But just as there will always be people to pay for fine whisky and beachside estates, there will always be people in need of good, qualified help. These days with the advances in communication, finding good help is no longer just a question of word of mouth. I recently chatted with David M. Bertnick, the president of IAPSP, a non-profit, trade association for the aggregate private service community, about the changing face of private service. The IAPSP is holding the 2009 IAPSP Inaugural Conference for Private Service next month, October 9-11 in Dallas Texas. Mr. Bertnick has served as a household manager, estate manager and personal assistant and has trained many others in the art of private service.
1. What exactly does your organization, the International Association for Private Service Professionals, do?
Established in 2006, the IAPSP is a non-profit, member-based, trade association for private service. It provides a platform for developing professionalism and leadership skills in the delivery of estate service. The IAPSP works to increase confidence, competency and skill by engaging its members in leadership opportunities, providing peer-to-peer networking, and sharing service knowledge within its ranks. Much of this work is done over the telephone and via the internet; however, our local chapters in Los Angeles and San Francisco meet monthly to learn from experts who provide products or services to the Luxury Market. Once a year, we produce a conference and invite the community to join us for the weekend event.
2. As you and I discussed earlier, the private service industry has changed a lot since Robert Frank wrote about it as the industry everyone was trying to get into back in 2007 as part of the research for his book "Richistan." How would you characterize the industry now?
One thing that hasn't seemed to change is the desire to break into our industry. Unfortunately, in the past, many have seen Private Service as a "fall-back" career, expecting that if worse came to worse they could "always be a domestic." This time, it hasn't worked out that way for individuals who are inexperienced or untrained in the art of private service. It seems a large portion of the wealth class has experienced the benefits of professional-level service in their homes and now has higher expectations. Even though many of them have scaled back the size of their estates - and the support staff required to operate them - they have kept the bar high in terms of who they will accept as service staff. A focus on quality, experience and expertise is now being applied to the search for estate staff as with any other type of expenditure.