“It’s a huge responsibility – you’re not just selling a house, you’re giving someone their home” – Estate agent Lorraine Mulligan on Love Your Work
Women are making their mark in the world of business like never before. In every industry and at every level, we look to women who’ve made it their own as an example for us to do the same. For our series ‘Love Your Work‘, we ask women who have achieved stunning success in their field to tell us how they got there, and their advice on how we can join them.
Lorraine Mulligan started off life in marketing, but after realising her potential for something bigger, took on a new life as an auctioneer. She is now the number one agent for RE/MAX Ireland, and has been for the past 12 years. Her all-female team in Celbridge won Office of the Year for 2017, and last year, were in the top-five selling agents in Europe out of 18,000. In this week’s Love Your Work, we chat about paths to success, hard slogs and life experience.
What was your favourite subject in school?
Business and P.E definitely! I loved the energy of P.E, getting stuff done and being action-oriented. And then I was always fascinated with business, I found it so interesting.
What was your first job, and what other jobs have you had since?
Well, my very first job was working in my dad’s petrol station; dealing with customers and suppliers, stock taking, cash balancing, all that stuff. I worked from a very young age – I stacked shelves in Dunnes Stores at holiday times when I wanted to make more money, and even worked in McDonald’s for a time, which I actually really enjoyed. They have such a great system of processes for every single area and everything is so organised – there’s something to be learned from everywhere that you work.
I went to college for Marketing & Design in DIT, and then worked as PA to a marketing manager for two years. She was a tough lady, and not particularly nice, but she cut the corners off me, which I probably needed. I then went to work as a marketing manager, managing holiday homes in Tramore. I ended up working as a bit of everything there; washing clothes, cleaning, just being a dogsbody, but I really loved it. While I was down there, I bought my first house too and worked for a year, but the work was tough. The hours were long – six-day weeks, and often having to wait up at all hours for Stenaline services to bring in people to the port. After a year, I went to work as a point-of-sale representative for a host of blue-chip companies, like Guinness, Coca-Cola, Cuisine de France – I looked after their printed marketing materials, which was fascinating. I really do love marketing, I love knowing a product and being able to tell people about it. I worked there for two years and it was a lovely company, but after a certain amount of time, I knew I had hit the glass ceiling. There wasn’t anywhere for me to go there, so I knew I had to move on.
I ended up reading a book by Anthony Robbins called Awaken the Giant Within, not knowing that reading it would change my life. When I finished it was when I decided that I was going to be an auctioneer. When I told my mother what I was planning, she said: “Lorraine you can’t even measure a pair of curtains”. But I said, “Mam, I’ll learn”. I went back to UCD to do my IPAV exams, and started an apprenticeship with Remax in their Naas office. At the time, it was the top Remax office in Ireland, out of maybe 70 offices around the country. I moved from there to their Celbridge offices, which was doing so well. During the recession, when all our competitors were closing down around us, we still managed to make a profit – we stepped up when everyone else stepped back.
I’ve been an agent with Remax now for 18 years. Last year, we were one of the top five selling agents in Europe out of 18,000. I just love what I do. I love people, I love property, I love systems and structures, I love being fair to people and helping people to achieve their dreams with their homes.
What does your daily routine look like?
I go to the gym first thing in the morning, four days a week. I think it’s great for your head, for your positive energy and to keep focused and energised for the clients. I then go into the office, following up emails and calls and then I’ll be on the road, meeting with clients, getting bank evaluations, property write-ups, viewing for the day. I might do 10-12 appointments a day, as I get a lot of referral business. When I eventually get home, it’s bringing the dogs for a walk before dinner with the kids at home as a family.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
I think it’s getting the best price for my clients. I love seeing first-time buyers getting a home, or people who’ve been renting for years finally being able to buy a house, and the relief they feel. It’s like ticking another good person off the list.
What’s your least favourite part?
I hate when sales fall through and when you have to ring the client to tell them the bad news. I hate putting a property up online and not having it generate viewings, which means it may be overvalued. To sell a house, you’ve got to get the buyers in and the cost reflects that.
What are the key skills you need to make it in your industry?
Definitely being positive, straight off the bat. You’ve got to have determination, and you have to be an honest and kind person. People being arrogant or rude or dishonest will really hinder them.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned for success in your career?
I’ve definitely learned a lot about being positive and resilient, and to never give up. If something’s not working, change it – if there are mistakes, rectify them. I’m constantly trying to improve what I’m doing and get better.
I’ll be honest – it’s a tough job. People think that I just go around showing houses to people and that it’s lovely and easy, but they don’t realise the amount of work that goes into it. The market could go up or down, you have to manage all sorts of expectations, and to deal with different realities. But I’m blessed with my life – my career meshes well with my personal life, and I have so much support from my family. I’ve always made the best out of it, and I definitely have no regrets.
What do you wish you knew when you were starting your career?
In a way, there’s nothing I wish I knew. I think you have to go through the experiences of life – the failures and successes, the ups and downs. I’ve never not done my best in anything, and everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned through the good and bad days.
What’s the number one piece of advice you would give to young people starting out who want to follow in your footsteps?
I would say that if they’re getting into the business, they have to be very people-focused, kind, organised, resilient and positive. It’s a huge responsibility – you’re not just selling a house, you’re giving someone their home. Many people don’t seem to grasp that. It’s so important to do your very best for your clients, because sometimes they are the only assets you have. Give it 100%.