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!