As part of the Future of Real Estate series on the Union Street Media YouTube channel, Rachel Allard, Senior Vice President of Strategy, sat down with Rich Millentree – or Big Rich as he is affectionately known, the Chief Technology Officer at PMZ Real Estate in California’s Central Valley. PMZ is a family-owned and operated independent brokerage that is ranked as the number one real estate firm in its market and is the 38th largest real estate firm in the United States. You can watch the full interview by clicking the play button above. 

Like many of us, Millentree’s road to the real estate industry wasn’t a straight one. It was the determination of his friend working at PMZ that over the course of two years finally convinced him to meet with the team. While it may have taken some convincing, Millentree now says, “I absolutely love what I do, I love the environment that I’m in, I love how I get to help people and make a difference in this particular space so it’s just been fantastic.”

Millentree says he takes a different approach to tech and doesn’t want the IT department to be an impersonal experience and believes that technology shouldn’t be a barrier to receive help and advance your business. His main objective at PMZ is to make sure the company moves forward and that the technology they use “is going to advance us and make our agents or those people using our tools one step ahead of the competition. That they are going to get things done and work on their terms, not on technology’s terms and they’re going to be able to close deals.” While much of the technology PMZ uses is built in house, Millentree also notes the importance of working with strategic partners – partners who share the same values as PMZ in addition to having exceptional products. 

When asked about what he thinks was the biggest contributing factor for success since COVID has hit, he attributes the work they put in at the end of 2019 that really set them up for success in 2020, such as becoming a 95% cloud-based company and having technology in place to support agents being 100% remote. Once COVID hit, it was as simple as ensuring agents and staff had laptops and were able to login to their desktops remotely. “Had we not made those changes in 2019, we would not have been in a position where we are now and continue to thrive,” says Millentree. 

When asked about what tech he thinks will be most important moving forward he mentions collaborative software such as Slack or Microsoft Teams that allows people to easily connect regardless of where they are. He does note that in IT these tools have been talked about for such a long time that it feels like an old conversation but that for the agents and employees actually using the tools it’s still fresh. Rachel Allard notes that it may not be about finding new technology but rather doubling down on what’s already available even though “efficiency isn’t sexy in the way innovation is.” Millentree adds that we aren’t seeing the bleeding edge tech we were around 10 years ago with mobile. Now may be the best time to get comfortable with the tech we already have at our disposal so that when the next thing comes along we’re ready. 

It’s absolutely vital that we have good training in place.

– Rich Millentree

Millentree notes that there are two drivers at PMZ that go into making them so successful – the training and the tech. PMZ has in-house training that occurs regularly so that agents are always up-to-speed. Millentree also notes that PMZ provides so many opportunities for learning and supports members of the team in pursuing knowledge – regardless of what department they work in. This is also ingrained in the culture at PMZ, which Millentree says is derived from the top down.

You can learn more about PMZ and how they leverage technology on their website at pmz.com.

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