(Photo caption: Stefan Swanepoel, Founder and CEO of T3 Sixty)
By Eve Gumpel, California Business Journal.
“We concentrate our research and analysis within the defined white picket fence of residential real estate brokerage so that we can be the most knowledgeable and valuable resource in this industry.”
So says Stefan Swanepoel, Founder and CEO of T3 Sixty, a company that is all about information and knowledge in residential real estate.
No, the company isn’t a brokerage. It doesn’t sell real estate. Instead, it conducts research and analysis of and for the industry – and uses that analysis to offer professional development, information services and management consulting to large-scale businesses in the United States and Canada. That includes the world’s largest real estate brokers; franchisors; multiple listing services (MLS); national, state and local Realtor associations; and technology vendors. Clients include Realogy, the National Association of Realtors, Zillow, RE/MAX, Century 21 and over 100 more.
The company is small but very influential, with only 20 executives on staff. Half are management consultants, one-quarter are in information services. The corporate office is in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Satellite offices are located in Denver, Colo.; Chicago, Ill.; Austin, Texas; and Baltimore, Maryland.
Swanepoel characterizes the real estate industry as “the largest remaining entrepreneurial bastions still alive. The industry is still very fragmented.” As he notes, Staples gobbled up independent stationary stores, while Home Depot crowded out local hardware stores. Of course, there are large players in real estate, such as Keller Williams and Coldwell Banker. “But they’re franchisors,” Swanepoel says. “Most brokerages are independently owned and operated with agents that operate as independent contractors, resulting in limited cooperation, uniformity or combined impact.”
Now in its 21st year, T3 Sixty started off as RealSure Inc. in 1998, changed it to T3, for trends, technology, and transformation. “Those are the three things we focus on the most,” Swanepoel explains. “The trends shaping in industry, the technology used during change, and transformation that results during the process.”
Today, the company offers three distinct services.
No. 1: Data research and analysis of the residential real estate industry and peripheral businesses.
Swanepoel likens T3 Sixty to market research company Forrester and research and advisory firm Gartner. Except that T3 Sixty’s sole focus is residential real estate. “We are the industry’s objective, neutral third party; its caretaker and custodian,” Swanepoel says. Our annual Trends Report, now in its 15th year, sells out even before the 220-page report is printed.
T3 Sixty is “the leading research and advisory firm in the industry,” Swanepoel says. In fact, it is the only company that annually publishes the rankings for the all segments of the industry to the industry for free.
The publications include everything from the Mega 1000, which lists the largest brokerages, franchisors and holding companies in residential real estate to the Power 200, covering the leaders and executives in the residential real estate brokerage industry. In addition, the company ranks the 40 most powerful women in the industry.
“We do the research because we need to know that information to be able to meaningfully advise many of our clients,” he says “so why not share it with the industry.”
No. 2: Professional development.
T3 Sixty offers a year-long mentoring program — T3 Fellows — that is basically an MBA program for real estate executives and entrepreneurs. It utilizes a set of monthly modules and two participant retreats and covers all aspects of running, building and growing a real estate brokerage business. T3 Sixty also has an executive search division, T3 Talent, with services ranging from recruiting, search and hiring to helping define the roles required during the different stages a company needs now and in the future.
For the past eight years, the company has also hosted an invite-only annual summit for industry CEOs. “We bring those leaders together to discuss important development and strategies impacting the industry. There are no exhibitors or sponsors and no pay to play with a strong focus on quality discussions and exceptional interaction. As a result in the last five years, it has sold out even before location, topics or speakers are even announced.
No. 3: Management consulting.
With the need for trusted and quality consulting exploding five years ago, management consulting is now the biggest part of T3 Sixty’s business. Ideal clients are progressive businesses that wish to expand, innovate and lead. That could be grow it, expand it, franchise it, go public, develop a succession plan, or sell it. A company or even large teams might want to know what its competitors are doing, and where they are being outpaced. T3 Sixty does however not as a rule serve agents.
Sometimes a business owner may want to have a better understanding of his or her technology needs or options so T3 is brought in to technology blueprint or scorecard. For example, T3 Sixty recently assessed a company with approximately 10,000 agents and found they were using 104 different pieces of software and vendors while nine vendors would have been able to provide everything they needed.
Many T3 executives such as Jack Miller, Travis Saxton, and Dean Cottrill are accomplished speakers. Swanepoel himself is a highly-regarded speaker who has conducted more than 1,400 keynote addresses to more than one million real estate brokers and agents. Real estate associations, MLS and franchisors in particular hire him to give members access to the latest industry trends and shifts, and the technologies they need to know about.
What does Swanepoel identify as industry trends?
–A disproportionate influx of large amounts of venture capital enabling new business models to disrupt the existing players.
–This in turns has pushed large investments into technology making it expensive for existing players to match, compete and innovate as well.
–Those who can’t are often found that being acquired or consolidating with a former competitor may improve their economies of scale or reach.
–Many of the emerging leaders in the reshaping of the residential real estate brokerage industry are taking their companies public to raise even more liquidity for even future rapid expansion.
“The industry,” Swanepoel says, “is maturing, reinventing and expanding at a very rapid pace — and T3 Sixty is there to help leaders transform their businesses in the best way possible.”
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