Bilt and the Bold Tech team have been working together for over 18 months to build internal admin dashboards and tools for their teams on Retool. Built on a mixture of PostgreSQL, Redis Cache, and other APIs, together we’ve created apps for their customer support teams to view customer information, automated formerly labor-intensive manual data entry, and created dashboards to make internal customer onboarding and updating more intuitive and streamlined.
In this blog post, we’ll talk a little about how Bilt builds on Retool, what made them choose Retool in the first place, how their apps work and how they’ve found working with the Bold Tech team.
“It’s possible to take a vision and have something built, tested, and deployed within a single month.” - Tracy (Technical Account Director)
Bilt: Focusing their developer time on the client
Bilt has managed to create a silver lining to those painful monthly rent payments, in the form of a loyalty rewards program: users earn points on rent, deposits, and other daily payments which can be redeemed for exercise classes, hotels, airfare, dining, and more –– something to take the edge off those hefty monthly expenses.
Bilt works with residential property owners nationwide so that their tenants can build their credit histories by reporting on-time rent payments to credit bureaus. On top of this, Bilt offers a co-branded credit card that users can use for paying rent and other everyday purchases to earn even more reward points.
Like many of our clients, it was key to Bilt that their core developer time was spent improving their product and not caught up in constantly building, scaling and maintaining their internal tools. This is where Retool and Bold Tech come in: using Retool’s out-of-box components and libraries, the Bold Tech team can launch new features and dashboards in days and weeks as opposed to months, and scale these apps to match the cadence of their client-facing deployments, freeing up Bilt’s developer brain-space to focus on the main product.
Bilt’s Builds: Postgres, Redis & the Google Place ID API automation
Most of Bilt’s apps are CRUD dashboards, which allow non-technical staff to jump in and view or make changes to data on the property owner, property unit, and user level. Each dashboard uses Retool to pull data from multiple backend resources - stitching each resource together to paint a picture for a non-technical team member that enables them to perform actions on data without the help of a Bilt engineer. Their data structures are built on a mixture of PostgreSQL, Redis Cache, and other APIs, all of which can be integrated into the Retool environment.
Let’s take a closer look at two of the main apps they are using and how we built them in Retool.
Admin Control Panel
The member services team deals with a complex set of operations, navigating and handling data parameters on the property owner, unit and user level. Previously, this data was read and updated using SQL statements, and so only technical users were able to manipulate the data stored.
To simplify this process as the teams grew, we built a centralized admin control panel, which allows them to read each kind of data in segmented views by property manager, properties and users. Within these tab views the team can view data on a macro and micro level, and then manipulate this data using the actions container, without needing to write a single line of SQL. This now means that authorized members of the member services team can jump into the app and manipulate the parameters on the property owner and user level, without needing any technical know-how.
In the property app, users can read and update the property data stored in various property management platforms and perform key actions to the data in a single click.
We developed the tool with workflow optimization at the forefront of the UI, so the app is designed to streamline and optimize processes like onboarding; built-in components such as stepped containers, tooltips, notifications and warning modals help to create an optimized workflow, which in turn helps to avoid user error.
Finally, we created the ability to bulk edit properties, reducing the time needed to edit a property. Property managers can own hundreds of different property units, and now the Bilt team can quickly select which properties they would like to change the data for, and then change those in bulk, rather than painstakingly changing hundreds one by one.
Google Place ID Automation
Another formerly tedious and quite costly task for the Bilt team was associating unit addresses to Google Place IDs. The initial process involved someone manually searching each unit in the Google Place ID console, reviewing that the address was accurate, and updating the Place ID.
Perhaps not too complicated, but the process was laborious and there was a lot of room for human error. It led to member services team spending hours of their time manually copying and pasting the IDs, often in a mad rush before a big launch or rent cycle. Additionally, each address or unit was often searched multiple times, costing lots of money on the Google API.
To solve this, we created an app that first combines all similar unit addresses from the same property into a single search using a series of different Regex rules, such as ignoring abbreviations or the second line of the address. The team can then toggle between different rules when searching for addresses.
Once the individual property units are streamlined into this single address, the Google Place ID search is performed, and this new ID is written back to all units under the address in bulk. Not only has this saved the member services team hours and hours and laborious copy-pasting, but it has also saved money on the Google API since each ID request is sent only once for potentially thousands of units.
For additional validation, any place IDs returned by Google that don’t match the place IDs in Bilt’s Postgres DB are flagged in red. These place IDs can then be bulk-updated with the simple click of a button.
Bilt’s Experience with Bold Tech and Retool
We spoke to Tracy, Technical Account Director, who plays the go-between for account managers, CX support, and the Retool builders at Bold Tech engaged with Bilt, to chat a little about how they’re finding working with Retool. According to her, speed-to-market has been a standout feature of using Retool: it’s possible to take a vision and have something built, tested, and deployed within a single month. Over the past year and a half, Bold Tech and Bilt have worked hard to iterate and expand the Bilt internal tool application range.
While Retool can be great for working together, especially with both developers and non-developing technical managers, Tracy did express that releasing small patches and edits and regression testing each can at times be a little taxing. If you’re also having trouble with this, you can learn more about the Retool versioning and release manager in our blog post.
Bold Tech and Bilt have been working together closely since April 2021, and they have been using Retool for some of their principal internal tools, with Bold Tech developers as the lead builders in their environment. The perks of using a low-code platform such as Retool for quick-build, internal tools, have meant they can concentrate on producing beautiful, efficient client-facing interfaces for their customers and trust that their internal apps aren’t bogging down their engineers. Retool’s high editability has meant we could also rapidly iterate on their internal apps, scaling them to match their quickly scaling company.
Bold Tech and Bilt have thrived on our arrangement's continuity, having worked together for over a year and a half. What does the future hold for Bilt and its internal tools? Tracy claims the next big project is a new app focused on a new iteration of the admin panel - and of course, we’d be more than happy to accommodate their plans!