From earning $2 an hour working at KFC to selling properties for First National Real Estate Homeway, Adrienne Robinson has come a long way in her career. Here, she shares what she learnt working for Colonel Sanders, why her most memorable sale was a derelict house and why you should never judge a book by its cover.
What was your first job?
I was simultaneously a florist’s assistant and a KFC counter chick.
My job was to change the water in the buckets of flowers every morning. Stale flower water is one of the worst smells in the world.
I was paid $2.11 an hour on a Friday and Saturday night to work for Colonel Sanders.
I never did learn his 11 secret herbs and spices, but I did learn a lot about customer service from both jobs.
Did you choose real estate or did real estate choose you?
Real estate chose me. I obtained my licence when my husband went into real estate.
He had a heart attack soon after and, as I had the qualification, I could look after his clients until he was back at work.
What type of business do you focus on?
Residential sales. I have been working in the Hills District of Sydney for over two decades.
I have sold everything from units and townhouses to prestige homes and land subdivisions.
I am also the preferred agent for a retirement village at Dural.
What’s your most memorable sale and why?
A recent sale of what a journalist described as a “derelict house”.
It would have been the height of fashion 40 years ago.
It was a Georgian-inspired, two-storey with shutters falling off and a dead tree, with outstretched limbs, at the front door.
It had peeling ’80s wallpaper, tiles falling off the bathroom walls, and a garden that had grown into a jungle.
You could not even access the backyard with a murky green pool.
A few of the interested buyers dropped out before the auction day, but it sold on the day for a fabulous price to someone who saw the house just half an hour before the auction.
What’s the most important part of your day?
My evenings. I am not a morning person, so I try and plan as much as I can the night before and catch up on anything put on the back burner during the day.
I also have a bit of a nightly ritual, including meditation and herbal tea that helps me relax.
Where would you like to be this time next year?
By this time next year, I hope travel outside Australia in a post-Covid world will be getting a bit easier and that I will have had a successful enough year to take a bit of time off to do some travelling.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
Agents who slash their commissions to win listings rather than demonstrating what skills they have and how they add value to the real estate transaction.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and who gave it to you?
The old standard – never judge a book by its cover.
I have received a lot of valuable advice from many people over the years, but the particular piece of advice that has served me well is never to make assumptions about people based on how they present or what you think you can tell about them.
A wealthy relative who owned property in several countries told me that they always dressed in jeans and runners and wore no jewellery when looking at real estate.
They always chose their selling agents by observing which agents treated everyone with respect.