We work hard to build software that addresses the actual needs of our customers. That means creating opportunities to hear feedback on how Buildout is working for you, learn more about the problems you’re facing every day, and in the best cases—connect users directly into our development process.
We sat down with one of our favorite beta testers—and the likely source of some of your favorite features—Jessica Drake, director of strategic marketing at NAI TALCOR, to learn more about her experience and involvement with the continued growth of our platform.
What were your first impressions of Buildout and when did you know you wanted to take on an active role in our development process?
Jessica: I work with a lot of other groups from NAI and hear a lot about the struggles they’re finding in their own offices and most of the time we’re in the same situation. We’re a single marketing person trying to keep up with thirty agents and all their flyers and marketing. That’s where everyone is drowning—it’s very hard to do all that without having the right tools.
Then I found Buildout.
I’ve always been taught if it’s too good to be true then it’s not real. The first time I saw Buildout was like that feeling, like “yeah right… does it actually do all these things?” And then I tried it, and it was awesome. And once I realized how easy it was to use, I wanted to share it with every person in my position.
Retailer maps is the feature that really did that for me—they used to take hours and a ton of manual work. Buildout absolutely changed the way retailer maps were done. When I realized it could do that, I was like “what else can Buildout do?”
That’s generally how these development things happen. I hear people complain about the parts of their job that they hate and the things that take the most time...
Then I’d start asking how Buildout could help.
After I started using it more, I really enjoyed pushing the boundaries of what Buildout could do. It’s hard to see some of your biggest problems solved by a tool and not want even more.
I wanted to help make it even better so that it helped people like me focus on bigger things. Every time I was talking with someone at Buildout, I was giving them thirty more ideas I had for the platform!
Buildout listened when I questioned and suggested things and it’s helped move the direction of different features I cared about. They keep adding tools to our tool belt to help us get these jobs done quicker and it’s tremendous.
We built a very unique relationship with you based on the level of feedback you were providing—and even started inviting you into regular calls with our Dev team. Can you tell us a little about the value you found in those calls?
Jessica: I started getting on calls with the Development team when we were working on the goal of having back-office and commissions features plugged into the back end of the system.
Every call was a lot of listening and learning for Buildout—we’d talk about how the back-office process works for me, and how it worked for a bunch of different people’s offices. It really helped Buildout understand the flow as Dev built the product, but those conversations helped us a lot internally too.
It helped our office really streamline everything, to work through how a listing should move all the way through, start to end, collecting data. Seeing how that information could all be accessible in Buildout it was really easy for that to be useful for reporting—not only for NAI Global but also for submitting for awards and other projects that helped meet our marketing goals.
What feature are you most proud of having a hand in getting added to the Buildout platform?
Jessica: I mean, back office and commissions are pretty sweet. Being able to track all those people in contacts—all the things that are happening now with Buildout Elite are so good.
Rumor has it that you’re such a Buildout expert, people from other NAI offices seek you out for training. Do you have any universal advice for a brokerage trying to get the most out of Buildout?
Jessica: Generally what I tell people is to touch every button. You can’t break it, and if you do, good—you should let them know!
Try to touch everything, understand what every menu does, build a test property to play with. Buildout has so much in it for you to explore; you can’t be afraid to dive in.
The next thing is to try and think outside of Buildout’s box. So if there’s something you think Buildout can’t do… try to think around it so that you can kinda manipulate Buildout to make it do what you want it to do.
I think that’s probably why they call me the “Buildout Hacker” a lot there. Because I basically, hack my way around what Buildout says are my constraints and use Buildout in a different direction—I’m constantly trying to think of how I can use Buildout to help me better.