Friday, November 9, 2012

PRODUCT UPDATE: GEO version 1.3 for managers and staff

More than 900 GEO users have already downloaded version 1.3 for managers and staff, so if you know someone who’s looking for an upgrade, do them a favor and tell them version 1.3 has arrived.

We've included a functionality which a number of clients have been waiting for; the ability to assign maintenance requests to specific employees only, and the option of choosing to view and work with requests for one or more specific employee(s).

And because we had some extra time on our hands, we also added “employee photos” to the GEO screen. This means you can now see the employee that you are assigning the work order to. Perhaps this will help you remember who’s best suited for a certain task? Or it’ll remind you that you’re better off doing it yourself... Either way, figured we’d throw that in there just for fun.

GEO version 1.3 is available to download from the App Store.

NEW FEATURE: What’s your (occupant) type?

Our development team has been hard at work building one of this year’s most asked for functionalities. As per usual - they delivered. That’s why we’re happy to announce that “Occupant Types” is now live on your management portal.

This extremely useful feature helps your staff identify the status of each resident in the building, based on the building type (rental, condo, co-op etc.). Why did everyone want it so badly? Glad you asked. Here's two home-hitting reasons:

1. This functionality will allow you to target specific occupant types when sending out emails, giving you the opportunity to craft your emails according to your audience (i.e. all current residents, versus leaseholders or owners only.)

2. Similarly, when posting library documents, you can choose exactly which occupant types have permission to view those documents (i.e. share sensitive financial info only with owners).

In addition to the "obvious" occupants (owner, renter, leaseholder, etc.), you'll be able to choose from a generous buffet of different occupant types. Naturally, you can choose which ones are appropriate to use for your property. Here comes the full list: Owner, Leaseholder, Shareholder, Homeowner, Co-owner, Sponsor-owner, Renter, Subtenant, Sub-lessee, Sublettor, Corporate Renter, Tenant, Resident, Co-Resident, Family Member-Spouse, Family Member-Child, Family Member-Other, Live-in Help, Roommate, Other Occupant, Guarantor, Agent/Broker, Client, Lease Assignor, Lease Assignee or Personal Assistant.

There's more information available for manager-level and board-level users under the "What's New?" tab on your management portal. If you have any questions about this new functionality, please contact our support team at support@buildinglink.com.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

INTRODUCING: New resident site button and dashboard

In order to better organize the growing functionality of the BuildingLink site, we’ve added a brand new “Resident Site” button to your BuildingLink page which allows Managers to view and manage all aspects of BuildingLink which deal with the Resident Site from one convenient location.

Under the new “Resident Site” button, you will see that we migrated a few existing pieces of functionality away from where you’re accustomed to finding them, to this new section. We also enhanced older features like Services, Offers, and the Directory of Local Vendors to make them easier to find and work with.

Here is what you will see on your staff and management pages, in the next day or two:

1. New Button: “Resident Site”
We have added a new button, in the left column section, called “Resident Site”. In this section, we have pulled in “stuff” that used to be under other buttons, but that better belong to the new “Resident Site” button.
These are:

(a) Viewing/Approving Resident Postings (used to be under the “Communicate” button)
(b) Managing Offers, Services and Directory of Local Businessess (used to be under the “Manage” button
(c) A link to View the Resident Site as residents would see it (used to be under the “Other” button)
(d) Viewing and Editing “Pet Park” entries (a new admin program for you)

2. New Design
Offers and Services (from outside vendors) and Local Businesses Directory - These are now found on the Resident Site dashboard, and an easy to use multi-tab strip allows you to more easily view and manage the status of vendor offers.

Here is a screenshot of what you will see when you click the new “Resident Site” button and dashboard (click on image to enlarge):


To give you a rundown of the new Resident Site tab:

1. You can now view and approve resident postings from this location. Don’t worry, nothing has changed in regard to the Bulletin Board, but we thought it made sense to include that here along with other resident-focused functionality!

2. The Directory of Local Vendors underwent a slight renaming and is now the Local Businesses Directory. Adding a vendor is now a quick and easy process since you’ll be able to search and add from our master list of vendors (just like you can in the Vendors Directory in the Maintenance module). If the businesses you want to add don’t appear in our master list, you can still always create your own entry, but this will hopefully save you some time.

3. The Offers module is now very much enhanced – you can now choose to require that all new offers are approved by management before they appear on the site for your residents. You’ll be able to clearly view which offers were created by vendors themselves and which have been created by your building; a new view of rejected offers and pending offers is also included, as is a link to view what the residents will see on their Offers page.

4. The functionality hasn’t changed for Service forms. Like Offers, though, you now have the ability to select whether new services in your area automatically appear or if you would prefer to approve them first.

5. Pet Park – for the first time, you can view the pet photos and info that your residents are posting in the Pet Park, and you can even add a pet on behalf of a resident who is unable to.

6. Last, but not least, you have a new link to view the Resident Site (formerly accessed by going to the Other tab à Resident Portal), so you can see how all of these features appear to residents, the ones using them the most!

As always, please feel free to call us at 877-501-7117 ext. 0 or email us at support@buildinglink.com – we’d love to hear what you think!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Press release: BuildingLink Awarded U.S. Patent for Its Innovative Real Estate Management Software

NEW YORK, October 10, 2012 -- BuildingLink.com, LLC announced today that the United States Patent & Trademark Office has granted the company U.S. Patent No. 8,271,321 covering important features of its industry-leading software platform. The patent was issued on September 18, 2012.

The issued patent, entitled “Apparatus and Method for Providing Building Management Information,” includes features that are related to the following:

- Front desk instructions
- Permissions to give access to a unit
- Key-holding information
- Service requests, electronic libraries of documents, notifications, public displays, and/or data input by tenants.

The patent confers exclusive rights to BuildingLink for its unique techniques in providing collaborative real estate management systems and methods.

“While BuildingLink has been known in the industry as a leading innovator of building management solutions for more than a decade, it is still nice to get the official credit for our inventions,” said Jerry Kestenbaum, BuildingLink’s CEO and founder. “This ‘321 patent, whose filing dates back to June 2000, is recognition of some of the pioneering innovations that have been integral to our company since its founding.”

“We have had several inquiries this past week from other solutions providers in this space regarding possible licensing options,” said Rina Furst, in-house counsel for BuildingLink. “We are encouraging all parties to learn more about our patent and to speak with us.”

BuildingLink has other pending patent applications, such as those directed to package custody management and service request management, with the same effective filing date as the ’321 patent.

For more information about this patent visit www.buildinglink.com/patents.

About BuildingLink.com, LLC.
BuildingLink.com, LLC is the gold standard choice for property managers looking to upgrade the total experience of managing, working at, or living in their luxury residential properties. The company’s innovative web-based platform is currently used in over 1,400 properties in the U.S. and worldwide, offering the ultimate in efficient management, flawless communication, and enhanced living experience for their residents. BuildingLink clients can be found near and far—whether in New York, Boston, Miami, Dallas, San Francisco, or in Toronto, Melbourne, Tokyo, Singapore and elsewhere. More information is available at www.buildinglink.com.

Contact:
Fran Besdin, Senior Vice President
BuildingLink.com, LLC
(212) 501-7117
fran@buildinglink.com

 ###

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Germans are coming (and they want $1.4M)

Image borrowed from Brownstoner
The internationally recognized U.S. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification system has so far been dominating the country’s property development industry. But hold your houses everyone, because there’s a new kid on the green block. Rumor has it he’s better, greener, and most definitely more German.

Passive House Institute, founded in Darmstadt, Germany in 1998, is now making its way into the U.S. market. The comprehensive Passive House system utilizes natural resources, e.g. free solar energy is captured and applied efficiently. Other design concepts such as high performance triple-glazed windows, super-insulation, airtight building shells and balanced energy recovery ventilation help to ensure significant reductions in energy use and carbon emission. The result? 60-70% less energy use and 90% less heat than comparable buildings. For those who struggle with the numbers: that’s a lot.

Well on its way to conquer our much greener neighbor in the east, Passive House has certified more than 25,000 buildings in Europe. In the U.S., only a fairly embarrassing number of 13 buildings have made the cut so far. Recently, however, American developers, builders and designers who specialize in LEED-certified buildings are now turning to Passive House design. Haus96, a four-unit condominium redevelopment in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, is the latest addition to the Passive House family. Architect Ken Levenson believes that this project is the start of a new trend in Brooklyn. “What’s happened is a lot of the LEED buildings and green buildings in general are still using way too much energy,” he says. And he might just be right, because there’s already a dozen sustainable projects and many more about to begin construction.

Perhaps Mrs. Merkel should forget about that whole single currency issue and focus on expanding this green trend way beyond the borders of Brooklyn. After all, there are billions to be saved. And reportedly, millions to be made: the first floor three-bedroom unit is listed for $1.4 million. Juicy.

Visit The Real Deal for more details.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NEW MODULE: BuildingLink’s Employee TimeTracker puts an end to punch cards


Ever heard of biometric authentication, or the amazing Digital Persona fingerprint scanner? It sounds all fancy, but it’s the easiest and most straightforward solution to keep track of employees' times. Because trend sensitive as we are here at BuildingLink, we know that punch cards are going out of fashion. With BuildingLink’s TimeTracker, all you need is your finger. Easy!

So, how exactly do you use this clever device? BuildingLink’s TimeTracker gives you four different options:

1. “One-tap” clocking in and out.
2. Clock in and out with confirmation.
3. Clock in and out tracking breaks.
4. Clock in and out using a separate monitor.

25 managers are currently enjoying not having to ask “Where were you between 9.35 and 10.15 yesterday morning?” Why don’t you give it a try too? We know, we know - this is when you wonder: “How much does this cost?” The answer is nothing. All you have to pay for is the actual fingerprint reader. As for the rest, that comes with. Voil√†!

Watch the video and let our support superstars Nikki and George show you exactly how it works.

 
Nikki & George Demonstrate TimeTracker from Jerry @ BuildingLink on Vimeo.

KeyLink begins third production run with nothing to improve



Two years ago, in June 2010, BuildingLink introduced KeyLink, BuildingLink’s complete electronic key security hardware/software solution designed to organize your sets of keys, prevent unauthorized access, and provide a fully-documented audit trail of all key activities.

We’re now in our third production run of this comprehensive and intuitive key solution system, and we now have 175 buildings enjoying complete key security.

Before giving the go-ahead for our third production run we sat down, put our heads together and asked ourselves: “What can we do to improve KeyLink this time?” Awkward silence followed. Baffled looks were exchanged. Heads were scratched. Walls were stared at. Blanks were drawn. Then finally, we realized: there was nothing to add that could make the product better. Whoops! We had just built it too damn well - there were no missing links. We're happy to announce that our third production run is now going full steam ahead!

While our third KeyLink generation is in the making, let’s take a look at some interesting numbers, shall we?

1 million is the number of keys removed since we first launched KeyLink.
63,224 keys were removed in July 2012.
9,579 is how many miles KeyLink travelled to be installed in Singapore.
1,344 is highest number of key slots any building has.
1000 is the number of text messages sent out on a daily basis, notifying residents that a key has been removed.
39 is the biggest order placed by one company.
13 is the number of software updates we’ve rolled out during this two-year period.
0.5 is the average number of daily calls to our support team regarding KeyLink.
Lastly, 0 is the number of security breaches reported since installing KeyLink.

You’d think making your life easier would be boring to us by now. Yeah, right. Try us. No, literally - try us. Visit our Keylink website or call 1(877) 501-7117 for more information.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Where to find us this fall

As the leaves hit the ground, BuildingLink hits the road. We’re looking forward to going to Boston and showing you that BuildingLink is everyone’s cup of tea, and we’re curious to see why Edison keeps ranking so highly on the “Best Places To Live” charts (heads-up New Jersey - it’s about to get even better). We can’t wait to enjoy the exciting ethnic diversity Toronto is known for, show off on our home turf, New York City, and of course - add even more southern hospitality to Texas.

Now, be sure to save the dates below:

RHA Boston, Boston, MA – September 28
CAI-NJ Expo, Edison, NJ – October 27
ACMO/CCI Expo, Toronto, ON – November 2-3
CNYC Conference & Expo, New York, NY – November 11
NMHC Tech Conference, Dallas, TX – November 12-14

Thursday, July 19, 2012

In fashion: BuildingLink rainwear

Hope all you New Yorkers got home safely and (fairly) dryly yesterday.

With no more umbrellas around, there was nothing left to do but look for alternatives. BuildingLink's CEO, Jerry Kestenbaum, set a fantastic example by sticking his head through a garbage bag. Naturally, since this is BuildingLink, we don't settle for just any garbage bags. This green piece of protection is SCS certified, guaranteeing at least 80% recycled material and features star sealed bottoms for leak-proof strength and Microban antibacterial protection, inhibiting the growth of odor-causing bacteria.

Garbage bag: 1
Umbrella: 0

Kids, do try this at home.


Tweet @BuildingLink using hashtag #BLKstyle if you're digging our sense of fashion.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Enjoy a worry-free vacation season with BuildingLink's vacation checklist


In case you haven’t noticed, we have a thing for solutions here at BuildingLink, and we happen to be obsessed with making your life easier. BuildingLink's vacation checklist includes everything your residents need to know for a worry-free vacation season. All you need to do is copy, paste and customize our suggestions for your building. Lastly, put BuildingLink’s “Send Email” function to good use, hit submit and send out a reminder to all residents. Job done. Managers and staff: here’s to the least stressful vacation season ever!


1. Contact information
Make sure your personal contact information is up-to-date before you jet off. Add all necessary phone numbers to the BuildingLink database; the hotel where you will be staying, your beach house, a friend's house etc. Lastly, double check your emergency contacts. Maybe it’s time to take your cousin off your list? You know, the one that moved to Atlanta. Two years ago. Also make sure you have all the necessary numbers to managers and staff in your phone book. Got all the digits down? All good.

2. Bulletin board
Ideally, we’re guessing, you’d like to keep your pet(s) alive while you’re away. Well, that’s what the BuildingLink bulletin board is for (keeping pets alive)! Surely the kid in 15A wouldn’t mind earning a few extra bucks feeding your cat until you’re back in town. No teenagers around looking for some extra money? Check out Pet Park!

3. Visitor permissions
So you’re away and your cousin is coming to town for the weekend and needs a place to stay? No problem! All you need to do is put in a BuildingLink Guest Permission instruction and provide management with the information necessary: duration of stay, photo and any additional information required such as parking permits and access to amenities. Done!

4. Key tracking
Now it’s time to make sure that the front desk knows that the kid in 15A is authorized to pick up a key to your apartment. Perhaps you told your housekeeper to do a big summer clean up? Make sure management knows she has access to your apartment too.

5. Deliveries
Oh, crap. So that coffee table you ordered was inconveniently scheduled for delivery while you’re away. That’s alright. Using the BuildingLink system, you can give staff permission to access your apartment and guide the delivery company inside to drop off the table. Simple!

6. Maintenance
The south-facing wall in your bedroom took a beating when your next door neighbor had a water leak. With your busy work schedule you were reluctant to deal with any messy repairs in your sanctuary of a bedroom. That means now is the perfect time to tell maintenance to come in and replace it.


Now, about bringing the beach to the building... we’re still working on it. Hang tight!


Friday, July 13, 2012

BuildingLink at the 2012 NAA Expo: Housing, helicopters and home runs

Each year, the National Apartment Association (NAA) hosts the NAA Conference and Exposition, bringing together more than 6,000 professionals in the multifamily housing industry. This year, it all went down in Boston. No tea, but still a party. Also, we brought a helicopter. Why did we bring a helicopter? you wonder. Honestly, it seemed like something you’d bring to an event like this. We’re not saying it was the sole reason for the 2012 NAA Conference and Exposition being a success for BuildingLink, but we’re definitely saying it helped.

Old friends and new faces
One of the best things about the expo was the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and people who started using us years ago. In an environment with a lot of new faces, it makes you extra happy to see the familiar ones. And when they are extra happy with your product, well, there’s a whole lot of happy going around.

We say “GEO”, you say “gee-ooh”
Naturally, we were also able to connect with new and potential customers. Some of them, just starting to learn about BuildingLink for the first time, were floored (in a good way) by our GEO and mobile app demos. The oohs and aahs were echoing around our booth, and people kept on stopping by to see what the commotion was all about. And we don’t blame them. I mean, who wouldn’t like to run an entire building from the palm of their hand?

We were also able to introduce KeyLink to industry professionals who were planning new developments and wanted state-of-the-art technology. We made sure these people knew that where BuildingLink is, that's where you'll find NAA (No Average Apartments).

Now, let’s talk more about that helicopter, shall we?

Riverstone's Michael Thayer stands with Mala Bhattacharya, Client Relations Coordinator at BuildingLink, after winning our $100 Apple Gift Card raffle.
Up in the air!
Deep, deep concentration - coming in for a landing.

If you're in New York and find yourself wandering about in the Union Square area, why don't you come in for a helicopter break?


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Must-have documents right at your fingertips with BuildingLink’s Unit Documents feature

As per your request, we’ve made the frantic search through filing cabinets a thing of the past. (But if you’d like to keep them around for their retro looks, that’s fine with us.) We’re talking about BuildingLink’s Unit Document feature - a magical place where you can find all the must-have documents you need that are relevant to a specific unit, or even occupant, in your building.

Here’s some of the magic:
  • Security: Keep all necessary documents such as copies of leases, floor plans, billing information along with general correspondence between occupants and management, safe and sound right at your fingertips.
  • Privacy: Configure settings for each type of document, and choose whether the occupants can view, edit or add documents of a specific type.
  • Notifications: Once a new document has been posted or updated, an email notification can be sent to the occupants.
  • Flexibility: Associate documents with specific occupants in the unit, the entire occupancy, or the physical unit itself.

How does it work, you wonder? Adding and posting documents using BuildingLink's Unit Document feature is very similar to the BuildingLink Library, but much more specific. If you have any questions contact us at support@buildinglink.com.

“The Unit Document feature is really beneficial when it comes to long-term document management for individual apartments,” says Jerry Kestenbaum, CEO of BuildingLink.com. “For example, floor plans and appliance manuals can be attached to a particular unit and if ownership changes, the document will still be viewable in the file. Resident-specific documents such as waivers or correspondences are connected to a resident profile, so if that person happens to switch units, all those documents will move with them. It’s the ultimate portable electronic file cabinet.“

Instead of a whole lot of searching but none of the finding, you’re only a few clicks away from what you're looking for. Who thought, that the BuildingLink Unit Document feature - such a seemingly boring thing - could make your life so much easier?

You’re welcome.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Now You CAN Take It With You… Unleash The Mobile Power of Geo!

Wouldn’t it be great if you could be in three places at once, all the time? Well, maybe nobody could literally be in three places at once, but imagine harnessing all the power of BuildingLink in one mobile device: you could record and deliver that incoming package, sign in that visitor at the front desk, and handle that maintenance issue on the third floor without ever having to be tied down to your PC. Well, imagine no more -- say hello to Geo, the handheld wireless solution that puts the magic of BuildingLink right at your fingertips.

The state-of-the-art Geo solution represents a quantum leap forward in building management technology. Using an iPhone or iPod Touch - and powered by the Geo app available for download from the online Apple store - Geo seamlessly accesses a property’s online BuildingLink database through an authentication key, and allows staff to remotely complete tasks typically done on a stationary PC, including visitor management and security, maintenance operations and front desk activities.

“This is a game-changer for property managers and staff,” says Jerry Kestenbaum, CEO of BuildingLink.com. “Imagine authorizing entry to a vendor right at the service entrance…or accessing a resident’s emergency contact info from anywhere…or viewing the history of a maintenance issue during the repair without interrupting your work. It’s all possible through Geo.”

So what can it do? The question should really be what can’t Geo do. Geo improves visitor management and security with the ability to sign-in vendors at service entrances and remotely check guest permission instructions. Geo enhances maintenance operations by permitting users to document notes and capture repair photos onsite and in real-time. And Geo expands your “front desk,” allowing residents to sign for packages delivered right to their apartment door.

And that’s just the app. Add Geo’s optional hardware component (the Geo cradle), and you can really roam. The cradle, which weighs less than 8 ounces, is a sleek black casing that fits over any iPhone or iPod Touch and features a built-in laser barcode scanner and a magnetic stripe reader for scanning credit cards. With the click of a button, you can now scan packages from anywhere—the perfect solution for those extra-large parcels.

Don’t have internet in the basement? Outside the property walls? Not a problem. Geo’s local database allows it to roam where the internet isn’t; as soon as you’re back to internet-land, everything will synch up automatically.

Through only a word-of-mouth following, (we haven't even announced it yet - till today!) there are already over 600 users nationwide and a total of 10,000 app log-ins. “Our staff recently began using Geo and it is now an integral part of our day-to-day operations,” said Mike Pistilli, property manager of Pistilli Realty Group. “It allows access to all the tools and information we need anytime and anywhere, right at our fingertips. Geo is so hands-on, you have everything in your phone in real time without even going to the computer. Our building is running more efficiently than ever thanks to Geo.”

So bring a little Geo magic to your building; when it’s time to be in three places at once, you’ll need some!

Who Ya Gonna Call? - New Vendor Directory

You might not have any “Ghostbusters” on your list of building service providers, but with BuildingLink.com’s Vendor Directory, the job of reaching your vendors and contractors,accessing needed information, and automatically dispatching work orders just got easier.

In addition to storing and accessing valuable contact information, searching for specific vendors on our extensive “master list”, or simply browsing our list to see what’s there, building management can assign work orders to outside vendors with the click of their mouse--tracking them right from their desktop.

“We’ve taken the Vendor Directory beyond being a rolodex, and turned it into a tool that makes a building manager’s job easier,” says Pam Ross, a senior support and training specialist at BuildingLink.com. “We’re getting a great response from managers who appreciate the ease of forwarding work orders to a company or assigning a work order to a specific person within a service company, and having a means of tracking the process of that job from start to finish.”

In addition to the management-centric Vendor Directory, contacts can also be imported into a Residents-Only “Directory of Local Businesses” which is shown to residents for their convenience in locating services relevant to their needs.

Watch for BuildingLink.com’s next innovation in the Vendor Directory module: tracking a vendor’s compliance with your building's workers compensation and insurance coverage requirements.

13 Texas Luxury Properties Select KeyLink by BuildingLink


When Western Rim Property Services and Newport Classic Homes wanted to upgrade the outdated key management system at their luxury Texas developments to the most state-of-the-art system on the market, the choice was clear - KeyLink by BuildingLink®!

The KeyLink by BuildingLink system is a complete electronic key security and management solution for the residential and commercial real estate market, with a touch-screen interface that records each key request into a secure and password-protected database. KeyLink is also a third generation internet connected appliance that communicates to staff and residents in real-time, and can send a confirmation e-mail or text message every time a key is removed.

Western Rim Property Services chose KeyLink as a solution because it provided the most up-to-date technology. Especially appealing was its intuitive touchscreen, quick install, biometric fingerprint reader and secure SmartTag key tags for efficiently organizing keys. Western Rim ordered an immediate rollout of KeyLink systems to all 13 of its Texas luxury properties.

“As part of our luxury property upgrades, we are fully committed to meeting residents’ expectations and introducing the most innovative and exciting technologies available. KeyLink is a great step in that direction,” said Western Rim Property Services Vice President of Property Management Ziomara Young.

“When we looked at KeyLink as a possible key tracking solution for our properties, we were impressed with the fact that all the software and firmware updates occur online automatically,” said Ms. Young. “The KeyLink team was able to remotely install all 13 systems in a very short time frame, which was a big plus, as we wanted all of our properties to be using the same system at the same time.”

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Front Desk Feature: Amazing Barcode Scanner Tricks!

Those of you working on the “Open Events” grid for tracking packages, etc., will have noticed a new “scan a barcode” prompt box in the upper right corner. This is a tip-off to you of some cool programming we have hidden on these screens, that makes your barcode scanner do some “heavy lifting” for you.

Here’s the “executive summary” of the new “Open Event Grid” logic.

1. If you scan a new package, box, dry-cleaning tag etc. right from the "Open Events Grid" screen, BuildingLink will say, “Hey, that’s new,” and will bring you to the “Record a New Event” page and insert the barcode for you. Also, if BuildingLink is able to figure out from the barcode which event type it is (Fedex, UPS etc.), it will even select the right event type for you.

2. If you scan an existing package, box, dry-cleaning tag etc., BuildingLink compares what you scanned against barcodes you already scanned into open events, and says to itself, “Hey, I recognize that package, box etc. and I’m going to bring up the “Close Event” screen for that package.” So, it does the job of finding the event for you!! How fast is that? How error-free is that?

Watch this video to see it in action:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BuildingLink and Tradeshows

At BuildingLink, we like to get out there and show people what we're made of. And we also like to meet other people in the industry, and see what they're made of. So we can often be seen at tradeshows, expos, and conferences around the country. You may have seen us this past year at some old favorites like BuildingsNY, TAA (Texas Apartment Association), NY Coop & Condo Expo, or most recently, AAA (Atlanta Apartment Association). But we also tried out a new conference this year, AIM (Apartment Internet Marketing) in Phoenix, AZ, and we had a great time!

AIM was a new experience for us, and it was different from other conferences. Instead of our usual 20 or 10 foot booths, we had our own lounge area, where people could come by and talk with us. Justin Dilley, who attended the conference and is the VP of Sales & Marketing at BuildingLink, agreed to talk with me about the experience. "People were there to learn more than they typically would want to learn in other tradeshows. Normally, it's about getting the word out and handing out some literature, but there, we were able to talk with people in much greater depth," said Justin. BuildingLink was also invited to demo our mobile resident app as part of a presentation by Stanford University Persuasive Technology Lab director Dr. BJ Fogg, who deals with the psychology behind mobile technology. "He thought our resident app was very intutitive and smart, which got us a lot of attention, because people realized we did a whole lot more than package tracking," said Justin.
Resident app

Among the thirty vendors at the conference were companies that create payment portals, leasing software, video tours, and other internet products aimed at attracting renters to new properties. "It was a lot of marketing people, as well as the standard types of companies that target rental properties," said Justin, "It was nice to be there because BuildingLink is really becoming an expected part of that niche--it's becoming a name that people recognize."

If we didn't see you at AIM, we hope to see you at the NAA (National Apartment Association) conference in Boston, MA, where we'll be exhibiting June 28th-30th. This is a very large show with hundreds of vendors, and it's our 4th year attending. However, we're particularly excited about this year because we don't have to travel to the West Coast (where it's usually held) to get there! Boston is also great for us because, per capita, we have so many buildings using us there. If you're a BuildingLink Boston customer, we hope you'll come over and say hi!

Friday, May 11, 2012

In the News: Luxury Student Housing

“Gone are the days when a community room with a television and Ping-Pong table was considered a bonus. The student housing sector is transforming to accommodate residents’ increasingly upscale requirements,” writes Barbra Murray in her article "Innovative Student Housing Plans 830-Bed Project at University of Louisville". And the University of Louisville is far from the only target; Murray mentions several sites where luxury student housing projects are already in the works, including University of Mississippi and Arizona State. This new trend means properties will feature amenities like pools and gourmet kitchens, and the article even mentions one student housing project that will include a tanning facility! As Murray writes, “This is not your father’s student apartment.”

So what does this mean for BuildingLink? Well, besides wishing we had all attended colleges in this new era of pillow-top beds and memory foam mattresses, we recognize that our platform could be utilized to help these new luxury buildings run as smoothly as possible. With increased amenities and a luxury atmosphere, these properties will likely function in much the same way as luxury rental buildings; they will need to track maintenance, amenity reservations, even deliveries (if there are front desk operations).

And that’s where we come in. Our reservations module would allow students to enter reservation requests from their own computers/phones, and be easily approved or declined. When Busy Student X was slowed down by a faulty light bulb, he/she would quickly enter an online maintenance request—which would go directly to the right person. And when Frazzled Staff Member Y completed that request, he/she wouldn’t have to worry about notifying that busy student—because BuildingLink would have already sent out an automatic email notification! Deliveries would be a breeze with our Event Log, which tracks packages and other items coming into the building, again with the automatic notifications! And if there happened to be an emergency on campus, or in the building, our Emergency Broadcast System could be used to get the word out quickly and effectively.

Students can be demanding. And BuildingLink is ready to help property managers meet those demands. Now about those pillow-top beds—maybe it’s time for some more schoolin’!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Software Update: Enhanced Password Privacy


At BuildingLink, we are all about security and accountability, and our customers use our software to help them achieve those very things! Recently, we've made several changes to even further enhance internal security, specifically with regards to password privacy and logins.

Going forward, users or managers will never be able to retrieve or otherwise view any password, including their own, once that password has been changed from the original system-generated password.

This means that when a user fills out the "Forgot Password" page, they will now be emailed a link that they can click on (for up to 24 hours) to reset their password to a new value. Their old password value will not be emailed to them, ever.

This also means that when a manager wishes to help out a resident by "emailing" or "printing out" their login info, a new password will first be automatically generated and only then will the manager have access to the "Email/Print Login Info" screen. ( Exception: If the current login was never changed by the resident from the automatic system-generated value, the "reset" step will be skipped.)

With this change, BuildingLink is following best practices for protecting Password Privacy, while still preserving management's ability to assist users who need to be given login/password info for their account, and still preserving residents' ability to self-recover from a forgotten-password situation.

Monday, April 16, 2012

New Functionality: Vendors Directory

If you aren't yet familiar with our new Vendors Directory, which allows you to store contact information for outside contractors and vendors, assign them maintenance requests, and even directly email them their maintenance requests. Check out our video below - we'll explain how it all works, and give you an idea of how to get started. Be sure to contact us with additional questions and let us know what you think!


Vendor/Contractor Directory - Intro to New Module from Jerry @ BuildingLink on Vimeo.

Monday, April 9, 2012

BuildingLink City Profile: Austin, TX


Austin is known for its music scene, universities, and “techie” folk, but did you know it’s also home to quite a number of BuildingLink buildings? Yes, we are in Austin! And we love it! Here are just a few reasons why:

The Technical Companies
A directory of "Silicon Hills" (Austin's own "Silicon Valley") lists over 100 technical companies in the Austin area. This makes Austin a fairly tech-savvy town. In fact, many Austin organizations and businesses were some of the first to be noticed on the Internet because of the large number of "techie" folks in Austin. So yeah…we fit right in.

The Music Scene
Austin is a music industry mecca. Home to South by Southwest (abbreviated SXSW), a large music and film festival that has put Austin on the entertainment map, Austin has a large and varied selection of artists performing all over town. If you don’t know so already, most of us at BuildingLink are also musicians…and all of us have a creative side! So whenever we’re in Austin, you can bet we’ll catch a show or two.

The Capitol
Austin houses the Texas Capitol, and is home to many leaders (like Congress members and the governor). Who doesn’t love those big, grand government buildings?

The Love
Turns out not only do we love Austin, but Austin loves us! A manager at one of our properties had this to say about BuildingLink:

The staff and more importantly our residents have taken to it like a fish to water. As you know, previously we did not accept possession resident unit keys for purposes of distribution to vendors, guests and service providers etc. due to liability concerns and no true accountable form of a chain of custody for the keys. KeyLink has instantly changed all that, our residents love it – the ease of use, the email notifications and detailed reporting are great. Thank you and all at BuildingLink for all that you do, for being so proactive in constantly adding new products and services that make our day to day operations so much more efficient."

We anticipate continuing our great relationships in Austin and developing many new ones in the coming year! Just for fun, we’ll leave you with some Austin celebrities.

Note: We do ask that if you decide to relocate to Austin in the hopes of meeting anyone on the celebrity list, you choose a BuildingLink building for your new home :p

Monday, April 2, 2012

Software Update: Start Date for Instructions

Our buildings find the "Instructions" module in BuildingLink--a place where they can track permissions-to-enter, do-not-allows, housekeeper visits, and other resident instructions--to be one of the most valuable tools for front desk staff in BuildingLink's arsenal. As you probably already noticed, we’ve recently made that tool even more powerful by adding a “start date” function. Now, you can enter the text of your instruction, pick the date when it should take effect, and pick the date when it should expire—all upon your initial entry.


Instructions that have a “future” start date will show up on the main Current Instructions grid when that date is reached. But you can still see your Future Instructions by clicking on the Instructions “Settings” bar, where you’ll also be able to see “Newly Added” instructions (all instructions added in the last 24 hours).

Monday, March 26, 2012

BuildingLink Spotlight: Our Emergency Broadcast Function

We've taken out our BuildingLink spotlight a couple times already in the course of this blog, to shine it on various members of our team--thinking, speaking members like Andrew Kaplan and Fran Besdin. Now we're bringing it out again, but this time it's shining on a piece of our platform that doesn't think and speak for itself...well, actually it kind of does...

Q: Tell us a little about yourself. Emergency Broadcast Function (EBS): Well, first of all, let me just say that I function primarily to deliver important messages to people who need them--all you have to do is type what you want me to say in a box, and I'll call each of your residents with that message. So I'm a little offended about that whole "not being able to speak for myself" thing you just implied. And by the way, I also have a pretty great memory--all broadcast messages are archived so if you want me to send them again at a different time, I can.

Q: Ok, ok. I guess you are right. And you do have a very nice voice I might add--just the right amount of robotic. But tell me, how do you know which numbers to call? EBS: Why, thank you. I try. As for your question about knowing which numbers to call, the kind people at BuildingLink already have two default recipient lists, "Residents Home & Cell" and "Residents Work" set up for every building. These lists pull information from the building's BuildingLink database, so they are automatically updated whenever resident contact information in the building is updated.


Q: And what if I want to create my own recipient lists? EBS: Oh, you can, you can. You can create your recipient lists by pulling from different floors, lines, or locations, and you can also sort by type of resident (owner, subtenant). I can tell you people tend to sort by floors and lines when there is a water shutdown, or something like that. They'll tell me to call everyone on the B Line, and I'll do it!

Q: That's very kind of you--you know, I've heard that in addition to being very sweet, you also have an aggressive streak. Is this true? EBS: Well, yes. I mean, I don't think I could do my job if I weren't aggressive. These people are relying on me to deliver important messages and I need to make sure I get through to everyone on the recipient list! So I call each person up to three times, until I get a live answer, or am able to leave a voicemail without interruption.

Q: And can anyone ever check to see what happened with each call you made (whether you reached a live answer, a voicemail, etc.?) EBS: You betcha. You can run reports for every broadcast, and see EXACTLY what happened with each call--the time it was made, what kind of answer I received, even how long the call lasted.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Did You Know: BuildingLink License Scanner

Do you work at or manage a property where contractors and visitors need to be tracked and recorded? Do you keep IDs at the desk for security? If you answered yes to either of those questions (or even maybe if you didn't, but you'd like to start improving building security), you may be interested to learn about our license scanner.

With the scanner, you can capture visitor/contractor IDs and save them in the Event Log, every time you log someone in to the building. You can then go back and search to see who was in the building; each person's ID will be stored with his/her individual record. With some state licenses, you can even extract the name right from the ID, and pull it into the "comment" field to make the logging-in process easier.


Be sure to check out our other great equipment; you can also go directly to our online order form.

Monday, March 12, 2012

BuildingLink Buzz

We were very excited to find ourselves the subject of a SilverSpringPatch article by Nancy Pham, entitled Customer Service Gets Easier with Technology. Pham discusses two BuildingLink buildings, The Georgian and The Solaire, where BuildingLink has become quite a presence! At The Georgian, a 900-unit building in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, BuildingLink software is used "so extensively" that Senior Property Manager Timothy Lawson refers to it as The Georgian's "business partner." (See Lawson's full quote in Pham's article.) And different buildings find value in different aspects of the software; the main pull for The Solaire is BuildingLink's Public Display feature, which is a very effective way to communicate with residents.


We hope you enjoy the article as much as we did--and please contact us if you are interested in learning more. Anyone who is interested will find our pricing to be very competitive and reasonable, given the wealth of features we offer our customers!

Friday, March 2, 2012

In the News: Toronto Condo Bubble?


While some housing markets in the U.S. are struggling, Toronto's is flourishing at the moment, says Doug Alexander in a Bloomberg.com news article. With more high rises being built than in any US city, including NYC, Toronto's "boom" is raising concerns that the housing demand may be overestimated, he writes. Many, however, say it is justified, given that Toronto is home to some of Canada's biggest banks, insurers, asset managers, pension funds, and financial services firms. Click here to read Alexander's full article. Here at BuildingLink, we're expecting our presence in Toronto to strengthen over the next few years to accommodate the many buildings being constructed and the many future residents of those buildings. Everything we have to offer (from package tracking, to maintenance tracking, to our iPhone and Android applications) is and will continue to be welcomed by the Toronto housing community, as it is all very relevant and valuable. Keep growing, Toronto...we're ready!

Friday, February 24, 2012

New Software Update: Shift Log by Location

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Shift Log, it's a trendy little clipboard that sits on the BuildingLink home page and acts as an electronic log book. Staff and management can communicate internally, organize notes by specific apartment/unit number, mark high and low priority notes, keep track of each shift, and search notes by priority level, unit number, keyword, who entered the note, etc. Basically, we think it's already pretty darn awesome!

But we just made it even more awesome. Why? Because we know that many properties have multiple buildings or more than one front desk location. And we wanted these buildings to have a way to keep separate notes for each of these locations. So we added a location option that allows you to select (via a drop-down menu on the clipboard) the location you need, and enter or view the appropriate information. Now, notes from different locations will not be mixed together, thereby making it even easier to search!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Did You Know...

BuildingLink has a place where you can keep track of renovations and other construction projects happening in the building. It’s called “Alterations,” and you can find it in the “Other” tab. All you have to do is click “Add New Project,” and you’ll be able to fill in all the necessary information, so that it’s nicely organized in one place, and searchable later on! You’ll be able to see and adjust details like the length of project, expiration of insurance, momentum of project, date completed, etc. You can assign projects to specific units, and keep track of important contact information related to the owner, contractor, architect, etc. It’s also completely internal—and will never be seen by your residents.


If you need help getting started, feel free to contact our support team and we’ll help you set it up!

Friday, February 10, 2012

BuildingLink Spotlight: Fran Besdin

Fran is the Senior Vice President of BuildingLink, and a fixture in the Sales Department. She is the “go-to” person for most projects or questions, and can be counted on to always know what’s going on.

Q: How long have you been at BuildingLink?

A: I’ve been here since BuildingLink was an idea in Jerry ‘s [the president of the company’s] head.

Q: Wow. What was it like being there for the beginning—seeing it evolve?

A: Seeing it evolve? We made it evolve! We even went to a tradeshow with no software, just to market the idea. The very first sales call I made was to a gentleman who was the manager of a premier management company in NY. And he picked up his phone! I said, “Would you like to learn about managing buildings online?” And he said, “Yes, I would.” So we set up an appointment, and I thought that was how it was going to be. Of course for the next year, nobody picked up their phone. But those first few who were open-minded at the beginning--we call them FOB, “Friends of BuildingLink,”--are still our clients and good friends; they have entrusted us with their entire portfolios of buildings and we are forever grateful for their good advice and feedback.

Q: I like that. So are you still dealing with people who won’t pick up their phones?

A: Well, now that people know about us—now that we’ve developed a reputation for finding solutions to problems that buildings have, making them more efficient and accountable, streamlining operations (all that good stuff), I’m more involved in incoming calls than outgoing. We do have a fantastic sales team who spread the word to those who haven’t come by it on their own--to other cities, and to other countries. In fact, we are currently designing the ability to use our software in multiple languages--so World, here we come.

Q: Can you explain what you mean when you say you are now dealing more with “incoming calls than outgoing?”

A: Well, now people are calling me! They’ve heard about BuildingLink and they want it. Or they use it in one way and want to explore what else they can do. Today, I spoke to a gentleman who is in the temporary housing business. He uses BuildingLink for the apartments he manages in a variety of rental buildings. He wants to explore using our software to communicate with his temporary residents. We will create a “virtual building” for him to help him achieve that goal. The more users we have, the more new ideas they generate about how to use BuildingLink in less traditional ways.

Q: Gotcha. In what other ways has your role in the company changed as BuildingLink has grown?

A: I’ve kind of done everything from Day 1—we now have a programming team, a support team, a sales team, etc., but from Day 1 it was Jerry [the president of the company], me, and Yvonne (who kept us afloat while we ran around town). I trained buildings, Jerry trained buildings. And we wanted to do this, so that we could see firsthand what people needed and how to make it better. We listened and developed a reputation for hearing what was needed and making it happen. To this day, our support team (who does most of the training) comes back with great ideas from our users on how to improve the software/what to develop next. We are still listening and developing. No one here rests on their laurels.

Q: On a more personal note, what do you do when you are not at BuildingLink? Do you have any hobbies?

I’m a gym rat, reader, movie-goer…I love the theater. I just saw Book of Mormon, and the next play for me is Death of a Salesman.

Q: What did you think of Book of Mormon?

Irreverent but very funny. Loved it. Speaking of irreverent, I’ve also become a religious John Stewart watcher.

Q: Nice. Let’s end with a little bit about your background—what did you do before BuildingLink?

I was a commodities trader, I taught emotionally disturbed juvenile delinquents, and I was a stay-at-home mom for a few years. When we started this company, I knew zero about computers and minus zero about real estate. That’s actually part of the reason I was involved in BL from the start—I wanted to learn a lot of new things, and I did!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Feature: Asset Manager

Maybe you already know the Asset Manager well and your building uses it extensively. More likely, you've never heard of it. But if you have rental/loaner items or storage/bike spaces, you might want to know that it's there for you!

In fact, the Asset Manager was born when we realized that properties needed to keep track of both short-term assignments (like parking or borrowed items) and long-term assignments (like appliances and storage units). We wanted to create an organizational system where properties could track all of their items in one location, and be able to "assign," "unassign," or change the assigned unit without any hassle.


And, like virtually everything else in BuildingLink, it’s customizable! We’ve provided you with asset categories that we think will be most useful to you (items that, from our experience, buildings like to track) but you can always “rename” any of the categories to keep track of whatever you’d like. You also get to decide what type of information you need to store in each category—again, we’ve given you suggested fields, but you can “rename” any of them.

Happy tracking!!

P.S. If you choose to display it, all of the information you store in the Asset manager database will also be viewable on the Resident Lookup screen!

Monday, January 30, 2012

BuildingLink Spotlight: Atlanta


Atlanta, named Seventh Best Start Up City by Entrepreneur Magazine is growing, growing, growing! Vibrant and charismatic, Atlanta has a lot to offer: affordable housing, strong schools, big arts scene…these are just a few of the reasons people are flocking there.

We've also noticed a lot of growth in the real estate realm: with investors drawn to the area, many more rental and condo buildings have sprung up in the last decade. In fact, over 25 of the best-managed Atlanta properties have chosen BuildingLink to help run their buildings, and we've got some theories as to why:

We make it easy to provide top-notch service to residents

Despite Atlanta's modernity, there is still that strong undercurrent of "Southern" chivalry. Atlanta buildings are dedicated to providing exceptional service and hospitality to their guests and residents, and we make that task as easy as pie (pecan, of course!) We’ve had more than one concierge or manager tell us just how much the system assisted them in providing consistently high-level service.

We integrate the latest in state-of-the-art technology

The city as a whole is very technology oriented, and was even listed as one of America's top wired cities by Forbes.com. So it's no wonder there is such a demand for BuildingLink's innovative platform: it fits in perfectly with today's needs and expectations.

We make it easy to communicate from wherever you are

Buildings in Atlanta often have to deal with third-party companies and owners/investors who live in other metro cities. BuildingLink's web based platform allows users to login from any computer (or smartphone app!) and access the information they need wherever they are. In fact, we'll leave you with this…

Customer Comment (from a staff member at Plaza Midtown):

"BuildingLink Is Incredible; best innovation in every-day property/residential tracking and cataloging. It's completely customizable and gives you exactly what you're looking for with many more benefits. My company has multiple properties and most of them were using quick books, excel, word and hand-written records for contacting residents; once we displayed the advantages of using BuildingLink to manage all their contacts and resident information they switched their methods rather quickly. It's a "No Brainer": All residential/commercial properties dealing with multiple people and contacts should use BuildingLink--you'll be more than satisfied."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Case Study: Using Event Log vs. Instructions

First of all, in case you don’t know already, “Event Log” and “Instructions” are two different sections of BuildingLink that allow you to keep track of different types of things:

-Event Log lets staff track and record physical items coming in and out of the building (like packages), and notifies residents of package (and other) deliveries.

-Instructions keep track of permission-to-enters , do-not-allows, and other special “instructions” residents might give. They can also be customized to inform staff that a resident is away.

This case study regards an NYC building whose residents are often away on vacations for extended periods of time. The building’s staff needed an easy way to see who to hold packages for, while still informing residents that their deliveries were arriving. The most straightforward way to do this would be to continue logging packages in the Event Log, while also creating an instruction to inform staff if a particular resident were away. The only downside to this is that sometimes staff can miss an instruction when they spend the bulk of their time looking at the Event Log grid. So, what to do?

Here are several possible solutions: •Print out Instructions so that staff does not have to keep looking them up. •Enter events from the Resident Lookup screen, so that Instructions for the unit are visible on the same page. •Create an Event type that is open whenever a resident is away - (but staff will have to remember to close it out when that resident comes back!)

In this case, the building decided to create a “HOLD” Event type so that they could use the Event Log to track when a particular resident were away. They still record the package in the Event Log to notify the resident, but know to hold the package. When the resident returns, they can close out both the “HOLD” Event type and the package.

If you have a situation like this one, and you’re not sure how to best use BuildingLink to help you manage it, contact our support staff! We’ll be able to talk with you in detail about all the different ways you could proceed, and help you find the one that makes sense for you.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rental Market Continues to Grow

The article linked to here discusses how drastically the apartment vacancy rate is falling, great news for the rental market. As this market continues to grow, the demand for better amenities (which are often used to lure potential renters) will also grow. BuildingLink, and other technology like BuildingLink, aims to respond to this demand, and is a great way to advertise your rental property.

Even garden style communities accept packages, log maintenance requests, and have reservable amenities--and these are things that quickly become time-suckers, even when they really shouldn't be! At BuildingLink, we make these and other nitty-gritty tasks seamless and efficient--and it really shows in the quality of life that residents in BuildingLink buildings experience. In fact, a robust platform like BuildingLink is the perfect way to attract potential residents: let them know who has the "goods"-- we think they'll follow.