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2023 LEARNIES Customer Spotlight: Elevating Employee Performance Through Comprehensive L&D

The WorkRamp LEARNIES Awards celebrate the best and most impactful learning programs powered by WorkRamp. 

In this customer spotlight, we sit down with one of our 2023 LEARNIES winners Elizabel Riggs, Talent & Development Manager at Buildout, for a deep dive into the inspiration, design, promotion, and impact of their award-winning L&D initiatives.

Becoming genuine partners through learning

In 2021, Buildout underwent a transformative leadership change with new Co-CEOs. Prior to that, there had been no formal training programs. Onboarding and employee training were sporadic and varied. 

Recognizing the need for comprehensive Learning and Development (L&D), Buildout’s Co-CEOs prioritized equipping their workforce with in-depth industry knowledge, fostering a customer-centric approach, and empowering employees to excel in a dynamic field. 

The vision was clear: “Only by understanding the industry, customers, and products inside and out could we become genuine partners to our clients and guide the way to a commercial real estate world that was tech-enabled and broker-led.”

Learning the language

Internally, Buildout uses the phrase “speaking Italian” as shorthand for their work to understand the customers, industries, and products. 

Elizabel offered this analogy from Buildout’s Chief Growth Officer, Helen Calvin:

  • If you go to Italy, you’ll have a nice time.
  • But if you go with a friend who speaks Italian, you’ll have an even better time because they can provide more context in conversations and interactions.
  • If you go to Italy and have learned the language, this will open up your experience much more. You’ll be able to get around more easily, speak with the locals, and enjoy yourself more fully. Your understanding of the language will make this experience much richer! 
  • Finally, if you go to Italy knowing the language and understanding the culture and history, you’ll get the most out of the experience. You’ll appreciate where Italy’s traditions come from and why the culture functions in certain ways. You’ll be able to fully engage with the locals and appreciate their stories and experiences. You’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in the experience. 

Buildout’s goal was to speak Italian with their customers by understanding their world, hopes, pain points, and business. 

Designing the program 

Buildout’s comprehensive L&D initiative through WorkRamp encompassed a multifaceted commitment to empower employees with knowledge and skills critical to the industry and a customer-centric approach. 

Buildout executed this commitment by developing 25 WorkRamp guides spanning three pivotal domains: 

  • Commercial Real Estate (CRE) knowledge
  • Customer insights
  • An in-depth understanding of Buildout’s products

These guides ranged from illuminating key CRE laws directly impacting customers to conducting detailed product demonstrations and mapping the customer journey for a crystalline perspective.

Complementing these extensive self-paced learning resources, Buildout enriched the L&D program with over 100 library content pieces designed for quick and convenient knowledge acquisition in these crucial areas. 

The team fostered a culture of continuous learning through three quarterly live L&D events. These events featured employee Pecha Kucha storytelling sessions, mystery guest speakers addressing various topics, and express learning sessions delving into soft skills and professional development, including subjects like AI in the workplace, personal branding, and inclusive communication.

The team also cultivated a sense of community and industry immersion through a company-wide book club centered on the CRE sector and provided resources and supplemental materials accessible through WorkRamp. This initiative encompassed an extensive and diverse array of learning opportunities tailored to employees’ needs and preferences, fostering personal and professional growth within the organization.

Launching company-wide 

Buildout launched its L&D program during an in-person all-company gathering in Chicago in January 2023. In the months prior to this event, they sent out an employee survey, asking the team to rate their current knowledge across areas like product, customers, industry, and their understanding of Buildout’s internal functions. 

This data directly influenced the vision for L&D in 2023 and was used to create a compelling L&D forecasting session, outlining the three core areas of foundational learning that would be hosted on the WorkRamp platform, a new Buildout Book Club, and a menu of live learning events. 

Buildout’s Co-CEOs began launch day by throwing little cash envelopes into the audience with a sales rep dressed in an otter costume (Buildout’s mascot). It was the perfect silly, chaotic energy to excite the team. 

As the day progressed, the team added an element of fun and competition through a Commercial Real Estate game show for all employees and a more serious session exploring the impact of imposter syndrome in the context of learning and collaboration in the workplace. 

These activities were instrumental in fostering a culture of acceptance, enthusiasm, and an eagerness to learn together. The game show was rowdy, and the imposter syndrome session fostered earnest conversation between teammates. 

Examining year-one impact 

As Buildout closes in on nearly a full year of L&D, they have made remarkable progress by delivering three buckets of foundational training. 

Notably, initial and final knowledge check scores in CRE Industry training increased by an average of 25 points, highlighting the substantial growth in employee expertise. Considering that many employees started without a commercial real estate background, this significantly boosts teams’ ability to “speak Italian” with customers. 

This commitment to inclusivity also led Buildout to create dyslexia-friendly versions of these trainings, ensuring all employees could access and benefit from the materials. 

Buildout achieved an on-time completion rate of 76.5 percent, demonstrating employees’ commitment to development. These achievements translate into reduced onboarding time for new hires, too. Employees are equipped with the right information, allowing them to be productive and make an impact faster than ever before.

Buildout’s most recent L&D survey provides more insights on the impact of their L&D initiatives:

  • 95% of respondents reported frequently or occasionally applying the knowledge gained from the L&D programs in the last six months
  • 85% of respondents felt the knowledge and skills acquired from L&D programming significantly or moderately enhanced their job performance 
  • 55% of employees stated that they now communicate with customers with greater confidence, indicating a direct link between L&D and improved client interactions 
  • 52% of respondents reported improved communication and collaboration with other teams
  • 35% of employees mentioned gaining new ideas or viewpoints they can apply in their work, reflecting the initiative’s role in fostering innovation and creativity

Quota-carrying hires have reduced time to 100 percent quota attainment from 2.74 months to 1 month since WorkRamp launched. This benefits the organization and puts commission checks into employees’ pockets faster.

Employees who completed at least 75 percent of their WorkRamp assignments saw an average 17 percent increase in quota attainment during the four months following launch vs. four months prior. The highest improvements were observed among those who completed 100 percent of their WorkRamp assignments. 

The WorkRamp initiative, as part of the broader L&D program, has been a resounding success in equipping employees with the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to excel in the commercial real estate proptech sector.

Congrats to Elizabel and the Buildout team for winning The Out-of-This-World LEARNIES award and creating a transformative L&D program.

Buildout is a commercial real estate software platform that streamlines and automates the marketing and transaction process for property listings. The company offers tools for creating professional marketing materials, managing contacts, and facilitating deal workflows, aiming to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the commercial real estate industry. Follow Buildout on LinkedIn to see what else they have planned for 2024.

Ready to uplevel your employees through L&D? Discover how the Learning Cloud can help you create engaging employee development programs. 

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