HIVEX Basement Finishing Co.

by Emily Blackburn

Lena McNally

Chris McNally






Fredericksburg VA
GQ All-time Recommend Rate: 98%
GQ 2020 Recommend Rate: 98%
Number of Jobs in 2020: 91
Type of Firm: Other: Specialty Contractor – Basement Finishing
CEO: Lena McNally, Chris McNally

1. Demand for services is stronger than ever. Supply delays are widespread. Building product prices are rising. Please name the concrete steps you take to keep customers satisfied as timelines and prices are fluctuating?

HIVEX Basement Finishing runs on a systematic approach to production. We have been able to continue moving like a “well-oiled machine” during this demanding time. Communication and setting expectations are our keys to success.

At the time we provide the initial project quote, we have a clear 15-day price quote guarantee. With the steadily rising cost of materials, this protects us from being upside down on projects, while also giving people enough time to make a decision and understand if they wait there is a possibility of a price increase.

Once a homeowner hires HIVEX we set very clear expectations and let them know that we could experience delays. We provide a clear shopping list for any customer purchased materials (i.e., cabinets, vanities, tile, etc.), and we request that those items are purchased at the very beginning of the project. This helps to prevent delays and keeps the production schedule moving.

On the other side of this, we have increased relationships and conversations with our vendors to stay in the know about product delays and increase in material costs. This has had a significant impact on both our in-house inventory management and pricing guidelines.

2. A good remodeling or home improvement firm knows the limits of its capabilities to take on additional work. What do/would you communicate to clients when you cannot handle their job and must decline their inquiry?

As a specialty remodeler – only offering basement finishing – almost all of our inquiries are related to basement projects. With the current demand for services, we have had to be more selective when it comes to requests for projects that are not specific to a complete basement finish. Examples of work we’ve declined include past clients requesting us to come and finish a single room that they previously left unfinished. Other inquiries we’ve declined are requests for any sort of renovation work or small partial basement projects.

The explanation we communicate is really based on timeliness. We have steadily carried a heavy backlog for the last 12+ months. We explain that waiting to be added to the schedule (likely several months out) followed by the timeline of our production is really not the most efficient choice for a small project. We are very transparent and explain that HIVEX operates with our own employees, and we typically don’t use subcontractors. We explain that our employees specialize in their trade i.e., framers complete framing, next electricians and plumbers begin rough ins, then drywall crew, followed by our specialized trim crew, and as the project is wrapping up our carpenters complete cabinet installs and custom work.

This system works very smoothly to produce a completely finished basement in 8-10 weeks. We know that a smaller project could be completed in a much shorter time window by a general remodeling company. Once we explain that, many who were inquiring about a small project end up thanking us for being honest about that.

We always let people know how much we appreciate their consideration of our company and recommend homeowners seek a general contractor or licensed handyman service that can send several people in to complete all trades in a more efficient amount of time.

3. During busy times like these, operational adjustments are needed in order to take on more work, often with the same level of staffing. What steps have you taken to ensure a quality experience despite the added workloads for your team?

We have certainly experienced a need to tweak the positions and responsibilities of our team during this high demand time. Within our company we have been able to reposition employees into new roles to support marketing and sales in order to meet the demand on those departments. We have also tweaked the geographic territories of our project managers to more evenly distribute the jobs in the markets that are busier at this time. We also cross train our field employees so that if one trade crew becomes especially backed up, we can support them with other trained and skilled team members even if only for a few days or a week to get back on track. We encourage our team with the vision that we are all in this together and ask each of our crews to keep an eye out for anything they can do while on a site to support the next crew coming in.

Another thing we try to do is communicate openly with our team as soon as we sense things may be shifting and an operational adjustment is needed. For example, as we became aware of the rising material prices, we were very transparent in talking to our team about this and explaining the need to conserve extra material and keep things organized so that we can re-use extra materials to keep our costs down rather than allowing things to go to waste. As always, explaining “why” we are doing something rather than just talking about what we need to do is key.

Above all, we believe that if we take care of our team, our team will continue to take care of our customers. Several times throughout the year we schedule a day to rest, recharge and enjoy each other. We also prioritize families so we will invite spouses and children to many of these events. We see value in investing in our team, especially when things are busy. These events bring us together in a different way by allowing people to spend time with each other outside of a job site. Spending quality time together helps to build and strengthen relationships and helps remind us all to support each other in and outside of work. We believe this is foundational to the success of our company. When our team feels valued, they do their best for our clients and to support each other.

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