When it comes to private services professionals, there is a fairly new organization in town, the Domestic Estate Managers Association. At the 2012 International Nanny Association annual conference, I had the opportunity to meet Matthew Haack and learn a little about what DEMA is all about. Recently, I took the opportunity to catch up with Matt and get the insider’s scoop on what DEMA’s up to. Here’s what he had to share.
eNannySource: For those who don’t know, what is DEMA?
Matthew: DEMA (Domestic Estate Managers Association) is an association for all Private Service Professionals. Those who hold titles as Estate Manager, Household Manager, Butler, Nannies, Private Chefs and Personal Assistant are all welcome members of DEMA. DEMA provides the Private Service Professional with the immediate educational resources to help protect and provide greater job security for the PSP while increasing professionalism and safety for the principal that they work for.
eNannySource: How does DEMA support nannies?
Matthew: DEMA supports nannies in several ways. The first is if you are a nanny currently looking to for employment, DEMA provides a list of current vetted agencies that are part of our association. These agencies are not only vetted by DEMA through a strict application process but then they are voted on by our Board of Directors from across the country who have used their services. We also have companies that work on resume writing, computer and communication skills all which will increase the opportunity of acquiring that dream job. The second way that DEMA can help nannies is if they are currently employed, at some point a nanny will be asked to take on some management role in the house. It is the job of DEMA to provide any resource that they might needed to accomplish that task safely and efficiently. DEMA has resources for hundreds of vendors across the country and with our network of over 1500 PSP’s across the country there is a great chance that we can locate whatever solution you may be looking for. The third and final way that DEMA can help nannies is guiding them through what we call the transitional period. This is the time when as the children get older the job requirements of the nanny may become less. It is at that point that nannies if they so desire can begin to move into the world of House Management. Several of our members have done so one of which is our current Chapter President in D.C., Kellie Geres. Lastly DEMA offers something that no other association does. Local Chapter Meetings! This is extremely important for the Private Service Professional. This is a very lonely job and not everyone is going to understand the particular frustrations that come with working in private service. Having the ability to be able to communicate with your peers on a regular basis allows PSP’s to stay energized, enthusiastic, and learn new technics on how to handle day to day situations.
eNannySource: When people think of domestic service they may think of Downton Abbey. What’s the same? What’s different?
Matthew: The most important part of Downtown Abbey is the light that it is shining on the somewhat unrecognized industry of private service. One of the most important messages that DEMA feels it has brought light to is how much the private service industry has changed. By this we mean in Downtown Abbey, PSP’s have their own separate service areas and tunnels for secret service built in the basements of these homes. Today however, things have changed from the perspective that PSP’s are not servants they are now managers of the estate. They are asked to do such complicated tasks as come up with operation manuals for different systems within the home, manage vendors, transport the children to the numerous after school events, and make sure that the holiday trip goes smoothly as planned. While a lot has remained the same ie, boundaries between employer and employee, service with a smile and be seen but not heard, many things have changed. It is a new age and with that new age comes different hurdles and obstacles when it comes to in home management.
eNannySource: What does it take to succeed as a modern day domestic?
Matthew: Professionalism. One thing that we have seen over the last 5 years is that when the boundaries of professionalism are crossed feelings become involved and tempers flare resulting in miscommunication, arguments, and some cases termination. This is why DEMA feels so strongly in education. You can’t fix what you don’t know you are doing wrong. Working side by side with peers, industry professionals and vendors DEMA provides the resources necessary to provide the best service that you can provide to your principle. We have a lot of veteran PSP’s out there asking why they should join and what benefit DEMA can provide for them? The answer is simple. We provide the platform so that mistakes of the past can be shared with the next generation and mistakes of the future can be prevented! That is what professionalism is all about, the ability to take on any task and be able to perform it with ease. (At least to the eyes of the principal!)
eNannySource: Do you think those in domestic service like to be called domestics? Why or why not?
Matthew: We think that any term like the staff, the domestic, the worker, can be viewed negative. Just like a janitor is now called the sanitation engineer, a title can make a huge difference in how you perform your job. This is never more apparent than when you call a nanny a babysitter. Try that sometime and see how quickly you will get corrected! All this being said though I would remind all in home staff that they are domestic workers by definition so I don’t think the industry will ever get away from the word domestic. It is just a term and DEMA has decided to call the “Domestic” a “Private Service Professional” because we feel that gives all in-home staff the proper credit that they all deserve.
eNannySource: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Matthew: I would like to thank eNannnysource for the opportunity to get the message about DEMA and who we are out to all of your followers. We feel that it is extremely important to stay educated, up to date, and connected in regards to the latest trends in technology and social aspects of the business. We are here and we invite nannies who would like to join to please feel free to reach out and become a member. Our annual dues are only $75.00 which we feel makes it affordable to anyone either currently in the industry or looking to get into the industry to join. Don’t wait for your friend to join. Become an agent of change, join, and then encourage others to do the same. Together we can build a strong educated community.
Matthew Haack and Michael Wright are the co-founders and president and vice president respectively of the Domestic Estate Managers Association (DEMA). You can learn more about DEMA, membership and their annual conference at http://domesticmanagers.com/.