a camera to inspect inside the ducts prior to cleaning.  Also, rodents have been known to damage the inside of the duct system and this needs to be assessed prior to beginning any cleaning.  With the camera they are also able to document the extent of contamination so they understand exactly what they are dealing with.
air duct
Per an allergy doctor, should the family you work for have allergies, asthma or other health sensitivities, the system should be cleaned once a year.  Otherwise, it is best to clean the system every two to four years.  This will ensure clean air quality and prevent excessive dust and dirt from blowing out of the vents and circulating throughout the house.  Pets also suffer from the same sensitivities as their owners so a clean air duct system is important for their health as well.

Another very important benefit to keeping air ducts clean is that a dust free environment is vital in preserving your principal’s art collection and fine furnishings.  Additionally, a clean HVAC unit does not have to work as hard as a dirty system, resulting in home savings in energy bills.  As an estate manager, protecting our principal’s valuables and saving them money at the same time is an important part of our role.

Fresh Aire Duct Cleaning

Fresh Aire Duct Cleaning is a family owned business, founded in 1979 by Daniel and Diane Leriche.  Their expertise includes all types of HVAC duct systems, dryers, exhausts and ventilating systems.  They are referred by hundreds of contractors, have earned the reputation of being the Vendor Choice for Estate Homes and take pride in delivering the finest service possible in a professional, friendly and efficient manner. 

Allied Restoration Services: 4 Questions to Ask a Dry Down Company


Tim Bauer, Allied Restoration Service Inc.’s Director of Customer Relations, helps break down the process of dealing with property damage and the insurance company in this post.

Allied Restoration Services, Inc. are licensed insurance restoration professionals experienced in addressing the environmental issues damaged property may cause.  This is especially helpful when an estate manager is attempting to present a claim to their insurance company for the damage.

allied restorations

Post by guest Estate Managers Coalition corporate member Allied Restoration Services.

Recently, we found ourselves in the home of a prominent American Composer. His back house had started to smell like mold, so he called out a company referred by his plumber to try and help. They were relieved to let someone else take over the headache. The company opened up the house and started working, setting up fans and dehumidifiers.
We were called out to inspect after the insurance company had denied coverage and the mold was getting worse. It turns out that the company they called out had blown mold spores all over the house due to improper set up and racked up a $15,000 bill that was not paid for by the carrier. The contractor was threatening legal action for the unpaid balance.
The Estate Manager’s first question to us was: What did we do wrong?”

We buy insurance hoping to never use it. When we finally do, the claims process can be tedious and finding someone you can trust is a challenge. To protect yourself when you do, we suggest asking a mitigation contractor these 5 questions before the job starts:

1.What happens if my claim gets denied?

Although a contractor cannot make a determination of coverage, they should have a good idea whether or not your loss will be covered. By asking this question, you find out what the company’s policy will be if it isn’t. Are they going to send you to collections or threaten legal action?

As in the case of the composer, many mitigation companies will threaten legal action if these bills are not paid.  At Allied Restoration, any time we have a sense that we are on a claim that has the potential to be denied, we go over estimated costs up front to prepare the homeowner before proceeding.

2. Is there a less destructive approach?

Damage mitigation should resemble surgery more than demolition. Wherever possible and reasonable, high end items like hard flooring, cabinets and countertops should be preserved. On the other hand, equipment should not be used to save finish items that are beyond saving.  If a wall is wet, a strategic decision should be made on which side to dry from based on the contents of the room and if there are any wall coverings or hard to match finishes.

One of our video testimonials, Nancy O’Dell had a pipe leak in her bathroom that dripped into her formal dining room. Instead of opening a priceless wooden ceiling, we found a way to access it from the bathroom. The tile floor was about a tenth of the price and there isn’t a craftsman alive that would have been able to recreate Nancy’s beautiful ceiling. Mitigation should be more creative than destructive.

3. What will you do if you find mold?

We’ve all heard horror stories stemming from mold. Mold must be remediated wisely for a few reasons:
a) most policies have limited amounts of mold coverage.
b) mold can be a sign of long term damage which could mean a denial of a claim.
c) mold can spread with improper handling.

When we find mold at Allied Restoration, our policy is to immediately contain it using plastic or tape, and interface with the insurance broker and/or adjuster and advise the property owner about next steps.

4. What is your experience with my insurance company?

You want to make sure that you are dealing with a company who knows how to bill your carrier for their services as well as knows what the carrier is likely (and unlikely) to cover.
Many mitigation companies who rely on plumber referrals have a adversarial relationship with insurance companies. Mitigation companies pay plumbers upwards of $750-$1,500 for referring and they have to make that back somewhere by leaving behind too much or more expensive equipment than needed.
Will your insurance company pay for all that? Maybe. If the insurance company refuses to pay for the excess equipment, the contractor could come after you for the unpaid portion.
There is an actual science to drying down a home called psychometrics. At Allied Restoration, we always use the latest calculations to figure out what and how much equipment to leave.

How can I find a good company?

The best thing you can do is to ask a trusted advisor for a recommendation of a restoration company. Oftentimes, that is your insurance broker or a business manager. A responsible insurance broker should always want to play an active role in your claim and controlling the vendors involved is a big way to make sure things go seamlessly.
Shameless plug incoming: one of your greatest resources for finding someone you can trust is the Estate Managers Coalition! Take advantage of the incredible resources and vendors available to you.
If you ever have a flood or fire in your home, as a member of EMC, Allied Restoration is always glad to come out and give you an unpaid consultation, even if you’ve hired another company to do the work.