Louisa Gillen is Co-Founder and Principal Broker – The SIMPLE Real Estate Co.
This is her interview…
Tell us about your business (what product or service you provide and who your target audience is)
The SIMPLE Real Estate Co. (SIMPLE) is a residential real estate firm designed to make you more money by marrying the service, expertise and exposure of a traditional brokerage with a transparent commission structure. It takes the same amount of effort to sell a $1M home as it does a $5M home. So why would you pay exponentially more for the same high-touch service and exposure? The maximum commission paid to SIMPLE is $50K because paying a bigger commission does not mean bigger price or better service, it just means you are overpaying. We recently saved a $3.5M seller over $150K. Our target audience is sellers who want to profit more and stress less when selling their Manhattan based home.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
Being a business owner allows me the freedom and creativity to genuinely help people. I knew I could be more effective for my clients, and ultimately, make them more money because SIMPLE operates differently. I can offer unique, resourceful and immediate solutions to a deal versus any big brokerage.
My real estate career began shortly after graduating from Vanderbilt, and I attribute my connection with being an entrepreneur to my Dad. Although I never considered medicine, my Dad, as a private practice plastic surgeon, was also an entrepreneur. I always admired how my Dad not only worked hard, loved what he did and genuinely cared for his patients, but also had the ability to carve out a lot of family time. I feel like I have followed in his footsteps by working hard, loving what I do, genuinely caring about my clients and having the luxury to carve out family time.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
My first boss in the real estate industry was an incredible influence and teacher in my life. He taught me everything about this business and made me realize I could be successful in it while still being true to myself and a genuine person. I am grateful that he taught me that you can succeed in this industry without compromising your values. Thank you, Dan!
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Definitely, taking the terrifying leap to start SIMPLE. It has been incredibly energizing and satisfying taking an idea that my business partner, Chris Palminteri, and I had been brainstorming for almost three years and watching it grow. All the hard work has been worth it.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
There are a few things –
- Be true to yourself and listen to your gut.
- There is always something to learn, so listen.
- Work hard, but don’t take things too seriously.
- Do not cut corners.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
Consistency, networking and follow-up are key to a cost-free marketing initiative. As a start-up, we really need to know where every dollar goes and how it helps our business grow. We have found PR to be more effective than advertising at this stage. Our professional PR team has presented various opportunities we would not have known existed or how to pursue them.
What is one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
Your reputation is everything. It’s a small world after all, and the world of NYC real estate is even smaller! Developing strong client, broker and business relationships are priceless. I would not have been able to have taken this leap confidently without the relationships I forged in the 17 years I was an agent at Corcoran.
Do you have any new projects coming up (or have you just completed a big project ~ reached a milestone, etc.)?
As for most, tackling 2020 has been our biggest project. The industry being locked down for three months was tough but provided a great opportunity to re-engage and connect. It wasn’t about business, it was checking in on our clients on a human level, making sure everyone is ok. I was always confident we would survive, and now I know we are coming out even stronger. Our nimbleness as a company allowed us to adapt to the ever-changing real estate environment and has given us more opportunities to better serve our clients.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
Spending time with family and friends is very important to me and prevents me from burning out. The beach in Quogue has always been a very special, grounding place for me since I was a child and continues to be my place to recharge. And, I always try to find time for an annual ski trip.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
Growth! We want every seller in Manhattan to know SIMPLE is designed to make them more money and understand paying a bigger commission does not mean bigger price or better service, it just means you are overpaying.
You want to write a book about a Woman navigating her 20s.
Your twenties are one of the few times in your adult life that you can get away with being a little more carefree. Take advantage of this moment in time, you can never get it back. And there is such a thing as woman’s intuition, listen to what makes you happy and not what you think the next “life” steps should be.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
If you are toying with the idea of starting your own business, go for it! It could be the most rewarding thing you ever do, and your biggest regret maybe not even trying. Again, go for it!
What’s the best way for the readers of WE Magazine for Women to connect with you?