An interview with Michael Phelan - t3 sixty

We spoke with Michael about how he helps technology vendors navigate the residential real estate brokerage and help real estate brokerages optimize their technology stack to help their agency as efficiently as possible.

Michael Phelan

The vice president of brokerage, technology and marketing at T3 Sixty

I'm a member of the consulting team and the technology division at T3 Sixty, helping technology vendors navigate the residential real estate brokerage and help real estate brokerages optimize their technology stack to help their agency as efficiently as possible.

Luke:
What would you say is something that brokerages and sales associates can do in their day to day to really keep them at the forefront in the industry?

Michael:

I would say first and foremost is just being a lifelong learner. Right. And learning not just from the real estate industry, but looking outside the industry to other industries that they can drive insights from. I think our industry is incredibly inbred and that when agents look outside, they can really develop some new situational awareness that can help them be more effective. So every day I think they should be focused on being a lifelong learner.

Luke:
I really like that and no one's really said that before. Let me ask you this in reply to what you just said. What other industry do you think is evolving quickly where brokerages and sales associates could be looking at to take inspiration from?

Michael:

For sure, hospitality and I think luxury packages, luxury automobiles, things like that. Anything where there is a fairly expensive item, a longer sales cycle and a sales process that's dependent on repeat business and referral.

Luke:
How is T3 Sixty innovating or helping to innovate in the real estate industry?

Michael:

I think we're on the vanguard and we're in a very unique position in that we are one of the few organizations, I think, that's truly flying at 3000ft above the industry. And because of our ability to move both between the brokerage world and the technology vendor world, we can pick up on trends and shifts in consumer preferences and look for ways to apply technology to improve the customer experience, the agent experience and broker operations.

Luke:
So with that holistic like 3000 foot overview that you mentioned, that's obviously a huge advantage for T3 Sixty. I get told a lot that the real estate industry is behind a lot of other industries by quite a few years, especially in the channels of marketing. What do you see from that holistic overview that you can help brokerages with not just in what I mentioned, but also on the tech side.

Michael:

Yeah, I do agree with your statement quite a bit that the real estate industry is really behind on the marketing side. The one that I kind of draw, that kind of just makes me raise my eyebrows and think a little bit more is whether we're really behind in technology because when I look at other industries using cars, hospitality, I look at how they do their marketing and how they use technology. I really don't think real estate is behind on the technology front. I think we're doing a rather good job of adopting now. Maybe 20 years ago that was the case, but I don't think that's the case anymore. I think the industry is really being pushed and pulled ahead. But where I do think we're behind is on the marketing side. And the reason I think that is that the marketing for many real estate brokerages is fragmented. And you guys probably see this more than anybody, between the brokerage brand, the individual agent brands, and kind of really building business intelligence that can form sophisticated modern marketing decisions is just really lacking in a lot of the industry. And I think that's the area where the industry is really going to begin to excel or make some progress.

Luke:
I agree with what you said on the tech side. It does feel like this industry is very tech forward, certainly with the companies and the tech stack opportunities there are to be implemented. So do you think a lot of brokerages and companies are taking advantage of the tech in the marketplace right now?

Michael:

I think some do. I think one of the reasons why real estate can get a black eye sometimes is because there is a huge spectrum of firms and agents. I think you have some very tech forward, very high performing, very sophisticated brokerages out there and then you have some mom and pop type organizations that have really not changed the way they've been conducting business for the past 30 years. And I think that's one of the reasons why the industry kind of gets that black eye is that they have both ends of the spectrum within the vertical, within the horizontal. So I do think there are some that are very advanced and I think there are some that are further behind and we tend to pick on the ones that are further behind without really fully acknowledging the ones that are upfront.

Luke:
What are you working on right now, Michael, that's really exciting you?

Michael:

There's a couple of things that we're working on right now that are really exciting me. First and foremost is we're working on a research project looking at how the top teams in the industry spend their marketing and technology dollars and how they allocate those. So we're digging in on a P&L by P&L for individual teams and kind of looking at how they build their marketing and technology funnels. That's interesting to look at. And as part of that, we compare that against their sales volume and transaction count. So we're trying to figure out, depending on if they're spending a lot of money on marketing or lead generation or technology, what things are making a difference in their overall sales volume and their transaction count. 

And then the other one is really focused on creating the T3 Sixty marketplace, which is a crowdsourced marketplace, two sided marketplace that brings together real estate brokerages and technology providers and allows brokerages to kind of research technology, look for opportunities, and to match that up with their needs.

Luke:
Just going back to the first one, that made me think, essentially you will be able to make the dollars being spent work harder for the brokerages and companies. And then will you also be able to advise or help or guide where there's holes that you see as well?

Michael:

Yeah, both on the brokerage and the technology side, I think that's one of the things that's exciting for me is that kind of back to your earlier question, the lack of sophistication in the industry as it relates to research. There's no reason why we can't be smarter with our money and smarter with our business decisions. All the information is out there, just very fragmented. So I think the advantage that T3 Sixty has is that we're one of the few entities that can pull that all together. I think we can help brokers make better decisions with how they spend, and then we can also help technology companies figure out how to approach brokerages and provide as much value as possible.

Luke:
So, Michael, we've worked together recently on the inaugural Exhibit Brokerage Brand awards that's upcoming at the T3 Tech Summit in November in Newport Beach, California. Can you tell us a bit more about the T3 Tech Summit?

Michael:

The T3 Tech Summit is a first of its kind conference dedicated to investigating, researching, and considering all the things that go into making technology decisions in the residential real estate broker space. And what really highlights that is this concept of Immersive experiences that we're going to have. We have twelve Immersive experiences, all built around thought leadership themes that we've identified as being really poignant and timely for the broker community. So we'll have groups of technology vendors working together around a particular theme, say, artificial intelligence or Immersive kind of theater, Immersive media, and attempting to demonstrate to the brokerage what's possible currently and what's just over the horizon in terms of technology.

Luke:
What would you say is your favorite feature at the moment in the MAXA platform or what do you find yourself using the most?

Michael:

I've actually really enjoyed the platform. I think the thing that I use most is the ability to generate different media assets or different marketing assets that are all branded similarly. They're all on brand. I think, like I was mentioning, our industry suffers from not a lot of focus in that area. And I think the MAXA platform just allows me to create social media images, sales clicks, presentations, all different pieces of collateral and make sure that they're all on brand very easily. Just simplifies that process, that design process.

Luke:
Where do you think the future of tech apps, CRMs and APIs  will be going in the future and how important it is for brokerages to use.

Michael:

So I think one of the things about technology is that you're going to see some firms that are really advanced and very sophisticated, kind of really leaning into technology and then you're going to see other firms that really are going to continue to do real estate brokerage in a very traditional way. But I think the most important thing is both of them are going to be looking for opportunities to bring congruent with their approach to technology.

Meaning they're going to be matching their business models up to the tools and technology that are out there and really helping them to be as efficient as possible. For some brokerages, it will be a very tech forward, very modern kind of approach and for some others, it'll be very much concierge white glove. But they'll use the technology to kind of create a bespoke experience for their clients. And I think there's two different approaches.

Luke:
Yes, I was actually going to ask off the back of that then, where you think the future of sales and marketing is going with the tech added advantage there as well.

Michael:

I think that you're going to see a consolidation. Right. You're going to see fewer agents & teams, with entities doing a larger percentage of the transactions. And I think technology is going to allow them to do that. They're going to be able to reduce the amount of labor that they have to put into individual transactions, manual types of things that we need to do now. Trading, marketing, collateral, as technology allows those things to happen more efficiently, it's going to enable those teams to do a larger and larger percentage of the transactions and you're going to see fewer overall agents in the industry.

Luke: 
I would love a piece of advice or a tip directly from you because of the position you're in and all of the data and analytics and everything that you see from your role with T3 Sixty. Something that you can give to a brokerage or a sales associate that they could use day to day or they could implement for their future.

Michael:

I would be confident in your business model and your brand and know the value that you're bringing to the consumer and then select your technology and marketing in a way that helps you to accentuate that.

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